August 10, 2012
We are about 360 Kilometers to the Pacific Ocean. The road to Vanino is a mess but the scenery is quite spectacular. The road follows a major river, which we have to cross many times on top of insane bridges. It rains all day, which makes it a challenging ride for all of us. I don’t even want to mention the times our bikes were dropped. On a particular bridge Akira takes a harder hit than usual but fortunately it did not hurt himself. I was riding far behind him and saw the crash. Sorry to say that from my point of view it was quite funny but at the same time it could have been much more serious. He was sliding across the wet bridge and could have fallen below in the freezing waters with big rocks pointing out. Arriving to Vanino we are all enthusiastic to finally see the Pacific Ocean. We try to make it to the port in a hurry to see if we have a boat to take us to the island of Sakhalin. An 18 hours crossing across the Sea of Japan. At the port, the president of the local motorcycle club ” The Black Unicorns” was waiting for us. He saw us on the news the night before. Matteo is starting to like being famous and enjoys having his picture taken every chance he gets. With the president’s help we understand that we have a boat departing at 10 o’clock the same evening but it is not sure that we are allowed on it. The captain has already signed all cargo documents and we may not be able to load our bikes on the boat. The president of the club invites us to the club “headquarters” where he says we would be welcome to stay if not able to board the boat that evening. We all wanted to make the boat but it was something that we did not have control over it. We all went to the club and waited for the phone call of the Captain whether he would allow us on the boat that evening. The good news arrived a couple of ours later. We were all relaxing at the club when a telephone call from the port told us that we had to be there by 9.00PM in order to board the boat that was supposed to leave at 10.00P.M. All the members of the club escorted us back to the port. Matteo and myself were laughing hysterically under our helmets. The boat left at 4.00 A.M. The wait was very long and we started imagining what would have been like being in this port 30 years ago during the Soviet regime. Also we were pretty tired and started making poor jokes among us and teaching Akira some words in Italian. What a funny disaster. Finally after waiting for hours we are ready to board the ferry. Remember the boat we took from Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan? That in comparison was a luxury cruise. We were showed what was supposed to be our cabin. It was at the bottom of the boat near the engine room. Impossible for me to sleep there. Really gross. I decided to take my sleeping bag and headed outside on the upper deck.
August 9, 2012
Off early in the morning. Our plans is to arrive to Vanino which is at about 620 Kilometers from Khabarovsk. On our way out of the city Thierry, forgot his very important gel seat at the motorcycle shop. While we were going back to the shop a news crew from the local television stopped us. They read on the city’s blog that we were traveling through their town and wanted to interview us. Of course we were delighted to be interviewed and explained what we were doing. This was a great way to publicize our project for the abandoned children around the world. The impression we all had was quite a surprised one, as we never expected to be so out of the ordinary. Stopping to talk to the people and explain to them what we had done so far and what was lying ahead of us, made us realize that we were so far from our homes on our motorcycles and I can’t deny we all had a positive sense of accomplishment. After our good byes we take the “road” to Vanino when after about 100 Kilometers we notice that Thierry’s bike is loosing engine oil. Of course we get to work in order to repair the problem. It turn out that the oil was leaking from the oil filter. Thank God I had a proper o-ring that we used to fix the leaking but wasted lots of time and knew that we were not going to make it to Vanino.
August 7, 2012
This morning we are heading to the city of Khabarovsk. The fact of arriving to a big city after many days of small villages makes our mood a bit better. At lunch we decide that for the evening we all deserve a nice and comfortable hotel for the night. While having lunch we are approached first by some Jehovah witness and right after a group of people that are traveling with a van from Moscow delivering bibles to the interior villages of Siberia. Arriving to Khabarovsk we cross the huge river called Amur. This river is important to Matteo and myself because it is much written about in the book from Tiziano Terzani ” Buonanotte Signor Lenin”, that originally gave us the idea to start this magnificent journey. The river Amur defines the border between Russia and China. Thierry finds a good hotel for the night with great Internet. In the evening we went for a quick bite to eat where we meet two Italians that are traveling with the Tran Siberian railroad across Siberia. It is unbelievable how the world is small. It turns out that one of them, Nicola de Marinis, a professional photographer knows very well a great friend of mine that in 2009 traveled from Argentina to Alaska on his Honda Transalp. His good friend Carlo Otta Brambilla, is a journalist writing many articles about the Tran Siberian railroad. The two were hired by the railroad to promote European tourist to do such a trip.
August 8, 2012
What a day today is for me. I basically sleep all day in a nice clean bed. Such a treat is allowed to me because Matteo’s, Akira’s, and Thierry’s bikes need some kind of tune-ups. They reach Max MOTO, a local bike shop where they plan to change Akira’s tires and also change the oil on Thierry KTM. Matteo on the other hands need to do some welding to his extraordinary 1989 Honda Dominator. For the first time we are noticing the change in the attitudes of the locals. They appear to be much more nice and amicable. The mechanics are so nice that they invite Matteo and the other for lunch. That would have never happened a few hundred kilometers before. The amount of people drunk in the City is crazy. People have hard time walking around us.
August 6, 2012
Today we all feel a little tired and have a slower start. We are heading to Novobureyskiy. A 690 KM trip. The road is pretty boring all day following the Tran Siberian Railroad. The only interesting thing is that at times we can see the Chinese border. At lunch we start asking Akira to make some phone calls in Japan to see about a shipping company that will ship Mateo’s bike to Vancouver and mine and Thierry’s to Europe. In the evening we are supposed to stay at a Stayanka (sort of truck stop) but when we get there everything is full. We are not sure of what to do next. I suggest going knock on people’s door asking permission to place our tent in their garden. 99 % of the times people will invite you to stay with them, when a full dressed Russian biker shows up to the gas station. We immediately made him aware of the situation and ask him if there is any nearby accommodation. He tells us there is a something that might work for us at about 5 KM. It is already night and our number one rule is never to drive at night. Considering the short drive we follow Igor to the place. Of course we invite him for a bite to eat with us. Our conversation is interesting enough as he knows some English. During my trip through Siberia I am interested in knowing whether people believe that the old Soviet regime was in a way better then the actual situation. It is of course a complex argument but my impression is that many people prefer the way it was in many aspects. The situation right now is that there is extreme wealth in some part of this huge country but as well extreme poverty in other areas. The area that we are crossing right now is one of them and people don’t have much of anything. Igor explains us that during the regime everyone had a car, a house, and a small but enough money every month. Now everything is left in total abandonment and people left on their own. In this part of Siberia the rule of the strongest reigns. That of course explains why it is dangerous to stay out at night in this region.