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Old 06-30-2011, 04:02 PM   #16
Navel
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Location: Galicia, Spain. Exiled in Madrid.
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front view foto, front view foto, front view foto

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Old 06-30-2011, 04:35 PM   #17
jtb
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I've subscribed. Keep it coming
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:43 AM   #18
racki OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Navel View Post
front view foto, front view foto, front view foto

Sorry, I can't - my lovely wife would kill me for that.. Update is coming soon.
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Old 07-01-2011, 03:06 AM   #19
racki OP
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VLADIVOSTOK, Day 4 & 5


It’s been a while since the last time I felt like a cattle, so disembarking from a ferry was a long overdue reminder. First of all, we are no match for Russian queue masters – no matter how we try, we always land at the end of the line. Second of all – the rule is that line forms an hour before they open the door, and we don’t have enough stamina to last that long. So at the end we were standing for more than an hour and left the boat in the middle of the field (which still was a massive surprise for us). That’s when the fun begins – you have to find your junk on a pier, run with it up the stairs and join another line in front of passport control ladies. There are different kinds of lines for holders of different passport. That was easy, then it was luggage scan for bombs or something and we were out in the open.

That’s when we realised we don’t want to deal with local customs ourselves – it’s better to pay someone else to do that and use the time otherwise. French guys said that they hooked up with Yuri, local customs agent. I already had his details and using him was plan ‘b’ for us. I rang him just to make sure it’s not too late to hire him. He said it was OK, but he was busy at the moment and told me to call later. Not very promising... I went to check with ferry office how to deal with paperwork and they told me straight away that they have special guy to deal with that. Guess who that is? Yes, it’s Yuri. French guys arrived soon after that, then German guy and Japanese guy – I won’t even try to spell their names as there is no chance to get it right.

Swietlana, Yuri’s assistant, came to take us to some hostel – dodgy looking apartment building with bunk beds, bathroom and wifi. There was not much else to it. Seriously, that was all. At 22$ a night it wasn’t bad though. Company was shit on the other hand – I guess I’m too old to listen to some bullshit-talk of young Americans going to Mongolia to do some ‘sustainable village’ project. Bloody ego pumping wankers. I did my masters in sustainable development and realise that it’s Mongolians who live sustainable, not Americans. Then there was super-negative Czech chick who did her best to make our Russian leg of the trip worse. ‘Oh, this is not caviar, it’s just salty water in plastic’, ‘local university is the worse in the world’. Who cares? It was my first and last ever visit to any hostel. I promise.

Later that day we had nothing better to do than explore the city centre . Checking the whole city would take a weeks – 700 000 people live there I’ve been told, so it’s not small. Taking a bus was a good idea for a while - it got stuck in traffic after kilometre. So we left and continued on foot. It was interesting at the beginning – seeing different country first time always is. Super-dodgy roads, nonexistent sidewalks, everything being renovated or in very bad shape. It’s probably one of those things that needs to be seen to be understood. Massive traffic jam, cars going for every possible gap, pedestrians trying to filter between them. A lot of dust and exhaust fumes. I’m pretty sure this whole experience gave a bit of a black lung...
This machine is cleaning the city, not sure to what result.



But there was something that helps me erase all those bad memories... it’s local women. I can’t really understand it, but that’s how it looks – local men are rough to say the least. They look like they cut trees for a living. With their bare hands. Women look like they came from a different ape – they are slim, pretty and they try really hard to look the best they can. Short skirt (one inch less and it would be just a belt), high heels, just enough makeup. Perfect. Even those less pretty try hard and that makes them look pretty. I imagine there must be some ugly and fat ones somewhere, but they must be hiding in burrows during daylight as I haven’t seen any. Swietlana told us that ‘beauty requires suffering’ and it’s hard to disagree. Looking at them walking in high heels between piles of rubble, navigating through patches of deep gravel and jumping over underground pipe works was a mesmerising experience. I could do that for hours... When you see girl in high heels in Sydney, she usually walks like John Wayne after a bottle of whiskey. Most of the time that’s what she just had. All the women here walk like a world class models. It’s incredible to say the least. I’m really glad I saw this at the beginning of the trip – at the end it could make me want to run and rape in a broad daylight. I know I talk like a sexist, but they are so hot they make me sexist. It’s not my fault.




City itself is going through massive upgrade process – two huge bridges are being built, shitloads of road work projects, construction of new buildings. There is Russian style to it of course and most of it makes no sense to me. Streets are rubbish – potholes the size of a small car, some streets are just dirt roads that I wouldn’t feel safe to ride my bike on. But they are upgrading broadwalk along the promenade. Sure – it’s nice to look at the mostly empty promenade from a car stuck in traffic. Two bridges are massively impressive though...





