Monday, August 17, 2015

Glad to be in Vlad

Well, we’ve done it. We have arrived more-or-less intact at our destination of Vladivostok- 27,000 kilometres and 7 months (and 4300 litres of diesel) after leaving Spain.

I have to admit in the last couple of weeks, it was more about the destination than the journey. We just wanted to get there, dammit.

It was great to see the ocean again – we haven’t seen the Pacific for 4 years.

Since my last post, we been driving, driving, driving. Jeez Russia is big. 17m square kilometres as opposed to Australia’s 7m sq km. Siberia seems to go on forever, as does Far East Russia.

It’s all quite lovely with forests and fields and hills, just endless and a bit monotonous.

We spent 2 nights in Blagoveshchensk and got our battery problem sorted. 2 new marine-grade deep cycle batteries at less than the cost of the original, so we now have double the power – yippee, more chilled wine. Still not sure what happened to the other one.

This city is right on the Chinese border, so you can wave to the Chinese but not fraternise. There’s no way across the river unless you swim and probably risk getting shot. The water didn’t look that inviting.

Waving to the Chinese

Next stop Khabarovsk after 3 nights wild camping with the Siberian mosquitos and other large flying critters. We loved this city with San Francisco style streets, great restaurants and lovely river frontage. We got really good coffee – the first in a very long time.

The staff at the hotel were fascinated with Boris and we had to keep giving tours!


The next 3 nights were spent wild camping. It’s quite difficult to find good spots. It’s hard to get off the road and because a lot of the Trans-Siberian Highway hugs the Chinese border, there are restrictions as to where you can actually stop. One night we thought we’d hit the jackpot – away from the Trans-Siberian railway (which is really busy) away from the road and away from the border, we thought.

At 2am we had a knock on the door – that gives one a fright! It was the bloody army wanting to know what we were doing there. Smuggling a small Chinese family perhaps?? It was all sorted quickly but not much sleep was had after that.

Our last night camping was also our wedding anniversary. I had visions of a beautiful camping spot and cooking our last tin of Confit de Canard. However as always these things never quite work out. It was pissing rain and our spot was not glamorous. We had some delicious bubbly bought in Georgia and a tin of cassoulet. Oh well.

Instead we had celebratory lunch on Sunday with a glass or two of Prosecco as an aperitivo.

I think we have a lot to celebrate.

Today Boris had to go to the docks in readiness for our ferry to South Korea on Wednesday. 2 days at the docks has something to do with Russian customs paranoia and chance to get more money out of us.

We’re staying at Vlad Motor Inn which is brilliant. Styled on a North American motel, it has a kitchen, laundry, plenty of space and good bar/restaurant. The other night I cooked an awesome speck and red wine risotto. Yum. It's a bit out of town but there's train and taxi is about 600 roubles.
Beach (?) at Vladivostok

Vlad main square

Tips for Travellers

As most travellers heading to Vlad will tell you, Yuri and Svetlana at Links Ltd are brilliant. They have organised our ferry to South Korea and this morning Svetlana took us to the ferry terminal to organise our tickets, customs etc. Very efficient, it took about 2 hours.

Be prepared to shell out money left and right
  • 800 USD for the vehicle
  • 600 USD for 2 people in a junior suite (you can go a bit cheaper if you are prepared to share a 4 berth cabin) Must be paid in roubles or by credit card.
  • 2500 roubles for a cargo loading fee. Payable when you deliver the vehicle 48 hours ahead of ferry departure.
  • 560 roubles per person for the privilege of walking on board (on top of ticket prices)
  • South Korean compulsory vehicle insurance and guarantee cost us around 370 US.

They also liaise with Wendy Choi in South Korea regarding shipping and air freighting from there.

If you would like any more info/details on our journey, please feel free to email us at

Boris in prison at Vlad customs

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