Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sakhalin Island

Aug. 30. Vanino Ferry to Holmsk. Ferry about 250 km average speed: about 16 km/h. Total time about 16 hours.
I had a couple hour nap ferry left at 3 in the morning so once I was on the ferry, I started watching a movie on my computer and didn't sleep again until around 6 in the morning. This was ok because then I slept most of the day in the ferry. Arriving at the Port in Holmsk was great. The sun was getting low so it was very beautiful and made for some good pictures. I quickly found a Hotel and a shower before hitting the town for some beers. I found a sports bar with a few cute bartenders and WIFI. I would go back there often over the next few days.


Apparently I shouldn't drink the water.  
Aug. 31, Sept. 1 Kholmsk
I didn't plan on spending 3 nights in Kholmsk but sometimes it just works out that way. I did a lot of walking around during the day and going out at night. The socket on my computer for charging finally took a crap so I couldn't charge it anymore. One late night after quite a bit of beer I decided to tear into it. I made leads out of the back of my computer and stripped back the wires to the charging cable so it would work again. The next day I got a cheap plug from an autoparts store and made a separable connection. The last night I sayed, I met a Japanese guy named Takayuki riding a BMW 800. He was just getting done with a 2 week trip on Sakhalin island before he had to return home to Japan. We drank some beer and vodka and swapped some stories. I made plans to visit his bar in the southern part of Japan in the next month or so.

Surgery table.  

Had to charge the computer some how. This is a Russian fix. 

My Japanese friend Takayuki.

BMW rim. Ouch. 

Sept. 2. Kholmsk to Camping on the west side beach 314 km
I rode north along the coast going through small fishing villages that seem like they have not changed in 60 years. Every house has a garden and fishing nets drying/waiting repair. The road was grave and twisted along the coast Sometimes it would go inland but it would always return. The beaches were gravel/sand and wild. It was very easy to find a nice place to camp next to a stream going into the ocean. I tried to fish but didn't catch anything. Some one once wrote on this thread that they were impressed by my ability to catch fish anywhere. I wonder if they still feel that way?

Abandoned ship hull. 

No having fun here. 

Cool fossil rocks.

No one around. 

Great place to camp. 

Sept. 3. To Smirnykh 116 km
I packed up camp and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee while walking on the beach barefoot. It was a very relaxing morning and before I realized, it was almost noon before I got on the road. About 50 km north of where I camped I came to a small town where the road turned east to cross the island and meet the main road. I stopped in a small magazine to buy some water and I forgot I only had big bills and no change. The lady said she could not break a 1000 ruble bill (about $30). I said that was ok and I didn't need a bottle of water. I went out to my motorcycle and a few minutes later the old lady came out and handed me the water. She said I didn't need to pay for it. It was a gift. Again and again I have been humbled by the generoucity of people. Soon the road got smaller and smaller and I came to the first of 3 or 4 water crossings. Takauki had told me there were a few on this road and if it rained, it might not be passable. Luckily for me, the water was down so they were not bad. The muddy clay was quite slick some times. Especially on my well warn rear tire. It took me all afternoon to get to Smirnykh because the road was slow going. The fall leaves were covering the road in some spots making it hard to see the slick stuff. A couple times I felt the bike sliding out. I was not accelerating, braking or turning but she wanted to slide. At least both times she caught and regained traction before she went down. I fished in a small stream in the late afternoon and had some decent luck with the small ones. Nothing big enough to eat though. I found a hotel in Smirnykh for about $45 you can have a single room with no internet and a TV with 5 fuzzy channels. I slept well.

Bridge out. I was getting used to this in Russia. 

She is a dirty girl. 

