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Vladivostok/Lake Baikal - Anybody been there?
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Manner of Speaking



Joined: 09 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:20 am    Post subject: Vladivostok/Lake Baikal - Anybody been there? Reply with quote

I've noticed a few package tours advertised in the Korea Herald recently for 3 to 5 day trips to Vladivostok, Lake Baikal and/or the Kamchatka peninsula. Has anybody been to any of those places in the Russian far east, and if so how was your trip? Any advice?
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funplanet



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Location: The new Bucheon!

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to live in Russia and made several trips to Lake Baikal...it is an absolutely incredible place to go whether winter or summer...I've been there in both seasons...definately worth the trip!!!

As for Vladivostock...hmmm been to better places BUT...it's a great jumping off point for Kamchatka peninsula...if you're going to V...go to Kamchatka...volcanoes...thermal pools...bears bigger than cars...absolutely incredible place...

Do it!! either one...but if you have only a few days, go to Vladivostock and then on to Kamchatka at least for an excursion..maybe by helicopter...beware though, those old Russian helis are held together by gum and prayers!

Good trippin'!
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Might want to try the Thorn Tree forums over on LP. I'd say the chances of you finding people who have been there are higher there...
Good luck. If you go, don't forget to post pictures here!
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Manner of Speaking



Joined: 09 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

funplanet,

What was Vladivostok like to live in? Like San Francisco? Cold? Safe? I keep reading horror stories about getting robbed in Russia, but would love to visit the place. How long were you there, were you teaching?

Cheers,

MOS
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funplanet



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Location: The new Bucheon!

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lived in St. Petersburg but did the Trans-Siberian twice and visited Vladivostock and Kamchatka several times....Vladivostock is basically a s&#^# hole...dirty...grey...Stalinesque buildings....it's getting a little better but not my choice of vacation spots...like I said, good jumping off point for Western Siberia and Kamchatka..but!!...I do like these seedy sort of places...go for it!

Lived in Russia for 3 straight years...total of 5 years if I count the comings and goings...I began working for a television station right after the fall...made some highly suspect cash and started my own business with a Russian partner and a French buddy...we did video production...wrote and produced commercials...postal services...securing local girls for business men and taught some English...tanything to make some quick cash...the first few years was the Wild, Wild, West...literally...just got a litte dangerous at times...the Russian Mafia are a bad, bunch of boys...don't f*^#% with them...

My first certificate of incorporation was signed by no other than Vladimir Putin...ex KGB and now El Presidente...actually met him in '93 or '94...he was working with the then mayor of St. Peter, Anatoly Sobchak...God rest his soul...good guy actually...

Well...I could ramble on and on but my advice...GO!!! DO IT!!! you won't regret it
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GirlFromMars



Joined: 15 May 2003
Location: Corea do Sul

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only know where Vladivostock is because of the TIM TAM ads and they left me with the distinct impression that I don't want to go there.
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waterbaby



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GirlFromMars wrote:
I only know where Vladivostock is because of the TIM TAM ads and they left me with the distinct impression that I don't want to go there.

That's exactly why I want to go there so I can say "Vladivostock was fiiiiine thanks!" Very Happy
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Manner of Speaking



Joined: 09 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

funplanet,

Coooollll...wow what an adventure! I envy you; I took a few undergrad classes in Russian many many years ago, and I've always wanted to visit the place. I know a lot of people think Russia is a basket case, but I've got a lot of admiration for the Russian people. Pentagon revisionist history aside, I think they pretty much single-handedly ended the Cold War.

The website for the package tour company is here, if anybody is interested:

http://www.vladivostokavia.co.kr
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funplanet



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Location: The new Bucheon!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey manner...let me know when you get back how it was!! I gotta admit..I had a love affair with Russia since I was mayber 8th or 9th grade...read everything I could..the good, bad, and the ugly...

What I found out...Russia is a basket case BUT...the Russian people are a tough bunch...and unlike Koreans, when you make a friend with a Russian you've made a friend for life...I have several I would die for 'cause I know they'd do the same for me...

Also realize there are 2 Russias...Moscow and St. Petersburg and the rest of the country...BIG difference...but you gotta see both...Kamchatka and Vladivostock are good places to begin...

just let me know when you get back!

p.s. gotta disagree with you about the "Pentagon revisionist history." it was basically accurate...I know a lot of Russians who admire Ronald Reagan...but this can be for another debate...have fun!
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dogbert



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: Killbox 90210

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got back from Vladivostok and Kamchatka on a Vladivostok Avia package. I had a great time and recommend it to all.
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camel96
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey that Vladivostok trip looks awesome.
How much was it and what was the deal re: Russian visas????
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dogbert



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: Killbox 90210

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

camel96 wrote:
Hey that Vladivostok trip looks awesome.
How much was it and what was the deal re: Russian visas????


The package was 7 days/6 nights, which minus travel days, worked out to about a day and half in Vladivostok, and three and a half in Kamchatka.

The price for two was $995 per, higher for single travelers and lower for larger groups. Round-trip air fare for this package is an additional 650,000 won per, regardless of the size of the group.

The visa invitation fee costs $40 per person, the fee paid to the embassy (depending on how early you apply for the visa) is 40,000 for Korean citizens, 20,000 for all others.

