Phew. 20 hours after setting off, I finally set foot on Sakhalin. Kholmsk (the port you land in) is extremely ugly. The restaurant I am in now is significantly less ugly (despite being in Kholmsk), but more expensive than the mainland – I will be lucky to get away with paying less than $10 for dinner today.
I had my first encounter with Immigration officials today. Just as I was disembarking the boat someone looked at my passport, then grabbed it and gave it to someone else who ran away with it. That was a little alarming. But he was just taking it to the Immigration person.
At first I thought there was going to be some kind of trouble with my visa (particularly because I have a business visa when I am just a tourist), but I knew things were going to be okay when the Immigration officer said she very much envied me for my travels. She turned out to be rather nice.
So now I have a bus ticket to Yuzho-Sakhalinsk (the biggest city on Sakhalin). I have come a long, long way to see this place.