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What can I say about Sakhalin - 2

The Khabarovsk correspondent of EastRussia shares life hacks and everyday nuances of a family car trip across Sakhalin.

How to get on the ferry when there are no empty cabins on it, why should the ferry dispatcher in Vanino be warned that you are traveling 300 kilometers before your destination, how not to stay hungry on the ferry, is it worth counting on fresh fish on the island, what take out of clothes and where to live - EastRussia tells everything you wanted to know about an independent trip to Sakhalin, including what you could not even think of.

What can I say about Sakhalin - 2
Photo: Press Service of the Government of Sakhalin Region

About the ferry

If you know exactly how long you will need to travel to Sakhalin, then it is better to book a ferry there and back right away. This is done quite simply, through the form on the website of the carrier company "Daltransservice". The only thing is, before sending the application, check all the data: for some reason I had an empty column "Vehicle registration number" and when registering in the port of Vanino, difficulties arose - the security service did not want to let a car into the port territory, the number of which was not indicated in the application.

Photo: JSC "TEK "Daltransservice"

When registering for the ferry, I was surprised to hear that for the next almost three weeks all the seats from Kholmsk are occupied. On the spot, I did not begin to find out, but immediately upon arrival in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, we went to the office of the carrier company. The young man, having learned that we had come on vacation to see the island, helped us solve the problem.

It turns out that the reservation is calculated by the cabins, and they are usually occupied. That is, for a car, in principle, there is always room, but for passengers - only on the deck. Having learned this, we firmly declared: “We do not need your cabin on the lower deck! She's awful! It's stuffy there! Let's make a reservation for the date we need, even if we don't have seats in the cabin, we'd rather be accommodated on the deck in sleeping bags! " In addition, when we walked from Vanino to Kholmsk, we saw how a young couple simply pitched a tent in the wardroom on the lower deck.

Looking ahead, I will say that on the way back, when we checked in in Kholmsk, we were again surprised to learn that they were ready to accommodate us in a cabin on the upper deck and the difference in the ticket was some 200 rubles per person. Miracles, and more!

There is only one conclusion: the main thing is to book a seat on the ferry, and then the issue of comfortable accommodation can be resolved on the spot.

The food on the ferry is disgusting. Despite the high cost of transportation (a cabin for three and transportation of a passenger car in one direction - 30 thousand rubles), you will receive 1 pack of "Doshirak", 1 package of instant coffee 3 in 1 and one "Choco Pai" - not a box (Choco Pai - a confectionery product consisting of two layers of biscuit, an interlayer of marshmallow and a filling covered with confectionery glaze - Ed.). Everything. And this despite the fact that you can walk for almost a day. There is a buffet (or, more correctly, a galley?) On the ferry, but it is not cheap for a dining room and, most importantly, only cash is accepted there: it will not work to pay by transfer or by card due to the lack of mobile communication. We did not know this, but we held out on our own reserves. By the way, if you want to bring alcohol on board, you will have to try: they check. True, in Vanino this is done by two transport police officers (they did not find the draft, which I had hidden in a large sleeping bag), but in Kholmsk this will not work - there things brought on board the ferry are "scanned" with a stationary scanner.

If you got a cabin on the lower deck, then you will not see the outlets, so take the book. The cabin on the upper deck has all the conveniences: a porthole, and sockets, and a table with a sofa, and it is not stuffy.

If you are afraid that you will get seasick, then you should not worry too much - Sakhalin is a very large ferry and does not react strongly to the wave. Although, if it gets stormy in the Tatar Strait, everyone will feel it.

Photo: Sakhalin Shipping Company

It will take an average of 18 hours to go, the connection will take an hour from and to the coast.

There is one more feature when loading a ferry: when you have already registered, you will be launched into the port territory, from where you cannot get out or leave. You will have to wait from two to five to six hours while sitting in the car. At the same time, in Vanino there is a rest room and a disgusting dining room (again, only for cash), and in Kholmsk at least we saw nothing of the kind (though it was a deep night). At the same time, in Kholmsk, you will be charged almost two thousand rubles for entering the port territory (you can pay by card).

About Vanino

It is recommended to arrive at the ferry eight hours in advance, but this does not mean at all that you will load at the appointed time: earlier it is unlikely, but later it is please.

If you are going to Sakhalin by car, then from Lidoga (this is the village near which you turn off the Komsomol highway to Vanino and there is 350 km of the route ahead of you without communication) you need to call the dispatcher and warn that you are driving.

We drove a couple of days before the scheduled departure of the ferry to drive a little along the shores of the Tatar Strait from Sovetskaya Gavan to Datta - there is something to see. The apartment was deliberately rented (1800 rubles per day) in Sovetskaya Gavan (this is 30 km from Vanino), because it still looks more like a city with a more developed infrastructure. A few hours before the arrival of the ferry we moved to Vanino, but in the end, due to the delay of the ferry, we had to rent an apartment for a day in the village.


