* A word of Warning this topic can be dry and boring for some so feel free to skip it.
As my first destination was to be Vladivostok in Siberia (Russia) I had looked into shipping my bike directly to there and flying only to find the Airfares very expensive and shipping needed to go through South Korea first.
Plan B was formulated which involves a side trip to Japan (Tokyo to Fukuoka) as flying with Jetstar to Tokyo was less than a third of the price of a ticket to Vladivostok and I get to be a tourist for a while. Unfortunately Japan requires a Carnet (sort of like a passport for the bike) which is complex and can be expensive so the bike will be shipped to Vladivostok via South Korea and I will be on foot for a while.
Shipping the Bike;
After many months of research I decided to go with shipping the bike by sea as opposed to Airfreight. There are a lot of pro’s and cons either way including cost and time but as I have the time I’m hoping the Sea option will work out cheaper (although I have heard of unknown new costs being added at the other end) but we will have to wait and see how this goes.
I have used a Shipping Agent who specialise in Motorcycles called Bikes Abroad which works out of Melbourne and so far have been very good once they established that I wasn’t a time waster. The bike will be shipped by Sea to Busan South Korea and then leave on a Ferry from Donghae South Korea and travel to Vladivostok hopefully with me aboard.
For those interested the quote for the Melbourne to Busan leg was around $1700 including supplying and packing the bike in a Crate ($450), I am yet to find out the costs for the Busan to Vladivostok leg as these things are very fluid (you find out when you get there) which is something I’ll need to get used to.
So I had the bike serviced and a pre trip check done at Advantage Motorcycles (BMW Honda Suzuki) in Hoppers Crossing and as well as doing a great job they provided me with a loan bike for the day and better still a BMW Crate and Tie Downs for a grand total of $ nothing (I still had to pay for the service though). This means I save around $450 because I can crate the bike myself, this saving should extend my trip an extra 9 or 10 days once I get going, so thanks go to Advantage Motorcycles for unknowingly funding some of my trip…
So first to give the bike its last wash in OZ for a while:
Then its time to dismantle abit so I can fit it all into the Crate:
I packed as much of my Riding and Camping Gear around the bike as it costs no more to freight as long as it ends up confined to the size of the Crate , and no people can’t travel this way unfortunately …….
and before the lid goes on:
Now ready for the drive to Melbourne:
Next stop was the ACFS Warehouse in Derrimut where I needed to lodge the bike:
Complete with very shy but helpful Forklift drivers.
So from here the bike goes into a Container and onto a ship due to leave on 22/3/17 over (hopefully not under) the Pacific Ocean destined for Busan via Japan.
Which is harder, winning Tattslotto or getting a Russian Visa?
Out of all the countries I plan to visit on this trip those of the former Soviet Union have the most complex Visa Regulations with Russia topping the list by a long shot. There are a number of different Visas for Russia including Business, Tourist and Transit but for Australians and some other nationalities we need to apply for them in our home Country and it can take around two weeks unless you want to pay a lot more.
This is the reason I planned to go to Russia first (Japan and Korea do not require a Visa) so I could get the visa before leaving, the remainder I can get on the road, although that seems to be fluid as well. The Tourist Visa is for a maximum of 30 days and Transit Visa 10, a Business Visa can be up to one year but seemed very complicated and expensive as you need an invitation from a Russian Business.
As I am only planning on going through a smallish section of Russia then crossing into Mongolia I have applied for a 30 day Tourist Visa which should give me enough time to do this and then apply for a Transit Visa in Mongolia for when I need to cross through Russia again to get to Kazakhstan. The Mongolian Visa I can get in Russia and the Russian Transit Visa (only type I can get away from OZ) I can get in Mongolia, the Kazaks have been nice enough to allow Australians in Visa free since January this year so I will thank them on the way through…..
For anyone wondering why I don’t just go through China, China currently won’t allow you free travel with your own Motorcycle or Car without being part of an organised tour which includes Guides and only travelling in selected areas. It can be done but you need to join up with others as the cost is prohibitive doing it alone, maybe another day…
During my research on Russian Visa’s I relied heavily on this website for info which was a life saver:
So the Russian Visa requires a Formal Letter of Invitation which you need prior to applying for your Visa, these can be purchased over the internet for around $20, I used Ivisa which was very easy but you need to nominate each city you are planning on staying in including all the details of Hotel Bookings even though it is widely known you don’t need to actually stay in any of these. The Application form is very detailed and time consuming and requires a lot of information including all of your work history, Tertiary Education and if you have ever been involved in any armed conflict …..
So after many hours of preparing the Application, Letter of Invitation, Passport , Money Order and return Express post Envelope the application was posted off to the Russian Consulate in Sydney with my fingers heavily crossed that I see the pretty Visa picture in my Passport when I get it back in a few weeks. (Applications can only be made in Sydney or Canberra)
There are companies on the internet who can do all of this for you but this would have cost nearly $300 more so with the help of the above website the Visa Application cost $135 with another $40 spent on extra passport photos for future Visa’s and Express Post Envelopes, lets hope the other Visa’s are a little cheaper or I’ll be broke by around Turkey…..
So While I Wait:
So I thought I would try to get some exercise in so I went two wheel touring on some of the Goldfields Track between Bendigo and Ballarat, this time without the Engine…….I think I prefer the two wheels AND the Engine.
Finally received my Russian Visa yesterday, a bit close for comfort as I leave on Tuesday. I have also now been vaccinated for most diseases known to man with the 3rd round of Rabies Vaccination on Monday so all ready to go.
Next update from the land of the rising sun.