A giant puddle in Russia's Far East is vying to become the hottest new tourist attraction, boasting that it is the largest and oldest untouched urban feature in the region.
Potholes that turn into large puddles are an inescapable reality for everyday Russians living outside major urban centers. Those unwilling to put up with their neighborhood potholes have at times fallen victim to the concrete cavities themselves.
In the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk 9,000 kilometers east of Moscow, residents’ efforts to get the municipal services to repair their pothole-turned-puddle have gone nowhere since the hole first appeared in 1994.
Fast forward a quarter-century and, far from being repaired, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk puddle is becoming a social media sensation.
“Hello everyone! I’m a puddle near 10 Tikhookeanskaya [Russian for ‘Pacific Ocean’] Street,” says its Instagram profile, which racked up almost 17,000 followers in under two months.
“I’ve already turned 25 and it’s time to master Instagram like an adult.”
The satirical account’s first-person narrative tells the story of the “happiest puddle in the city” fighting for its life as local authorities promise residents that they’ll get rid of it.
City crews took action less than a week after its first Instagram post in early September and covered the puddle with what it described as “dry mud.” It took another seven days and some rain for the puddle to return with fresh selfies, boasting that “the strange blanket couldn’t hold me back.”
After a second bout with city crews, the account turned its attention to “my sister puddles” similarly ignored by local leaders but whose online presences aren’t as developed.
One of these “sister puddles” was used as the backdrop of a standup paddleboarding photoshoot, encouraging travel-starved Russians to visit Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for surfing opportunities.
“Not many countries in the world can offer such a tourist attraction,” the puddle wrote wryly.
Three days later, the puddle was no more after city crews pumped out the water.