Monday, March 24, 2008

From Victoria to Vladivostok

I'm writing to let you know that I have arrived safely in Vladivostok.

Yesterday was one full day -- a pre-dawn flight from Victoria to Seattle, touring Pike Street market and other haunts in that city, an 11-hour flight to Seoul, and then a fun-filled evening dining on Korean BBQ and exploring Seoul's streets with a Uzbekh doctor named Fuat.

I flew into Vladivostok this morning and met a student, Andrey, on the public bus into the city. He is studying to be an English interpreter, so was very helpful providing local tips and helping acquaint me with this hilly, bustling port city of 800,000 nestled around Golden Horn Bay in the Sea of Japan. I have found a cheap hotel with free breakfast, wireless internet and expansive views of the water from my room. Hotel Vladivostok is a former state-run hotel from Soviet times.

Tomorrow I meet with a group of historians at the Institut Iistoria (Institute of History) to discuss the Canadian and Allied occupation of Vladivostok in 1918-1919. But now, it's time for vodka and some hearty Russian grub.

So my own Siberian Expedition begins -- 90 years after 4200 Canadians sailed from Victoria to this place. It remains Russia's gateway to the Pacific, with all the vice and action of a cosmopolitan port. But it also dislays a surprising charm and beauty. I will keep you posted!

Vladivostok, Russia