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Old 09-05-2011, 01:58 AM   #1
stignz OP
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A Kiwi Expedition - Korea to Scotland via Mongolia

As an introduction,
We are two New Zealanders who have tied up our loose ends at home, and are headed for Eurasia with our bikes and a fistful of visa in an attempt to cross the two continents starting in South Korea and finishing in Scotland.

I'm no great story teller but hopefully we’ll have enough pictures and bright colours to keep things interesting for you.
Feel free to ask questions and ask us to expand on things as we go.

Our loosely planned route will take us through Far East Russia, into Mongolia, back into Russia before riding through as many of the Stans that we can get into, and onward to Turkey via an undecided country, through the Balkans, and into Europe.

We are looking forward to the adventure, discovering the landscapes, meeting new people, experiencing the range of cultures we will come across, and some great riding great of course.

Here are some teaser photo's of what is ahead:



The weapons of choice:

Wayne will be riding a KTM 640 Adventure which has done him well over the years.


I will be taking a KTM 950 Adventure which I have recently acquired and prepped for the trip.
Here it is all crated up ready for shipping from NZ>

stignz screwed with this post 09-07-2011 at 08:23 AM Reason: Needed pic's
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:03 AM   #2
stignz OP
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The first instalment of the story starts in South Korea, we had shipped our bikes to the port of Busan.

I flew into Seoul at 7:30am one morning and used the high speed rail to get to Busan, at the other end of the country, by 11:30am, very quick and efficient public transport here.

The next day we went to customs to uncrate the bikes and clear them.
This was a quick and painless operation. The paperwork took all of 30min.


Getting a jerry can of fuel for the bikes took a while as the taxi driver first took us to a diesel only station as word petrol didn't mean anything to him, then a LPG only station due our other NZ word for petrol which is 'gas'.

The GPS’s were struggling with Busan’s traffic system so it took a few hours to get back to the Hostel. We couldn’t work out the car elevator to park the bikes in the third basement floor so we just used the exit ramps. It was a long day in the end but our pipe dreams were starting to take shape.

We are hoping these first few days on nice roads will acclimatise us to life on the road and getting used to our bikes and sorting any little issue out before we hit the rough stuff.

The next couple of days were spent travelling up the east coast to Donhae, from where we would catch the DBS ferry to Vladivostok, Russia. The only issue was leaning our GPS. You can’t ride bikes on the main highways the GPS liked and we didn’t realise we could tell the GPS to ignore them. It was quite entertaining when we first tried to get on one of the highways, people, sirens, lights and megaphones all screaming out with an urgency paralleled to that at a villians lair in a James Bond film. Getting lost with the GPS issues was a good thing though as we saw a lot of the countryside we hadn't planned on visiting.

Sorry, but not too many photo’s taken in Korea due to the time restrictions of the ferry leaving once per week.

Korea was a lot better than we expected. It's a very beautiful country with fantastic infrastructure and numerous tunnels through the mountainous landscape.
Some really good food and some strange and somewhat creepy motels.




Getting on the DBS ferry was a rushed process, we put the bikes on before getting ourselves through customs and the boarding ramp was drawn up by the time we had finished strapping the bikes down. They lowered it again and we had to run in our riding kit 500m around the terminal to customs, twice due to forgotten paperwork.
I hoped to have more fitness than this at the start of the trip.

Stopping for a boarding photo didn't make us any more popular,


We had a good guard dog on-board to look after the bikes


So we say say goodbye to South Korea after a brief encounter,






Russia here we come
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:22 AM   #3
Trumpst
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Best of luck, boys! I look forward to reading of your adventures! (and I promise not to mention the Rugby World Cup!!)
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:44 AM   #4
stignz OP
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Best of luck, boys! I look forward to reading of your adventures! (and I promise not to mention the Rugby World Cup!!)
Thanks,
We are going to be grateful if we even get to see any of the matches. Nothing but Russian music channels for months now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebedee View Post
Hi Guys
Please keep up with the ride report, 'cos I'm privileged to some of the information that will, hopefully, continue flowing in this thread, and I know there are some great stories to be told ...
Thanks John, we will do.
I'm sure Mr cbobr will be along soon to fill in some details and his version of events as they unfold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooneyr View Post
Nice looking 950 there. Looks just like the one I sold to this guy who wanted to do a trip from Korea to Scotland via Mongola Maybe I should have kept that quite until I find out if you made it without any issues.
Cheers R
Hey cooneyr,
Yes it does look nice there, I barely recognised it myself when I pulled the photos up. Its a little dirtier now
No issues that haven't been directly influenced by the new owner.
I've tried but she is still chugging along like a 950 should.
Um... how round were the rims back then?
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:07 AM   #5
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Hi Guys

Glad you finally found time to get the ride report started, 'cos I was getting sick of harassing the 640 pilot due to his pitifully infrequent updates/details/photo's of the trip ... yes, you Mr Talkative ...

