During my days in Chita, I met a nice guy named Max. He was interested in what I was doing so we spent some time talking and exchanging views. He helped me look for a new tire, which proved to be a useless struggle, and get the new suspension from the DHL office. We also talked a little bit about Amur Highway. Max drove this road more than a few times so he seemed to know it well.
As I was leaving the town, I expected to spend at least 10 days on this part. It felt quite exciting and maybe a little distressing to begin yet another hard section.
But the conditions turned out to be much better than I expected. In about three days, I was done with the first 1200 kilometers, supposedly the hardest part of it.
My suspension had failed yet again by the way! And even on the very first day! It’s truly unbelievable. But I’m not going to talk about that. There is nothing to say really.
In an interesting way, my journey through this remote landscape was full of entertaining encounters with other travelers and locals. The small cafe I stayed on the first day, the truckers and their girls, the cyclist from Magadan, the Professor and his team giving me a ride on their Ural, camping with Matheos, and the family who opened their warm house to me… All have left deep marks in my mind.
I spent one day in Khabarovsk with the local riders. The Amur Lynx is a local motorcycle club, one of the first ones in the region. The president Ivanovich invited me to stay at his place for the night. We rode to the local bar in perfect formation and had a few drinks. Then there was a crazy stunt show performed by the “Wilds”, the younger sport bike riders who don’t belong to any clubs.
The rest of the night involved a lot of drinking and other similar activites… There riders had three separate accidents on that night. I had difficulty waking up early to hit the road to Vladivostok. This kind of hospitality can really kill you.
The second half was much easier. There were less constructions, and most of it was paved. In an interesting way, the first half took me 3.5 days, and the other only 19 hours.
Vladivostok is a moderately big city with a big port and railway station. The weather, the hills, the architecture and the rail tracks reminded me of San Francisco. I checked-in at a hotel and had some good food in the morning. Considering my experience with the Amur Lynx, I decided to check the ferry schedule before socializing with any of the local riders of the Iron Tigers. That was a good decision because there was a ferry leaving on the 16th from Zarubino, a town 200 kms south of Vladivostok, right next to the border with North Korea. I bought a ticket and moved on.
As I approached Zarubino, a weird feeling emerged. The journey was ending. The end was not something I considered much until then. I lived it as if it would last forever. I had lost the idea of approaching a finality. The road, and the world around it had long become something I was going ‘through’, not ‘around’… But then I saw the ocean; the very same one I had left nearly six months ago in Los Angeles. That was it. That had to be it. Whatever I had lived so far, had to come to an inevitable conclusion right there and then.
But I didn’t have any sort of resolutions in my mind. All I could feel was the massiveness of the body of water that lay ahead of me and a hopeless desire to ride further on.
Expecting the end of something to make sense is actually quite silly. The meanings conceal the reality of the end. They echo in our minds like a soundtrack while the end credits run.
For some reason, I remembered Rutger Hauer’s death scene in Blade Runner. I arranged the camera, and went for it:
Then I moved on to find a place to sleep in this little port town at the edge of the world, called Zarubino…