In the book A Journey to Sakhalin, the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov described the island, then a "katorga"--a penal colony--as a hellish place. Two centuries later, Sakhalin has changed in numerous ways and has become famous for its enormous hydrocarbon resources that lie underneath the island's shelf. Even with the considerable infrastructure investments related to oil and gas activity, Sakhalin remains a place of large contrasts: some may find it a sparsely populated island whose few cities are dominated by gloomy concrete apartment blocks and scarce roads, while others will enjoy its spectacular scenery and will keep in their memory the charming bubble of the Okhotskoye Sea. Sakhalin is the largest island in Russia. This fact alone makes locals proud, as they are the residents of the biggest island in the largest country in the world.