Fri 8/7/2009 11:40 PM [Original Post by Elliot Mogerman]
Fyi: text messages for me may not work in Japan so make sure to use email
On with the daily blogs for the last several days:
So since my stomach has been good I have been, how you say, over indulging myself with food. Well last night I got food poisoning. I was up all night vomiting and trying to feel better for our trip to the border in the morning. While I was up I thought of some descriptions to describe Mongolia’s environment and psyche for you since my last blogs were all about yours truly. The only water is either in the lakes or rained on you. When it rains the water rolls down mountains and all the townspeople come out to collect the natural goodness in buckets and cans to store for use later. The countryside is mostly desert and unaffected by pollution or people, which is why I was sad to see the capital city factories and pollution in the air. We saw so many wild animals like camels, sheep, donkeys, horses, pigs, deer, lynx, moose, wolfs, mice, and others. 1/3 of the countries population lives in the capital which is why things were so peaceful around the country. Plenty of picturesque mountains and valleys we were able to show you through our videos and photos. Lots of hills like the ones we camped on every night. The sunsets were not as good as back home as there was no pollution to obscure the colors. But the stars were simply amazing and blossomed every night.
The people as I explained are always pleasant, humble, stoic, and curious. Asians by ethnicity but western by culture, if that makes sense. They have a rich nomadic past, we even ate at the NoMad restaurant with a Russian influence. Everywhere you look farmers and families were working together to move their herds around the land and respect the environment even through the roads quite often. The time of year is spring here, and it is very dusty, windy, dry (except when we get rained on) and the roads are unforgiving.
In the morning, we did not eat, Mike finished uploading the photos to the site, and we left at noon. The day was hot around 100 degrees but there were a few sprinkles of rain to cool us off. Around 3pm we stopped for lunch and ate the national dish we have had a few times before with the thin sliced meat, egg, veggies, and sauce. The landscape became greener as we approached the border and more trees again. About 10 k away from the border we decided to camp and get an early start tomorrow on the crossing process. Some flies and bees attacked us while Mike changed his oil. I am tired and just hung out and relaxed, looking forward to sleeping at night. Seriously though! We now have a Japanese phrase and tour guide book to research and learn to be prepared and better educated for our arrival to Japan. There are pocket storms around us so we put on our rain fly and prepare for some long days in the saddle.
Around 6am we woke up and headed to the border which was did not open until 8. 3rd times a charm back into Russia. Riding was fantastically great. We did about 900 km and made it to Chita which we thought would take two days. We couldn’t find a hotel since it was dark, we didn’t want to find a camp sight so late, so some helpful Russians took us to Panama city hotel. The food there was delicious and the room was nice. My stomach is still a little upset from the other day (don’t worry it gets better tomorrow.)
We wake up, eat breakfast where the waitress was the cook and the dishwasher. Riding kind of sucked because I ran out of gas again. Some gas stations run out of gas and the distance is great between them. The road was reminiscent of Mongolia with thousands of water filled potholes, mud, partial paved roads, and wash, rinse and repeat. We found a small town to fill up on gas and the pump was like a rocket launcher. Actually sprayed up when we tried filling the reserve tanks I used earlier and got gas in Mike’s eyes and face. I was giving him water and eye drops to stop the intense burning and Russians were honking at us to get our bikes out of the way so they could fill up. The day was around 100 degrees and then dropped to below 60 with thick fog, full moon, and clouds just like a horror vampire movie. But instead of vampires we were attacked by those damn mosquitoes. The camp was boggy, wet and all the wood around was too wet to start a fire. The ride was beautiful. Large valleys, streams and rivers, green tree covered mountains, shade randomly covering the tree lines and multiple colors of yellow, brown, and green leaves from the trees. I think I have become more in touch with nature on this trip than I have ever been. The drastic drop in temperature, fog, and bog created a lot of condensation in the tent and I was awakened repeatedly by water drops hitting me in the face.
We woke up very early, skipped breakfast and started riding in the cold, wet, thick fog of south eastern Russia just under Siberia. The riding conditions of the road were just like yesterday. However, we attacked it faster and more confidently. Mike got a flat tire from a sharp rock, patched it and used his compressor to fill it to 25 lbs of pressure before it quit working again. Around 3pm we stopped by a small stream, put some water in a pot, boiled it and made Raman. A Korean adventure rider on a BMW 650 headed the opposite direction stopped and introduced himself as June and we gave him a little food, which he spilled on his lap, and talked for a few minutes. He took off and we did shortly after. Then we stopped at a gas station diner and ate some good Russian microwave food and the sun went down quickly. We finished and in the night tried to find a camp sight. The first spot was so muddy and boggy we both got severely stuck in the mud. We finally got out after spraying mud everywhere and found 3 more unsuitable sights. Finally, through a rough crossing off the road we found a swampy spot with tons of huge mosquito vampires very hungry for fresh blood. We jumped into the tents, killed a few bugs, and went to bed quickly.
