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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13


Stage 7 - Wednesday 14 May 2008
By Dick and Pip Smith
May 14, 2008, 11:46

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The nightmare of getting out of Russia

We initially thought we could simply drive our Earthroamer onto the ferry that goes to Japan and perform the Customs and Immigration documentation in a few minutes as we did in other countries. You would have to be joking! We have spent half the day attempting to organise the paperwork to get the vehicle on the ferry. Considering we came through the border into Russia in one hour with no pre-notification, you would think that getting out of the country would be even simpler.  No!

We were told that the paperwork is so complicated that so far we have not even been able to get one Export Agent to take it on.  Marina has already spoken to all the agents she knows and we have even added one, recommended by Lang Kidby.

We have been advised to front up to the Head of Customs tomorrow morning and see if he can assist.  It appears that a vehicle being exported from Vladivostok to Japan – especially an American vehicle owned by Australians – is such a rare occurrence that it is almost impossible.  Does that mean that the Earthroamer will have to stay here forever?

Isn’t it amazing that when travelling from countries such as the UK to Norway, the paper work check consists of a glance at your passport, whereas here in Russia, the bureaucracy may take weeks.

Before worrying about our Customs problems, in the morning we headed North in the Earthroamer to arrange a thorough wash and removal of dirt from the underside of the vehicle.  We knew that to get the vehicle into Australia it would have to be spotlessly clean for the obvious quarantine reasons.

Marina, a translator who had assisted Dick four years ago when he visited Vladivostok with the original plan to drive the opposite way around the world, came with us in the Earthroamer and directed us to the most brilliant washing facilities – they were designed for big buses and absolutely perfect for the Earthroamer.  For $40.00 USD the vehicle was made clean as ever and looking almost brand new – even the cab section was given a vacuum.
We found this great bus car wash
We had the Earthroamer washed from top to bottom

The next problem was fitting the cover over the grey water tank which we had been carrying inside the campervan since yesterday.  Marina directed us across the yard to a bus service facility.  What a fantastic group of workers!We were to experience yet again the wonderful generous nature of the Russian people.  For over an hour Dick and the mechanics worked on remounting the cover.  This included drilling out the old fittings and mounting new bolts which we had purchased in Khabarovsk.  There was lots of fun and laughter with Marina translating wherever necessary.  With the number of workers on the job, we thought a fair cost would be at least $100.00 USD, however they refused to take a cent.  We felt quite embarrassed with the genuine kindness of these people who were not well off in any financial way.
Dick working with the mechanics
Our kind generous workers

After the repairs we drove the Earthroamer back to our allocated space at the Hyundai Hotel, where for $370.00 USD per night the bed is not as good as the one in the Earthroamer!
The Earthroamer all clean back at the Hyundai hotel

At this point it is very important that we thank the Ford Motor Company for the incredible work they have done to get us going again in both Kazakhstan and Mongolia.  We believe the Ford F550 Earthroamer is still the best vehicle for doing such a journey.Yes, we had a few problems, but that added to the adventure.It is extraordinary that the people at Ford were able to organise their dealers to fix our problems in these remote countries.

All the work has been done under warranty.  Not many people would expect to buy a vehicle in Denver, Colorado and get warranty service in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Khovd, Mongolia!!!  We love the Earthroamer – especially the enormous power used occasionally to pass trucks ascending hills, the 4WD low range used to cross almost impassable rivers in Mongolia, and the really comfortable home on wheels where we feel very secure.  Thank you.

We will post more news later and let you know how we go with the export of the Earthroamer from Russia.
We walked down to the main square in Vladivostok
Equipment just arrived from Japan on the wharf where we hope to leave from
Watching a car being loaded onto one of the long haul car carriers, probably going to drive back along the way we had come to Chita and maybe all the way to Moscow

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