Siberia--Worlds Apart

Siberia--Worlds Apart

Siberia--Worlds Apart

Siberia--Worlds Apart

Synopsis

With this volume, Victor L. Mote presents a study of the dichotomies between Siberia's treasure-house of resources, its scanty population, and its relationship to the rest of the world.

Excerpt

My research for this book spanned a period of 30 years and seven extensive visits to the Soviet Union, Russia, and Siberia. My romance with Siberia began vicariously in 1967. It was not until 1973, however, that I actually set foot in the region. I recall how tired I was when I descended onto the apron of the Novosibirsk Airport from the plane that had flown me from Tashkent. the importunate Intourist guides insisted that I "must" have my whirlwind excursion about the Siberian capital, even though I could barely keep my eyes open. When the Rossiya (Russia) (Photo 0.1) embarked for Irkutsk that afternoon, I had been awake for 48 hours. I slept through Krasnoyarsk, barely noticed Tayshet and Cheremkhovo, and trundled into Irkutsk quite inebriated and lubricated from a late repast of vodka and suet, which had magically appeared from the briefcase of my compartment mate, a robust Buryat colonel of the Soviet Army. in the environs of Irkutsk for two days, I toured Baykal by hydrofoil and ate omul with a Frenchman in a poky restaurant on the shores of the big lake. the train for Khabarovsk left at night, so I missed--as all tourists did in those days--the most interesting part of the Trans-Siberian journey, a harrowing twist around the south end of Lake Baykal. It took three days to reach Khabarovsk, and another to alight in Nakhodka. I remember the rusty-brown water of my bath in Khabarovsk, but a wrapper around my toilet seat assured me that everything was okay: a note on the wrapper indicated it had been dezinfitsirovanno (disinfected). Twelve years would pass before I would return to the land of my research, this time as a so-called Siberia expert and a specialist on the Baykal-Amur Main Line (BAM) railway. For one month, together with my kgb guide, I saw much of the western bam, Yakutsk, and the Vilyuy Basin. in several of these places, I was the first American, if not the first foreigner, my hosts had ever seen. It was exciting to be the first inostranets (alien) to do some things, such as to milk a cow in Berkakit!

Two years later, as a month-long guest of the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences in Harbin, China, I obtained a backdoor view of Siberia by . . .

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