Travelling to Sakhalin was a very different matter indeed from taking a summer trip to the Crimea or Caucasus, and the island was the last place in the world to attract a holiday-maker. Chekhov gave all sorts of different reasons for going to Sakhalin, but he would have been very impatient with any biographer who, after marshalling all his conflicting statements on the subject, accused him of inconsistency because they often contradict each other. A first visit to Europe was always a time of importance for a Russian writer, and Chekhov must have felt his could be put off no longer. Chekhov usually played down the suggestion that he hoped to provide some useful service to the community by undertaking his expedition. Siberia had of course long been a place of exile for criminals and political offenders, but Sakhalin was a comparatively new addition to the Russian penal system.