How do I prepare myself for the Vlissingen → Vladivostok
solo motorbike adventure?
Most important for me getting ready to leave, is a departure date. Without a flight ticket, every day is a potential departure day … but can easily become a potential day of delay. In order to avoid getting stuck behind the hurdle of taking off, I set myself a target-date to start driving (which I won’t reveal yet :).
I had a 4-months time window starting from the date I returned from South America until the dat that I want to start heading east. That sounds like a long time, but is disappearing quickly!
The Honda CRF 250 L holds a reputation of long-lasting, reliable travel bike. Still it needs some adjustments to get Harry (the Red Honda) fit for take-off. For the time being, he can chat with ‘la chica negra’ (the CCM) and get used to the idea of traveling together with me.
Travel gear and equipment
The South America trip learned me what gear to bring along, and what not. I only need to replace some material (i.e. tent) for single-person use unstead of double, and to adapt the set of tools which I need for the Honda instead of the CCM.
There are plenty of packing lists around, so I won’t sum up mine here.
For the female travelers there are just 2 little things that I’d highly recommend:
Central Asia has a particular bad reputation when it comes to visa and border crossing customs.
Bureaucracy could easily lead to bureaucrazy! Information about visa varies from source to source and is subject to change. Since I can’t predict when I’ll be reaching the countries, it seems impossible to apply for visa from my preparations base. I plan on staying somewhere to work and sit out the winter months, so if I’d apply for visa now, they would be expired by the time I get there. No other option than to try and obtain them along the way through the embassies in neighboring countries. Fingers crossed this will work!
Preparing for the unknown
My idea is to head out and deal with what I come across along the way.
In order not to dwell around and get completely lost, I’m collecting proper maps (yes, those large sheets of paper that show roads and rivers – the old-school version of a GPS), and selecting a few points of interest but not too many so that I can take on as much as possible local tips for hidden gems. To have something small to ‘give in return’ to people who might invite me or show their interest in my journey, I’ll carry some stickers with my name and website. This proved to be a very nice gesture for many people we met before, and a practical solution for us, not being able to carry all sorts of presents from our home countries or so.
As I don’t speak any Russian or other Asian language yet, I imagion that communication can get tough from time to time. In order to be able to ask for directions, check on road conditions ahead of me, ask where I can find water and food, and to indicate the problem should I or Harry encounter one, I’m producing a set of cards with pictures to point at (i.e. wether there is a river to cross, a broken of functional bridge ahead, etc.).
Furthermore, I’ll be developing my skills in order to keep Harry in shape before taking off: I want to be confident in the regular maintenance, checks and small repairs of my bike. For this, I will work with a mechanic to teach me the essentials and make me less dependant on external support should some issues occur along the way.