Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 103: Vladivostok (Iron Tigers)

It’s our third day as guests of the ‘Iron Tigers M/C’ living in the ‘Box’ above Vlad Motors and it’s an experience that every biker should enjoy. As I’ve mentioned so many times in this blog, the people of Russia have amazingly warm hearts and here in Eastern Russia they are quite possibly some of the most generous people in the world, …… but the Iron Tigers take that generosity to ever greater heights. We’re living rent-free, have access to their workshops, tools, washing machine, catering supplies and once the computer is up and running again, Internet access as well.

Yesterday was a busy day downstairs at Vlad Motors as a shipping container from America had arrived filled with imported Japanese bikes. The day was filled with unloading the bikes, assessing any damage and shoe-horning them into any space that was available. To celebrate their arrival there was a ‘party’ in the evening with barbeque, beer and of course too much vodka. It carried on into the early hours of the morning and several club members shared our humble ‘Box’ for the night and our Nurofen in the morning.

At gatherings here everybody in the group takes turns to tell stories as the vodka is passed around. Last night I was prompted to join in and to recount some tales from our journey. Michael, the Iron Tigers President, translated the tale into Russian as I spoke. The story that I shared with them is as follows:

Asil was a Turkish boy with two passions in life; Motorcycles and Travelling. After finishing college, disillusioned with his lot in Turkey and the prospect of completing his National Service in the army, he packed his motorcycle with all of his belongings and began his journey. He travelled all across Europe, through North and South America, … down into the centre of Africa and eventually into Mongolia. In Mongolia he discovered that his Turkish passport was about to expire and so visited the Turkish Embassy in order to have it renewed. Unfortunately the embassy realised that Asil had avoided his compulsory year of National Service in the army and refused to renew his passport unless he returned to Turkey,…. immediately.
Not wishing to complete a year in the Turkish army, Asil sought advice from his friends in Mongolia. After much thought there appeared to be only one possible solution to his predicament. Asil would find and marry a local Mongolian girl and then apply for Mongolian Citizenship and a Mongolian passport. The plan actually worked, he found a girl, they married, Asil received Mongolian Citizenship and collected all of the documents necessary to apply for his Mongolian passport. With a spring in his step he took himself and the documents to the passport office in Mongolia and waited in line. Eventually his application was taken and inspected by an official, ……. but the news that greeted him was not exactly what he’d expected. Unfortunately Asil was now 26 years of age and a Mongolian Citizen, …….. he therefore must spend two years in the army doing his comulsory Mongolian National Service.

On Saturday we’ve been invited to ride with the club up to the town of Ussurijsk for a weekend of camping and general merriment. We think that Wednesday 16th of July was ‘Labour Day’ here in Russia and the weekend coming is an annual event where bike clubs from Eastern Russia meet together and have fun. I’m sure that it will be quite an experience, …. I just hope that I will be able to remember at least some of it.

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