During this 22-day trip, I went to a total of 7 museums on Soviet history, 9 beaches on the Baltic Sea, and participated in 11 orienteering competitions.
In the museums of the two regions, we can see the different feelings of the people of the two regions in the same period of history. Russia regards the Soviet Union as the most glorious period of its country, as a world superpower at that time. Russian museums display many Soviet leaflets on conquering the world and inserting the Soviet flag into the poles of the earth. On the contrary, Lithuania and Latvia regarded the Soviet Union as an illegal occupier and placed the Soviet Union and the Nazi exhibition together, showing the brutal totalitarian occupations and the determination of freedom of the people in the later stages.
In the previous travel logs, I have used the words “communist bandit” and “occupation” etc., those used in Taiwan during the martial law period. Apart from describing the China communist occupied area in Free China, they can also be used to describe the Soviet occupied areas in the Western Free World during the Cold War.
After the Second World War, the Communist Party which maintained power using violence, carried out massacres, genocide, and population transfers in its occupied areas, and set up an iron curtain on its borders, causing numerous families to be broken, including big cities such as Berlin, fishing villages such as Shenzhen, and even as far as Diomede Islands with ice and snow, where only primitive people lived. After Stalin’s death, the level of violence has decreased, but censorship, imprisonment, suppression and exile were still common. In the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union was in a recession, Gorbachev tried to save the economy by removing the bandit behaviour of the Communist Party, including no longer interfering with other communist countries, redressing millions of political prisoners, re-launching the banned books, and hope to establish the legitimacy of the Communist rule by democratic process. However, after the election, the result was not he wanted to see: the Communist Party was overthrown and the Soviet Union was disintegrated.
After the world-wide democracy movement, the iron curtain in Europe had completely fallen, and there was no place for burial of the communists. However, in the area of Communist-governed China, the Communist Party’s bandit behaviour remained the same. The democratic movement in the Communist-governed China in the 1980s ended with a massacre. So far, the Communist Party has been arbitrarily suppressing and detaining ethnic minorities in China.
Hong Kong, then a member of the Western Free World, although not democratic and sovereign, was one of the most developed regions in the world with the best rule of law and freedom, countless people in the bandit-occupied area fled to Hong Kong in order to escape the Communist’s bamboo curtain. No matter how many propaganda machines were operated by the Communists, the fleeing couldn’t be stopped. However, time has always been borrowed. Hong Kong has fallen into the hands of the Communist Party since 1997. Although the Communist Party has promised to retain the original system for 50 years, things that have happened in recent years, such as the tear gas in Admiralty, disqualification of Legislative Council members, political parties stated to be illegal, and even the Communist authorities have publicly stated that the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” is a historical document. It has been shown that although the Communists cannot directly control Hong Kong under the system, it can be manipulated through puppets in Hong Kong. Since there is no democracy in Hong Kong, these puppets are actually not authorized by the people of Hong Kong. This has caused Hong Kong people to worry that Hong Kong will lose its original advantages and become part of the bandit area. Some even used Tibet as a metaphor. In 1951, the bandit army entered Tibet, signed a treaty which retained the original government and system in the Tibetan area. However, in 1959, the Communist bandit used a riot as an excuse to completely tear up the treaty and completely communise Tibet, and deliberately slaughter the people.
“Hong Kong independence” has never been heard before, because Hong Kong people’s ethnicity and cultural identity are both Chinese. However, in recent years, as the communists strengthened the control, the radicals have begun to emerge, and “Hong Kong independence” has been stated openly as a political goal, and the communists used whatever means possible to suppress (the “Hong Kong National Party” is an example). Although “Hong Kong independence” is not feasible in mainstream public opinion, perhaps from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the story of independence from the Soviet Union may give some inspiration. Leung Kai Chi launched a new book: “On The Road of Indenpendence: Thinking about the Future of Hong Kong from the Former Soviet Union”, which tells about the experiences of seven countries after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the future of Hong Kong.
In addition to going to the museum to experience history and reflect on the future, I also went to a number of beaches, both in the city and in the suburbs, each with different characteristics.
The beaches I have visited are, in the order of coastline, Yantarny (Янтарный), Svetlogorsk (Светлогорск), Zelenogradsk (Зеленоградск), Morskoye (Морское), Nida, Juodkrantė, Smiltynė, Jūrmala and Vecāḳi. I think the environment is better in Yantarny and the beaches along the Curonian Spit (Morskoye, Nida, Juodkrantė, Smiltynė).
Although Hong Kong is located by the sea, the coastline is curved and its beaches are quite short. Because Hong Kong is located in a subtropical area, the summer is quite hot and the water temperature is 28 °C, a bit too hot to swim. Russia’s Baltic coast is very different, the beach can be more than 100 kilometers, from Zelenogradsk continuing uninterrupted until Smiltynė. The water temperature in the summer is generally 18 ° C, but unfortunately I encountered a historical heat wave during the trip, the water temperature reached 21 ° C or even higher, there is no cooling effect. The coastline there is quite flat and the water is very shallow. It is only a few meters deep even a few hundred meters out. I can easily stand on the bottom of the water at all the beaches I went along the coast, unlike some places in Hong Kong where the water depth can be 10 metres or more just by swimming out a hundred metres or even less, difficult to reach the bottom.
Another feature of the Baltic Sea is that the salinity of the sea is extremely low, almost fresh water. In the middle part of the Baltic Sea I visited, the salt content was only 7 in thousand, which is one-fifth of the ocean. The feeling of swimming there is very different from that of other places facing the ocean, like Hong Kong. Because of the low salt content, the density of sea water is relatively low. The buoyancy provided is relatively small, and it is easy to sink the bottom with a little exhalation. In the northern part of Bothnia Bay, the salt content is only 2 in thousand. The creatures inside are freshwater creatures, and the sea is frozen for half a year.
Zelenogradsk Beach is the most special one. The beach has rows of wooden walls to protect the coast from being eroded by big waves. The pier there is a popular spot for pier jumping, where everyone queues to jump.
I participated in 11 orienteering competitions on this trip, including 2 ranked competition. But unfortunately, I did not perform well in these two competitions. I didn’t score very low. (In TrailO ranking, low score means good result, 0 score is the level of world champion), however. I achieved 58/61 result in the subsequent training competition. For TrailO, this is my first time to go abroad to participate in the forest orienteering competition, and I finally finished it with lots of mistakes. Overall, I feel that my orienteering technique has made progress in the trip. But unfortunately, this sport has not yet matured in Asia, there is little room for improvement in Asia, but I can’t afford to take long-distance flights to Europe every few months (for example, going to the Czech Republic in October). I plan to wait until the 2019 calendar come out to decide my further action, and hope that my world rankings will return to within 100 or even 50.