I’m in Tianjin, China, visiting the Kiev, a legendary 1970s Soviet aircraft carrier.  Once the pride of the Soviet fleet, it was sold off in 1996 and is now a Chinese Theme Park. 😞

At 45,000 tons and 273m long, it’s a little smaller than the USS Midway, which I visited in San Diego a few months back.  But it’s a real aircraft carrier, with a giant flight deck and lots, lots, lots of interior space.  I always knew theoretically that aircraft carriers are “big” but rambling around in the vast interior of first the Midway and now the Kiev really brings the point home.
I can still remember reading about the Kiev back in the mid-1970s when it was commissioned as the first big Soviet carrier.  The Economist was trumpeting alarm that those pesky Russkis planned to build themselves a blue-water fleet to challenge NATO and the Americans.   I’d never have guessed that one day I’d be wandering around freely in the Kiev’s interior, with not a Soviet guard to be seen.

The interior now has lots of souvenir shops, often selling patriotic Chinese paraphernalia, including oddly enough, lots of models of the new Chinese aircraft carriers.

On the nearby dockside, there is a whole ersatz Russian village, with stores and restaurants selling Russian-themed food to rather uncertain-looking Chinese tourists.