About food

Especially before the trip to the island, we were not stocked with provisions: standard dry rations from "Doshirak", "Tourist's Breakfast", condensed milk, quickly brewed cereals and alcohol. In the cities where they spent the night, they bought extra in supermarkets, and in the markets along the roads, they bought berries and vegetables.

The price tag on Sakhalin in comparison with Khabarovsk, about + 30%, and in comparison with Moscow, probably all 50.

Seaside Market
Photo: Ilya Buyanovsky aka varandej

What surprised me: they don't sell freshly caught fish on Sakhalin, and they don't sell any at all. An exception is the market in Seaside, where you can buy fresh crabs, and beer shops, where they sell dried, smoked and dried fish at exorbitant prices.

To the question - "Why is that?" the locals calmly answer: “Who will buy? It's easier to go and catch. " By the way, I never got my fishing rods, lazily.


About firewood

This summer we began to actively use the so-called "Finnish candles": these are hemp with saw cuts inside, dried and wrapped in film - they burn for several hours, during which time you can safely cook dinner and boil a kettle. And they just burn beautifully.

Photo: Alexey Elash
We took 3 pieces with them, throwing them on the upper trunk. They are very helpful when the rain and firewood are wet or when there is no firewood at all.

Of course, they took a gas stove with them - an irreplaceable thing. On the Trans-Sakhalin highway there are equipped stopping areas where you can boil water in a gazebo on a stove even in inclement weather - we did this when we made a night crossing a couple of times: hot coffee in the morning helps a lot! On our highways - "Ussuri", "Vostok" or the Komsomol (not to mention the Nikolaev) there are practically no such sites.


About housing

The housing issue was solved in this way: in cities we rent an apartment for rent, on the coast / nature we live in a tent / car. The ratio turned out to be approximately 2 to 1 in favor of apartments. 

Photo: Alexey Elash
But this is good - you don't get so tired of everyday inconveniences (not everyone is ready to live in a tent for weeks, listening to the sounds of the forest, and swim in mountain rivers), and in the apartment you can wash, wash, and dry things. The main thing is, when renting an apartment, find out in advance the availability of hot water, a washing machine and wi-fi. And then we had something like this in Ulan-Ude, where we, having already settled in the apartment, were surprised to learn that there is no hot water in the whole city, and the apartment is not equipped with a boiler. The hostess retorted our indignation: "It is like this every summer with us."

Also keep in mind that apartments for rent on Sakhalin are snapped up like hot cakes, especially when it comes to the weekend. At a price something like this: in "Yuzhny" (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk) - from 1800 to 2300 rubles per day, but the further north - the more expensive, the price reaches 3500 rubles.

Not advertising, but advice: at the entrance to Smirnykh from the south, on the right, there is a good hotel complex with a decent breakfast and an adequate price tag. But most of all, perhaps, we remember the apartment in Tomari. The grandmother who rented out the apartment, apparently, was so tired of fighting with careless tenants that she pasted small instructions everywhere: "Do not cut with a knife on the table (there is a board)!", "Hold when you turn off!" (this is about the outlet) and so on.


About the car

We did not experience any special difficulties: before the trip I checked all the main components and assemblies, took with me a standard set of tools and some fluids (brake, antifreeze, oil). Gasoline on Sakhalin is almost everywhere (the maximum price for AI-95 is in Ilyinsky: 63 rubles per liter), so I did not take a spare canister, as when traveling to Mongolia.

The roads are also acceptable everywhere, the wheels never tore.

Photo: Alexey Elash

The only difficulty we encountered was a torn drive boot after a trip along the mountain road to Cape Ptichiy. "Pomegranate" began to emit a characteristic sound and before the trip to the north of the island they decided to fix this malfunction. BUT! It was Sunday and it was raining, and therefore most of the service stations in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk simply did not work. After a couple of hours of searching, we found a working car service. True, there was a schedule all the time, but when they learned that we were traveling around the island, the guys skipped us out of line and did everything, for which they are very grateful.


About clothes

Everything related to the north of the Far East or the sea coast fits the following scheme: we take clothes for summer and autumn, that is, from shorts and T-shirts to hats, windbreakers and warm trousers. And you need to understand that you can get into a drizzle, which will "hang" in the air for several days. But the most important advice - take "crocs": rubber slippers with a heel. It is very convenient to walk in them on the seabed, and just around the camp.

We had sunblock and mosquito repellent in the trunk pocket, but we barely got them.

About "go - do not go"

Anyone who is tormented by thoughts - is the island worth a visit, we advise you to drop your doubts. The unique nature will impress both adults and children, the opportunity to feed a fox, look at a bear from a car, see whales in Piltun Bay is an experience of a lifetime. Well, those who have all the talk about the sea shouldn't even hesitate, the tall waves of the open ocean and the quiet ebb tide on the "banks" with oysters and scallops, the endless turquoise sea expanses conquered our hearts forever.

Laguna Busse
Photo: Press Service of the Government of Sakhalin Region

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