On July 2 I left Arkhara on a (very hot) 5-hour train ride to Birobidzhan, the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region (also right on the border with
I also got to tour around Birobidzhan a bit. It is a very green and quiet city. It has existed only since 1937, and there are only about 80,000 people here. (There are probably only 100,000 in all of the Jewish Autonomous Region.) Despite the name of the region, only 4% of inhabitants here are Jewish. However many signs are in both Russian and Yiddish! In Birobidzhan it was also very hot – sunny 95-degree days made me happy to return to cool and cloudy
Pictures of Birobidzhan: 1. Monument to Chinese-Russian friendship; 2. Orthodox church; 3. Sveta, me and Nastya in front of the fountain at the philharmonic. Sveta and Nastya are university students doing summer internships in the environmental education department at Bastak. They develop lectures on various ecology and environmental-conservation topics that might be of interest to local schools and teachers. Sveta, Nastya, and another student, Anya, took me on a tour of Birbidzhan my first morning in the city.