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.
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Ready for Adventure
Here you go, departing shot of Korea from the Eastern Dream ferry. With any luck the next post will be an arrival shot of Russia. The Russian Federation!
We’re sharing a cabin with a nice Russian couple, Alexi and Olga. If they represent the rest of their nation, then we’ll be absolutely fine!
As Chip and Ken have rightly pointed out, the bar is open and we’ve got 22hrs at sea. How on earth are we going to pass the time??
The DBS ferry from Donghae to Vladivostok is much better then I imagined. It’s also a lot smaller. Boarding took a while but we all got safely aboard. Myself, Ken, Chip and two new riders we meet at the ferry port.
Junyoung is riding to Europe from Korea on a natty 700cc scooter. He’s got 2 months off work. Adbang is riding to lake Baikal and back on a new BMW 1200gs and has 2 weeks off work! That’ll be a good effort if he makes it.
I’m waiting for the ship to get further away before I take the obligatory “Goodbye Korea” photo. In the mean time, here’s an inscription on the deck which certainly strikes a chord with me. The Eastern Dream is a fine vessel indeed!
I’ve just been reading Chip & Ken’s blog, though I think it’s mostly Chip’s. It’s an interesting read for me, as it’s a different take on the shared experiences of the day.
Anyone with an interest in my travels should check it out, it’s well worth a read. Even when our paths diverge, I shall be keeping tabs on them as a point of interest.
You can find their blog here : http://www.rtweastwest.blogspot.com
Chip and Ken at the traditional Korean restaurant table.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics – or so they say. (Again). Well here are my statistics for Korea:
7 Regions in 13 Days
1 Brake pad change (Front)
0 Oil Changes
0 Oil Filter Changes
0 Spark Plug Changes
0 Chain Changes
0 Tyre Changes (Front and Rear)
0 New Headlamp Bulbs
0 Encounters with the police
I’m loving being able to keep all those zeros, especially the last 5 – long may it continue!
WON1798 / Ltr – Cheapest petrol ($1.79)
WON1819 / Ltr – Most expensive petrol ($1.81)
Total cost – As if I’d know that, what am I – an accountant? (But it was expensive, more then I thought).
As I will be leaving Korea tomorrow, I thought I’d say a few words about the place. It’s been a very interesting few days and I’m glad I decided to come here. I could have had the bike sent directly to Vladivostok, but I really would have missed out.
I’ve seen a lot of a country which is essentially around 60 years old, with most of the infrastructure completed in that time. I’ve also seen temples dating back to the 1600s, saved from the ravages of war. I’ve been impressed with the general efficiency of the place, with the exception of the drainage, which trends to make the cities smell and is a real shame.
I’ve met some very nice people, with the odd grumpy one – but the balance is definitely in favour of the nice! I’ve sampled food which I would never have chosen, or even imagined could exist! Not all of it good, but you have to try it to find it – and I’m much richer for having had that experience.
The language barrier wasn’t a barrier at all. I got by with hand signals, pictionary and Google translate and it was actually good fun! So as I board the ferry tomorrow it will be with mixed feelings. I’ve enjoyed Korea immensely, but I’m definitely ready to leave. To the reserved people of the nation – I salute you.
My new traveling buddies tend to agree with the sentiment, and we all agree….. Bring it on Russia!
The last run in Korea today, not far down to the ferry port of Donghae. We found the ferry terminal so we know exactly where we’re going tomorrow, then checked into the nearest hotel.
All freshened up, I’m going to see if I can find some oil and do an oil change. I’m also going to check the brake pads and adjust the chain. It makes sense to start the next county with everything on the bike sorted. I’ll do a full repack of all my gear too.
This tank we saw yesterday up near the border. We went past the fourth infiltration tunnel but didn’t have time to stop off. With the Korea leg of the journey almost over, I’ve got the afternoon to reflect on it. I’ll try and surmise my feelings for the place in due course.