It would be a great pleasure to come back in 10-20 years to see what this city evolved into. Right now it’s got nice location with shit-ugly port in the middle and crap infrastructure but it’s clear that a river of money flows through and eventually it’ll be very nice.

We spend most of Wednesday on sitting in Customs office. It was nice – all those high heels in short skirt uniforms ladies (seriously – are they trying to save on fabric?), walking back and forth, were inspiring but that’s not what we all wanted to see. By ‘we all’ I mean our international group of motorised travellers – Yuri was dealing with our papers so we eventually joined our forces in taking piss at each other and it was fun. National stereotypes worked well – organised German nervous about inefficiency of local bureaucracy, polite Japanese constantly smiling, optimistic Aussie, slightly disorganised Frenchies and Pole who had all the documents but in wrong order. Eventually we got document that should get our bikes released tomorrow morning.

In Customs - left to right: French guy, Jepanese guy, Polish guy and Russian girl.



After two days spent here I just couldn’t leave fast enough – one week after departure from Sydney I was itchy to get on a bike. Guys were great, we had fun, city is interesting but right now I just want to spend some time alone in my helmet. Tomorrow, I hope...


And tiling here is poor. Most is done by Koreans and they don’t have good reputation in this field.
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Old 07-01-2011, 03:26 AM   #20
racki OP
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Some more photos from Vladivostok


Walk at your own risk



The whale can be happy - it's not Japan after all..



I was meant to go there with the bike but at the end couldn't be bothered - famous submarine of Vladivostok, with bridge pylons behind



This guy is not in a hurry




Jonathon found Australia after all:




Sunset with a bonus




Team of motorised travellers

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Old 07-01-2011, 03:33 AM   #21
racki OP
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Day 6 – Vladivostok – some forest



They open customs warehouse at 9 am. All of us were there at 8:45, ready to pay and leave. We had to pay something like 2600 RBL and it took just w while. In general I don’t blame customs officers for being so slow during the whole process – they work hard, but there is massive amount of goods being imported, procedures are medieval (just one piece of paper they gave me had no less than 8 stamps!) and there is not enough staff. Happy to be on a bike we went back to the hostel to install steering dampers. I managed to do mine, but didn’t have massive torx key to undo bar risers on John’s bike. We need to get one to finish it. After all we left around 1pm.


Workshop at the doorstep of our hostel:





Some big wig was visiting city and there was almost no traffic. Apparently it was Medviediev, but I’m not sure. Going out of city wasn’t that hard – there is one major road, although most of the roads look major to me. GPS with Open Street Map solved the problem. There was a bit of filtering through traffic, dodging cars and potholes, being careful on tram tracks.


There is one thing that struck me. Almost all of the cars have right hand steering. They also drive on the right side of the road. Police doesn’t mind that. Cars are imported from Japan and mostly they are good looking, although suspension is often beaten up. So they drive like lunatics not only because they like to, but also because they see shit. It makes them parallel parking masters but adds to excitement during overtaking manoeuvres. It was super-annoying when we left the city and road became two-way traffic.


But before we left there was minor incident. While riding at around 60 km/h I felt something weird in the front. Bit of rattle, nervousness and suddenly no brakes. I stopped as quickly as I could using rear and at the last metre front locked. WTF? I looked down and saw front brake calliper hanging merrily on one bolt only. It went off the disc and eventually jammed it. It looks like during bike assembly on a ferry I forgot to tighten calliper bolts... What an idiot. On the other hand I moght be the luckiest idiot there is – if it happened at higher speed I would make very nice Superman impression. I did a bit of bush mechanics, using spare bolt from bar risers (the one I replaced with longer ones that mornig). It was too long but I used some tools as a washers and it sort of works for now. I’ll have to fix it properly later.


See, I fixed it!





Road out of Vladivostok is crap. That’s official. Mostly because it’s being built of course, but the way they do it is simply unbelievable. All the width of the road is being done in one go, so traffic is redirected to gravel super-highway. Amount of dust and potholes beats all the world records. On top of that everyone drives like a maniac of course.

We did 260 km today, ate something in a bar along the way, saw 50 police patrols but were not stopped. At the end we just turned into the forest and camped. Mozzies nearly killed us.





Stats for the day:




Somehow frame for the map doesn't work, so here is the link - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/296992 - will try to do fix it later.


Local tiling is getting from bad to worse so far.
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racki screwed with this post 07-01-2011 at 08:54 AM Reason: spelling check
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:03 AM   #22
bend27
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Great start to the RRWould you mind informing your readers how much things cost? Stuff like ferry to Wlad., shipping bike from Australia to Korea, Yuri's services... etc.
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:15 AM   #23
salvador81
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hi,

fantastic trip! :) i'm waiting for another stories, and - maybe - try to catch You on a motorbike somewhere in Poland, at the end of your journey.

greetings from PL.
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:22 AM   #24
racki OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bend27 View Post
Great start to the RRWould you mind informing your readers how much things cost? Stuff like ferry to Wlad., shipping bike from Australia to Korea, Yuri's services... etc.

