This is a make or break day for the Adventurers. Gareth has a 3 hour trip ahead of him to get all their Visas issued before they can cross into North Korea. He is very much on edge as they get closer to the Consulate and what would happen if their request is declined!
Tuesday August 13th – Visa Time in Nakhodka – Rachael has rung through and been assured that the DPRK Consulate only needs to see one person with all 5 passports to issue the visas so rather than riding the 400 kms down and back from Nakhodka, we decide that Durham and I will drive down to the port city to do this job. The appointment is for 3 pm so we set off just after 9 am. At 2.45 pm at the gate of the Consulate we’re told that our contact, Mr Pak Yong Hun, is taking a bath and won’t be ready for some time. Shortly his helper, My Kim comes down takes the 5 passports from me and then hands me a sheath of visa application forms to fill out. Momentarily I can’t figure how I’m going to do that without having the passports at hand – and he refuses to hand them back. Then I remember I have scans of them all on my computer so it became a breeze. Then he returned with the visas all issued in our passports and collected from me the application forms and US$43 each. First hurdle completed!
We interrupted the 3 hour trip back to Vladivostok to visit Sacha’s – one of the voluntary helpers at Rachael’s centre – parents at their Dacha (traditional Russian wooden cottage). Dinner at the dacha was a treat – mushrooms on mash with veges out of their garden. The mushrooms gathered from the forest are a staple of the diet of country folk in these parts. It sounds romantic until Sasha’s father regaled a story about how 12 years ago a tiger came out of the forest and attacked an old man at the bus stop. It reminded me momentarily of my own bear story earlier on this ride and I was pleased to move on.