Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vladivostok to Khabarovsk

30 May Sunday
We made a last minute decision to stay another day in Vladivostok. There are some things we need to get sorted and it's easier with the help of people who speak Russian and English.
We meet with Rachael, Lois and Natasha for lunch. Lois and her husband David are over from NZ helping with some of the renovations to the Living Hope building. Another New Zealander, Darrym, is also here helping out, he is quite a character to. Natasha is one Living Hopes residents, a street kid with a baby.
J'ean and I spent the afternoon down at the beach in front of our hotel. As in most places if there is a beach and the sun is out people flock to it and here is no different. The whole scene and atmosphere though is like that of a carnival. There stalls selling icecream, candy floss, souvenirs and balloons. There is a ferris wheel, hire boats, artists and buskers, young and old are out enjoying this day. The sun does not go down until 10.30pm so I find I loose track of time easily. It is 9.00pm when we head back to the hotel and I swear its only 4pm.
Tomorrow our plan is to head off in the direction Khabarovsk.

31 May Monday Vladivostok to Khabarovsk

We get up early, so we can beat the traffic - Good Plan! Not 5 minutes on the road in the middle of the city I get pulled over by the police, document check. With a quick look at my passport and papers and a few words from me ' Ya ne panimayo pa rooskee' meaning I dont understand russian, he decides to wave us on and look for a another target. We do a couple a loops around the city before we figure out with is the right off ramp to exit on and heading for Khabarovsk. We stop in at Living Hope to say our good byes and have a look around at the work that has been done - impressive:))) To find out more info www.livinghope.org.nz
Back on the motorway we get pulled over again by the police, J'eans turn. It takes longer unpack your passport and papers than it does for them to decide that you are not worth the hassle. We missed a turn off, to take us on to secondary road with less traffic, because of major road works, so up the M60 we went. We stopped at Ussuriysk for a bite to eat, hotel Equator had made us a lunch and Lois had given us some scones. When trying to leave this place - seems we have problems finding the exit roads - we came across a truck that had run into a swamp and the cab had completely flipped forward so that the roof was now in the mud. The two occupants walking around shaking their heads a little dazed but Ok. Not wanting to offend we refrained from taking photos.
We made camp for the night on a side road just north of Chernigovka. Noodles for dinner, Mars bars for desert :)))

01 June Tuesday Vladivostok to Khabarovsk cont'

Breaking camp and downing a quick coffee had us on the road by 8.30 and at the diner up the road by 8.40 for breakfast.... gotta eat!!! Downloading the world maps from www.smellybiker.com before leaving NZ and loading them into the GPS takes a bit of the guess work out of where things are as previous riders have marked these locations. The morning sun is already pouring warmth into the day and as we ride along the scenery is green and alive with spring. We detour into a couple of the villages along the way, most are similar in there look, but the thing that stood out the most was that the people that we saw all had urns and were getting water from a truck or tank behind a tractor. This leaves me thinking ' Is there no water into their houses?' and if there is is the water they are collecting just for drinking?. There is no spouting on the houses so they dont collect rain water but there is a well or two in each village.
Going into Khabarovsk J'eans bike ran out of fuel, thank goodness for down hills and gas stations at the bottom. We follow the flow of traffic in to the city and then park up to get our bearings and find a motel. While just standing there watching the events of early evening a guy asks if we need help (in russian). After a few minutes he makes a call and a woman arrives, she can speak english. Explaining we would like a city map and cheap motel, she relays this to the guy and off he goes. Minutes later returning with two brand new maps. Ed and Natalia, their names, then proceed to help us get internet modems for our netbooks and escort us to a motel. I am still humbled by the generosity of these two. Not done yet Natalia rings one of her friends a local biker and arranges for us to meet with him. Leonid and a few of his friends arrive to pick us up at 10.30pm and take us out to see the sights of Khabarovsk at night. Khabarovsk is a city of colourful lights from the river Amur to Lenin Square and more. Chinas boarder is just 50km across the river. Our host takes us to a local bar - Harley Davidson - is written on the signs outside but I am not so sure this is the name of the bar. Ironically non of the bikers we meet ride Harleys....they call them Americas version of the Ural..... they ride big jap cruisers and assorted others. The owner of the bar is big guy with a welcoming manner. Food and drinks are brought to the table and a conversation of broken english and poor russian ensues. Being a couple of very tired Kiwis our hosts deliver us back to the motel and wish us happy travels.

02 June Wednesday Khabarovsk
Late nights make for late mornings so we stay put and decide to catch up on email, blog update and photo editing not to mention a bit of washing. We also go and check out the sights we saw at night and compare there daylight features. My impression of Khabarovsk is a good one and I like the place even having only seen such a small part of it but the feel of it I compare to Perth Australia. It has that relaxed feeling and a pace all of its own. It also is isolated. Fact: it is the capital of the Far East, I thought Vladivostok was.

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