Banging Our Heads Against The Chinese Wall

As I write this I am sitting in a rooftop ger in Ulan Bator. We were trying to keep the blog somewhat chronological, but between having bad or no internet connections we have not been so successful.   (And that is ok, no one wants their trip to be dictated by a blog!)

My original plan was to ignore my physical reality and just write up a bunch of auto-posts so people can have some idea, albeit a delayed version thereof, our exploits. But I am abandoning the idea. I will still back track a little in the future, but for now we have a little real time news.


(This is mostly in order to stop people from scratching their heads and going, huh, whaaa, they did what, she is where???  but I thought…)

Our original plan was to ride our motorcycles (Betty and Wilma, two BMW F 650 GSs) across Russia, to Vladivostok, and from there we would either ship to South America, or we would go to Korea and then ship to South America. From there we would ride up to Newfoundland where we would drink a beer with family and friends, and I could squish my nieces and nephews.

Plans change. (The how’s and why’s of sacrificing to the motorcycle gods,  I am saving for my Chasing Summer article.  But as that may not be out for  a month or more, a short summary of what is presently running through our heads I will provide here!)

As the quotes to ship our bikes began to roll in our hearts sunk deeper and deeper into despair. From Vladivostok we would need to rent an entire container.  To the tune of thousands per motorcycle.  Even if we could fill the container with other bikes, the price was still thousands per motorcycle. We were ok with the low 2000 range when it was 700 to get to Korea, then another 1200 to get to Chile, because we planned to ride for 3 weeks in Korea before shipping.


And there is always a big but,  German (along with Croatian) vehicles are not allowed in Korea.  Temporary import or not. Yes Patrick rode his bike there 6 years.  Pure luck. If you are lucky then you get through.  If not then you’re bike goes on bonded trucks, your out another couple hundred (at least) and for that money you do not even get to ride!

So what are we to do?


IF China allowed bikes in we could ride in China. But at 300 dollars a day for a guide (but that can be split between as many group members as you wish. But even if we had 10 other bikers with us it would be too much!) not only is the price insane, it also takes away from all the freedom of riding your bike in the first place.

We then looked at buying a bike in China. We thought that perhaps the problem was just foreign vehicles,  as foreigners do ride bikes there, why not us?

Well, it would appear everyone rides in various degrees of legality, few with any real legal status, and most rely on the kindness (or the indifference) of the local police. We are still looking into it, but the fact that others say you can do it, does not mean we will do it.  Neither of us have any real interest in seeing the insides of a Chinese prison, even as a “scare tactic” that would not last longer than a few days. (I’ll own it, I shit my pants just thinking about it.)

So what are we to do?

Chasing summer is still on the table.  Instead of South America we are looking into New Zealand, as we can buy a bike there for what we would have paid to ship ours.

That means selling Betty and Wilma.

We are also meeting my parents in Thailand in November. That got us thinking.  And looking into online forums. Perhaps instead of South America we could ride South East Asia.  Six – seven months in paradise on earth, surely there could be worse fates for us?

This would mean selling Betty and Wilma, and instead of buying 650 ccs, we would go for 125 ccs, maybe even go for a Scooter, we did a scooter in Cuba and it was awesome!

There would be no thinking if it was not for China! Then we would simply ride our bikes through China, into Laos, cruise Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, and ship out from there!

But the Chinese Wall shuts out the whole of Asia to our bikes.

The plan is still to ride home however, only now we stay on the other side  of the world while we wait for Spring to hit the United States, where we plan on buying new bikes and riding onwards to Newfoundland. We are not willing to become backpackers, just an exchange of wheels!

So we still plan to drink beer with friends and family, and squish nieces and nephews, as well as chew on Ms Q’s baby! As Shaq, the best dog ever, would have told you, it is not so easy to escape my love! If we can not go through the wall, we will just go around it!

If you liked this post you might like these:

Changing Plans Is Part Of The Plan

Iceland Does Not Give Up Its Treasures Easily

Planning A Motorcycle Trip: 3 Months From Germany To Turkey & Back


About Sherrie

Sherrie was born and raised in Newfoundland, has her home base in Germany, and at any given time can be found just about anywhere in the world. Addicted to books, travel, chocolate and motorcycles, a perfect day for her is riding her bike followed by drinking good coffee and reading a good book or writing one.

4 Responses to Banging Our Heads Against The Chinese Wall

  1. Kyle says:

    Man, I never would’ve thought that traveling via bike would be so complicated! How weird that German bikes aren’t allowed in Korea. Seems like kind of a random ban?

  2. Sorin says:

    Guys, I’m so sorry you have to sale your bikes… Wouldn’t it be easier if you try to do a russian registration on both of them? I mean register your bikes on a different person’s name in Russia. This way you can ride them in Korea.Safe trip, all my best wishes,Sorin

  3. SherrieLynnMcC says:

    Our bikes not allowed in Korea is completely random, and frustrating! We looked into everything, unless we paid more than the bikes were worth, we could not get the bikes out of Russia! But I think SE Asia will also be ok!

  4. Ivan says:

    If you cannot bring your German bike into Korea, search for Off Shore registration in The Gambia on Google. You can use any country’s address and they can send the license plate which is all that is needed to anywhere in the world. In fact, there is no registration certificate – you get a old British white-on-black plate with numbers and letters, and two stickers which are signed which can be signed and faxed over to you. You can make the plates yourself or have them send other plates to a post office near you in Russia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *