Vladivostok, Russia – Day 25

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Tuesday, 21 August 2012 Vladivostok, Russia (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723. 0 hours riding

Weather Temperature in the low 80’s and humid with heavy fog in the morning and clearing to party cloudy skies

First night in Vladivostok went fine even with the interesting accomodations…no A/C and a bit humid with the bed at an all time best for hardness!  Anyhow, Shanon made a great suggestion that I just add my camping mattress to the bed…that sure beats sleeping on the ground somewhere!  Also, I was updating my blog last night in the hall of the 8th floor near the salon and the mosquitoes were having a field day on my legs – enough so that I went back to the room for some insect repellent…I may also need to pitch the tent on the ajoining twin bed for added mosquito protection – you just can’t make this stuff up!

The salon was still open for business late last night past 11 pm with their TV blasting & folks enjoying their favorite cigarettes…like a late night gathering spot.  Most people on the floor left their doors open for venilation playing games, listening the the TV & drinking…college dorm living at its best seems to most accurately describe the evening.

Culturally a number of things are a bit different in this part of the world and one is the hotel entertainment spot  – just off the restaurant entrance, is a hotel club with neon lights: Billiards, Karaoke, Strip Club, Sauna & Casino…guess that bout covers it – every vice in one tightly wrapped package!

Was up about 5:30 this morning and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant Summit…the meal is included in the hotel stay and the place was quite busy with guests…the buckwheat, porage oats & diced hot dogs were to die for – probably going to have a difficult time sleeping tonight with all the anticipation on what’s instore for the next mornings dining experience.

Decided to get out & about and tour the city and its best to described Vladivostok as a port city with a strong European flare.  People are neatly dressed in contemporary attire for the most part; not unlike what you might find in the US…the city is thriving and going through quite a bit of urban renewal with the upcoming APEC Summit in just under a month; the city is also putting the finishing touches on what will be the largest suspension bridge in the world  The city of about 600,000 & founded in 1860 is a huge naval port for the Russian navy supporting its Pacific fleet and is the largest port of entry for a wide range of goods from around the world on the Russian east coast.

I also made a trip back to the ship passenger terminal hoping to get a glimpse of my bike in the customs yard, but instead, watched a bit as they unloaded excavator after excavator and car after car from the DBS Ferry…quite incredible how many vehicles were transported in the bottom of that vessel – some 70 cars, 20 containers and an untold number of excavators.

Decided to have an early dinner just above the port and below the hotel at a patio restaurant and, unfortunately, I was unable to translate the Russian letters…the manager did pronounce it for me a couple of time, but I just couldn’t quite connect.  I have to say it was one of the better meals I’ve had since leaving on my  trip and being that it was also outside overlooking the city and water, it was more to my taste.  It was a contemporary spot with modern music and a broad menu.  I decided on the Greek salad, pork rib, sauteed vegetables, sliced potatoes broiled with parmasean cheese & spices and all topped off with a 0.5L draft beer.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Dong Hae, South Korea to Vladivostok, Russia – Day 24

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Monday, 20 August 2012 Dong Hae, South Korea to Vladivostok, Russia (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723. 0 hours riding

Weather Temperature in the low 80’s and humid with clouds & rain

While underway on the DBS Ferry, I met two Russians at the bar: Alexey, who sells used cars in a city about 100km from Vladivostok and was in Korea buying Hyundai’s, KIA’s and other cars speaking some English and Victor, who’s in his early 20’s with a masters degree in sociology and speaks good English – great having someone to translate. We talked about just about everything including American politics – unbelievable how much people from other parts of the globe know about the US.

It had been a long day for all of us and we each decided to turn in for the evening.

Finally met my roomate after calling it a night at about 10 pm…since the DBS Ferry only provides one key per room & I was batting second, I had to go to the information desk several times to get a crew member to let me in – no sign of him…no bags although he was checked in and had the key.

About an hour after I got settled in the room, I heard the door open and this Russian man who looked to be in his mid 50’s & neatly dressed in a polo shirt and jeans, stepped inside turning the light on. I immediately popped up to introduce myself & asked if he spoke English.

“Very little”, he said with a strong Russian accent and that pretty much ended things for the night although I did ask his name…”Alexander”, he said. Even with a bit of uneasiness sleeping only a couple of feet from someone I knew so little about, I did manage to sleep pretty well…keep in mind I was in 1st Class with 2nd & 3rd Class offering 8 in a room & 72 in a room respectively.

At about 6 am I heard him stir and leave the room…after about 15 minutes or so, I got up for another one of my sponge baths since the men’s shower room was on the second deck and at the other end of the ship…one night without a shower didn’t make much difference to me.

