We departed Canada on the 24th of June on Air Canada 63, flying to Seoul, South Korea, on a Dreamliner 787 with our bike in the hold. The flight was smooth on time. We travelled in comfort enjoying some good food and catching up on recent movies. We landed at the Seoul International airport then caught a cab to the Best Western Inchon Airport where we were to stay for the next couple of days while sorting out picking up our bikes from customs.
When Tom arrived at the hotel a few hours after us, we explored the area for a place to have dinner. The area was quiet, but did have restaurants and small groceries. We ate at the KIS pub which served various types of chicken and beer on a patio.
The following day would prove to be time consuming and difficult for the guys. It was time to get the bikes through customs…..always work, especially when we are not conversant in the language….but to add to their difficulties, our agent could not meet them at the airport, giving vague instructions on process, which kept them occupied for the entire day! At the end of the day Tom managed to have his bike back at the hotel, but Lindsay did not know that customs would only accept cash….which he did not have on him…..so he had to wait until the following morning, June 26, to pay for and pick up the bike.
As fortune would have it, we awoke the following day to the start of the wet season in Korea. And it arrived as promised. Torrential downpours and winds. So, suited up in rain gear, the guys returned to the airport to uncrate and pick up the bike.
They arrived back at the hotel, bike in tow, around 11am, at which time we payed our hotel bills, packed the bikes and left for the ferry off of Incheon Island to Seoul. Motorbikes are not allowed on the expressway bridge that connects Incheon Island to the mainland, so the ferry is the only way to get to Seoul.
Our open street maps uploaded onto the gps as promised and we found our way to the ferry terminal. As you can see, traffic was light, making the wet conditions a bit easier to navigate. We arrived at the ferry dock to be told that there were no ferries running due to weather conditions….as we were being blown about.
What do do…..we couldn’t go backwards…..we needed to push through. Tom gave us the push to try the bridge. Off we went. On the other side we were met with confusion and a not very happy secuity guard. He listened as Lindsay explained the dilemma, promising we were getting off the expressway at the first exit. The security guard took pity upon us and let us through!
The rain let up a bit as we were entering the congestion of Seoul traffic. It took us about three hours to reach our downtown hotel. Guys were pretty exhausted and glad to have a shower and beer. Once again we lucked out with location. A happening little pub just a couple of doors down from the hotel to help us unwind and get settled.
The next couple of days were spent in Seoul checking out the city and getting a few basics done.
The highlight of our visit to Seoul was a dinner out hosted by a colleague of Lindsay’s from days gone by…..Mr. Song. It was a lovely evening with many shared stories and memories.
Thursday, June 28…..time to leave Seoul for the coast at Donghae and spend the next few days waiting for our ferry to Vladivostok. Getting out of the city was slow, hot and congested. The hardest part are the traffic lights, which all seem to be about three minute change overs……with the bikes idling and heating up the riders. I think it took us a good hour to leave the city behind.
En route to Donghae we were treated to beautiful country roads, routes 6 and 42….we did run into an hour of heavy rain just outside of Donghae, but the rest of the ride was great.
We arrived into Donghae a bit wet but to the welcome site of the Hyunjin Tourist Hotel.
The hotel had a great Sky lounge where we ate our first dinner and had our ‘happy hours’ the following days.
Room with a view…from our room.
Our hotel did abutt the red light district….albeit a very quiet one….
Passed the days in Donghae and travelled up the coast.
July 1st arrived and it was time for us to get packed and start the process of boarding the DBS ferry, Eastern Dream.
Marian was very nervous about the crossing, hoping for smooth seas!
The day started as seems to be the norm for our departure days…..torrential rain…. making the entire process a challenge as we will arrive wet to the port and the guys will be in rain as they load their bikes.
The loading process took three hours. Each bike had to have all attached luggage taken off and x-rayed. We then were able to ride the bikes onboard where they were tied down. The keys were left with the bikes as the Russian stevedores would ride them off!!
Now time for us to board the boat and find our quarters. The boat is somewhat run down with the dreary weather not adding to the ambiance. We are feeling the culture shock of becoming part of a majority Russian and Korean population. English is not well understood, and announcements are generally not repeated in English. Once on board we locate our sleeping quarters. We are in steerage, eight bunks to a room, men and women separated! This adds to Marian’s anxiety….good news….we are far enough ahead of an approaching typhoon, so that we should not be affected on the journey.
Sleeping area and quarters.
Saying good bye to riders we met at the Donghae terminal who are all traveling to Europe.
Coming into Vladivostok! Made it……sailing ended up being as smooth as silk and once accustomed to all the cultural shifts we felt very comfortable. Everyone had great sleeps, even managed to have fried eggs and french fries for breakfast! A shift from Korean fare.
Next step…..awaiting the return of the bikes through customs……