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March 20, 2005

Sakhalin: Skiing

We had a few days above zero in Yuzhno, and the snow and ice began to melt. This ought to be a good thing, a sign of spring and greenery, warmer temperatures and new life. Well, you'd think. But it turns out it just means that instead of clean white banks of fluffy snow, you have piles of mush and rivers of sludge. Walking anywhere is like wading through a slush puppy and you constantly have to dodge cars speeding through the muddy washouts in the potholed roads. As the snow level goes down, things start to emerge: there is dog mess everywhere and empty bottles and even a frozen cat near where I live. It appeared one day out of the ice like one of those Viking bodies trapped in glaciers for millennia that you see in the National Geographic.

It was around this time that we decided to go cross-country skiing. We were a little sceptical about our chances of actually finding enough snow that wasn't brown and peppered with crisp packets, but we walked up to the rental shop and lo and behold - there was snow! Further out of town, there was clean snow that hadn't been spoiled and so we hit the slopes! It took us about 20 minutes to hire the skis and then another 20 minutes to figure out how to get them on. But once we did, we were on fire! Well, actually not so much. I don't think any of us got the hang of the technique and there was a lot of comedy falling over, but it was good fun. Embarrassingly, it took a while to work out how to get the skis off as well, but we rewarded ourselves with a few bevvies at the nearby resort.

Posted by Rowena on March 20, 2005 06:55 AM
Category: Russia
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