A lot has happened in the last few days but today, I cleared Azulo through customs and good news, He’s in excellent shape!
Where to start!
It is about a 27 hour journey I arrived around 5.00 pm in pouring rain and got absolutely soaked. i was met by the Agent and I had to walk about 300 meters up and down steps lugging much too much luggage!
My initial impressions were less than positive. I found everyone surly bordering on rude. Very different to Korea and a bit of a culture shock. I started to wonder just what I had got myself into!
It was going to take a couple of days to clear customs so the next day i tried to put a positive spin and do the touristy things. My bad feelings continued after a shocking breakfast of cold eggs and something else and a nice looking Danish Pastry that turned out to be full of pineapple. I HATE pineapple!
I walked around, visited the Soviet Submarine. Vladivostok is quite a nice City with two magnificent bridges
and then around lunch time I thought I should find out how I am meant to register my Passport. In Russia the Hotels usually register you but my Hostel wouldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure of the consequences so i saw a Hotel with a sign saying “English spoken” and went in. Needless to say they didn’t speak English and directed me to a very dilapidated building where there is a Travel Agent.
THEN MY LUCK AND VIEW OF RUSSIA CHANGED!
The Travel Agency is on the third floor up lots of stairs. I entered a tiny office and two young girls were there. They were terrific and helpful and stopped whatever they were doing to help me.
After about an hour the issue of Registration still wasn’t solved but i had new friends
Anna, the owner’s daughter was interested in my trip and invited me to dinner with her boyfriend and Svetlana offered to give me a list of contacts along the way. They also said they would happily translate for me if i need help along the way!
Later that day I met Anna, her boyfriend Tima and another friend, Murat and they took me to a suburban Chinese Market where we had a terrific evening . They are so enthusiastic and positive. They showed me the sights and eventually around midnight returned me to my Hostel
My view of Russia now is confused. There seems a New and an Old Russia. Quite understandable really I suppose given the history of Russia in the last century
The next day, Wednesday the Customs clearance effort started. It turned out an English bloke called Chris also arrived here and is clearing his bike. He seems a really decent bloke and is Ex Royal Navy and works now part time as a guard on ships passing through the Red Sea! Quite a handy person to travel with?
Today, we cleared both bikes and tomorrow we set off on the long road to Ulan-Ude. We are starting off together. He seems keener to camp and do the hard stuff so maybe we will only ride together a short time. I am probably intending to go faster over the Russian part of the trip to Mongolia as I have some Visa time constraints later in the trip
Tomorrow is a Public Holiday. It’s Victory Day, Russia’s celebration of their victory in the “Great Patriotic War”. It’s very different to Anzac Day or Remembrance Day and seems heavily focused on the military might. Chris and I ran into a practise
I can’t really comment on the food yet but I found this little English Cafe, complete with pictures of the Queen and everything British. Unfortunately though they didn’t serve bacon and eggs!
So, tomorrow we’re off and the journey starts. I’m not sure when the next post will be as I intend to cover some distance in the next few days. Also I don’t know what the wifi will be like and of course Chris might make me camp! UGH!