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I have moved!

This blog has been moved to


I wrote this a few days ago

The author would like to make the following retrospective alterations:

1. The wistful loneliness expressed in the following entry has since in a large part dissipated due to serendipitous encounters involving nice people.

2. He has bought toilet paper.

The last week in slightly reversed chronology:

I’ve been in Vladivostok for about 1 1/2 days now and ‘sfar as I can tell it seems like a neat place. I’ve only really seen the area around the university which I have killed my poor feet wandering around looking for necessary items of living. I’m surrounded by hills which is cool aesthetically, but very tiresome. The ocean is very near, also pleasing me with it’s aestheticism, but the true dirtiness (within the city) of which has so far relegated it (the ocean) to mere eye-candy. Basically although the city seems great, I’m feeling very lost within it and just wish I had someone to show me around, tell me where to find certain things, and invite me to go swimming in the ‘quiet sea’ (the literal translation for the Russian name for the Pacific ocean). All in due time I suppose… I’m staying in a student dormitory on one of the foreign student halls, which I figured would be good for helping me meet people, but so far I haven’t talked to a single other resident, just the nice ladies who are in charge(ish). Maybe it’s simply my inability to strike up conversation with strangers, or my non-asianness, but everyone seems to know everyone else but not me. I think that all of the foreign students have just bonded (and roomed) with those of their own respective ethnic persuasions. I’ve been trying to get certain things done, as well as supply myself with certain everyday necessities (although I’ve still somehow managed to not buy toilet paper). I haven’t been able to find any sort of internet access which is stressing me a bit cause i know the moms is stressing a bit ‘cause I haven’t written her. So yeah, I talked to some of the administrators/teachers today about what I’m gonna do here. It looks like I’ll be teaching 8(ish) hours with foreign relations students and another 4(ish) with Korestudies students which is kinda weird (working with the koreanstudiers). This is an acceptable workload. Then maybe I can get into a class or two, and find some volunteer work. Then I’ll be set. And I’m gonna write. Like hella. I am, I promise……………………

I got to Vladik after five(ish) days hanging out in Seoul which I would have to say is one of the sweetest cities I’ve ever been in. It is as western as new york or paris or anywhere else in the “west”. It’s also probably the hippest city I’ve ever seen. People there are so damn stylish and there are cafes/bars/clubs/record stores out the wazzooooo. I stayed at a cool hostel that was basically just like these guys’ apartment. This one guy who worked there never left, just ate all freakin day and started drinking at like 1 and then stayed up hecka late just chit-chattin or watchin tv or doin nothin. Mr. Kim. I saw some cool things, ate some weird foods (highlights include spicy barbecued tentacled things that were all gristly. Dried octopus. stir fry type stuff with chewy what-I-thought-was-seafood-but-was-really-pig-intestine.), and hung with some nice people. I went out on the 100th annual “club night” in the super hip district where our hostel was which is very fuzzy in my memory but includes much drinking, dancing, and debauchery. Then, after an “oh my freakin god I’m way too young to die” taxi ride racing to catch my bus (which I missed, but I caught the next one, n.b.d.) which took me to Sokcho, a city on the coast, I got on the Dong Chun Ferry which set sail shortly after in the direction of Russia. My first long distance travel by boat experience went smoothly with very little interesting to report other than that I probably could have spit on North Korea from the boat. The boat docked in Zarubino, a tiny town at the south-eastern tip of russia which is surrounded by gorgeous green ocean straddling hill-mountains but itself seems to serve much purpose other than housing really old boats and the most understaffed border crossing/customs post I’ve ever seen. Finally, after a 3 hour dust filled bus ride I made it to Vladivostok, got a ride to the Uni. from a guy who really liked my American Levis, and checked into my new spot. Here I am.



Hello friends, family, friends-of-family, strangers, and creeps. Welcome to my new blog, the sequel of ‘MattinSiberia’, (, in which I will be documenting round 2 of my experiences living/teaching/traveling in the Russian Federation. This year the setting for my tales will be the sea-straddling hills of Vladivostok – Russia’s major Pacific sea port, and home of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Here is a nice picture of Vladivostok for your viewing pleasure: vladivostok

And here is Vladivostok on a map for your geographical knowledge enhancement pleasure:


As you can see, and most likely already knew (I’ll assume that readers of my blog are either family or friends, and therefore smart, or Russian, and therefore you know, like already know all this stuff) Vladivostok is hecka close to all those North Asian countries. Which brings me finally to the title of my new blog – sea cucumber cliffs. Perhaps many of you would have expected a title more similar to last year’s prequel, something like mattinthefareast, looking for some kind of consistency of expression. Or at least a title that sounds less like the name for some kind of Glad brand air-freshener that one plugs into an electrical socket (do those actually require/use electricity b.t.w.?). The title actually comes from the original Chinese name for the city – Hǎishēnwǎi (海參崴) which apparently translates literally as ‘sea cucumber cliffs’ (The area where Vladivostok now stands passed through the hands of various, mostly Asian, nations and empires before it became part of Russia in 1858). [side note – any ideas on how to do in text citations for wikipedia? I realize that even admitting wikipedia as a source is like totally taboo, but you know what, I love wikipedia and will cite it with headheldhigh].  So anyway, that’s where I came up with the title, and that’s where I’m now living, and from where I hope to broadcast many delightful, insightful nuggets of my life to you. Feel free to enjoy.

p.s. Here is a picture of a sea cucumber for your esoteric pleasure:




Attention! Friends, family, and misguided web-surfers! This blog and the words, phrases, and thoughts contained within are those of one, Matthew Brian Nelson. They do not in any way represent the ideas, theories, policies, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or ontological philosophy of the Fulbright Foundation!