No way, Blimpy! I actually worked in Vladivostok for 2 years and for my job I traveled about the Russian Far East and central Siberia... Irkutsk being one of the cities. I was as far north as Yakutsk and Kamchatka! But, I agree the RFE is very beautiful area and the sea is nice to be by, even though it doesn't have the economic impact as Moscow does (which Russian city does, actually
I have a bad feeling heroin isn't the only thing they're "getting" from those used needles.
Yeah, the AIDS explosion is horrible over there.
To keep on topic, I'll tell a related "It's a small world" story. When I was in Pavlovsk (a city not far from St. Petersburg) I was walking through the square when I saw a girl taking her photo by a monument there. She looked familiar and I couldn't place it at first. Then she saw me and had the look of familiarity, too. So we talked and figured out that she was one of the finalists from Magadan that I had sent to the US to study when I was working in Vladivostok. That was really shocking.