Saturday, August 30, 2014

Khaborvsk to Belogorsk

30AUG - Left at 08:45 and 413 miles later arrived Belogorsk at 18:30 (really 19:30 because we gained an hour). Perfect blue sky day. Good road and three rain squalls - we just rode through them. We saw three groups of bikes riding East - they didn't stop. Many cars honk, wave and flash their lights. Tomorrow we'll ride to Skovorodino, a shorter day.

No secure parking here. Fingers crossed the bikes will be OK.

Dalnerechensk to Khaborvsk

29AUG - Left at 08:30 and 225 miles later we were in Khaborvavsk at 16:00. This is Russia, it took nearly two hours to check in. They had to copy the passports, check the visas, review our documentation confirming where we'd stayed each night since entering the 'workers paradise'. It's such a fantastic country they have fences to keep outsiders from entering.

Getting gas is an adventure in patience. First you tell the gal at the window how much gas you want and pay her, making sure that she sets the correct pump. (They accept credit cards if they have 'chips'. We'll get those in the U.S. in the Fall of 2015. They've had them in the rest of the world for 15 or 20 years.) Then you go to the pump and select the grade of gas you've paid for and pump the gas. There are long lines. The good news is that ethenol is one option - we of course don't buy the junk because it hurts our mpg.

The picture is of Dave using 'the facility' at a gas stop.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vladivostok to Dalnerechensk

Today was our first day on the road in Russia. We left at 09:00 and 255 miles later we were in Dalnerechensk. Pretty decent road other than some sections with gravel in construction zones.

We stopped for gas about half way and two Russian kids from Khabarovsk wanted to sit on the bike. Steven spoke perfect English. Marie and their parents didn't so he translated. Nice kids.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


A perfect blue sky day here. Temperature in mid 70s and humidity has dropped. Tomorrow, Thursday (we're a day ahead if the U.S.) we'll ride to Dalnerechensk, 251 miles North. Trucks rule the roads here so the danger will be trucks swerving to avoid them. We too have to avoid them as hit at speed they can 'kill' a front tire of a moto. All part of the Adventure!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Submarine S56

We walked over to see S56 and the Eternal Flame. There are thousands of names of sailors lost in war on a long wall that overlooks S56. Impressive.

Getting the bikes

Nice breskfast at the hotel. Then a five minute walk down to the ferry terminal to actually get the bikes. As all the paperwork was completed the night before it took about two minutes. We decided to secure the bikes at the hotel and sightsee on foot. On the way we came upon a bizare accident - a street sweeper truck had run over a woman. Not much left. That said, the drivers are very good in giving pedestrians the right-of-way.

Our Hotel in Vladivostok

We made it to the Hotel Zhemchuzhina in time for dinner at 20:00, thanks to the efforts of Svetlana (Lana) and her relationship with Russian Customs officials. Ruth Ann mabaged to nap as we waited for customs officials to 'do their thing'. We didn't want to ride to the hotel in the dark so planned to get the bikes from customs at 09:30 Tuesday.

A Week in Seoul

We spent eight busy days in Seoul, a vibrant and clean city. I mentioned in a previous post that we had to change our plans because the Papal visit to Korea. Our sightseeing plans that day were derailed due to the 800,000 to one million people clogging the center city attending an open air mass.

The next day we bought bus tickets for a city tour. We were able to score two of the front seats on the upper level of the double-decker and had a great view as we rolled through the capital city for 90 minutes in the light rain. Seoul is a very attractive and clean city that beckons a re-visit in the future.

On Monday (8-18) we traded the Center Mark Hotel for Hotel Sky near the airport. There we met up with Jean ,Ross, and Doug; Dave, the sixth rider in our group flew to Korea two weeks before we did and was out touring the country on his bike.

Tuesday was a pivotal day on this adventure: the retrieval of the bikes from Koran customs. Wendy Choi, our agent in Seoul, met us at the airport at 1000 and walked us through customs and helped us board the airport shuttle bus to get to the proper freight terminals (the bikes shipped from Vancouver were in a different location than the ones shipped from Germany). It took about three hours for us to restore the bikes to operating condition (remove the shrink wrap and unload from the metal pallet, connect the battery, mount the winshield and mirrors, and air up the tires) and reassemble the group prior to filling the bikes with gas and riding to the hotel. All of the bikes arrived without damage putting us one step closer to the real beginning of the ride across Russia.

