A flowerist shop which you can...
A flowerist shop which you can see all over in Russia - from east of Yuzhno Sakhalinsk till far end to west of St Petersburg and north to Murmansk.
Curious about where can they find such beautiful flowers on this big piece of freezing land.
More local foods
This particular delicacy (the middle shelf, off-white square block towards the right, at 220 to 260 roubles per kilo) is one I have tried, although my gag reflexes kicked in and prevented me from swallowing.
Sala is basically congealed, shaped pig fat, often infused with herbs or things that resemble grit but probably don’t taste so pleasant. It is usually sliced about 1 to 2 cm thick and eaten with black bread, as an accompaniment to alcohol.
On this photo, the fact that it is more expensive than either the sausages or the cheeses is testament to the enthusiasm the Russians have for it. This enthusiasm is one I do not share as, essentially, it is what you expect – congealed, shaped pig fat.
Sakhalin in russian or Karafuto in japanese
Sakhalin (Karafuto in Japanese) is a very long island, about 1000 km, but narrow.
In Korsakov, the port, the military wanted to impose me a fine and to sign a protocol and expel me, because in theory I need to justify every day in Russia through hotel vouchers and register. I cried “Mama mia, khochu domoi”, and finally I only signed a protocol, but no shtraf, or fine.
I waited for the ship to go to the Kurils islands, Kunashir, Iturup and Paramushir, and then will head to Vladivostok, then Yakutia republic (minus 60 degrees centigrade, the second coldest place on Earth after Antarctica!), then a Buddhist monastery in Kizyl (Tiva republic) where I have friends from Sikkim since the times when I was a budhist monk, and then, after spending Christmas with my daughter Anushka in Siberia, will leave Russia through the amazing Military Georgian pass, via Dagestan, Chechnya and Osetia. I must be in Lima the 5th February 2006, because I already paid for my boat Maxim Gorky to Pitcairn island.
Sakhalin was a forced labour place. I bought a book by Chekhov, where he explains about the conditions in Sakhalin. But people are nice, open, and helpful, and food, especially fish and red caviar is delicious and cheap.
Sakhalin was Karafuto in Japanese times.
It was very hard to get in Kurils islands. First of all, even Russians need a Propusk, or special permit. The islands are vindicated by the Japanese and are populated mainly by soldiers. There are some islands that are secret; you do not find them in the atlas. I was in one of them.
I went to the police in Sakahlin and after 3 days I was granted the Propusk. Then I waited during 3 days the boat in Korsakov. The boat was small and the conditions on board very different than the cruises in the Bahamas. I got tired of the boat because in the secret islands I was not allowed to get off the boat. I wanted to touch the Kurils, and not only see them. In Kunashir I could walk around the harbour. There are many japanese. Putin opened the Kurils to the Japanese, without Russian visa, and Russians can visit Hokkaido Island without visa also. There are even ferries between Korsakov in Sakhalin and Hokkaido island, weekly.