I visited Russia in 2015 while on board a ship, in the Eastern Region near Vladivostok. We called there solely for the purpose of getting cheap fuel for our ship (same as all ships), there was really no container cargo traffic to make it worth the stop in the main city port, so instead we called either at the satellite port of Slavyanka (South West of Vladivostok) or at Nakhodka (South East of Vladivostok).
Unfortunately . Both cities left terrible impressions! Maybe I had high expectations and had a dreamy version of Vladivostok , which I imagined as a beacon of civilization in the Far East of Siberia, or maybe I had my bar already set very high after calling with our ship at Pusan (South Korea) and Yokohama, Japan…
But, you genuinely felt here like in a third world country , with very little infrastructure (only the main roads were paved). We went to a local supermarket to get supplies, It reminded me of the old mix shops in my grand mother’s village in Romania , the kind of village shop that sells both underwear, live chickens and bread.
The atmosphere in the place gave you the impression that you’ve gone back in time in the 80’s , seems like the region is stuck in those times. The port infrastructure, cranes , tugs, and barges in the port were all from that era, and in poor condition, so maybe that’s why. So was the surrounding area, grey dilapidated commie blocks, roads with potholes, improvised garage shacks, old soviet industrial platforms, old Lada cars mixed with newer Audi and Mercedes , and people just trying to carry on with their lives.
Big thumbs up for the local customs “authorities” that came to check the ship’s paperwork, almost all of them were like gorgeous Russian models. Big thumbs down because they always left with lots of the ship’s cigarettes cartons….
Also big thumbs up to the cheap and excellent quality Russian vodka we found at that shop I mentioned earlier. We didn’t have roubles, but they were happy to take our American Dollars. They didn’t try to cheat us on the exchange rate either.
From the area around the port at Nakhodka (Google street view photos):
The only good thing about the visit was the landscape on our approach, quite beautiful , and you can tell there is lots of wild unspoiled nature in Russia.
PS: considerably colder here compared to it’s Asian neighbours , this was the only port in Asia where we had snow 🙂
My pictures below:
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