|Khabarovsk, 10-14 April
Twice colleague Yulia Nikishina and me had been invited as newspaper
staff to come and visit while our hosts picked up the bill (Japan &
Vladivostok). Now, we really wanted to go to Khabarovsk (as many
expatriates living on Sakhalin travel through Khabarovsk, but don't always
know what places to visit), but lacked the funds. The 4-star Hotel Parus
provided us with a room free of charge.
|This city of 600,000 inhabitants is refreshingly different
from Sakhalin. It is clean, well maintained and breathes a European
atmosphere with its 19th-century architecture and reconstructed main
street. This church on Komsomolskaya Square was completed in October
2001 to replace the grand cathedral destroyed by the Bolsheviks.
|In Sikachi-Alyan, at 150 from Khabarovsk, we looked at the
traditional culture of the native Nanai people, who traditionally lived
from fishing and hunting. Their culture has a lot in common with native
people on Sakhalin. These kids performed a Nanai song for us at the
|The Nanai used this type of huts to store fish. A Russian
company rebuilt this hut and several other examples of traditional Nanai
houses close to the village.
And happy Petra, here on the train to the Jewish
autonomous region, at 2.5 hours from Khabarovsk.
|The seven-armed menorah in front of the railway station in
Birobizhan, is one of a handful of signs disclosing you are in the
capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region, which looks like an ordinary
Russian city at first sight. Birobizhan was founded in 1927 as a
homeland to about one million Jews who were left without a roof after
the Russian Revolution of 1917. It's a swampy area with poor soil and
bitterly cold winters. Stalin forced an end to the developing Jewish
culture in the thirties.
|This synagoge was first build in 1947 and rebuilt in 1967
after it burnt down.
|This is the centre of the 4,800 member 'Freid' community.
Next to the building a new synagoge is being constructed. Jiddish is
taught at one Jewish state school, Jewish food is served in three
restaurants and holidays are widely celebrated. The region also has its
own television programme, newspaper and radio programme. All together
they are signs the Jewish culture in Birobizhan is experiencing a
|This is Vladimir Kruglov. He founded an animal
rehabilitation centre at 180 kilometres from Khabarovsk. It started all
with sick Amur tiger Lyuti in 1995. People brought the tiger to his house
and Kruglov took care it. But soon the tiger became too big to stay in his
house. Now he has sixteen bear cubs, two tigers, two lynxes, a fox, a
raccoon and a dappled deer at 5.2 hectares.
These bear cubs mistake Yulia for a parent. Most bears
staying at the rehabilitation centre were left without their parents soon
after birth. When they are a year to 18 months old, they are released