Day 20: Vladivostok
'It's set to boom,' he kept saying, 'set to boom. And the women are the best in the world. If it's girls you want, this is the place...'
I asked him where he met them. He looked as if he hadn't considered this for a while.
'Oh, in the street,' he said, vaguely.
There are taxis outside in the hotel car park, even a limousine. I find myself becoming positively nostalgic for the rigours of Magadan.
Then I discover the secret garden. Not entirely by accident. I could hear the sound of trains close by and was told that the last few miles of the Trans-Siberian railway pass close to the hotel. The path that leads down to the line passes through the tranquil precincts of an old military sanatorium. The main building is a big, elaborate, neo-classical edifice, from which two curved staircases descend between thickly-plastered balustrades. On top of the building are perched three male statues depicting various post-athletic activities. One lies back, resting languidly on his right arm, trailing a plaster tennis racket over the parapet.
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