Saturday, 31 July 2010

The big journey across Russia begins!!

However!~  They have seriously slow dial-up service speed for internet at the moment.. Just to get into this blog to tell you this took well over 5 minutes and I haven't included any photos yet!

In the meantime,  I'm having a little better luck with Facebook.. I will keep trying to put little bits on there, and will fill in all the big detail once I can get a better service.

Yep, I just tried to upload one photo just for shucks, and it ain't gonna happen!

There is heaps to show... for instance, my bike being unloaded from the Russian ship - scary!  Leaving Magadan, my first day on the dirt roads, incredible people living a really rough life who housed us for the night... of coarse the Gulag visit which I have posted on facebook.. that was a really big deal..many more photos of the big track to get there... biggest challenge for me ever!!  (I hope there are no English teachers critiquing my sentence structure!)

We rode last night until Midnight... really pushing my limits.. Exhausted both mentally and physically from the rough roads, but we got there.. I get slower as I get more tired.. and poor Walter is very very patient with me..  he will deserve a medal if I can make it to Irkutsk..  ;-)

He is a really good teacher, and I have learned so much riding in the last 2 days..

It is 9 PM now, and the sun is shining brightly into the room, which contributes to lack of sleep which isn't helping much.. I must get that eye mask from the plane out tonight..

Anyway, if you go to www.facebook.com/sherrijowilkins

some photos there will hopefully suffice for now.  We are hoping to get to a Yakutsk in 3 or 4 days time, which hopefully will be better internet connection..

Talk soon!
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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Vladivostok to Magadan Russia


My new temporary life in Vladivostok is coming to an end.. but not without a bang!

Lots of gunfire out in the bay from all those warships.. Walter had read on the internet that things were heating up between North Korea and South Korea, and since we are so close to North Korea, he thought maybe this had something to do with it.

Wow, I've never been around big war ships that are actually needing to be ready to fire!

Then we come across these American Navy men on the streets.  We thought it would be great to say Hello to American men on the streets of Russia!  And ask about the gunfire etc...  The Navy man says.. well that's just the Navy showing off, basically..









He then explained they are in town for "Navy Day".  It's a Russian day, and the American and Japanese Navy are here to celebrate with them..  Duty I suppose!!

The Americans are everywhere!  Remember the 2 Army Seargents I met in Busan South Korea at my Hostel on weekend R & R?  They were stationed up near Seoul for 2 years.

Anyway...I had plenty of time to really get to know the town..  Every country has their quirky customs and style..  as in Korea, those super size sun visors, sports gear and tennis shoes!  But in Vladivostok, it is a flip change to stylish clothes, high heels and sparkles!

I have to say it started to get really depressing for me to walk around the streets in my "travel" gear... Light weight, easy dry pants, t-shirt, and tennis shoes - woo hoo!  Completely surrounded all day long with all the sparkles and high heels, I was doing my best not to buy some..  Guys would hate reading this, but I would walk out of building, and see shoes everywhere, and ones so cool, they would make me stop dead in my tracks and wish I could have those shoes!!!

















These good examples, but not the best examples.. Everytime I saw shoes "to die for", I didn't have my camera.

This is a very hilly town, no flat pavement anywhere, and the girls where this heels all day every day.. gee whiz, they will have screwed up feet.




Walter likes the whole package, so guys if you want to see more of the pretty girls, you'll have to go to his site!

www.sibirskyextreme.com

He might be finding the pretty girls, but I found Daniel Craig!!





Now for the trend that I don't get... the red hair.. Which you don't see on the stylish girls with high heels, but on everyone else..


You can tell I am bored...if I am wandering around town taking photos of shoes and hair...

I am so ready to get back on my bike and travel.. !!! I do love getting to know where I am, and living like they do.. that is always fun for me.. 

But 10 days got to be a bit too long in one spot.  I've seen enough red hair and sparkles..!

Is it time to go to Magadan yet?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Vladivostok Russia - Rock and Roll !!

As you know I am loving Vladivostok... but after 10 days in one town, I have very itchy feet and certainly VERY ready to roll!  Probably should not mention the rock part.. as I will be seeing my fair share of rocky roads for the next few weeks.

However, there was some serious Rockin' and Rollin' happening at the Iron Angels 3rd Birthday Party Saturday night!





I started off okay!!  Light beer and my handy Russian phrasebook!

I'm not sure at what point I put the phrase book away..   But the phrase that rings most in my ear from THEM is...

"Sherri (Sheddi).. I love you!! Vodka?!"

That's all you really need to hear at a party, right?




Don't be fooled by these kind sweet faces....



                                                              These two were the main culprits!                                                                    












         
While I am being very well taken care of and completely entertained, Walter has something else to FOCUS on!!


I think the zoom lens got a fair workout tonight.. ;-)

Plenty to focus on, no doubt..  These guys throw an amazing party.. Several bands throughout the night with lots of dancing girls..!

It must have cost them a fortune!




They invited the other biker clubs as well.

The Iron Tigers (who I am told is older, but the Iron Angels are stronger.. uh huh..)  

I can repeat that, because I don't think any Iron Tigers have my website ;-)

Just out of curiosity, why are all the Biker club badges in English?


Meanwhile, back at the vodka table..

Sherri Jo had a darn good time..

Thanks guys!!

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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Vladivostok, Russia - More Tigers, Warships, and Love..


