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What can I say about Sakhalin?

The EastRussia correspondent went with his family on a road trip from Khabarovsk to Sakhalin.

The borders closed for the second year in a row made us once again look around in search of a suitable direction: where to spend a vacation in August with your family - your wife and 12-year-old daughter, in your own car? Actually, there were two options: Altai (well, or Tuva) and Sakhalin. The sea won - albeit a cold one, and a white (to be more precise, white and red) steamer (that is, the Sakhalin-8 ferry).

What can I say about Sakhalin?
Photo: Alexey Elash
Initial data - the car: an old Subaru Forester in stock, with the exception of a roof rack (a great thing on a trip) and a stationary radio so that you can listen and talk to truckers.

According to the format of spending the night with the ladies, we agreed immediately: a day - a rented apartment (wash, wash, stretch your legs on the couch, not to be afraid of bears), a day - a tent. Although in the end I slept alone in the tent - for some reason the family decided that I was not afraid of bears, and there was no room for three in Forika.


About the ferry

Actually, the adventures begin with the latter: they booked three weeks in advance, but still had to wait 1,5 days - this summer only the “eight” remained from the cargo-passenger ferries, which, of course, affected the schedule. We did not lose heart and, while waiting for the landing, explored the coast of the Tatar Strait from the Red Partisan to Datta: history, crabs, beauty. But, finally, we are on a ferry: next to a truck with regions of different Russian cities, several Sakhalin cars returning home, but people like us who went on vacation to Sakhalin - literally a couple of cars. Here, apparently, the price of a ferry ticket becomes decisive: a cabin for three and one way transportation of Forika costs almost 30 thousand rubles.
I even considered the option of air travel + car rental, but the cost of a plane ticket from Khabarovsk to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the "high" season canceled this option. In addition, I wanted romance: a white ship, the sea, killer whales ...

There was little romance: the stuffy cabin on the lower deck, the restless sea, the rolling, because of which the ferry covered the distance of 260 kilometers for 20 hours. Here, finally, and Kholmsk! The whole month on the island was an abnormal heat, but we, it turns out, brought bad weather.
Well, let's watch wet Sakhalin.
To be surprised at everything, especially huge burdocks, and indeed the gigantism of plants (hello Miyazaki!), became even on the way to Yuzhny - this is what Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is called.


About Karafuto

Two days were taken to the capital of the only island region in Russia, although it deserves more attention - one legacy of Karafuto is worth something! If you suddenly did not know, then for 40 years, in the period between the two wars - Russian-Japanese and Soviet-Japanese - the southern part of Sakhalin from the 50th parallel was part of Japan. During this short period, the Japanese left a rich economic and cultural heritage: factories, roads, houses, piers, bridges, torii, temples. True, they often built it all with the hands of the Koreans, who were later abandoned on Sakhalin.

What amazed me most was how the Japanese chose the places for the temples. For example, in Makarov, to get to the temple, you first need to climb a long and steep staircase - this is overcoming. And in the town of Tomari (the only city on Sakhalin that has retained its Japanese name), the temple complex is located in a cleft between the hills overlooking the sea and the river that flows into it. Here it is good to think about your own affairs - this is peace.

About Yuzhny

I was in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in 2004 and during this time it has become much prettier: bike paths (marked, and not like we have in Khabarovsk - painted on the asphalt), many squares (border guards, Chekhovsky, Gagarin Park), traffic lights warning about the appearance of pedestrians around the bend, and the overall cleanliness.

In short, the city left a very pleasant impression. I was especially pleased with the presence of a marine theme in the design of even playgrounds, where swings are made in the form of a crab, and even Chekhov's dominance is striking: on the island there is the city of Chekhov (very gloomy and unkempt), Chekhov Peak, many Chekhov streets, all kinds of monuments and withcultures by which one can guess the works of Antosha Chekhonte, withqueers, etc., etc.

But Anton Pavlovich did not like Sakhalin or Amur. Moreover, he practically cursed these places in his book "Sakhalin Island". Nevertheless, it is cultivated in every possible way.

The Museum of Local Lore, located in a building built by the Japanese in the Japanese style, is a must-see: a rose garden, a Nivkh village, a convict barrack and, of course, traces of Japanese culture on Sakhalin.

In general, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is full of park zones, squares and comfortable spaces.


About Korsakov

No matter how great it was in the South, we were drawn to nature as soon as possible. First of all, we went south, towards the Aniva Bay. Sakhalin residents come here to swim in good weather, despite the fact that this is the very north of the Sea of ​​Japan.

On the way, we stopped at Korsakov, the main port city of Sakhalin, from where, among other things, ferries go to the Japanese Wakkanai and the Kuriles.

In 1945, when the Japanese hurriedly left Sakhalin, they stayed here forever 40 thousand Koreans for whom the Soviet island became a forced homeland: the Japanese refused to finance the transportation of the Koreans, who, by the way, they themselves brought in and were used as slaves for shock construction on Sakhalin, only three ships came from Korea.