From the top of my head while I still remeber anything:
- crating in Sydney 250A$
- air freight to Korea - 700A$
- ferry tickets - me & the bike - 590A$
- crete disposal - 100$
- Yuri & customs - about 200$
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:25 AM   #25
racki OP
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Originally Posted by salvador81 View Post
hi,

fantastic trip! :) i'm waiting for another stories, and - maybe - try to catch You on a motorbike somewhere in Poland, at the end of your journey.

greetings from PL.

Thanks. Sure, meeting is possible but there is no way I'll go to Warsaw Plan for now is to go north along eastern border.
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Old 07-01-2011, 08:08 AM   #26
racki OP
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Day 7 - Forest - Habarovsk


Less text, justo photos for this one. Mostly because ride was a bit uninspiring. I expected little from this section and all my expectations has been met. Road got better, but still with a lot of surprises, it required a lot of attention.

We emerged from the forest:



Went through some road works:



Had some kwas straight from the barrel (kwas is something like Russian answer to Coca Cola, slightly sweet, refreshing and fizzy):



Some local car (Uaz I think):



Met my bike's little brother:



And eventually made it to Habarovsk. If I told before that chicks in Vladivostok were nice and plenty - scratch that. They've got nothing. Habarovsk is eye candy capital of the world!


Stats:



And a map, which I still can't work out how to insert - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/296991

Bart
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:47 PM   #27
horseman474
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Great report.

Eagerly await your reports Bart.
What is your fuel capacity and how do you think a non Russian speaker would go purchasing fuel, food, lodgings.
There must be an iphone app..for translation and money conversion ...have to look into that....

keep it coming

Geoff.
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:52 AM   #28
Muddler
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Originally Posted by horseman474 View Post
Eagerly await your reports Bart.
What is your fuel capacity and how do you think a non Russian speaker would go purchasing fuel, food, lodgings.
There must be an iphone app..for translation and money conversion ...have to look into that....

keep it coming

Geoff.
With the TT tank, Bart will have 25l, good for 500km +
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Old 07-03-2011, 02:17 AM   #29
Wolweseun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racki View Post
Day 7 - Forest - Habarovsk




And eventually made it to Habarovsk. If I told before that chicks in Vladivostok were nice and plenty - scratch that. They've got nothing. Habarovsk is eye candy capital of the world!



Bart
Pics Plse

We need to see evidence dont believe you
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:41 AM   #30
racki OP
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Day 8 – Habarovsk – Belogorsk

Remember I told you that river of money flows through Vladivostok? Now I know where it flows to – it’s Habarovsk. We rocked into the city centre with three hours of daylight to spare. OSM maps are great – it took a minute to find a hotel, five more to get there. One room, two beds, secure parking, breakfast and wifi – 50$ per head – hotel Amur.

City looks much better than Vladivostok – located on Amur river, right across China. Little wonder there was some navy ship hanging around... A lot of new buildings, very nice main drag and was new for me in Russia – quite a few nicely restored old ones. I’m not sure what’s their planning strategy, but so far it looked like old buildings are just being abandoned. There are lots and lots of stuff that is just left to collapse. Not in the city centre of course, but it’s a common view. Anyway – Habarovsk is a place good to look at.








We left around ten, spotted some car mechanic and stopped to fit Jonahton’s damper. It took just a while, guys were very friendly and helpful. They also gave me bolt to fix my front brake. When leaving John forgot to pack his camera – he left it on the top of the bags and realised it after two kilometres. When asked guys said they didn’t see anything, of course.




Well – good it wasn’t the wallet or something equally important, but pain in the ass none the less. I used this time to have an ice cream, kwas and to chat with group of youths. Nice people, those Russians. I really like talking with them - they are always helpful, interested in our travel and full of good wishes for the rest of the trip.

Way out of Habarovsk was great – for the first time I was grinning all day long. Riding was just great – road was in very good condition, scenery was simply beautiful.





First there were swamps – a lot of tall grass basically with a bit of forest to it. Later we climbed a bit – we went through some rolling hills, still covered with grass. By the end of the day it looked like we were chasing a rain – road was a bit wet, black clouds were in front of us. It was time to put liners on. There is nothing better than exposing your hairy crack to complete strangers, by the side of the road in slight drizzle...




We caught up with the rain eventually, so we pulled into first petrol station to ask for direction to the nearest hotel of some sort. Some 20 minutes later we were in Belogorsk. Room was dodgy but we were sure it was better choice than setting tents in the rain. It was Saturday, so we expected some activity on the main square, but there was nothing more than traditional tyre burning contest – on wet, with the Corollas.


Stats for the day:



And map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/306296

Bart
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