Tuesday, 31 July 2012

If Russia was Hell, then welcome to Heaven.... South Korea

Well the ferry went smoothly, though I wasnt happy about leaving my bike overnight at Russian customs.
Infact the first thing I did when I got on the ferry was ask to see my bike :-) it felt very strange to be parted after we have been together for nearly 3 months.

So after paying almost £700 for an overnight crossing to Donghae South Korea. I was finally on my way out of Russia.

Dazzer and Leigh also managed to get booked onto the ferry, so the 3 musketeers where together again.
Stepping onto the boat was like stepping into a different world, people were happy and smiling, all the crew spoke English or should I say Engrish !! Anyway, they really couldnt do enough for you :-)

Once we arrived in port the crew called for us and pushed us through the usual customs and immigration. where we were met by the South Korean shipping agent, who took us to an air conditioned office and provided tea for us.  It wasnt long till we turned his nice tidy office into a temporary changing room

Within 30 minutes the bike were off the ship and cleared thru customs.

The shipping agent then took us to the city to find a motel, he really couldnt do enough for us.
The motel was a love motel, it can be hired for a few hours or for a full night. I did ask if they did a 10 minute rate but got no reply !!
It was also cheap at £25 a night but when we tried to book another night it appears that either we have hit high season or all the rooms over the weekend double in price.

So we went off to find a campsite. we headed 8km up the road to Mangsang to a free campsite with free wifi and a fantastic tourist information who have been fantastic to us.

The beach is just one big party! they have concerts on and during the day the have volleyball competitions, in fact there's never a dull moment here.

We also eat at Lotteria, its the Koreans version of McDonalds but with big differences. The first time we used we managed to cock up the order and forgot to include drinks. The manager appeared and introduced himself and apologized for not understanding and brought us free drinks ! everytime we go there now he comes over and asks if every thing is ok.  In fact the burgers taste 10 times better than anything I have had from the UK.

Today, we rode 100 miles up the coast to see the North Korean border, though it was red hot with the temps in the high 30's it was a lovely ride, however it was spoilt by the fact we couldnt proceed to the observation tower because we were on motorbikes, it appears that cars only can travel to the tower. I am also puzzled why motorbikes are not allowed on the highway which is there version of a motorway, quite strange restrictions on motorbikes here.

Well we hope to ship the bikes from Busan to Seattle USA around the 7th Aug. Then fly to Bangkok Thailand for a couple of weeks before picking the bikes back up :-)
So till then... Ride Safe :-)

PS just had a brilliant 10 minute fireworks display probably better than you see in Florida !!


Sunday, 22 July 2012

End of the road for Russia

Well I am now sat in the Hotel Acfes Seiyo Vladivadstok.

So here is the story of how I got here !

My days in Ulan Batar were coming to an end, I knew it was time to move on or otherwise I would have to apply for Mongolian citizenship !

After having spent a few days with my mate Alec it was time once again to hook up with Daz and Leigh and head out of Mongolia.
Alec enjoying a Mongolian bus ride
So on the 12th July we headed out and up to the border. we took it quite easy, stopping to take some last minute pictures of Mongolia and enjoying a few brews on the way.

we stopped here for a brew

While I was sorting out my back box which had became loose after my crash in Ulan Ude, I noticed a small bell lying on the ground. So I picked it up and put it in my pocket.
The next lunch break we stopped at a roadside cafe where a couple of Mongolian guys were admiring the bikes. When we finished I went out to discover my small brass combination lock had been stolen off my bike! Well I know it was only a lock but I was furious. Despite the Mongolian being really nice people theres still some light fingered gits amongst them!

So we headed for the long road to Vladivadstok. Whilst having a nights rest just outside of Chita I received news that my mum had taken ill and was in hospital. I was beside myself and desperately trying to work out a way to get back home. Then my mum said under no circumstances was I to come home. I must finish what I started. Thankfully my mum is now out of hospital and resting on her way to a full recovery.

