Arrival in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Trip Start Apr 29, 2008
Trip End Oct 11, 2008

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Flag of Russian Federation  , Far East Russia,
Friday, May 2, 2008

On arrival at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Yuzhno) the temperature was a balmy 18deg. Certainly warmer than what I was expecting! However, this was to change dramatically over the next few days to only 3 or 4deg with wind chill added in.
Yuzhno is a city that has grown as a result of an oil and gas project and so is home to many expats from all around the world. Many of the expats gather at the selection of bars scattered around the city. We went to one called Lounge 8 (named so because it's on the 8th floor of the building). I got to meet quite a number of people although it seemed that every second person was named either Tim, Mike, or Neil. The women I met were mostly Russian or Ukrainian with names like Yulia, Natasha, and Anya.
Smoking is still allowed in most buildings and public spaces and so the bars are smoky and for many ex-smokers it can be challenging so many take up smoking again. It is most unlikely however, that I will take up smoking again. I find it quite nauseating after a while. Apparently the bars are less likely to be gathering places during summer though as people tend to congregate in the parks and other open spaces. I am definitely looking forward to summer.
The security in the buildings is quite amazing. Just to get into our apartment it takes 4 keys. The first key is a magnetic key to open the door to the apartment block itself. The second key opens the door to the shared entry to our apartment and the one next door and the two other keys are for entry to the apartment itself. There are an incredible 10 locking points on the apartment door! Added to this there is also a shared alarm system for the two apartments and panic buttons in the apartment. At first thought I wondered about general safety, however I have been assured it is very safe to walk around Yuzhno in the day time but it is foolish to walk around after dark. Taxis are very cheap so it is no hardship for us to catch a taxi home at night.
Most cars in Yuzhno also appear to be well alarmed. The alarms though are so sensitive that they are set off by something as simple as a loud noise. This means that car alarms are constantly going off as each one seems to set others off in a chain reaction. It seems to me that having a car alarm is not necessarily much of a deterrent as people are indifferent to them.
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