The visa takes up a whole page in your passport and is issued along with an entry/departure printed form. You need to keep that form with you and have it stamped wherever you stay. One interesting thing was that there was passport control on domestic flights, meaning you couldn't exit your aircraft until a military official had checked your passport/visa/entry form and maybe questioned you a bit.
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The New York Times, February 15, 2004
CORRESPONDENT'S REPORT
Vladivostok Finds Its Worldliness Again
By JAMES BROOKE

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia

BATHED by the Sea of Japan but controlled by Moscow, Vladivostok has always presented two faces to the world.

Its open face was that of Russia's San Francisco - a rollicking, cosmopolitan seaport that was the childhood home of Yul Brynner.

Its unfriendly face began in the 1860's with its name, which means "To Rule the East." Planted as Russia's flag in Asia, Vladivostok was a "maritime fortress" under the czars and a closed city under the Soviets.

But now Vladivostok, a neighbor of China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula, is regaining its natural worldliness, opening its doors to tourists and investors. Korean Air flies here four times a week from Seoul. Negotiations are under way to start flights from Tokyo and from the West Coast of the United States.

"Our dream is to make Vladivostok a powerful international center," Victor V. Gorchakov, the region's vice governor for economy, said in his office overlooking city docks where United States Navy ships now routinely make good will port calls. Vladivostok's new openness can be seen up and down the hilly streets overlooking Golden Horn Bay.

At night, the neon and twinkling lights signal new shopping centers and a lively night life, transporting the city far from the terrible power shortages of the late 1990's.

By day, English-speaking guides lead tourists, largely Chinese, Japanese and Korean, through once-closed coastal artillery emplacements and into long-secret networks of catacomb defenses. Above ground, on shopping streets, where new boutiques sprout from Soviet decay, A.T.M.'s accept American bank cards and crank out rubles at the push of a PIN.

Bilingual English-Russian menus are increasingly the norm at restaurants like Nostalgia and Del Mar, which specialize in Pacific seafood cooked with New Russian flair. Now that tourism is in vogue, restorers have worked their magic on the 1912 railroad station, the stately terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, whose line stretches 5,768 miles to Moscow.

Two blocks away, at the Beaux-Arts Hotel Versailles, glossy brochures proudly boast of "our English-spoken waitress." Up a hill, at the Hyundai, a favorite hotel of business travelers, room televisions carry the BBC (marked "USA").

"About 45 percent of our guests are Americans," said Alex M. Petrollini, from Alberta, Canada, who manages the Vlad Inn, a Canadian-owned hotel. In a parklike setting halfway between Vladivostok's airport and the city, the inn has become a favorite for American couples who come here to adopt Russian babies.

This year, three international cruise ships docked. American eco-tourism companies have started to take groups to explore the mountains, forests and nearly empty Pacific beaches of the Primorye region, which has the population density of Maine but is twice the size.

While still in its infancy, Primorye's tourism industry "is gaining strong support from the U.S. Northwest states and Alaska as the realization dawns that the majority of U.S. visitors come to the Russian Far East from the West," William S. Lawton, commercial officer for the United States Consulate here, said after lunch at the Del Mar. The new bay-view restaurant is run by a Vladivostok woman who recently returned after seven years in California.

But it is a wave of tourists from China that explains the new services and tourist-friendly attitudes here, down to the courteousness at Vladivostok's newly renovated international air terminal.

Every summer for the past three years, about 100,000 Chinese tourists have come to Vladivostok, largely by bus across the border; about 10 percent come on direct flights from three cities in Manchuria. The big attraction is the new casinos here, since gambling is banned in China. Judging by sauna advertisements, a fair number of Chinese men also come for sex.

"Chinese people are attracted by the opportunity to meet European culture on the Asian continent," said Sergei A. Pysin, chairman of the regional tourism committee, echoing views commonly held here that the largely Caucasian Vladivostok is the closest European city to Asia.

According to local tourism officials, 126,500 foreigners visited the city in 2003. In the first nine months of the year, 1,019 Americans visited. April through October is the busiest period for Vladivostok.

The Chinese - gamblers, sexual adventurers or families - have given Vladivostok hoteliers the economic justification to upgrade Soviet-era facilities.

"Initially most tourists were from northeast China, and they were poor and they did not require high-class hotels and accommodations," Mr. Pysin said. "Now people from southern China are coming. They are wealthy people. They require higher-class service, including hotels."

Also, as attested by the march of new billboards from the airport highway, businesses increasingly base their regional headquarters here. Three floors of the Hyundai are devoted to company offices, and the occupancy rate averages 95 percent, according to Nadia V. Dubinina, marketing manager for the hotel, a South Korean-Russian joint venture.

Yet Vladivostok can still surprise. On a recent Saturday, at a fur shop where mink coats were $9,000, I approached the cash register with a modest white fox hat and a Visa card. No cards. Only cash. It was December and a frigid wind was blowing off the Sea of Japan. After the first two A.T.M.'s yielded nothing, the third had cash. It offered electronic menus in Russian, English and Chinese. I got the hat.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times
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dogbert



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: Killbox 90210

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, I would strongly recommend that anyone who is interested go.

Vladivostok Avia no longer seems to be advertising in the Korea Herald, but it is still around and offering winter sightseeing packages in Vladivostok and the Primorye.
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ryleeys



Joined: 22 Dec 2003
Location: Columbia, MD

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to go to Kamchatka, but I'm too chicken to head up there on my own...

When I was flying here and the plane was arcing over Kamchatka and the Yakutsk (I think...), I was staring out my window thinking about how beautiful it all looked.
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