A few days later we stopped the night at a memorial for a Russian biker who was murdered by locals 2 years ago. There were hundreds of bikers gathered to remember him. So we stayed the night and had a fantastic time.

I left a pair of earplugs for him
In the morning I discovered that my tatty banda headscarf had gone missing, the Russian bikers did not believe that any biker would take it. So I have to say, I left feeling quite disheartened.
I started thinking back to the bell I had picked up in Mongolia, maybe after the padlock, my mum and then my Bandana it was really a bad luck omen. So at the next petrol stop I left it on the wall. So if you see it dont pick it up lol.

About an hour later we stop for lunch and when I take my jacket off, my bandana is stuck inside the sleeve! I have no idea of how it got there. All I could think about was how bad I felt that I thought a biker would steal my bandana. So if any of the Russian bikers are reading this. I am REALLY SORRY  for thinking anyone would have taken it.

The next few days just seem to be a blur in my memory, long hot roads with lots of road works and temporary roads, meaning just hard core rock or gravel!

I did stay in a lovely little motel and this young lady knocked on my door at 1 in the morning to see if I wanted to go in the car with her mates and go for a drink.

Well I must be getting old or I was very wary of going drinking late at night and I politely turned down her offer, I did however spend the next few days pondering over whether I made the right decision lol

I met some lovely people on the way, one young man wanted to give me a 1000 Roubles (£20) towards my trip. I said no, then he asked if I could exchange dollars. I said I have no dollars and felt sorry for him so I dug out some Mongolian money and gave him a 20 note (worth about a quarter of a penny) He gave me a 100 Rouble note (about £2) I refused but he insisted and shoved it into my tankbag. 5 minutes later he was back with an ice cold bottle of sprite.

Later that day I met this man, Sergi

He was the cook at a cafe I stopped at, I ordered a bowl of Borsh (Russian soup which is really tasty) and he brought out smoke chicken. then my Borsh, then he gave me a lighter, bottle of water and then disappeared returning with a Russian military water bottle and mess tins set.
When I went to pay for my meal, he completely refused any money.

So it took me 10 days (including a rest day just outside of Chita) to cover 2,450 miles. I have to admit, it was the most toughest of roads I have completed so far.

Now I am booked on the ferry to South Korea, my bike will be loaded tomorrow and I will head out on a very expensive overnight ferry to South Korea on Wednesday the 25th of July 2012.

Where I go from there........ I will let you know as soon as I know myself :-)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Feel like I am taking roots in Ulan Bator

Well I had to move out of the Kaiser Hotel, I did manage to get 2 more days there but with the up and coming festival the hotel was fully booked.
So I think I spent a total of 6 nights there. I couldn't give enough praise to the owners and staff, there was nothing they wouldn't help me out with.

Belle finally turned up after waiting nearly 3 hours in the scorching heat with my tyres. Which was just as well as my rear tyre, though it had plenty of tread left, had started to crack ! It wasnt till I took the tyre off that I realised how bad the cracks were becoming. The tyre change went really smooth, I suppose it helps when you can leave your tyres out in the baking sun for a hour before changing them. They went on like a pair of cosy house slippers.

So it was onwards to the edge of the city to the Oasis Hostel, run by Rene and Sibylle. I was given a very warm welcome and was allowed to pick a camp spot at the back of the garden, So I am now tucked away in the corner surrounded by the Gers.

The weather has been a bit of a hit and miss. One minute its scorching and the next a downpour, few minutes later and the suns out again and all is good !
Today however has been the worst of the rain, Went to the Black Market with Alec (another biker from the UK) and it tipped it down most of the day. I am so glad we had our umbrella's with us, Alec also had his bike boots on so I used him to test the depth of some of the rather deep puddles !

So I think now I will head towards Vladivadstok and try and store the bike in South Korea and head towards Australia for a few months tour. It seems its not allowed to sell your motorcycle in Mongolia, however I am going to investigate things further on Monday.

So lazy days in Ulan Bator and loving every minute of it, still got plenty to see and do. My bike needs some more work on it and I would like to see some more of UB.

So until the next instalment, take care and ride safe