Vladivostok, Russia - July 2, 2015
Oh well, I certainly had a bit of a mis-start this morning... and for once I'm not talking about bike ignition.
I was aware of the requirement to register your visa within 72 hours (some say 5 days, some say 3 working days) after entry into Russia and inquired upon arrival at the hotel, as it is clearly the hotel's responsibility and obligation to do it. Anyway, that seems to have fallen through the cracks and I am not leaving Vlad until it is done. With Svetlana's help this morning, the hotel agreed to register it but the process is lengthy enough that I would need to be here another day. Unfortunately, today is Vladivostok day and even though it is just a city holiday, it seems the federal workers also recognize it. Of course the offices were closed and so it still is not registered. Grrr. Looks like it may get done tomorrow very late morning or mid-day, which makes for a very late start. I should have just stood my ground and insisted as I seem to have studied the rules better than anyone else here.
So with sitting around waiting for that today, I didn't really do much. Went to a fabulous but small art gallery. They had a display of Shishkin's pen-and-ink drawings. None of his paintings, unfortunately, as those are really fantastic. They provided a magnifying glass as some of the drawings were very small and intricately detailed. Many look like photos. I like that stuff. Reminded me a bit of the micro-mosaics at the Victoria and Albert, from the 2010 and 2012 trips.
Anyway, had a nice dinner out with Yuri and Svetlana last night at a popular bar here called Gutov. They have a micro-brewery and the beer was good I must say. Then came outside to an absolutely gorgeous evening. Full moon, deep blue cloudless sky. I hate to say it, but it reminded me of that Venice restaurant they have in Disney World. They must have spent a lot of time at Disney figuring out just what the right combination of sky color and lighting is for people to go "Oooo... ahhh". Well, that's what it was like last night. Then a fireworks display probably to kick off the holiday or to send me off, I'm not sure which.
So I was all stoked to leave this morning. Had the bike all packed and thought I would just check with the hotel staff before I left that the registration thing had been done. The issue is that it's a deportation crime not to register. While they probably wouldn't deport me, what is more likely is that they invoke the more common penalty of no re-entry into Russia for 5 years. I could get tagged with that when I exit Russia for Mongolia. If that happens, I am trapped in Mongolia with the bike. The only other way out is through China and that wouldn't be possible. So I'm really not sure what would happen. I would somehow have to get the bike bonded through Russia, have Yuri send a truck to pick it up in Mongolia, send it home, and I would need to fly out of Ulan-Bataar in a way that I wouldn't have to reenter Russia. That's a nightmare scenario I don't even want to think of. So I won't. I'll just get it done here.
Just did some touristy things yesterday... visited a submarine and a museum. Kicked around a bit. Had a nice pizza - the best of the trip so far. Lousy weather most of the day, but then cleared by last night's dinner. While I was waiting for S&Y, there was a really cute cat in the park playing with something. Ugh. Dead rat. But that cat was having a blast. Can't say as much for the rat though.
OK, it looks like the RF shield over Vladivostok is too much for Little Spot. Even my GPS is slow to find itself. Must be all that weather control the Russians are doing. If anyone is interested, coordinates are N 43 7.140, E 131 53.102. You can GoogleEarth them.
Plans are to head to about halfway to Khabarovsk tomorrow, then finish up on Saturday. I booked a hotel for Saturday and Sunday nights there as Khabarovsk is supposed to be quite nice. Then I think that's about it for "nice" for a long while. Yuri says there is only about 30 kms of gravel between here and Khabarovsk, then the road actually gets better as road west of Khabarovsk is much newer. I should be running pretty close to the Chinese border and the Amur River. I think it should be pretty.
The Korean guys emailed me that they were leaving today. I should catch the scooters pretty quick I think over the next couple of days... not sure about the others. Hope Heung Gu doesn't have any problems. He told me he has neither tools nor parts. And a fuel tank that is too small to bridge the gaps between gas stations apparently, according to Yuri. Gotta admire that guy. He's the REAL Gung-Ho.