After a whole day spent in the queue for ferry tickets (literally 8 hours – I kid you not), here I am sitting in the sun watching them load up my ferry. I thought it left at 6 o’clock, but there must be something wrong, cos it is already quarter to and there are no signs of the other passengers yet.
A funny thing happened in the queue (as always). As I said, they wouldn’t start selling tickets until 11 o’clock. Well at 12 o’clock (the queue had hardly moved) the clerk took two and a half hours off for lunch. And the next boat was at 3 o’clock. You have to laugh. Still, it was on the sign that she was closed for lunch from 12-2:30. What can you do?
I met an interesting guy from Vladivostok. Basically he thought (and many people seem to agree with him) that Russia has huge potential, but absolutely brainless leadership. And it has had brainless government for the best part of 100 years. The tsars were far from great, but they were better than the Communists or the new Social-Democrats (ex-Communists) that they have now.
As Lonely Planet puts it: “Russia is a country blessed with astonishing resources. Russian economics is the attempt to avoid an equally astonishing failure to capitalise on those resources.”
I had my first hitchike in Russia today. It is a really common way of getting around, especially in cities. You just stick out your arm (like you are hailing a cab) and someone will pull over. You say where you want to go, and they say “get in” or they say a price, and you negotiate. Everyone is a taxi.
And I found out that Sakhalin is 700kms long. I was expecting a teeny weeny little island. It might take a little longer to see it than I though.
How cool is that? The ferry has train carriages on it, and they are so heavy that you can see the boat sinking as the carriages go on. That is quite nifty.