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Join us on a visit to the Crown Jewels of Siberia!

21 January 2014

Journalist Kate Baklitskaya today begins an epic 3 month tour of some of Siberia's most iconic places.

Stereotypes...what stereotypes? Isn't Siberia all about bears and snow? 

Her aim? To show Siberia as it is today, and to look beyond the stereotypes of this magnificent and mysterious Russian region. Kate's 'Go East' route resembles a crown perched on the top of Russia, and will include many jewels on the way, starting in Tobolsk, the original Russian settlement west of the Urals in Siberia, founded in 1586 by Yermak's Cossacks. 

You can follow Kate's progress through modern Siberia in The Siberian Times, on her blog and Facebook. On the way, journeying through six time zones, she will meet a fascinating cross section of people living and working in Siberia, comfortably the largest region in the world. 

'I will travel by plane and train - sometimes on the world famous Trans-Siberian - but also will hitch rides on trucks and sleighs on frozen rivers and lakes,' said Kate. 'Often if you mention Siberia, people in the outside world think of endless snow, bears, Gulags, vodka, and Yetis. Follow me on my trip, and see if it's true.'

From Tobolsk, with its stunningly beautiful white stone Kremlin, she will head for Khanty-Mansiysk, otherwise known as the Oil Capital of Russia. A sharp move up north will bring her to Salekhard, the only town in the world located exactly on the Arctic Circle, and Russia's gateway to Arctic territories and their untapped natural resources. Sliding down the crown, Kate aims to sojourn in Surgut, nowadays one of Russia's richest cities, famous for oil mining and gas processing. Then to Tomsk with its splendid historic wooden houses and large student community, which makes it Siberia's youngest city in terms of population, and also gives it a reputation for fun. 

Journalist Kate Baklitskaya today begins an epic 3 month tour of some of Siberia's most iconic places.

15,000 km, 12 cities (and towns), 3 months, 1 person. Picture: The Siberian Times 

Further south and east, she will arrive in Novosibirsk and its satellite town of Akademgorodok, known to some as the brains of Russia and others as Silicon Taiga for the high number of skilled IT experts, sought by companies in Russia and around the world. Novosibirsk is the unofficial capital of Siberia, one of Russia's youngest and busiest cities, and the largest between the Urals and Pacific.

Her routing then takes her to Norilsk, famous for nickel, copper, cobalt, platinum and palladium - and for its stoic people living in the second largest city on earth  inside the Arctic Circle. 'I have heard about pollution here, and about stunning nature, but I want to discover more,' said Kate.

Sliding down the crown again, Kate will visit the great city of Kransnoyarsk, built on the Yenisei River, founded in 1628 and seen by Chekhov as the most beautiful in Siberia. A night on the train will take her to Irkutsk, once called the Paris of Siberia, one of Russia's historic treasures, and the stepping off point for Lake Baikal. It was from here - in the middle of Siberia - in the 19th century that trading outposts were administrated as far afield as Fort Ross in California (1812-42) and Fort Elizabeth on the island of Kauai in Hawaii (1817-53). 

Time for a leap north and the travel odyssey will take Kate to the shores of Laptev Sea, and the outpost of Tiksi, a settlement that appeared to be dying. But is it about to be reborn as Russia develops the Arctic sea routes and exploits to the energy riches under the ice?

Journalist Kate Baklitskaya today begins an epic 3 month tour of some of Siberia's most iconic places.

Kate's 'Go East' route resembles a crown perched on the top of Russia. Picture: The Siberian Times 

Veering south, Kate will then visit Russia's diamond capital Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world in a meteorological sense, but one that is gaining a reputation for its warm welcome to foreign tourists who venture here to the capital of the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia. The penultimate stop will be in Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka, so far east it almost touches Alaska.

This is a region that was rescued from economic peril by tycoon Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC in the UK, and formerly the governor. What might the future hold here? A rail link between Russia and the USA? 

The final link in the crown takes Kate to Russia's land of fire and ice, Kamchatka, one of the greatest jewels of them all, to see its volcanoes and glaciers. 

You are welcome to follow Kate on her 15,000 km and three months long journey!

Comments (12)

Ariel, wow Ulaan Baatar must have been taught! And yes please do share the story with them, would like to hear what they think about it, if they have any questions or want to know more about anything.
Kate, Russia
03/02/2014 11:08
Hi Kate,
I'm an American ESL teacher, now living in San Diego. I'm thinking of sharing your adventures with my international class of students from several countries that I'm just starting to teach Monday at a language school in downtown San Diego, the International Academy of English. I have lived in Ulan Baatar in Mongolia, where I taught English Literature and Asian-American Literature, as well as an English fluency class at an international university there. In 2009-2010, it was the coldest winter in 30 years. When I spit, it turned to ice before it reached the ground. Too cold for me! So I marvel at your willingness to make this trip in the dead of winter.
Ariel Ky, San Diego, United States
03/02/2014 02:01
Thank you Derek, Kylie and David! Your words inspire me a lot.
@Patrick thank you for the kind words, the camera's with me so some pics are already in my blog and more are coming=) and even though Kemerovo is not in my plans but I'd love to stop by and will try to make some free time for it!
Kate, Russia
24/01/2014 14:34
Ooops correction to my last comment Hmmm Got Sochi on my brain , Kate don't forget KEMEROVO ok my favourite Siberian City, Alexander Shvalov a good friend ,will only be too glad to show you around ,ok Patrick .
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
24/01/2014 06:53
Kate ,don't forget your camera, we readers want to see thousands of magnificent scenic/ human photos, especially pics of all things uniquely Russian. I have no other requests except for you to have a safe trip and to remember you're being keenly watched by thousands of readers who want to see the "Real Russia " and let's hope once and for all your story and pics will vanquish forever all the past negative propaganda about Russia and its people ,
Don't forget Sochi ,ok
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
24/01/2014 06:46
I'm looking forward to reading your reports, Kate. You're a good writer. Look after yourself.
David, Nyon, Switzerland
23/01/2014 23:51
superb idea
Kylie, Australia
23/01/2014 18:02
will be following you Kate, take care and all luck
Derek, Scotland
23/01/2014 12:35
Thank you guys! @Mel - I'm doing my best!)
@Les - you wount be alone, Siberia's the land of the warm hearted people)
Kate, Russia
22/01/2014 20:49
Good Luck
Chaitanya, Delhi, India
22/01/2014 14:13
good one, not sure if I would be able to take this kind of journey on my own
Les, Spain/Singapore
22/01/2014 12:11
wow good luck and DO keep warm! Amazing adventure
Mel, Sydney
22/01/2014 08:51

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