Russky Island; Vladivostok, Russia

Last night I ate Russian porridge, drank black tea, and discussed politics with Alexei and Dmitry. To my palette, porridge was almost indistinguishable from grits. Today I may try to visit Russky Island, which is nearby Vladivostok and was built for military defense in the late 19th century. For nearly all of its existence it has been closed to foreigners and probably even Russian citizens, but in the past decade or so has it opened its doors to visitors of all types. No longer a military base, at least I don't think so, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants to turn it into a tourist attraction to better compete with the growing Chinese economy.

Actually all of Vladivostok was a closed city until after the fall of Communism. There are still dozens of closed cities in Russia: This means no foreigners allowed; sometimes even Russian citizens are not allowed, except those who live there, and those who do live there experience tight controls coming and going, sometimes with armed guards and barbed wire fences.

In 1992, around the time Vladivostok (but not yet Russky Island) was opened to foreigners, four military officers stationed and isolated on Russky Island starved to death, and many other soldiers there were hospitalized, after their superiors failed to provide food rations for many months. I will make sure to eat a big breakfast this morning, just in case.