Sweet arrival suprise to China, vol. 2

Sufeihe Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 79 › view all entries
Lonely Planet says there's only one weekly bus from Vladivostok to China. Knowing that you can't believe everything LP writes I went to the bus station in Vladivostok a day before and I was told a bus leaves for Harbin every day except for Sundays. Cool I said to myself and bought the ticket for 2500rur (pretty expensive for a 12h ride) but there was no other cheaper option. The very next day in the early morning at 6am I took a taxi from Mix Mix Hostel to the bus station and boarded the bus. There were only 7 people on the bus and me. After 3 hours of the journey our driver told us to go to a building called "Administration of ..." where people started buying a kind of ticket for 300rur. I didn't know why was that so when I was giving my money to a lady behind the counter I asked her why I need to pay that money. She recognized I'm not Russian and she asked me for my passport. "He's from Czechoslovakia" she shouted and called a customs officer. They told me I'm at a Russian-Chinesse border which can be used only by Russian or Chinesse citizens....and I can no longer go with the bus. Uppppssssss!!!! I told them I had bought the ticket at the bus station in Vladivostok using my poor Russian and it's their fault they didn't check my nationality. Or....after 30 days in Russia my Russian is not that poor :-). Anyway, another lady offered to call the bus station in Vladivostok and after 20 minutes of heavy negotiations she surprisingly gave me my money back saying that they will somehow reimburse that from Vladivostok busstation. The border crossing I was at was located in the middle of nowhere and the only option was to take taxi....bloody 2000rur for a 120km to the border which was opened for foreigners in Pogranichnyij-Sufeihe. As soon as we came to Pogranichnyij my taxi driver literally pushed me to board the bus leaving for Sufeihe as if I was not able to do so. Bus ticket between two border crossing towns far away from each other maybe 15km costs1200rur...another thievery. At the Russian border their customs officers inspected my passport veeeeeeery carefully, page by page, under ultraviolet if blank pages of my passport represented a threat to the Russian State. After 5min of that theatre I finally got a stamp and could board our bus and go to the Chinesse customs. Here, my passport attracted an interest of at least 5 officers who could not figure where Czech Republic is located. One of them took my passport and I think we went to a room with a big world map to find out that secret :-) I had to fill out an Arrival Card and a Health form. The later one I already filled out at the previous border crossing so I handed it over to them. However, they gave me another form which was basically the same as mine (one page in Chinesse,the reverse side in Russian) except for the colour of the paper. Certainly that was a big issue - my form was white, theirs yellow. So again I was filling the form again and when they saw how I'm fighting with Russian medical terminology they surprisingly offered a form number 3 - this time in English!!! Happy days!!! After my form was correctly filled out I was able to proceed to another customs officer who also had to call his collegue for a consultancy. At noon I got a stamp and could enter the Chinesse territory for the first time in my life. Of course, when I walked out of the building I found out my bus didn't wait for me and was....gone!!!!!! There were many taxi drivers who offered a ride to the city Sufeihe but I had not yuans and also was quite pissed off. Luckily for me I spotted two Russian guys  from our bus who were delayed at the border as well so I approached them and they offered to give me a lift to the city center, showed where to exchange rubles for yuans and got me on a cab to the long-distance bus station. In Sufeihe, I started to feel like an analphabet person...I suddenly was not able to read ANYTHING....such a strange feeling! I bought a ticket to Harbin (by pointing at Chinesse characters in my Lonely Planet) and boarded the bus where I met a Russian-Buryiati journalist who worked in Beijing and could speak English. Happy days! In Harbin, I managed to get to my hostel where I met two Polish guys who have been travelling in China for about 3 months and were going to Vladivostok. We talked to about 4am in the morning (7am of Vladivostok time zone). This was a long day for me!
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