By the way, this is why Sakhalin has the largest Korean diaspora in Russia. Judging by the monument that stands on the shore on the Mount of Sorrows, in the place where they expected ships to come after them, for many it was a tragedy.

There is another square with monuments in Korsakov, which amazed us. This is a park in memory of the sailors who died in the Russian-Japanese war. It was here that I learned that the Novik cruiser was sunk exactly in Korsakov, having taken on the battle with Tsushima, but the story was pulled over by the Primorites, where the Novik crew was eventually evacuated. In the same park there are monuments to all ships and crews who died in the Russian-Japanese war. I have not seen anything more ambitious, dedicated to the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905.

After Korsakov we moved further south, to the Busse lagoon.
On the way, we looked at the LNG built as part of the American Sakhalin project. Here Sakhalin gas is shipped to huge gas carriers that deliver it all over the world, we just found methane carrier LNG.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the Japanese actively developed this territory (called Merey): the forest from here went to the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railroad, whales and herring were harvested and processed (the latter was used for fat for rice fields), and there was also the world's largest agar-agar plant. , and also a snake breeding farm.
It was in the suburb of Korsakov that Japanese troops landed during the Russian-Japanese war, as evidenced by a Japanese monument (the stele was piled up and, apparently, because it is dedicated to an unpleasant period in the history of relations between the two countries, no one is restoring it). 

After 40 years, the Japanese, fearing an American landing, built a fortified area here: it did not help, a Soviet landing was landed.


About Busse

Busse Lagoon is a salt lake that connects to Aniva Bay by a small, 200 meters wide strait. The water is warm here, and at low tide in the middle of the lake a so-called "jar" is exposed, where you can walk knee-deep in water and collect oysters, mussels, trumpeters and small crabs, which especially like to climb into empty shells.

We had a sup, and we could get to almost anywhere in the lagoon, accompanied by curious seals (or seals?), Who enter the lagoon to hunt for fish. It was in the lagoon that they saw with their own eyes what ebb and flow is and how much it closes or exposes space. Local guys crawl around the "bank" in wetsuits and masks, and collect buckets of these riches.

There are also a lot of birds on the lake, and at the very entrance to the lagoon there is a large bird market, a couple of times we saw a cormorant diving into the water for food, a seagull dropping a slippery fish, the next seagull picks it up, also drops it, two more fly up right there, and that's it. are left without supper.

And at one of the low tides, the larga got stuck on the shallows and could not get out: it complained and screamed for a couple of hours, and the birds all this time sat in a ring around it and looked expectantly. As a result, her friends sailed to the aid of the stuck, dispersed the birds and tried to push her from the shallows. The situation was resolved with the tide.

Here we met a family from Moscow: dad, mom, son of 14 years old and daughter of seven years old. They also decided to travel around their home country with closed borders. And they had a choice between several regions, but in the end they lured away the Far East, especially since there was some kind of action and mega-cheap tickets to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. By the way, the children did not know their destination until the moment they checked in at the airport. On the island, Muscovites took a rental car and were not afraid to drive it far and wide. Later we met with them in the north of the island.

After Busse we went to the east coast, Cape Bird. It would seem that only 33 kilometers, but we spent half the tank on this path - too steep ascents and passes. It is worth coming to this place for at least a couple of days, but we stayed less than an hour. Due to the high tide, they could not approach the arch along the coast, and because of the bear they did not dare to walk a couple of kilometers through the forest. But! The Sea of ​​Okhotsk is restless, the waves are large, there are many birds, and it smells strongly of seaweed.

About the north

I really wanted to see the north of Sakhalin, so a week later we set off along the road that leads through the entire island.

The north and south of Sakhalin differ greatly not only in the development of infrastructure: the south, being Karafuto for 40 years, received a developed network of roads, boom factories, dams and much more, which to this day gives it a head start; the north is on the contrary: the roads are still mostly gravel (100 km of excellent asphalt in front of Okha, rather, an exception), direction is one.

But! They are also distinguished by nature itself: the south with its lush vegetation and gigantism, and the north - ascetic and sandy (which is why in some places it reminded me of Mongolia personally).
It is beautiful both there and there - everywhere in its own way.

By the way, it was in the north that we met two bears and a fox that went out on the road to beg.

About the 50th parallel

We drove north for three days: we had to stop too often to look at either the Japanese heritage or the memorial sites of the Soviet-Japanese war. The highway is a living history, wherever you look, everywhere there are places of battles, confrontation, deaths, memorable milestones.

This is also indicated by the place names around: Smirnykh, Buyukly, Leonidovo, Matrosovo, Pobedino - in honor of the heroes of the Soviet-Japanese war. About this episode of the Second World War in our country they know and talk too little. Meanwhile, central Sakhalin is literally dotted with places of battle, death and confrontation. Here we must pay tribute to the local search engines, who several years ago implemented the project "The Roads of August 1945": they described the places of battles, installed information banners and laid routes. Considering that there are still road boards of the tourist project # GoSakhalin, then it becomes clear why we drove 200-300 kilometers a day: we just stopped and walked / drove in the direction of the arrow.

