As soon as I board the RUS ferry headed for Vladivostok, I can't help but notice that times are changing - and it's not just because the clocks are adjusted to Siberian Time. Once the hospitable, carefree environs of Japan are left behind, you immediately get the feeling that you are going to have to fight for your survival, and my first trial begins when I have to secure some space between hundreds of used Japanese cars in order to tie up the bike. The staff assesses me with looks that seem to say, "Let's see if he can manage this himself. Right now, we can't be bothered."
After dinner, I’m exhausted, wanting nothing more than to crawl into my bunk and catch some much-needed rest. But the evening had other plans in store. On the way to my cabin, I run into Oleg, a fellow passenger who sparks up conversation, innocently inquiring about my home and destination. Before I know it, there I am in his quarters, celebrating our new friendship over a half-empty bottle of vodka, despite the near certainty that pain would be blooming behind my eyes in the morning.