Sept. 4. Smirnykh to Camping north of Nogliki 235 km
I ate breakfast at the cafe next to the hotel that I had eaten dinner at the night before. I fueled up and headed north. The pavement soon ended and the road reminded me of the Dalton highway in AK. Not much travel but haul trucks for the oil and gas fields. The going was fast but dusty when you were behind someone. I was going across a bridge and I noticed movement in the waters so decided to check it out. I found many salmon running the little stream. This was very far inland so they were all very tired and starting to loose meat. I tried for an hour or so to catch some with the rod for the fun of it but they wouldn't go for anything. When I was trying an "egg" pattern I caught a few small trout. It was cool to see the salmon run though. It would have been easier to catch them by hand in the shallow rapids. But I figured they wouldn't taste good this fare inland. I'm not sure how much further they could go upstream. In Nogliki both hotels were booked solid so I went north further to find a place to camp. No I was basically in swamp land and marshes. Most of the dry areas had oil or gas construction on them. The road was wide and soft gravel. It was graded often to keep it decent for all the haul trucks and crew trucks. I found a nice place on top of a hill in some pine trees.


Another great camping spot. 
Sept. 5. To Poronask in the rain 402 km
I decided to head back south instead of going further north. The road going north was on the east side of the island. On some maps it looked like there was one on the west side but I couldn't find any information about it and locals liked telling me it couldn't be done. Normally I don't listen to them but I did on that day. About 150 km south near Tymovskoye I got rain. It rained light off and on until I got back to Smirnykh where it started to pour. I stopped for a cup of coffee, cleaned my facemask and made a mad dash for Poronask. When I got there I was soaked through. I was cold. I found the only hotel in town and they told me 3000 ruble (about $90). I only had 2000 in my pocket and my card wasn't working in the ATM so I gave them a $100 out of my hiding spot and went to the room. I told them I would get rubles for them in the morning when I was able to contact my bank. The room had a heater but it was the radiator style and the building heat was not turned on. I was afraid I would melt down the hair drier if I used it to long. Don't ask me how I know hotel hair driers melt down easy. Seems its something you learn when you are traveling on a bike. Some hair driers have a built in shut off that will reset. Others have a fuse like that burns out when the heater is on for to long. This type can be fixed. It is a safety device so you don't start a fire. I set my alarm for early. If I called before 7:00, I could still get a hold of my bank before closing.

Sept. 6. To Yuhzno Sakalinsk 302 km.
I used the last of the money on my Russian sim card up calling my bank. They said my card should would again in 1/2 hour. I went to breakfast that came with the room then I was finally able to get rubles out of the machine. They happily traded the $100 back for the rubles and I checked out. It was a nasty wet morning. The sun was out but my jacket, pants, gloves and helmet were still soaked from the day before. My feet were dry though. Gotta love the new boots. I rode along the coast passing passing many people fishing in the mouths of the rivers. It was a quick ride and soon I kinda dried out and wasn't so soggy. By mid afternoon I made it to Yuhzno Sakalinsk. Hans (Blackcaps) sent me contact info for the biker club in Yuhzno so I sent them a text and a couple minutes later I got a reply. By the evening we were drinking beer and tearing into the moto.

You have to look past the trash at the beautiful mountains. 

Guys fishing in the outflow of a small river. 

Sept. 7 to 9. Sakalinsk
I spent a few days at the club getting the bike fixed. Pressure wash, Oil, valve check, install the new auto decompress weight and new blinkers in the rear. I posted on couch surfer if anyone wanted to hang out and I met a girl from Latvia, living in UK, and working for the month in Yuzhno Sakalinsk. She told me after she was done in Yuzhno, she would be going to Tokyo for 5 days.. so we made plans to see each other later. The guys in the motorcycle club were great. They even took me out to a steak restaurant. I'm not sure how long it had been since I had a ribeye but it was probably a year. Maybe longer. Yuzhno is a crazy town. There is a lot of money because of the energy boom on Sakhalin. Because of this, there are many nice restaurants. The fact that it is on an island in BFE adds to the cost. Vladimir helped me get all the documents together to get on the ferry. At first they weren't going to let me on because I didn't have my Carnet but I showed them all the right documentation. Or at least Japan customs accepted my documentation. So at 6 in the evening on the 9th we got the phone call that I would be able to be on the ferry the next morning.

The washer I "machined" in Irkutsk 8000 km earlier. Lasted the whole way. 

Freshly washed.. That's not stink coming off them.

Elina and her Sportster. 

Best use of English I've seen in a while. 

1 comment:

  1. On my travels across Russia, that is also the thing I remember the best - the generosity of the people. I never made it that far East though, what a fantastic trip.