There are loads of guys, me included, who would dearly love to be in your shoe's/boots ...

Seriously, great effort guys ...

Please keep up with the ride report, 'cos I'm privileged to some of the information that will, hopefully, continue flowing in this thread, and I know there are some great stories to be told ...



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Old 09-05-2011, 04:20 AM   #6
cooneyr
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Nice looking 950 there. Looks just like the one I sold to this guy who wanted to do a trip from Korea to Scotland via Mongola Maybe I should have kept that quite until I find out if you made it without any issues.

I'm in.

Cheers R
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Old 09-06-2011, 05:29 AM   #7
Kiwichipster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooneyr View Post
Nice looking 950 there. Looks just like the one I sold to this guy who wanted to do a trip from Korea to Scotland via Mongola Maybe I should have kept that quite until I find out if you made it without any issues.

I'm in.

Cheers R
John,

Hey R, might have paid you to keep that quiet..... maybe consider moving house when Mike gets back...
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:29 AM   #8
elias
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The Adventure familly on adventure roads!!!!!!!!

Keep us updated, with many photos, and info about the bikes.

Wish you a great trip!!!!!!!
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:23 AM   #9
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Count me in.
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:21 AM   #10
stignz OP
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Hello again,

Thanks to the wonders of procrastination we can bring the next couple of instalments to you pretty quickly.


The DBS ferry was nice, we shared a cabin with a group of Russian sailors who had spent a lot of time in NZ ports.
They pulled out a good spread of food and some vodka, and we all had a good festive evening.
It was a nice introduction to the Russians and how friendly and accommodating they can be.
We did note that it would not be a good idea to ever try keep up with the Russians drinking in the future.

Here is some pic’s of Vladivostok from the ferry as we pulled in:







There wasn't any vessels in-front of ours but curiously customs were having a break and we couldn't disembark for 3 hours.
After being processed, we found a cheap hotel which was cramped to say the least but it was good enough for two rough and ready bikers.


Dinner that night was at Magic Burger, a magical place where a grumpy staff member takes your burger, pre-made in a plastic bag, and throws it in a microwave. Once you've peeled off the plastic bag most of the nutrition is to be found in the Coca-Cola that comes with it.
There was plenty of what we call farmers markets around, so we made good use them after that.

We were told the bikes would take 3 days to clear customs, it ended up taking 4 days due to a training day and an intranet crash.
A Canadian we meet had to wait 12 days due to an error in his paperwork so we didn't fare too badly.

Our attempts to learn some Russian were not paying off but we were having fun winging it with the help of a short phrasebook. It's an extra challenge with everything written in Cyrillic but we were doing ok.

Here are a couple more pics of Vladivostok.






Vladivostok isn't a bad city to be waiting in, but nevertheless we were happy to get the bikes out of customs and make some miles.






The 640 clutch slave developed a leak early on.
Wayne had packed a spare but he was worried he'd do more damage than good swapping it on.
The fix for now was to top it up with fluid every once in a while.



It was two long riding days to Kahbarovsk.
We keep forgetting to eat and were pretty grumpy by the time we hit town
The GPS lead us to three closed hotels before we found one that was open.
It was expensive and the staff were rude as they preferred to cater for a different class of people
The city is very beautiful though.




One of the 640's pannier racks broke. Wayne was not impressed since they were new and only had been on good roads up until now.




We found a friendly welder to glue them back together.




After a long days riding a camp-site was found pretty late the next day and was hard to find.
Every bit of land is a waterlogged bog in this part of Russia so gravel dumps for road works were the best option.
The insects were psychopathic and we jumped straight into the tents without dinner to get away from them.

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Old 09-05-2011, 01:00 PM   #11
racki
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Hi guys,

I've just finished my trip along the same route and I already wish I could be there again..
Enjoy it - it's the best part of your riding career, even if some days might be hard.
Good luck,
Bart
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:00 AM   #12
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Cheers all.
I enjoyed reading your report a lot racki, got a few useful tips from it too, cheers.

