Konichiwa! – 2009 World Tour Progress Report

[Original post by Elliot Mogerman – Transferred from yahoogroups.com]

Found out there was an earthquake yesterday in Tokyo off the coast in the sea. And a typhoon in the southern region of mainland Japan. It has been several days since I wrote blogs and haven’t kept track so this will be a little rough. After gathering info I have discovered we will be just as lost when we arrive in Japan as I was last week. All Japanese businesses are closed until the day we arrive. So I am unable to get any info because everyone is pointing their fingers to Japan contacts. Fortunately, we have a lot of numbers and people outside of the country to help. After a long day of research we went out and met up with Doug, a popular American biker and went out with him and some of his friends. We ate, partied, and went to bed very late. I slept in until lunchtime and we did the tourist stuff with Doug and his friend Sasha (Alexander). He took us to a motorcycle and car museum full of old cars and bikes that were very cool. Then Mike and I also got to enter an old submarine from WWII. Later that day we visited 2 forts and one was totally abandoned and we had it all to ourselves. Walking around in the dark under ground with flashlights reminded me of games I used to play on the computer when I was younger. The other was a tourist attraction and we joined the tour, took a few souvenirs and then we walked around and ran into a famous Russian Biker, Senus from the other day. He invited us to his home for coffee and then a party.

I made friends with a Russian army special forces guy, we all hung out and again stayed up past my bedtime. The next day I think I relaxed most of the day and then went out to a great dinner at an Italian Restaurant with live music. The sound guy was one of the guys I met at the party the other night, so he hung out and had them dedicate a song to me. We all ventured out at the beach. There was a kid jumping off of a statue in the water, swimming, and smoking while he swam back and forth from the beach. When we were done watching the water, listening to the empty carnival and clubs around the boardwalk, and empty beer bottles float by a group of us went to a famous spot where you could see all of Vladivsotcok at night. Very cool spot. Another long night, got home when the sun came out. Today, we had to go back to customs and finalize paperwork and drop off our bikes. Another all day event, I get frustrated even thinking about explaining it to you. In the morning our friend, Yuri, picked me up with a truck and Mike and Doug were going to follow us to the loading yard of customs control to drop off our bikes. Mike’s bike stopped working and broke down in the middle of transport. So now we have two bikes not working and Doug, with his 60 year old Harley chopper is doing just fine. We drop off both non working broken bmw bikes to customs and they changed times on us throughout the day forcing us to keep waiting without knowing how long. The only lady in the whole country that can do our paperwork decides to leave at 4pm and go on vacation for the weekend but says she will be back in an hour. We wait for a few more hours and she actually returns and finishes.

I went back to a restaurant by the railway station for BBQ where we ate the first day with Grady, and it was total crap today. All the meat on the skewer was all fat, not one piece of meat to eat and I was too disgusted to eat anything else. So I had delicious Russian ice cream for lunch from our favorite vendor by the harbor and ate it watching the waves crash into the freight boats. The following day we are ready for our departure to Japan. In the morning it rains hard and I worry we won’t be able to have a dry day and a good exit to say goodbye to Russia. But the rain stops and remains overcast all day. Again the Russian customs is a nightmare. We get to our bikes so we can load on the boat and we wait for a few hours. Then we finally get to put them on the boat and no one knows when the ship is supposed to load and depart. We get anything from 6, 7, 8, 9, 10pm. We wait with friends, ironically one of which works at one of the customs departments and helps us out all night, they hang because they want to say goodbye and then we finally start boarding. The boat cashier tells me they only take American dollars for our fees which makes no sense from a boat leaving Russia to Japan. I talk to the captain and convince him to take rubles. Otherwise, we might have had an issue staying on the boat.

We end up hanging out with some new British friends from the hostel, and Doug our biker friend. We shop to get snacks, board, eat dinner of soup, squid, and salad. I give it a definite 6 out of a scale of 15. After a good nights sleep and only a dozen or so people on this large ferry, or small cruise ship, we sleep past breakfast. So I hang out on the deck and enjoy the view of the ocean, a little overcast but very blue water. We play cards and poker with everyone and then head to the empty bar/club on the ship. We take control of the DJ’s laptop and try to find better music but are pretty much unsuccessful. Two older ladies hang out with us, like really older. And for some reason we all end up swimming in the cold ocean water pool late night. One of the brits takes one back to the room and gets crap from us all night and the next morning. The rest of us shower, and go to sleep. Morning sneaks up on us, I eat rice porridge, lunch meat, and fried eggs for breakfast and prepare to be boarded by customs. Unfortunately, I still have no info about transport, bmw, or anything.

The boat pulls up to the dock and we watch the workers get the boat anchored in. After a nice breakfast we wait in the room for customs officials to search our luggage. After they finish, we go to immigration on the boat, get our passports and meet a man who helps us with transportation to JAF, Japanese automobile federation, to work on our carnets, which is an hour away. Doug stays with the luggage and bikes. The country is green, pretty, and humid. Like Florida weather. The service industry here is much more delightful than Russia. The workers run from point A to point B trying to do their work fast and efficient. Once we arrive, as we are going up the stairs Mike fell, but not bad, so he is fine. They take care of some details with our Carnet and we are off back to the port. We stop to get insurance and our customs documents stamped. Four hours later we are done and the man who helped us gives us a ride to a hotel. We check in with his help and our room is great. We have a massage chair and an electric toilet.

All 3 of us settle in and go out to dinner. There is a busy restaurant by the hotel. Once we walk in the host asks us if we want a traditional Japanese dinner and we agree. He takes us upstairs to the sit down on a pillow type dinner. We think it might be a little too expensive by looking in, and ask to go to the downstairs café which was super busy. We sit at the bar and in Japanese I tell the head chef to decide for me. Then we all order small amounts of different types of skewers to share. It was very tasty. I had heart and it was very good. The chef would point to different organs when we ordered to make sure we agreed to eat what we ordered. Mike had the best Asahi beer of his life and is addicted.

After dinner, we walk and find a park with a fort, moat, zoo, and it is very pretty. In the morning we have a taxi to take us back to the shipyard to meet the truck and get my bikes on its 2 day journey to Tokyo. Finally, a bmw dealer in Tokyo has been corresponding with me and looks like they are willing to try and help. Not sure of the logistics but it’s a start and more than I have had since the bike broke down. I also stop at a convenience store and we get some delicious dessert. I had ice cream and a small chocolate chip pastry and they had double cream filled bread pastries.