Privet Vladivostok – Hello Vladivostok
Vladivostok. Finally arrived in the city where my Landcruiser was already waiting for me in the harbour for a few days. The entry into the country was completely uncomplicated; I had already obtained the necessary visa in Germany.
The flight had taken two and a half hours. Actually, the distance Seoul – Vladivostok is only 800 km. But the plane had to avoid North Korea and to make a long flight over China. Why didn’t they actually fly east across the sea? That looks shorter.
Problems with the SIM card
Then in the arrival hall the problems started – through my own fault. Russian SIM cards were sold at a sales kiosk in the arrival hall. I bought one and put it in my mobile. And my mobile didn’t start anymore. Because I had forgotten the password for my security program. This always prevented the mobile phone from starting whenever the SIM card was changed. I tried it for two hours, and the friendly saleswoman also tried to help me. But nothing worked anymore. So I took a taxi to the hotel. And the first thing I had to do there was to chat with the software manufacturer via laptop and ask for help. After two hours of endless questions of the software company about my identity, the phone was finally unlocked again.
I immediately switched off the function ‘mobile phone lock when changing SIM card’ to prevent this from happening again. Because there were still many other new SIM cards on the trip…
Vladivostok. A pretty port city, but still quite cold in early June
I didn’t have much time for sightseeing because I had mainly to take care of the paper work of the car.
Contact with the customs agent, the Baikal Group, submission of necessary documents, procurement of various stamps, signatures and payment.
Evgeniy and Egor supported me a lot in everything. Because I can’t even read a Russian menu. Not to mention official forms of the authorities.
Railway station and ferry terminal
Either early in the morning or between the different appointments that the employees picked me up for, I also went into the city every now and then. First I took a look at the legendary train station in Vladivostok. The terminal of the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow.
Right next to the train station there is the pier for the ferries to Japan and Korea. From the station you can walk over there. My son had suggested that I only ship the car from Brisbane to Japan and then to pass the Toyota headquarters in Tokyo 😉 And to take the ferry from there to Vladivostok. Well, you can do that, but you don’t have to…
Old and modern buildings in the city center
Although much has been newly built, a number of older buildings have been preserved in Vladivostok.
And there are also buildings and squares from the time of the Soviet Union. During the period from 1958 to 1991, the city was closed to foreigners because it was the naval base of the Soviet Pacific Fleet.
Bridges in Vladivostok
At least two modern bridges connect different parts of the city of Vladivostok across the bays of the Sea of Japan, the Zolotoy and the Russky Bridge.
An architectural highlight is the Russky Bridge (Golden Bridge), which elegantly spans between the city and Russky Island with its sloping ropes. It is 3,100m long in total and has the world’s largest span of 1,104m.
Apart from the fact that I had to take care of the car, no major walking tours were possible because of the weather. It was rainy and pretty fresh at 14 degrees. I was told that summer starts very late here, in August. And it’s quite short. On the other hand, it can get cold to -25 degrees in winter. And the constantly humid wind from the sea is particularly uncomfortable for drivers because it causes icy roads in winter.
The Landcruiser arrived safely
On June 7th, 2018 the time has finally come. Around noon I have to pay the customs agency’s costs and expenses in cash in their office. I got the money that morning from a bank using my credit card.
In the afternoon I’ve been brought to a place outside the port, where the container with the Landcruiser was already waiting on a truck. It was unloaded, the seal was removed in my presence and the container was opened. Everything was fine, how nice! The car didn’t get a scratch. And it still smells like Australia.
It took the Baikal group only one day to get the car out of the customs area in the port. With all the paper work. Great performance! For such an action, I would always ask for the assistance of a customs broker. And not try to do that myself.
He is quickly freed from his container by the friendly staff. The batteries are reconnected and it starts on the first attempt. If the loading into the container took around two and a half hours, unloading took only 15 minutes.
Fill up the tank, please!
Egor guides me to a gas station and later to the hotel. At the gas station, he explains to me the procedure for self-service gas stations in Russia. You put the tap into the tank, fix the lock so that the fuel can flow and then you go to the petrol station staff to make a deposit in the amount of the expected costs. When you come back to the car, the fuel is already flowing. And after refueling, the final billing will be done in the sales room. Either you get some money back or you have to pay extra. I had to get used to this double visit of the sales room.
And he also showed me the Russian symbol for diesel. That was a good thing, because I used this information until Bulgaria in the far west.
In the evening the Baikal Group invited everyone involved to a typical Russian dinner with local specialties. There was a lot of eating, drinking, talking about Russia and Germany and laughing. A great way to end this day!
Where can I get a car insurance for Russia in Vladivostok?
The next day, Egor found an insurance company that was willing to insure my car. Because in every country I crossed I needed a liability insurance for the vehicle. And he also accompanied me to the insurance office. That turned out to be incredibly helpful. Because the Russian computer program absolutely refused to accept my German passport. It required a Russian ID. And a manual processing was not planned in the rules of the insurance company. Therefore Egor stepped in as the policyholder. Thank you Egor 🙌 Without you I wouldn’t have taken this hurdle so quickly!
The insurance office was located in a bank. Maybe it was part of this bank. Anyway, the branch manager and the regional manager arrived one after the other. They did not want to miss a German who insured an Australian car in Vladivostok with them.
Unfortunately, I was only able to take out the insurance for a minimum period of 3 months. But hey, maybe I can still use it in Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan. After all, both were once Soviet republics, too. But I’ll take care of that later.
Towards evening, after four hours, everything was finally done. Egor was ordered back to work by his boss after only two hours. But he persistently refused that and stayed with me until all the documents were printed out and stamped.
So now I have a car with Australian registration, a German driver/owner and a Russian policyholder…
All the papers are in place and the car has a full tank of diesel. The 170 liters should be enough for at least the first 1,300 km through Siberia. No matter on which roads. My long drive home can start tomorrow morning.
Cheers, Ruediger 😎