The next day we moved the bikes from the airport area to the Center Mark downtown Seoul. Motorcycles are not allowed on toll roads or the equivalent of the interstate highways in the USA. The Incheon Airport (ICN) is located on an island so we had planned to take the short ferry ride to the mainland. We made a wrong turn and ended up on the toll road off the island which resulted in being directed to pullover to the side of the road at the toll booth. After about 20 minutes a Korwan Highway Patrol car with lights flashing showed up and we were wondering what our fate would be. The officer in charge spoke good English, lectured us nicely how dangerous the toll road was for motorcycles and sent us on our way without even having to pay the toll! Two hours later we arrived at the hotel soaking wet from perspiration from the 80° temps and humidity to match. The hotel had two underground parking levels which were reached by vehicle elevators on the backside of the hotel.

Thursday was a good day to have set aside as a rest day as there were off and on heavy rain throughout most ofvthe morning. We spent the day reorganizing luggage and paperwork and tweaking a few things on the bikes.

Friday morning a shuttle picked us up at 0645 for the beginning of our day long tour to the DMZ. We reached the US military base after about a 90 minute bus ride and picked up our guide (a 2013 graduate of West High from Green Bay!). In one of the buildings where talks between North and South Koea have taken place we crossed into North Korea! The idea of the DMZ being a barren wasteland between the two countries was soon quashed as we saw that the no man's land is heavy wooded and green with vegetation. It was a very interesting outing.

On Saturday, August 23rd, we finally got to do some motorcycling as we rode across the peninsula from a Seoul to the port citybof Donghae. It took about three hours in the heat and humidity to finally free ourselves of Seoul and it's environs. The roads were excellent, especially the last bit of twisties over the coastal range.

Here are few photos from our time in Seoul:

Mile Marker Zero

Vladivostok, our next destination

A rainy day in Seoul

Many sculptures (and Starbucks) in Seoul

Woukd you bank here?

Bike still intact after its flight across the Pacific

Scupture at Buddist temple

Detail of Buddhist temple

Many delivery bikes in the center city

The gray building in the background is in North Korea

Our guide, Private Zellner, from Green Bay

Helmets in the cafeteria

We saw a short video in this building then went out to an observation deck with where we could look across into North Kore

Sculpture depicting the South and North Korean citizens trying to reunite

At the 3rd Tunnel site

The blue dot at the top of the map shows where we visited the DMZ--Seoul is in at the bottom right of the map


Claiming Bikes

Cleared Customs, got Russian insurance (in addition to EU GreenCard) and cleared bikes. Svetlana was anazing! Checked in at hotel and ready for dinner at 20:00.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


We're in Russia. This guy is on his third bottle and trying to share it with a Korean kid. He can hardly stand or talk.


Arriving Vadivostok. About half sick from the rolling sea, none of our group. Now the fun of clearing Russian Customs awaits.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Donghae to Vladivostok

Bikes are loaded. We'll sail in about 15 minutes. 23 hours and we'll be in Russia!

Seoul to Donghae

It's Saturday and we left downtown Seoul at 09:30. Hired a taxi to lead us to Highway 3. That was a one hour ordeal, 84 degrees and 90% humidity and stop and go traffic, all four lanes of it. After wr got to Hwy. 3 it was another 90 minutes of the same. Seoul is a city of 23 million just to put it in perspective. Met three Korean HD types at a gas stop. They had red & blue flashing lights and sirens (go figure) so we rode with them for a time. Crossing the Coastal Range was great. Some of the best twisties I've ever ridden anywhere. Right up there with the Devil's Backbone in Mexico (Durango/Mazatlan).

Sunday we catch the DBS Ferry to Vladivostok. 23 hours later we'll dock in Russia and the real Adventure will begin.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Today we took the USO sponsored tour of the DMZ. Impressive. What a conflict. Even as a jarhead I'd forgotten the terrible losses, civilian and military.