Sunday, June 28, 2020

Vladivostok at last!

From our little detour to the pacific coast it was only a short hop down south to Vladivostok!

We had planned to ship our car from here, but weren't sure where to when we left home. The boys tried to convince us to share a container with their Land Cruiser and ship it back to Rotterdam. But we had other plans, Africa! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Our agent which handled all the shipping details was the famous (in the overlander community at least) Yuri from Links Ltd. He did a great job even though we didn't make his life easy ๐Ÿ™ˆ
Upon leaving Switzerland we didn't knew where we would end up and hadn't applied for the Carnet de Passage en Douane, CdP. The carnet is like a passport for your car, vastly simplifying importing your car into certain countries and down right necessary for others. We had all the paperwork already prepared before leaving so my parents handed it in and then would send it to us using DHL. And now the dumb idea struck...

In many Russian cities we found these storage containers
In Mongolia we had almost lost our rooftop tent ๐Ÿ˜ฑ Through the vibrations two of the four slide in track things in the rails on the roof had come loose and been left somewhere in the dust. By pure luck we noticed it in time and in the next village got some nuts welded onto a piece of scrap metal as a workaround. Thinking these slider-things would easily fit in the envelope we got some replacements shipped together with the CdP to Yuri. But of course the Russian customs took notice of it and wanted to know what it is. So I wrote a letter (in Russian! Okay using Google Translate ๐Ÿ˜‚) including pictures to explain what it is which Yuri then forwarded to the customs office. The answer he got was to clarify and prove! for which of his cars he would need that spare part...! ๐Ÿคฆ‍♂️ At that point we canceled the whole thing and had it ship back home as luckily we only needed the carnet upon disembarking in South Africa...
Speaking of South Africa, we had no preferences where we would ship the car. So we took the cheapest option which was Durban in ZA.

Boats! Boats! Boats!

Old and new

Not exactly straight...
Vladivostok is the home port for the pacific fleet

At the workshop
Before shipping the car we decided that it was time for some repairs and maintenance. We had all the brakes serviced (the rear drum brakes had a hair width left), oil changed, replaced the wipers (omg the difference!), got the wheels aligned (see the picture of how the steering wheel was before), had a new end part of our exhaust welded (which we had lost in Mongolia) and even replaced the bashed rear-bumper-plastic-corner with one from a scrapyard. The boys doing the work were great and even added (unasked!) an extra resonator to the muffler fix ๐Ÿ™ˆ. Don't know how I'm going to explain that to the Swiss road worthy test guy. All went well until they left the car with the open tent out in the rain ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐Ÿ™„ So with combined effort we got it off the roof and built a drying room with lots of fans and dehumidifiers they organised from don't know where. In the end we got it dry again and it came out in Africa without any mold, yeah!

Got some tasty crabs from the mechanics
Strolling through the neighbourhood
Some kind of fishery institute
Finally good weather!

At the local beer shop

For shipping we got told that the tank should be nearly empty. Following their advise we ended up stranded as we couldn't start anymore in the incline we had parked ๐Ÿคฃ. After rolling backwards and downhill to a flat spot all was fine again. But as the city is just hills it didn't take long until the motor cut out in the middle of an uphill road ๐Ÿ™ˆ No problem, turn on the hazards, grab a spare fuel tank and get some fuel from the next fuel stations using a Yandex (Russian Uber). Nobody even blinked an eye, all the traffic just swerved around us, even the Police passed multiple times. Gotta love them Russians ๐Ÿ˜†

Bye bye 
So it was time to place the car in the container and then we had finally time to do some sightseeing!
You have to keep in mind how far out of the way Vladivostok is. A domestic!! flight to Moscow takes more than 8 hours, Zรผrich to Moscow is only 6h! Wedged between China and the Pacific Ocean, Japan being only a short ferry ride away and even sharing a border with North Korea it didn't feel as Russian as other cities we visited. Also probably 95% of the cars are Japanese imports, right hand drive in a left hand drive country! It went so far that all the toll booths and turnpikes have an access on both sides ๐Ÿคฃ
Tight fit with the roof top tent

We visited the submarine museum and strolled around the city once it had stopped raining. Ah the heavy rains during our time there led to huge floods and washed out lots of streets. The whole city is built on hills going down to the coast, so these roads turned to rivers. To "fix" the overflowing sewers they removed the manhole covers! Tricky to see and avoid ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Lots of grafiti all over the city

Then it was time to leave, next stop South Korea!