With the bike tied up in customs, I had the weekend to dawdle in Vladivostok, taking in the pedestrian shopping areas, seafront, and sampling my first Russian cuisine.

The hotel recommended to me by the helpful Roman at Dong Chun Ferry Ltd was the Moryak, providing basic accommodations at around US$45 per night. It was a short but uphill slog from the sea terminal, and a short jaunt from Admiral Fokina street and the sea front.

Admiral Fokina street

Fokina street is packed with shops and cafes, and with the help of the staff at the Moryak, I found an internet cafe full of twitching teenage online gamers where I was able to catch up on e-mails and update the blog. At a coffee shop I treated myself to an Americano and cake while I boned up on my Russian alphabet. (Somehow my Lonely Planet PDF files for Russia had gone missing, so except for phrases provided by a helpful Russian friend, I was flying blind language-wise.) Using a travel magazine I was able to produce a Cyrillic-English alphabet key using place names on maps.

Just down the street on the waterfront, tourists were doing beachy things.

Grand view of Sportivnaya Gavan (Sporty Bay).

Beach fun with paddle boats for rent, and huge clear balls that folks would climb inside and flounder about on the water.

The ocean breeze keeping huge colorful kites aloft.

Further down the beach, some were getting on with day-to-day life.

Many people were hauling in the day's catch, one flopping fish at a time.

South of Svetlanskaya were a few small parks and monuments.

St. Andrews chapel

Triumphal Arch

"Grand dad" Lenin, now in front of a Cinnabon shop.

The C-56 Submarine museum.

During a walk to the sea terminal to extract rubles from a cash machine, I spied two loaded and dirty motorcycles with “GB” stickers on the back. Nearby were Martyn and Ian, a Brit and Scot who’d just arrived from the west (and as it turns out were staying in the same hotel.) It was a huge pleasure to chat with these guys, and they had lots of helpful information for my upcoming miles through Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. We later met up for dinner and beers. Ian had been considering shipping to Korea, then on to the US, but after hearing about the costs and hassle associated with driving in Korea, decided to put himself and his bike on the westbound Siberian train to Moscow, from where he’d ride back to the UK. Martyn’s plan was to ferry to Japan, then on to the US where he’d ride to the east coast, and then freight to the UK. I truly enjoyed their company, and hearing their stories made me even more eager to get back on my own bike. Monday couldn’t come soon enough.