The Iron Angels are a bike club in Vladivostok. Seoul Joe told us to look them up, so we did. We met up with Ilya II, who took us across the city to their clubhouse. It was a fairly stressful trip as we were following a car through gridlocked streets. On a bike it’s really hard not to filter through traffic!
We had the engines off and paddled the bikes for half a kilometre, moving over for an ambulance to come through at walking pace. Vladivostok isn’t a good place to have a heart attack! We finally made it to the club house, after making sure Adbang got on the main M60.
Quite an impressive pad, we met the chairman, German and a couple of other members. I had a quick blast on their drum kit before Ilya II and I rode off to the local bike shop on my bike. I wanted to do an oil change but hadn’t got any oil. At the shop I managed to get some new rear brake pads as well as oil. My bike was appreciated by the mechanics, as was the trip! I got the 15℅ club discount, every little helps.
Back at the clubhouse, Chip and Ken were chilling and shooting the breeze with German. I did an oil change but kept the pads, as there’s a few kms left in the old ones and it’s a 5 minute job to change them. (I love the new Kawasaki brake calliper design BTW). With the chain adjusted I’m good to go, for the next few thousand at least.
We were given stickers before we left, which now adorn the side panels – and contact numbers for the various chapters across Russia, who we’ll no doubt be looking up. It was great to meet like minded individuals with a passion for bikes. Thank you Iron Angels!
Here we are with the very well traveled bottle of wine. Charles gave me a bottle of wine when I left Melbourne, with strict instructions not to consume it! I was to take it to Vladivostok and share it with Ilya, my friend there.
It was a struggle, taking up precious room in my bags, but I managed to successfully take it around Australia and Korea. Through two sets of customs and over some very rough terrain, without breaking the bottle or having it confiscated.
I’m glad I made it, because Ilya has been a star and really looked after us. It would have been much more hassle and no doubt expense if we had to do it alone, so thanks Ilya!
Ilya collected up this morning right on time, and delivered us to the ferry port. True to her word, Svetlana had the paperwork all ready. We signed, paid and then went to collect the bikes. Completely painless, we were on the road in no time.
We made it all of 50 metres before we stopped for a coffee and to say goodbye to Adbang. We met Ilya 2 from the Iron Angels bike club, who Seoul Joe told we were coming. More on those guys later.
Thanks Ilya & Sveta!
Having arrived late, it was great to find that Ilya had waited nearly 5 hours for us, and taken the day off work too! Top bloke! He’d sorted an apartment for us as was about to take us there, when Svetlana arrived from Links Ltd..
She told us that because we were late the bikes couldn’t be unloaded until tomorrow, but that customs were open until 8 pm. If we hurry we could complete all the paperwork right now! The customs office was the other side of town, but Ilya drove us there while Sveta took Adbang and Junjun.
There was a lot of running around, literally, all by Sveta while we waited in comfort. There was a mistake in the bill of lading which has to be corrected, but she managed to get everything done. Yuri turned up later to say hello.
They seemed marvellously efficient, so as long as things to well this morning we’ll be back on the bikes. Yuri gave us some marketing material, and as we had such a good experience I’ve put it in the blog.
Thanks to the Links team.
Here we are after a great crossing outside the ferry terminal of Vladivostok! All smiles at this point because we’d made it, I could see my contact Ilya waiting for me and the ferry was only 2 hours late.
What I didn’t realised was that it was going to take another two and a half hours to get off the boat! Progress was painfully slow, with a massive queue and a strict pecking order of which nationalities can alight first. (Not us of course!).
Then onto immigration, where I stood for a whole 10 minutes with the official guy staring me down. Looking alternately between me and my passport photo, which I don’t especially resemble now I have a beard. Luckily I was wearing my “don’t fuck with me” big fur jacket. I stared back unblinking, until I don’t know who felt more uncomfortable!
Without a word, my passport was stamped and we’re in!
Off the starboard bow are some of the named islands, belonging to the Russian federation. We’re a couple of hours from Vladivostok, but the passage seems to have shot by -especially compared to a long haul flight lasting half the time. This really is a much more civilised way to travel.
We successfully ‘liquidated’ our remaining Korean assets at the bar, and made the most of the buffet. Possibly our last chance to sample Korean food, which I’m not particularly upset with if I’m honest! Kimchi – not for me! But in all the ferry has been great. I wasn’t too worried about the economy accommodation, but having been upgraded (to second class) I’m glad we were!
Casual conversation with some of the Russian passengers was doable, but definitely hard work. Similarly with the Korean bikers we met, but my Russian beats my Korean hands down! The ferry is due in at 2:50pm local time, so I doubt we’ll be clearing customs the same day. But a day or two of down time is a great way to suss out a place, which definitely worked in my favour in Busan. There’ll be plenty of time to ride around Russia in due course.
GPS location Date/Time:07/27/2014 11:57:22 PDT
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