Hello again from the Chiang Mai to Vladivostok Blog, reporting again for the last and final time from VLADIVOSTOK.
This is the final post in the series. Hope everyone who followed it enjoyed sharing our adventure.
Vladivostok is a truly exceptional city, filled with fine culture, cuisine, history, museums, and just plain-old people watching. A great place to end this adventure.
Khrushchev, after his first visit to the United States in the 1960’s, called Vladivostok the San Francisco of Russia because of the hills and the waterfront, and the nickname stuck.
Vladivostok is on the very eastern edge of Asia but has a characteristically “European” flavor to it as the next couple of photos show:
The weather continues to be perfect. Since the very beginning of the China section of the tour when we were hammered by rain (which was more than a month ago) we haven’t had any precipitation; nothing but sunny, late summery, low humidity weather. (It did get hot at times as we crossed the Gobi Desert – but what would you expect?)
In the wintertime it does get frigid. All stores and buildings have sealed sets of double doors to keep most of the frigidity out of the interior. I am curious to return again during wintertime just to experience Vladivostok of Irkutsk in the depths of their frozen period.
One of the highlights for me in Vladivostok has been the food, which has been exceptional. Some of the things I have eaten in Russia have brought back early childhood memories of my grandmother’s cooking (my family on both sides trace their roots back to Russia 3 generations ago).
Below are some food pictures taken over the last couple of days.
I found my favorite cafe. Below is a photo of it and a photo of one page of their extensive menu. It is a very good thing I do not absorb any calories by eating food with my eyes.
I want to learn how to cook everything on their menu. I have scoured all of Vladivostok’s book stores looking for a Russian cookbook but all of them have been written in the Russian language. So I ordered a Russian cookbook in English from Amazon today because I want to recreate a lot of these dishes when I return to my home in Chiang Mai. Borscht anyone?
There is also a great market near my hotel where they sell breads, meats, cheeses, smoked fish, etc., and I go there for lunch to make super sandwiches.
One of my greatest joys of traveling around Asia is sampling all of the local delicacies, and this tour outdid them all. So many great flavors and ingredients – it blurs my memory – which is not that hard to blur, especially with the local vodka.
Will I do this tour again? The jury is still out. The hardest part for me was being away from my business for so long, and this I seriously have to take into account if there is a next trip.
The second hardest part of this trip was being in such close proximity with so many disparate individuals for so long a time. Group dynamics played a major part of this tour (as I warned everyone it would at our pre-tour briefing way back in Chiang Mai on July 31).
Both these factors will play a major role in my decision-making process if there is to be another Chiang Mai to Vladivostok Expedition in 2016.
But in the meantime, if a tour like this interests you, please let me know as soon as possible. If the demand is there I will do this expedition again, because overall it is an expedition definitely worth repeating. And next time we do this route we will know exact distances, the best itinerary stops, the best restaurants and hotels, the best roads, the best weather window, the best points of interest. etc. etc. etc.
If your calendar is empty next summer and you are looking for something exceptional to do on a motorcycle, drop me a line and we’ll take it from there.
Regards from Vladivostok, Reed.
And happy trails to everyone!