"Growing up in -60C"

November 14, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I was interested to read the following article from the BBC:

Growing up in -60C

which brought back memories of my own trip over there in August 2011:

The Russian Arctic

 

We of course touched down during the Siberian summer, a region I had always wanted to visit, although whenever I say that, people give me a funny look until I clarify "in the summer".  Here is an extract of my diary written back then:

 

It was certainly much better for me to be able to put my feet up during the flight, especially as on the Boeing 737, the seats were fitted very close to each other, front to back.  There was a mass of school children in the back who clapped as we successfully took off – was Russian safety that bad?  Certainly, D had mentioned that morning that a Russian cargo plane had crashed in the East, killing all 11 on board, so accidents aren’t unheard of.  He seemed very dismissive and philosophical of dangers.

 

A map appeared, showing us where we were, although it was scarcely needed as the sun was on the port side and before long was setting.  We kept turning slightly left in accordance with flying round the top section of the world, and nearer and nearer to Ekaterinburg on the edge of the Urals.  After dinner, we lost the screen as the lights went out, but I could still see the port side had a glow of light, even during the night.  In the morning, we touched down at Yakutsk where it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t told anyone in the family exactly what my itinerary was, so I texted my brother as he was still likely to be awake in the US, and he responded positively. 

 

After disembarking at Yakutsk in the heat (27C) and lugging our hand luggage up 3 flights of stairs, we had to pause for an hour there whilst they refuelled and cleaned the plane.  I went to the loo and was glad to have taken tissues with me as there was no loo roll.  There were people fumigating us from just outside the door, but at least they were able to point me in the right direction as the symbol was in Cyrillic.  I suppose I’d have found out soon enough...  Having met P on the first section of the flight, a German cameraman, I then met E, an Australian photo-journalist, H, a Brit, and J, a professional photographer from California.  We re-boarded the plane and on we went for the shorter 3-4 hour “hop” to Anadyr.

 

I had been informed that Chukotka, that region of Eastern Siberia in which Anadyr lies, was very mountainous, and we had a bit of turbulence shortly after leaving Yakutsk (again accompanied by applause!), but it soon abated and we had a very smooth ride down.  As I’d originally imagined, the land around Anadyr is in fact pretty flat and we got plenty of chance to see that after landing as it took an absolute age to taxi into the terminal.  The concrete slabs were in poor repair with grassy tufts growing between them.  Over on the official grass were rows of rudderless helicopters and the odd plane or two without wings.  A veritable graveyard from which the “bodies” had been pilfered for parts, I suspect. 

 

Having finally arrived at the terminal, we disembarked again, only to be thwarted by the officials as our passports didn’t have the requisite permits.  All the passports of our group were taken and luckily a young officer appeared who spoke English.  After a slightly hairy wait, we met one of our guides, who is Russian, and were then handed back our passports.  The luggage thankfully also made it.

 

But -60C?  Well that's another matter.


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