Saturday July 23
Seoul – > Vladivostok; 13:05 Incheon International (ICN) Seoul, Korea, 16:00 VVO Vladivostok, Flight SU-5437 by SAT
Today 820km, Total 820km
As usual it felt like I had far too much luggage, I had packed, unpacked, abandoned cloths and repeated the procedure several times. The result was my main bag weighted 24kg, my carry on 7kg and a 9kg waterproof camera case. However with all this weight I only had 3 complete sets of day cloths. I just kept telling myself that I was going to the wilderness and it would not matter.
I traveled to the airport on the express bus and then checked in, flew to Vladivostok, cleared immigration and customs and took a taxi to the hotel, the whole process was utterly unremarkable. Just the way it should be :-).
I was flying on Aurora airlines, which is part of Aeroflot. The plane was an airbus 318, it was clean but spartan, there was no alcohol as part of the service (I found this odd as I was half expecting Vodka to be served). The meal service consisted of a drink water/soft drink (soda, pop)/coffee/tea and a sandwich. The sandwich, in the words of Kath & Kim was interesting it consisted of stale white bread (which was to become a staple of the trip) butter and a large amount of cured salmon. The salmon was delicious but the stale and chewy bread somewhat spoilt it.
Vladivostok Air Port
I stayed in the Raitex Hotel, Artem, at $50 a night it is a cheep hotel, I found it good value for money. For a first time visitor to Russia it was a bit disconcerting to be dropped off in a car park 50m from the front door of a stark Soviet looking building with no one about and no visible lights on, but once inside all was good. Although not outwardly inviting the staff at the hotel were very helpful and kind.
Once dropped off I went for a walk to see what was what, my first impressions were that there is no fake veneer at all (on many things there was no facade/ veneer at all). However for all the starkness and obviously broken things there seemed to be an underlying robustness and honesty to the people and place.
When I returned to the hotel it was time for dinner and bed. For dinner I started with fish and chips the portion was small and it was not particularly nice, even a shot of vodka did not improve it much. Not to be deterred I tried the recommended dumpling soup, it was exquisite (probably not by design) and didn’t need any vodka to improve it at all. It is a local hotel who don’t know how wonderful their local foods are (and how crap their western imitations are) .
What side do the Russian drive on? I always assumed that it was the right (left hand drive cars ) . The cab I got from the airport was left hand drive, however when I was walking down the street most of the cars were right hand drive. As best I can figure just buy the cheapest car and the Japanese expired cars are cheapest, steering wheel on the wrong side but who cares.
During the course of the trip I was a passenger in several cabs and private cars, some were good and other absolutely terrifying, being driven down a tight country road at speed, sitting in the passenger seat with that side of the car in the middle of the road and the driver being on the curb side. Those were brown undies trips.