Do you ever lie awake at night wondering what the south-western coast of Sakhalin Island looks like? Of course you do! You’d not be normal if you didn’t.
Fortunately for you, your selfless blogger took a trip to this very place just after he was issued with his Landcruiser in early October, and he took his camera with him. Delay in posting these pictures can be attributed largely to idleness on my part. Click on a picture for a larger version.
The road from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to the port of Kholmsk on the west coast takes you through wooded mountains which were in full autumn colour.
After an hour or so, I arrived at the small port of Kholmsk on the Tatar Straits.
Some people spend years seeking the truth. Yet more demand the truth. I found it along the coast road just south of Kholmsk.
The road along the coast follows the railway line for a bit, and offers drivers plenty of opportunities to tear out their transmission over the many level crossings.
Old fishing ships abandoned with the collapse of the USSR are scattered along the whole of the coastline.
A little further south lies the town of Nevel’sk. It is an old fishing collective which has fallen into disrepair since the end of the Soviet Union. It is the most run-down and decrepit place I’ve ever visited in Russia.
This was almost as far as the road would take you, before you came to a barrier which was closed blocking any further progress. I saw one chap in a beefy Landcruiser get through, but I didn’t think I’d understand any explanation or warning that the chap in the little guard house would give me so I turned back. I think the road deteriorates further, and in winter is almost impassable except in a huge Kamaz truck. I was a bit disappointed, as I wanted to get to the very southern tip and look across to Japan. People say this is not possible, but I’m not so sure. Looking out to see due west from the position of the barrier, near the village of Luzhki, lets you see the tiny island of Moneron, which is further away from the island than Japan is.
Unable to go further south, I headed back to Nevel’sk and cut inland in the direction of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The road, impassable in winter, was little more than a gravel track in places and wound its way through the mountains filled with autumn colours which made me feel like I was driving through Appalachia rather than Sakhalin Island, as the following pictures show.