Bald Heads and Hurricanes
Irena is the only person in the entire world who knows how to transport a motorcycle and its British rider from Vladivotok to Japan (recently taken over from Diana, who used to hold that distinction).
My worry is that not only is she far too confident but things have so far gone far too smoothly.
Russia doesn't have molehills; it only has mountains. When you ask for help with something only slightly out of the ordinary, the standard response (unless you've had the misfortune to approach a deranged harridan) is "That may be a problem".
Irena calmly informed me that the bike probably arriving only three hours before the boat sails will be fine. I go to her office at the Morskoy Vokzal (Marine Station) on Monday at 9am to do the customs stuff (at least I have all the paperwork about my person), and she reckoned the fact that I have a proper carnet will smooth things no end in getting the bike out of Russia (which is not a signatory to the international carnet convention thingy). Then at 11am the bike, allegedly, will arrive at the Boezd Vokzal (train station) next door and I should be able to ride it directly round to the ship, where it will be craned aboard (I don't think I'll watch that bit). At 12 I go back to the office to do the immigration stuff. At 2 the boat sails; it's 42 hours to Fushimi/Toyama in Japan. Not all that expensive, either: $210 for me, $100 for the bike and $100 service fee to Irena (and if she's right about how it will work she'll be worth every rouble). Incidentally, unlike the old days, prices are often quoted in dollars but payment is required (and preferred) in roubles; the rouble is pretty stable these days.
And a note to the whingers: in order to get here before visa expiry and in time to catch the boat I'd have had to ride 400-500 miles a day, every day, leaving no leeway for punctures, breakdowns, the odd meal, beer or kip, or anything else. And this way I've seen a lot of Vladivostok (including but not limited to the house where Yul Brynner was born and brought up), enjoyed the sun, had the laundry done (including the restoration of my riding suit from brown to its pretty grey/yellow/white); and gaped at the effects of the tail-end of the hurricane today on the tall ship anchored in the bay.
Posted by Cynthia Milton at October 01, 2004 04:40 PM GMT