Vladivostok

Kind of an admin day today – checked at the South Korean consulate that Vaga’s European passport was sufficient documentation for entry – completed stage two of the visa registration process (a requirement originating from Soviet times that probably isn’t even necessary but everyone’s too paranoid to ignore) – and bought our tickets for the Dong Chun Ferry that will carry us away from Russia.

The visa registration palava is a procedure whereby every foreigner has to register with the authorities of a town once you have stayed there for three days. If you stay at a hotel the receptionist can just stamp your immigration card herself but if you are living in your own truck or if you never stay anywhere for longer than three days (easy to do in this vast country), and given that there’s no way to prove where you are or have been, then things get a little complicate; upon exit the police may wonder why you have no stamps and query what you have been up to for all the time you’ve spent in Russia. So, religiously, we’ve been saving every fuel receipt so we have some sort of evidence that we’re always moving around. However, since we have been in Vladik for a couple of weeks now, parked up next to the Police Centre for Sport and Recreation no less and around the corner from the traffic police headquarters, we have chickened out and asked a couple of Russian friends to help us through the process.

Vladivostok: Rock’s and BSB.

Yesterday, at the BSB Club, Vladik’s most infamous venue, we showed our video. The response was much better than at the Rock’s Cocktail Bar (where we showed it a week before) chiefly because

(a) we actually did a sound check and the music was loud and clear,

(b) the people there were more appreciative of the styles of music,

(c) there were more people there (our video was a warm up to the first gig by a popular Vladik band back from their European Russia tour) and

(d) the people were more drunk.

But at both events it was the same sequence in the video that brought a big cheer from the crowd – we filmed the last 30km of our trans-Russian odyssey in one uninterrupted roll – the highway down Vladivostok’s peninsula to it’s downtown centre – and increased its speed 800% and played out to “Anarchy in the UK”. Of course they all love the Sex Pistols – it turns out they love to drive fast too.

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Vladivostok

It’s been a few days now in Vladik and what a lively town this is – they even have dancing girls outside the computer shop. It’s still hotter than an English summer and the crowds are out and about down by the sea front where we’re parked up.

If the Russians ever relaxed their visa requirements I’m sure hundreds of Europeans would be hopping over from Japan or South Korea for some proper beer and a kebab…

There’s an international film festival happening at the moment and some of the people we meet initially assume that we’re here for that (which is kind of ironic because I’ve been sweating away on the computer till dawn editing our own video).

Gomye Klyuchy

I think that’s how you spell it anyway.

We took ages to find a good spot to chill out for a few days – the highway runs right down close to the border with China and there just weren’t any good places to turn off.

We’re by a series of murky ponds full of lotus. Our Russian friend we kidnapped from Blaga, Lyosha, keeps telling us that if lotus grows on a lake then the water must be clean but none of us are too convinced. Luckily the mighty river Ussuri flows nearby – fresh, warm and a lovely swim if you don’t stand in one place for too long before something nibbles on your feet. Lyosha says that they are leeches and they’re good for you. We’re not too convinced of that either.