Vladivostok and Russia’s Far East

Even in the Far East Russia feels exactly like the Russia we know from 9 timezones further West. Certainly nothing like the Asian countries we visited for the past 7 months. Our arrival in Vladivostok would teach us in a few minutes, the plane lands among military radar, a lady gets on the plane after landing “filming” the passengers getting off with what we think is a thermal camera. Russia is pretty scared of the MERS outbreak in Korea, all customs officials wearing face masks behind thick glass.

Outside the airport in thick rain is waiting Sasha, our couchsurfing host here in Artem, close to the airport. He works at customs and his humbleness sets the contrast to the rather harsh welcome. Russian hospitality at it’s best, he cooked a big dinner with fish from the ocean and mussels and we tell our story over a bottle of Georgian wine that found it’s long way to the remotest corner of Russia.

Nastya storms into the first supermarket and stocks up on a variety of REAL milk products, REAL rye bread, REAL cheese, vegetables for salad that taste like they should and long missed Gematogen. Latter being a „sweet“ that’s sold in pharmacies, is made of bulls blood and therefore contains lots of iron. Doesn’t taste bad, not exactly chocolate but certainly very sweet.

In the morning we take a local train to Vladivostok proper and meet our Canadian host Gabriel at the train station. A day of sightseeing, spying on the Russian Pacific fleet and exploring the local “beach” is ahead. Russia changed! No more public drinking neither men laying around unable to move. Everybody holding ice cream instead and the birth rate seems to be through the roof!

Next morning we take a mini van shared taxi out of town and hitchhike 800km North to Khabarovsk.

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Hitch-hiking always brings many additions to my Shazam app 🙂