Especially a lot of memorable places associated with the events of August-September 1945 are located in the Smirnykhovsky district, where, in fact, the 50th parallel passes, along which the border between Russia and Japan was determined. Many objects are in close proximity to the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Okha highway. 

For example, the Eastern company stronghold. Such structures were often taken, repeating the feat of Alexander Matrosov. Or a monument to the Red Army soldier Buyukly - he is a Gagauz, but he was called up from the territory of Ukraine, therefore a monument to him was erected with the help of the Ukrainian diaspora. Or a monument on the river called Gilzovka, on the banks of which cartridges and personal belongings of soldiers are still found.

Along with the monuments of the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, there are also monuments erected by the Japanese and, unlike ours, they are dedicated to the memory of all the victims. By the way, at one time this Japanese obelisk threatened by the American oil and gas project "Sakhalin", for the needs of which they began to build a road to a career. After the intervention of public figures, the road was moved.

And here is the monument at the 50th parallel. It is Soviet through and through: an arrow of the direction of the strike (moreover, strictly from north to south), and a triangular bayonet and the wording "primordially", "invaders". To be honest, I expected something more filled with meanings, and different ones.

Here, in the Smirnykhovsky district, my own story with the South Korean Boeing shot down in 1983 was looped. There is a lot of information on the network, but in short: the Korean Air Lines board from Anchorage followed to Seoul, but for some reason deviated from the course and flew first over Kamchatka and then over Sakhalin. Ours considered it a provocation and raised fighters into the air, one of which shot down a passenger airliner, killing 269 people.

Last summer, while rafting down the Amur to Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, in the village of Mariinskoye, I met the director of a local school - it was her father who first discovered the "enemy" in the airspace of the USSR, and only then a fighter took off from the airfield in Smirnykh and opened fire to kill.

We visited this airfield. It is now abandoned, the last military left here in 1994, relocating to Khurba near Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Pair MiG-23 then they could not take off and still stand half-disassembled in hangars. 

The spectacle is terribly mesmerizing: a 2,5 km long runway with taxiways and hangars, preserved barracks and a repair hangar. If you wish, here you can do location shooting for a film about the downed Boeing, for example.


About sources

After the dusty road, the Daginsky hot springs became a pleasant bonus for us - thermal puddles in the middle of a swamp not far from the town of Nogliki (the Sakhalin railway ends in Nogliki and people take a taxi for the remaining 200 kilometers to Okha).

Last year, the springs were ennobled by building a kind of yurts. Water up to 40 degrees, of different composition. 

The islanders come here on vacation, set up tents and live for weeks: a kind of Malka (Kamchatka resort - ed.) And the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan in one bottle.


About Neftegorsk

One of the goals of the trip to Sakhalin was to visit Neftegorsk.
I remember this tragedy very well, and then more than once I made a series of stories about the two-month-old Dasha Yagudina, who lay under the rubble for four days. She was rescued one of the last, Shoigu held her in his arms - this photo was widely distributed later in the newspapers.
The Yagudins moved to Khabarovsk, I came to visit them more than once, and after school Dasha went to study at the Academy of the Ministry of Emergencies.

What is Neftegorsk today?
A dead city, where there are practically no houses left. We found only a couple of two-story dilapidated administrative buildings, and the garage of a local convoy. The rest is monuments on the site of the former five-story buildings, a memorial, and a cemetery, where everyone has the same date of death. 

Personally, for some reason I was struck by the roads leading to Neftegorsk, and in the city itself: they are made of sand of a rich yellow color.

Neftegorsk is 15 kilometers from the highway. A checkpoint is encountered about halfway through: here Rosneft is developing local deposits on a rotational basis. Having learned that we were going to Neftegorsk, they let us through without question.


Oh, I love, Oh, don't I love!

Okha, like the entire north of Sakhalin, is the kingdom of "Delik" from the 90s and "Foresters". Well, or just the 200th "Kruzak". It can be seen that most of the local population has money, but it is not always possible to spend it.

For example, in a store you can easily come across an ad “there are no eggs or milk”. But on the street you can often come across sold-out "Natural oil outlets".

In general, I personally experienced a certain dissonance: Sakhalin has been pumping oil for export since the early 90s of the last century, but until now 860 kilometers of the Trans-Sakhalin road from north to south cannot be rolled into asphalt, not to mention other directions. 

For example, we wanted to go back to the south along the western coast, but even though the road from Smirnykh through Boshnyakovo was drawn on the map, and the navigator persistently led us there, the locals unanimously assured us that this was not worth doing.

About the west coast

The main feature of a trip along the west coast is that roads and railways intersect, probably a dozen times. 

This, of course, is a must-see: on a narrow strip between the sea and the hills, two stripes twist, one of which now and then dives into tunnels or climbs onto a bridge - one "Devil's Bridge" near Kholmsk is worth something! By the way, the entire Sakhalin railway was “expanded” to the Russian standard, and, in my opinion, it lost its “chip”.

Near Kholmsk we were overtaken by good sunny weather, and the bay near the suburban village Yablochny pleased with warm water and sea urchins, so we whiled away the time while waiting for the ferry with pleasure.

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