Jo creates havoc at Vladivostok’s airport with her crazy antics and the Russians are not amused at all! The rest of the team arrive off the plane to the usual wise cracks and Gareth is not going to get any sleep tonight as major anxiety creeps back into his mind.
Monday August 12th – Tony and Brendan are ensconced out at Rachael’s Living Hope orphanage centre and today pick up their bikes that have been trucked from Yakutsk to Vladivostok. We check out of the Hotel Incanta and head for Martin Tate’s office to collect some Euro’s he’s had in safekeeping while we’ve gallivanted around Russia and which we’ll need to fund the North Korean leg of our trip. Martin is the NZ High Commissioner here, has had a presence in Vlad even longer than Rachael and has several business interests in the agricultural sector. While he’s not in town at present his office is very efficient and we procure the funds we need. And then it’s around to the tyre supplier that Rachael has deftly located who has 3 on-road, off-road rear tyres that we can get fitted tomorrow. The boys are having to spend the day cooling their heels because their bikes won’t be ready until 5pm – shades of the run around they had to put up with for 4 days in Magadan that ruined their chances of completing the ride beyond Yakutsk.
For us though it’s out to Rachael’s orphanage to get settled in there for the next few days. Over the years Rachael has morphed her centre for rescuing the street kids of Vladivostok into a shelter for young mums – themselves orphans – who have now had babies but been abandoned. Several of these lasses she rescued from the streets years ago and so has a very close relationship with. But the challenge of protecting them still as well as trying to ensure their children don’t repeat the cycle is a significant one and her work continues to hold fascination for Jo and me. Similar to other smaller projects we’ve been engaged in – such as Edric Baker’s hospital in Bangladesh, and Ralph and Judy Duley’s work with disabled orphans in China – one of the big challenges is succession and sustainability. We have a few chats on this topic during our visit, and discuss strategies and funding.