Vladivostok: Two Perspectives

When you live in a place as remote as Sakhalin Island, it is interesting to watch how the rather remote viewpoint causes your perspective on the world to change.

To a lot of Europeans, the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East represents the most far-flung, isolated, and distant destination imagineable.  As this post by Snowsquare informs us, Vladivostok lies 6 days, 9259km, 2 continents, 14 oblasts and 8 time zones away from Moscow at the very end of the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Every Muscovite would surely know the final destination of the train, but I wonder how many actually braved the journey to Russia’s wild eastern provinces without having the feeling they are descending into the unknown.   Vladivostok sometimes gets used in English in the same way as Timbuktu, to mean somewhere so distant and remote it might as well be on another planet.  Certainly, for most European Russians and Europeans in general, Vladivostok must represent the ends of the earth.

Not so when you live on Sakhalin Island.  Rather than being a remote town off in the distant east, it becomes a rather important city not far off in the west.  Vladivostok is a much larger town than Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk or indeed Khabarovsk, the nearest sizeable city to Sakhalin.  Many materials, items of equipment, and certain services like consular support are only available from Vladivostok, and requent trips must be made to the city when running a large operation in Sakhalin.  When my company required two buses for the transportation of labourers and we couldn’t find any on Sakhalin, somebody went to Vladivostok and purchased a couple of secondhand Korean vehicles.  Any Sakhalin islander who wants a UK visa must apply through the visa application facility in Vladivostok.  In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Vladivostok is spoken of in the same way that somebody from Pembrokeshire speaks of Cardiff, or someone from Kuwait speaks of Dubai: a big place where you must go if what you are after is not available locally.

That Vladivostok should serve this purpose to Sakhalin islanders when it is considered to be the ends of the earth by most of Europe serves well to demonstrate just how remote we are living on this rock.

11 thoughts on “Vladivostok: Two Perspectives

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Russia: Vladivostok and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

  2. Are you kidding, Tatyana?!! I’m looking forward to getting off the island for a week next month, but I’m sure as heck not missing the UK or heading in that direction.

    By the way, belated congratulations for yesterday.

  3. [wispering] what happened yesterday? am I missing something?

    No, really, other than a heated and altogether unpleasant debate with my online Israeli correspondents re: my lack of ‘blood connection’ and general negativity towards the Orient – nothing of note…

  4. Vladivostok seems interesting. According to Wikipedia it is terribly polluted though. Have you noticed this? Is Sakhalin Island also really polluted?

  5. Ah, yes, well – I’m not a Christian, not a Russian Orthodox; their saints and saint days carry no importance for me.

    On the other hand, it’s as good excuse for celebrating in a bar as anything….

  6. Erm, well….I only discovered it was a saint’s day when I followed the Wikipedia link. I asssumed it was like one of the many other “special days” in Russia and was simply an excuse to congratulate a certain group of people who then get drunk along with those who have congratulated them. At least, that’s how it’s dressed up here.

    My mother in law is a Tatiana, and has no religious affiliations whatsoever, but I was ordered on pain of death by her daughter to send a congratulatory message. You should have made the most of it and let everybody buy you drinks all day, once they’ve been gently reminded as to the occasion of course.

  7. Maybe we should commemorate the spineless sun-baking English surrenders on the sporting fields of gentlemen!! At least they earning there $2,000 GBP per day for all the free press they are generating for England.
    Using a childs analogy, “are they here yet” 🙂

    Mike

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