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Mongolia to Vladivostok and the Sea of Japan

The final leg of our journey across Russia was reasonably uneventful. Just many more days on the Trans Siberian, with a few forays into nearby cities with the hope of some reasonable accommodation.

Cities like Blagoveshchensk and Khaborovsk offer reasonable hotels and a break from eating out of cans.

In fact Blagoveshchenck was quite interesting. It sits beside the river Amur, and across the river is the Chinese city Heihe. We walked along the banks of the river, looking into China and its thoroughly modern city, with Chinese music coming from tour boats on the Amur.

A stark contrast to Blagoveshchensk.

Back on the Trans Siberian we stop for gas and notice an older BMW bike with NZ plates parked beside the gas station.

The owner is from Wellington. He shipped his bike to Japan, then on the ferry to Vladivostok, and is headed to London.

Unfortunately his trip is suspended. He has driveshaft issues, and has arranged a ride on the back of a truck to Chita, 2 or 3 days drive to the west, where he hopes to get some mechanical assistance. 

We help load his bike on the truck and wish him well.


Finally Vladivostok and the Sea of Japan. Until recently Vladivostok was a closed city, and foreigners were not allowed to visit.

It’s home to a large Navy fleet of warships and submarines.

Mysteriously, neither of our GPS's would function here, and we had to rely on Google Maps to guide us in to where we needed to be. Spooky. 

We were headed to meet Yuri Melnikov, a shipping agent who handles the shipping of motorbikes for travelers like us, in and out of Russia. Yuri has a great reputation for being able to get things done.

We were discussing the shake downs we’d had by the Russian border control, when leaving Russia for Mongolia, and being searched for drugs, and wondering why they cared about the possibility we may be taking drugs out of Russia.

I suggested to Yuri that maybe Russia needs all the drugs it can get for the Russian Olympic team. That’s when I discovered Yuri has no sense of humour.

Yuri arranged for our bikes to be cleaned at the local car wash. They were absolutely filthy, as we hadn't washed them since we left Zürich. The wash guy did a brilliant job, they looked like new, then Yuri went over them with a fine tooth comb, and told him to do them again, this time properly!  The total cost was $6.

A little dirty...
A little dirty...

Then we rode them to his ‘Warehouse’ where we said goodbye. 

Sparkling clean...hopefully clean enough for entry into Canada
Sparkling clean...hopefully clean enough for entry into Canada

By now, the bikes should be in a container, loading onto a freighter headed to Vancouver, Canada. This is likely to take 4-6 weeks, then another 10 days to get them unloaded and into our hands again. 

Ingo wanted to spend time in Vladivostok, before visiting Korea and Japan on foot, on his way to Canada.

I had a date with Kathy in Vancouver, so flew out the next morning, transiting through Incheon airport in Korea.

Crossing the International Date Line on the way, I arrived in Vancouver before I left Vladivostok.

Hello Vancouver
Hello Vancouver