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Welcome to Russia

Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai, Russia
8 Kudos
Eastern Russia is strikingly different from the efficient and high-tech world of Seoul. Our Vladivostok Air flight was rickety with an air of body odor. The service, however, is what we could only dream of in the US. On a flight the same length as KC to Denver (less than 2 hours), they served drinks, a full meal, coffee, water, and candy at take-off and landing. On the ground in Vladivostok we were certainly missing the ease of transport in Seoul. The airport is extremely far from Vladivostok, especially considering the amount of available land around here. As Steve got money from the ATM (after a bit of nervousness having to wait off to the side in passport control due to a visa typo), the last bus of the day to the city left. There are no actual taxi drivers here, but a lot of people trying to make money driving people in their cars, whispering "taxi" as you pass. A couple of them offered to take us to town for over $60. To our rescue came a woman Steve had chatted with on the plane. She and her husband drove us in their funny truck to a small town nearby called Artyom. We parked under a highway, walked along the tracks -- because, why would you put the station alongside a road? -- and they helped us buy tickets on the next train (which cost less than $2 each). We gave them an American Royal pin as a thank-you gift, along with a very confusing explanation in Russian of what a barbecue contest is. (She said she'd have her daughter look it up online and explain it better, but it'll probably still seem very odd.) We're not in Seoul any more, this is a whole other world. On the plus side, the train ride was a very scenic hour along the ocean bay.
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Amur Bay hotel
Vladivostok was closed to foreigners until the 90s, so the few choices include only one hostel and it's distant. Good deal since I booked it directly -- would have been a good bit more through US websites. Very nice staff, common areas, and room with view of the gulf ... only downside was a bed so rock hard it was just ridiculous.


dining 8 minutes
Discovered on our own a workers'-cafeteria-style eatery with a huge USSR map and photos of the likes of Che and Khrushchev in happy times, strangely mixed with a full but affordable coffee bar. Cheap pelmeni, borshch, and all the funny mixes of foods that Russians call "salad."

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