A Bloke Named Va'mir
97km (yep, read on!)
You pronounce his name "Va'mir", I guess thats its short for Vladimir or maybe the correct pronunciation, but for the point of this blog it'll be written as you say it, Va'mir.
He truned up at about 10am with a mate of his Denis. These fellas looked like hard b******s. I was told they were "bikers" but the Japanese used the term "biker" to describe anyone that has a motorbike so I thought nothing of it. They both had all their colours on and explained they belonged to the Russian Samuri bike club. Things were looking up, I love bikers and there ability to get stuff done, although I was a little hesitant that they may take my bike, all my stuff and beat the piss outa me, I didn't really care that much by then, at least something was going to happen. Denis' sister lived in Sydney and he spoke pretty good English and Va'mir knew enough to get this job done.
And so it began. Denis left us to it about 11am and we were left to the chaos of Russian red tape. After 4 or 5 visits to customs, a visit to the Russian Bank to pay for something I'm still trying to work out (it was only $A6.00), some waiting at the insurance office, a quick stop by the shipping companys office and a wait at the traffic polices' headquaters and FINALLY at about 5pm we were back at the wharf to take the bike!! All the travelling around was done on Va'mirs bike, a Yamaha XJR1200 with me on the back wearing my safety thongs and shorts. This bloke loved riding fast and lanesplitting, scenic routing and generally flatout city riding was what he excelled at, he was a ninja at it actually. He told me not to be scared as he had 30 years experience at this motorbike riding thing, I wasn't worried at all, although in hindsight I guess doing 190kph in a 70kph zone on the back of a bike with a fella you don't know, in a country you've never been to before, while wearing shorts and a t-shirt might have had some risk involved it...
I got the bike, changed into my bike gear and followed Va'mir to a Chinese resturant to get something to eat. He was impressed with my ability to keep up, I share his passion for lane splitting and wrong side of the road riding. A few more Russian Samuari turned up at the resturant, then a few more until there were about 15 of us eating Chinese and drinking tea (yep, still NO vodka). They explained that they never drink and ride, drink and drive? Yes of course! But never drink and ride. Denis had shown back up and was intent on showing me around Vladivostok, which he did an excellent job of.. We met up with yet more Russian Samuari and one of them, named V-Max (after his bike!) sold me some off road chain lube that I hadn't been able to find in Japan. It was Repsol stuff and he only charged me $A5.00 as he thought I was crazy to try and ride to Moscow!
Eventually got back to the hotel at 1am and slept.