Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More Photos from Sakhalin

Kristen says...

I'm taking a 10-minute break from packing (ugh! PACKING!) to upload some more photos from our trip to Sakhalin.

We left Vlad in snow (and came back to even more snow...but Sakhalin was snow-free)
We only had three days on the Island but really managed to do a lot!
We stayed in the town of Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, which has a nice little ski hill almost in the center of the city
It also has some interesting building art
We did a fair amount of walking around the city:
"City Cultural Park and Recreation named for Yuri Gagaran," famous Soviet Cosmonaut
Chris with a statue of Yuri in the park
The recreation part of the park turned out to be a little carnival, closed down for the winter
Look! Kangaroos in Russia!!
A Russian version of the teacup ride
A giant snow-covered slide
Another winterized Russian teacups ride
Similarly to Vlad, Yuzhno Sakhalinsk has some lovely statuary art:

 It gets very snowy on the island (we were there just before the first major snow of the winter) and the markets were full of these sleigh strollers:

Later in the day a colleague drove us outside of the city to view one of the island's LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) plants. The economy of Sakhalin is based heavily on oil and natural gas.
Here we are pointing at the plant. The large tanks behind Chris are for LNG
A huge ship for transporting LNG. Notice the size of the SUVs on the road to give you some perspective on how massive that thing was
A Day at the Beach

It was a very odd thing to be at the beach with boots on!
It's not every day you see ice on the beach!
On our way to the plant we stopped and bought some local produce from the side of the road:

 And enjoyed a late-afternoon picnic as we watched the sun go down.
I ate my first-ever pickles on this trip--they were pretty ok
 We also explored some ruins left over from when the Japanese ruled the island (it was given over to the Russians after WWII)

On our way back to town we made a few more stops:
A recently-refurbished statue where local lovers tie fabric and lock love locks
Former home of the Japanese Imperial Governor, now a museum
The dacha of our friend and host. Dachas are a really interesting and Russian thing--most often they began as land given by the Soviet government to ordinary people as a way to let the people grow their own food during times of food shortages.
Our last day was spent back in the city, wandering in the rain to see some of the monuments.

The city is building a new monument which is combining the secular Soviet army with the Orthodox church by incorporating a new cathedral into a war monument:

It was really cool to be able to get so close to one of the famous Onion Domes of Russia!

The city was decorating for the holidays:
Even in the rain, it was a beautiful place!

I do want to point out the caterpillar on Chris' upper lip--he and a few other members of the Consulate grew mustaches this year in honor of Movember and to raise awareness for men's heath concerns like prostate cancer. Self checks can help catch cancer early, and regular visits to a doctor could save your life!

 It was a great trip, and our last little jaunt in Russia. It's been a great two years, but now I need to get back to packing for our next big adventure...!

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