For breakfast, I went to the bar and ordered the “American-style” breakfast…one egg over easy, quartered bread not toasted, some kind of SPAM-type meat lightly fried and lettuce & tomatoes – not quite sure where you might find that kind of breakfast in the US – surely not Waffle House, but it worked being I was out in the East Sea several thousand miles from Nashville.

Headed to a seating area on third deck and saw Alexander with a couple of Korean-Russians and asked if I could join them. Ends up that Alexander has been a truck driver for his entire life making many trips across the Siberian route – he was a huge source of information even with the language barrier. He dis keep smiling and giving me a thumbs up when we talked about my trek across Russia on the bike…I wasn’t sure whether that was a good or bad sign.

The ferry arrived promptly in port at 2 pm local time…I’m now 16 hours ahead of the central time zone by the way. I couldn’t help but think about one of my good friends from home, Chuck, when it came time to disembark the ferry…a mere 3 hours of aggravation to say the least. Given the language barrier and ship security only allowing people off in groups of about 25, it was shear agony. I couldn’t help but to question what I’d gotten myself into with this trip – I absolutely must have been smoking some Dutch Cleanser I thought to myself!

While standing in line, I gave Yuri Melnikov with Links, Ltd a call asking about my next steps on clearing the bike through customs over the next few days…he said he’d have his assistant meet me at the DBS Ferry office once I cleared customs.  Yuri Melnikov can be reached at Links, Ltd at +7-423-222-0887, +7-902-524-3447(mobile) or ymelnik@links-ltd.com

After finding the office and peeking my head inside, a young woman said, “You must be Brad Thompson”, in very good English – and she told me her name was Svetlana. She started by asking a couple of questions and first recommended that I cancel my hotel reservation for one much closer to the docks making it easier to collect the bike especially since she needed to pick me up to visit the customs office on Wednesday afternoon allowing me to complete the necessary documents & payments so I can get the bike on Thursday morning. She also arranged the hotel booking with the Azimut Hotel and drove me and my gear there to check in….are you kidding me, this all would be virtually impossible with their assistance!

Once checking into the hotel, I just sat in the crazy, busy lobby to just unwind…what a day it had been.

Ended up having dinner at the hotel…a buffet-style affair that wasn’t very impressive, but hey, I was hongry and didn’t have to leave the hotel.

Details on my deluxe, economy accommodations tomorrow…yeah, deluxe alright!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Outfitting the Rally Bike

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With each passing day the Rally Bike gets closer & closer to being readied for a 40 day journey around the world…so many details with just 90 days left before the big send off on July 28 from Cool Springs Honda.

Tent, first aid kit, tools,  communications, clothing, maps, GPS, air freight, flights, ferries, camping…just a few of the details!

Global Tracking – See Where Brad is Today!

Just added a link to InstaMapper allowing folks visiting my blog to see just where I am on my around-the-world ride via GPS tracking in real time.  Troy Lampley, one of our IT guys here at NDC, was able to link the site with some of his magic – it wasn’t just plug-n-play.

Using my Droid smart phone, my ground positions are updated via satellite every 121 seconds from anywhere in the world – crazy stuff!!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World

Learn Russian in an Hour!

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Gary Titov with NDC Member High Technology sent me my very own CD “Russian in 1 Hour!  Since I will be spending quite a few days in Russia, about 10+, and covering about 6500 road miles, the ability to converse in Russian will be more important than ever especially in the eastern regions of the country.  I have started listening to the CD my drives to and from the office – I have a lot to learn!!  Spasibo!!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World.

Communications to Stay Connected – Bonjour

Droid Incredible 2 Mount

Wow…how technology has changed. Just installed the Cardo Scala Rider G4 Powerset that provides a wide range of connectivity via Bluetooth to include: up to 1 mile bike-to-bike intercom, driver-to-passenger intercom, make and receive phone calls via my cell phone, GPS connectivity and receive GPS voice navigation instructions, built in FM radio and MP3 player for stereo music. This will provide hands-free voice communications from virtually anywhere in the world!  If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World.

QR Code to Rally Around the World

Great to be living in an age of unsurpassed technology that allows you to post messages & images from a smart phone from any point in the world…within seconds your post appears on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and the like…a crazy time for sure.  During my across the US bicycle ride in 2002, I would leave a message on voice mail each evening to my marketing mananger, who would in turn, update my website with the latest trip news – that now can all be managed by me!  Check out my QR code that links directly to my Rally Foundation website…

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World.