I guess by now you are wondering how I came up with the title for this blog. The day started like any other. The riding was great, had mostly paved roads. We had gas at every station and even topped off oil around 11 am at the last gas stop. About 5 minutes after that, traveling about 65 mph down the highway, I felt an explosion and my bike jerked hard to the right. Oil was spewing all over my leg and foot, dark smoke was flying from my bike behind me like a james bond smoke screen and of course I held on like an ant on a spoon of peanut butter and managed to pull off to the side of the road. Turns out without any warning, a bolt exploded through the engine wall and came out the side. Looks like a rod or the engine is completely shot on my nice new bike. We try to tow it using some tie down straps on the front and we go very slow. While Mike is tying it down and I’m on the phone, Mike knocks over my bike breaking more stuff on the opposite side. During the tow, one of the straps break under pressure when we stop. So, we make a few calls, and start waving down passing trucks. A man in a perfect flat bed working truck stops and speaks very broken English but we manage to get Paul from St. Petersburg on the phone to translate. Can’t wait until my next cell phone bill as the Kazakhstan experience wasn’t cheap on my Verizon bill. Anyway Sergei, the man that stopped wasn’t headed to the city we were going but said he would help us find someone on the road. After an hour, no one is willing to stop or help if they do pull over. Sergei finally agrees to take us to the next town, so the three of us put it on the back and off we go with mike following. We stop in a town where Sergei has to drop off his existing load to a factory and he treats us to a buffet style lunch. Then he says he will take us to the next big city before Vladivostok, our destination, but first we have to stop in another city to see his friend. Turns out his friend, Sasha (Alexander), is the head of the Russian international Taikwando Federation, three degree engineer, member of Olympic committee for Taikwando, and invites us to spend the night at his flat with his wife and Sergei since it is getting late. They cook us a wonderful dinner of fresh caviar, stuffed cabbage, potatoes, bread, green olives with nuts inside which were not salty and I actually liked them, tea, apples, vodka, tomato juice, and veggies. Sasha’s wife’s sister speaks perfect English and came over to help translate the evening for everyone. After dinner he plays us hotel California on his guitar, Mike shows them pictures of us on the website to their slow dial up internet connection and we go to sleep around 3am. In the morning Natasha, his wife, had eggs and caviar, tea, and tomatoes waiting for breakfast and we all sit down and eat. Sasha makes some calls and says he has a friend in the town half way between here and Vladivostok. Sergei will take us to him today and he will help us from there. We bid everyone farewell and invite them to America someday to return the favor. We drive for several hours and make it to the next town. We wait at a bus station and meet up with our contact. He takes us to a public garage and we pay to store the bikes. Then make arrangements at a hotel across the street. Ilya the new contact tells us he made arrangements for a transport semi-truck passing through the city tomorrow headed to Vladivostok will put my bike on for a reasonable fee. So we say bye to Sergei as he needs to get back to his family many towns away and eat a delicious lunch of steak, pork tenderloin, and Caesar and Greek salads at the hotel. Then a few hours later Ilya comes back and takes us on a tour of the city, we drink at a Harley bar, eat at a Russian Restaurant and get back to the hotel for a little sleep. Mike is out as soon as he hits the pillow.
Since my bike is new and still under warranty, thanks Jeff, we come up with the following plan. Tomorrow the truck will take us to Vladivostok and we will arrive around 9pm at night. We will figure out what to do with the bikes in the morning. Then somehow, get the bikes on a boat to Japan. Now here’s the interesting thing. The boat leaves every Monday only. Today is Saturday. All next week Japan businesses are closed for a parade of the dead holiday. If we go over on this next ferry we will sit in Japan for one week with no help. So we will probably stay in Russia for one more week in Vladivostok and make complete arrangements thanks to Mike’s Japanese girlfriend. Next week get to Japan and hopefully have the Tokyo BMW dealer pick up my bike from the shipping yard and transport us and them to the dealership where they can perform the free warranty replacement or repair of my engine. And in the meantime we will just stay in Tokyo.