Was not joking when I said people here in Vladivostok love their tigers!  This man at the motorcycle club said he paid $2000 to have this one permanently printed on his skin!  Awesome work I must say.. I might consider that one for myself..  what do ya think.. ?  ;-)

So it's another day in the life of Sherri Jo in Russia.. it's a tough life too.. ha!  I am loving Russia so much..  After several weeks on Asian food, one thing I love the most here is the food.. But also the culture in general.. So many old buildings and history here..  Walter and I make our way around town organizing bits and pieces.


I didn't notice this, but Walter did..  a sign for Australian food!

I know the word on top (Cafe) - that's easy enough.. Under that is "Australian".. which i would have worked out if I had stopped walking and stared at the sign, and sounded it out slowly..

And interesting they print "Country Fried Chicken" in English, and I quite honestly don't associate such a meal with Australia.  Granted Australia has a big KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN culture (God knows why..?), which is technically American culture.

I am so happy with Russian food, that I will stick with that for now.. (Granted I did have a couple glasses of South Australian wine at dinner a couple nights ago...well you gotta do what you gotta do.. support SA!!)

Actually Walter has got me onto a Russian beer that I quite like.. I am not much of a beer drinker at all... the odd Coopers Sparkling Ale when in the mood.


But it's been so hot and humid here, this one goes down really well.. it's light with a bit of lime flavor, which I don't think I would have ordered on my own..

That's another good thing about having Walter around.. He's been to Russia many times, and besides being able to organize things speaking their language (this is a massive plus!!), he knows the food and drink, and gets me to try things that I would have never known what they are..

One of my goals today was to try to organize a way to experience the tiger conservation efforts in this country (being one of the tiny few places on this planet that tigers still live in the wild..)

We head over to an office based here called THE PHEONIX FUND.  They agreed to meet with us, and I came along armed with some newsletters and photos from my favorite rescue center in Indiana, the EXOTIC FELINE RESCUE CENTER.  If you haven't seen from my website, the address is www.exoticfelinerescuecenter.org

The directors at Pheonix didn't speak English, however the girls do.. they showed us what they do and the challenges they have ahead.  Have a look at their site, they have done a lot for the tigers and include some amazing video..  http://www.phoenix.vl.ru/


They are connected with WWF, WCS, even Dreamworld in Queensland!  There really seems to be hope for the wild tigers after seeing what I did today... not like problem solved, but an amazing team who have already made progress.  If you have a love of wildlife and tigers like I do,  both websites mentioned above take donations and could really use your help!  I see these things online as well, but it was great to see conservation in action today..






Moving on in my day in the life in Russia, we head over to another office to see how we an get out to wild tiger country if possible..

In yet other office, it was time for ABC radio Adelaide Carole Whitelock's show to call in for a progress report.

I pop outside to take the call..

Busy day!!  It's amazing how stagnant we could be as we are not actually on the road yet.. However, every day is completely full!

Back out to organize wireless modems for our computers, banking etc.

Time to get out to the Iron Angels motorcycle club to check on the bike..

Hey!!  My new big fat Michelin Desert Tires are on!!  Lord have Mercy, they look mean.. should I be nervous!?  Umm.. I just won't look at them too long..


Now, it's an oil change too..

Those little dead fishes are still hanging 'round....

I like the mechanic here.. I can't have a conversation with the man, but doesn't seem to matter... beside that, he's too cute in those overalls!

When he was finished, Walter asks him for the bill for me, and he wouldn't take any money!!   I can't believe it.. they did a lot of work for me.. and how do they survive if they don't get paid??

Walter explains this is very typical in Russia.  It is so common for them to bend over backwards and not charge anything..

Love the Iron Angels Club - and they did earn a position on my pannier!!



















 While hanging around the club I noticed another tiger!  This little guy was hanging around the other day as well.  Not sure who he belongs to, but he's there all day entertaining himself.. I tried to say hello to him, he just puts his head down, and marches away like a soldier!!  Too cute.
Finally got him to stop so I could take a photo of his tiger.. have a look. He is just hating it...''take the photo lady and piss off!"

He likes Walter well enough, but Walter speaks Russian, so he is acceptable..  :-(
















Oops, there he goes again.. and he is NOT going to look at me!! 

So!  I have a plan, kids love to see themselves in a photo, so I decide to show him the photos I have taken of him and around the club.
It did the trick!!  He can smile!!  I am not the crazy foreign lady anymore!!


So much for the shy kid!!


Now he's telling ME when to take photos of him!!




















I must have "HAD" to take a couple hundred photos of him..  deleted most of them obviously.

All right little Motorcycle kid.. I give up.. let's go back outside.

Still giving me the clicking noise so I will keep taking photos.. oh well I tried to escape!

















Finally got him to give up with a little game of soccer in the yard with yet another tiger... a plastic bottle.. Shew!


How's my bike doing anyway?

Lookin' good!  Can't quite say the same for the little fishes!!




All finished, pack up and head back into town and try to track down some dinner.

We try some local food on the beach, and when we  pulled up, the sight of all those warships off shore really struck me!!






And even a couple submarines!  Wowee, they look cool, not sure I've ever seen such a line up of border protection like this before.. is somebody coming for dinner?



There are more guns ready to fire here than I expected!!  Sorry that was really bad.... couldn't help myself!  Looks like love and war are in harmony here in Russia..  ;-)




Photo credit to:  Walter Colebatch
(Somebody hijacked my camera at this stage.. there's more, but you'll have to check his site for those..  ;-) 


















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