I'm not good with story telling either, but I have some bike stuff:
I'm riding a 2006 640 Adventure, it has the following mods:
Acerbis handguards
Some handy folding mirrors (handy for both crashing without breaking, and seeing backwards) I forgot the name of sorry
KTMatt bashplate (with upsized lower mounting bolts)
Pro Taper bars higher bend than standard.
SM Pro Rims (21x1.85" and 18x 2.5"), stainless spokes on KTM hubs.
Additional radiator fan
High/low octane switch on the dash
SW Motech Quick Lock pannier racks with Trax bags
Wolfman dry bag
KTM tank bag
Oxford heated grips
Reinforced subframe (based on ideas stolen from various people on ADVrider, cheers)
New heavier headlight wiring with relays and high/low beam simultaneous (Cheers Mungo57)
Garmin 60csx with RAM mount

I managed to use the front tyre and a loose rock to put a hole in the clutch cover and fuel tap in the lead up to this trip
(before I got the new bashplate) so there wasn't much (if any) testing so it will be interesting to see what survives, but as long as the bike makes it I'll be happy .

back to Mike...
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:34 AM   #13
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:04 PM   #14
stignz OP
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Thanks for the support guys,

Our trip takes us further west towards the city of Chita. We had some good riding days. We were stopped by the police a couple of times but they just checked our paperwork and made some calls and 20min later we would be on our way again. It was the the first time I had been stopped by policemen with sub-machine-guns.

This is a beautiful part of the country.



Wayne had a coolant hose blow out but it was an easy fix.





Later we found another nice camp site at another road material dump.




The next day started out good but we soon ran into thunderstorms like none I’d ever experienced.
One big one was over 100km deep and wild as hell. My tyres inspired little confidence in these conditions. We slowed right down but the winds were still blowing us all over the road. I could just make out Wayne’s tail light, weaving in the winds, not 30m ahead of me. Our storm gear couldn't keep the rain out and we just had to put up with being soaked though for the day.

That evening we found a good tent site but got hit by another thunder storm just as we were setting up.
Below is a photo moments before all hell broke loose.
It was heavy enough that I could have a shower in it, quite good since I was wet anyway.



Back on the road we gradually left the Siberian forests and wetlands and came into wide open plains.
The scenery was pretty stunning.







We stopped at a few towns. Not many travellers must detour through these towns as everyone comes out of the wood works wanting to talk to us, take photos, buy us a beer, etc. Everyone is really friendly in this part of the world.
Sometimes if we hung around long enough, the slower and less sober Russian’s start to arrive.
They are harmless enough but a pain in the arse because they can talk to you in Russian about whatever for hours if you let them. The fact we could say in Russian that we don't speak Russian only seemed to confirm that in-fact we could speak Russian, as logically we had just said something in Russian.

Here is one village store, after walking straight in, the goats were told that their money was no good here.


That night we stumbled on the best campsite thus far.
Far from the road, with a stream and a view of the sunset to rival the best I have seen.


Ah, the serenity…
Wayne can be seen here revealing his secret to long days on a stock KTM seat.


The next morning we were woken up by an ethnic local on a horse, this was a highlight for me but it was frustrating that we couldn't understand each other.
We had a short riding day to the city of Chita. We ran into the class thing again with some of the hotels, at one security wouldn't even let me approach the reception desk and just turfed me out. Time for a shower and a shave I think.

I hadn’t counted in the Russian roads being so good. As a result my dirt orientated front tyre was completely worn.
I spent some time in the city looking for a new front tyre.
The first bike shop was setup to tailor only for Russian bikes and their tyre sizes.
While I was there a curious local guy wanted to help me out and proceeded to drive me around at break neck speed to various tyre dealers and bike shops.
We couldn’t find anything new but he Tee’d up a free second hand knobbly from the local bike club.
He was a customs officer at the Chinese-Russian border and also gave us his mobile number to call if we had any problems at the Mongol border, translations etc.



I was stoked with the tyre and ended up using it later in Mongolia by heating up a box knife blade on the camp cooker and chopping the knobs to half height so that the weight of the big KTM wouldn’t tear them off. It worked a treat.

The new-old tyre didn’t like my lashing down skills…



Two more days to the Mongolian border. It was 45deg and everything got hot, all our water was tepid and all the horses and cattle were either taking refuge in all the bus shelters or kicking up clouds of dust to shelter themselves from the sun.





We came across a few bush fires. It seems to be natures way here as there was lots of fire damaged trees where the trees survived but the undergrowth was wiped out.



Just prior to the border, we stopped for petrol at a bastard of a station where the pumps didn't want to work and the cashier wasn't wanting to refund anyone.
I was a bit irritated and was glad I wasn't alone when some Russians started flipping out. One of them set about smashing all the pump displays.

Only 1km to Mongolia, this travelling stuff is easy......
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:51 PM   #15
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I like this pic. Brave cow
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