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Welcome to Russia!

Welcome to Russia!

That’s the phrase we’ve started to use whenever something doesn’t quite go as planned.

So as Steve said Yuri from Links limited scheduled to meet us at 12:45 today. We have had multiple email exchanges with Yuri who we contacted due to some very positive feedback on other blogs. He has been a great source of information and extremely helpful. In fact he even put us on to Phil and the GT Logistics team in NZ.

Anyway it was nice to finally meet Yuri face to face which we did by the fountain in the Ferry building. A quick stroll along the road towards the port saw Steve and I loitering with intent outside the shipping offices while Yuri went it to pickup the required paperwork. A further stroll saw us meeting Oleg and Julia and going into the Customs office to arrange clearance on the bikes and van. It is a requirement that you be physically present in order to do this so there is no point shipping things earlier (as John unfortunately found out). Signing a multitude of pieces of paper including copies of the bill of lading, our passports and visas under the very stern eye of a uniformed and side arm carrying offical felt somewhat cliched but it was what was done.

Yuri then preceded to present our documents at the customs desk where they carefully checked our passports and visas against the provided copies. It was then time to wait for the required clearances to be completed and printed. It was as our anticipation and excitement were building that Steve and my fairy godfather, who’s name is Murphy, decided to step in and assist, as he does on an all too regular basis.

Yuri was called back to the counter and returned with a worried look on his face. Where upon we were told that the Russian Customs computer system required to issue the required clearances was down, not just in Vladivostok but across all of Russia. The computer experts had been called but Moscow was only just getting to work. No prizes for guessing where they were located. So here we are 3 hours from close of business for the week and the computers have crashed - ummm a weekend In Vladivostok was looking highly likely, a hotel booked solid from Saturday our departure day and no transportation - thanks Murphy - WELCOME TO RUSSIA!

Yuri very kindly arranged a ride for Julia to get back to their friends (Oleg had left to help John get his insurance sorted) and offered us a ride back to our hotel. Enroute to our hotel Yuri took a call from the senior Customs officer who offered to send someone in on Saturday to get our clearances processed if necessary - YES! we thought blissfully unaware that Murphy had another card up his sleeve that he was about to play. Yuri explained that even if we got the clearance the issue would be getting the container as the crane operators finish at 2 on a Saturday and no one will work Sundays. For a modest fee we could get them to stay for another hour tops.

WELCOME TO RUSSIA!

It was at this point that we decided yeah we were going to be stuck in Vlad until at least midday Monday - there goes our schedule!

So it was a somewhat despondent pair of brothers who were dropped off at their hotel.

About now we started to have seond thoughts about the WELCOME TO RUSSIA! phrase. Maybe we are being a bit harsh as both of us have had years of experience importing all kinds of things into NZ and know that there was absolutely no way that one could land and clear a vehicle in anywhere like 24 hours. Additionally the memory of NZ’s largest city being without power for quite some time came to mind.

Yuri had told us customs were working until 6, an hour later than normal, and that he would check in with them at 4 to see what was happening. He’d update us if there was anything to report. As the clock ticked towards 4, then 5, then the closing at 6 without any news we were getting used to the idea of being stuck until Monday. Steve hatched a plan of us hiring a taxi for the day (5,000 rubbles around $NZ120) and going down to the North Korea border - about 350kms each way but not something we are likely to get a chance to do again.

THEN

At 5:45pm ping goes my phone. Message from Yuri saying he has the customs clearance and should have the container by midday. Awesome we’ll try and hit the road mid afternoon to put a couple of hundred kms under the tyres and get things partly back on schedule.

Posted by Zamiam 02:42 Tagged crow vladivostok carr as_the_crow_flies

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