I have seen Sakhalin

By Judy Dercksen

Chekhov's travels as a young doctor led him to Sakhalin. His description should have put me off any idea of visiting the Russian island: “I have seen Ceylon, which is paradise, and Sakhalin, which is hell.” Of course, his words served only to incite my imagination, which was why I was cooped up on the tarmac of Khomutovo airport, thirteen hours after lifting off from Domodedovo Mikhail Lomonosov International.

A squirming rooster, incensed at the hour-long wait to disembark, squawked on the lap of a doubly coated, sturdy Russian woman. I could’ve been back home, in Johan...

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