Blogs from Siberia, Russia, Europe - page 4


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk May 11th 2014

I know better, but I read a great book by Rob Lilwall, a geography teacher in England. He cycled home from Siberia, via Japan, South Korea, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and on through eastern Europe, western Europe, and home to London. He learned to say hello in 21 languages. He stayed with over 200 different people. He gave over 70 lectures, to help fund his trip, along the way. He sent thousands of emails home. He raised over $34,000 for charity. He spent his entire life savings on the trip, about $12,000. But mostly, he had 157 tire punctures on his three and a half year journey over 30,000 miles, on a single bicycle. The bicycle's name was Alanis, after the singer. ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk May 11th 2014

The best of Siberia resides in its natural resources. The huge coal reserves in the Kuznetsk Basin are the largest in the world. The Basin is also rich in iron ore. Siberia also contains cobalt, zinc, copper, lead, tin, and mercury in great amounts. Norilsk is the second largest city north of the Arctic Circle where the Soviets dug the world's largest nickel mine. Diamond mines in Mirny, near the Vilyui Rover, are second only to South Africa's. Russia also has some of the world's largest oil and natural gas reserves. I am trying to tell you something good about Siberia. That may be about it! American companies have tried to harvest timber, but the deals generally go wrong. The famous Russian business practices of corruption and bribery make it difficult. But geologist have always been ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk May 11th 2014

Siberia has been under Russian rule since the late 16th century, similar to the Americans settlement of North America. Treaties placed cast tracts of land under Russian rule. Until the railway was built, travel to and across Siberia was slow and painful. The Great Siberian Railway or Iron Road was one quarter complete in June, 1895. Criminal labor was used with incentives to make the work attractive. A regulation was made by the Governor-General of Irkutsk so eight months of railway work counted as one year of imprisonment, or hard labor. For exiles, the term requiring them to be registered as peasants was reduced in the proportion of one year for two. For those compelled to live in far Siberia, the term of deportation was shortened by counting one year as two. Of particular interest to ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk May 11th 2014

When I travel through a state or country, I enjoy unearthing famous residents. I would think Siberia would be home to quite a few interesting characters. The list includes Boris Yeltsin, Catherine the Great, Vitas Bering, Rudolf Nureyev, Dmitri Mendeleev, Grigori Rasputin, Raisa Titorenko Gorbachev, Kim Jun Il, Yul Brynner, Boris Godunov, Genghis Khan, and Ivan the Terrible. As a young teenager in high school, I learned much about Mendeleev. He is credited with formulating the periodic table of elements. He created his own periodic table of elements and used it to correct the properties of some already discovered elements and to predict element yet to be discovered. But perhaps most importantly, he was appointed director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, where he formulated the new state standards for the production of vodka. In ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Omsk May 10th 2014

I have heard various things about Russian food, mostly bad. But I hear and observe there is more to Russian cuisine than borsch and chicken Kiev. The main goal of trying Russian food involves eating most of my meals AWAY from the train, and its dining car. Train food has been stuck back in the 1950s, unless there has been a radical change in the last year or so. When a Russian eats at home, their first meal of the day may include fruit and cheese, eggs, bread, jam, kefir (sour yogurt drink), tvorog (cottage cheese), or kasha (porridge). Lunch and dinner may consist of at least three courses. Zakuski is the name of Russian hors d'oeuvres that may include some or all of the following delicacies: sausage, cold meat, salmon, pickled herring, pate', tomato salad, ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude May 10th 2014

It seems like Russians are always drinking something, if not beer and vodka, then a cup of tea. Tea is more popular than coffee, and often served black with a spoonful sugar or jam. Most coffee is instant, and it may require a visit to a decent local café for a decent cup of coffee. It was introduced to Russians by Peter the Great back in the 17th century. Bottled mineral water is also available almost everywhere, and is usually carbonated. I am told to avoid tap water in St. Petersburg since it has giardia. And everywhere in the world, Coca Cola is available, along with home-grown versions such as Takhun. But on the train, boiled water is available from the samovars in each carriage. One good tip I received by reading these travel books is ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude May 9th 2014

Siberia has an area 4,784,034 square meters, or 1.5 times greater than Europe, 2.5 times larger than Russia in Europe, and more than 40 times larger than the UK of Britain and Ireland. It extends form the Ural Mountains on the west to the Sea of Japan. And from the Arctic Ocean on the north to China on the south. Siberia is especially rich in minerals, including gold, silver, lead, copper, iron, coal, and graphite. The climate of Siberia runs to extremes of both heat and cold. The winter is long and the air is dry except of the east coast. January is coldest, July is hottest. I am glad to be going in May, before mosquito season as well. The great majority of inhabitants are Russians, including free immigrants (both peasants and Cossacks), The Turkish ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk May 6th 2014

5900 miles of the TSR took nearly a quarter century to build. The approval to build was given in 1891, and construction was inaugurated by the Tsarevitch Nicholas at Vladivostok on 31 May 1891. Work began at both ends, like our Transcontinental Railroad, and within 12 years, the line was in place except for 2 sections: crossing the great freshwater Lake Baikal and an 800 mile stretch through Manchuria (the Chinese Eastern Railway) which was in foreign territory. In 1895, about 66,000 men, and their accompanying womenfolk and children, were engaged in building the railway. There were 36,629 navies, 13,080 carters, 5,851 surfacemen, 4,310 carpenters, 4,096 stone masons and 2,091 riveters. The first train from Moscow arrived at Irkutsk (the Paris of Siberia) on 16 Aug. 1898. Before completion of the Circumbaikal loop, it ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk January 24th 2014

Another day and another exciting city was on its way - Irkutsk and Listvyanka village, the home of lake Baikal! We drove straight to Listvyanka upon arriving at Irkutsk. It was a quaint little village, 70 kms away from Irkutsk located on the shore of lake Baikal with a population of 5000. A lot of people in this part of the country believe in the Shamanic religion. These are Buryats, indigenous people (similar to Native Americans if you will) who believe that every thing has a spirit of its own. They don't have temples or churches built to worship, they pray to the sun and hence the east side is very important to them. We had planned to meet a Shaman the next day at the Shamanic cultural centre in another village. I checked in to ... read more
Wooden Architecture Museum
Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal Again

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Listvyanka October 21st 2013

Ok, this is going to be a long one. I apologise for neglecting this blog for the past week. In my defence... nah, I just kept putting off. Sorry! 17th October. It wasn't the best weather when we (I picked up two Germans at the hostel) headed to Listvyanka, a small town on the shore of Lake Baikal. It was foggy and rainy. We got the tram to the bus station and then got on a marshroutka (like a minibus that follows a certain route) their were only five of us on the bus when we set off, but we only went as far as the marshroutka station round the back of the market and we moved onto another minibus filled with people. The bus took a little over an hour (and set off about forty ... read more

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