ACROSS SIBERIA &
Across 9000 miles of frozen silent beauty or deadly loneliness, depending from where you are, it is simply a piece of hostile real estate for people. What it brought to people or when people were brought over here, the results could be diametrically different. Many people of historical importance would have Siberia as punishment of choice: death or miserable death. People, in their right mind or have a choice, would have avoided it at all cost. Still there are plenty of foot prints from the past and more to come tomorrow.
The Czar sent thousands valuable undesirables, politically or legally alike, to fuel the development. Lenin and Stalin carried out the tradition with no less enthusiasm, if not more, in doing the same. The fuel cost is immense, only undesirables turned into spent fuel. There was almost unlimited supply of undesirables. The more the authority tightened the grip, the stronger the reaction ensued, hence the supply of undesirables.
For thousands of years, the usual animosity among tribal leaders, arose in the steppe region of Siberia where the Chinese emperor and his neighbours to the north treated each other’s visiting envoy to lake Baikal, unequipped of course, as show of displeasure.
Prehistoric forest and insects.
Today, You don’t have to risk your live to hear Mother Siberia’s side of the story. In fact you can still get a superficial view in a haste which means 10 or more days and nights straight and in relative comfort, where shower, in any style is considered beyond comfort zone on the trans-siberian train. All considered, it’s a small price to pay to retrace step by step, literally, the historically documented and hearsays of nature’s hostility and human miseries. What overlooked is nature’s hospitality.
Instead of 50’C below zero or worst, in a stop near OMSK, I fell into an inferno when stepping off the train. And a digital display overhead assured me that it wasn’t an illusion, it was actually an inferno with 37’C. Now I finally understand the old Chinese saying, after all these years: Be critical on the books. It’s better without the book when you are to learn the truth.
Osmk was the place where the most unlikely action coalesced during the 1st World War. Imperial Russia was in the blink of total collapse when the imperial force was not only facing the onslaught of German forces but also resisting Lenin’s revolutionary force. United stated, Britain and western powers supported the Russia’s monarch by sending, under cover, a jointed expeditionary force to back up the Czar from the Russia east. The coalition force is a most unthinkable political cocktail: U.S., Britain, Poland, China and other Asian nationals among others. The Czechs controlled most of the Trans-Siberian railway. Most Russian people nowadays don’t know about it or not taught in their schools. Only the end result of the war was praised and Russia, now, then Soviet Union moved on to influence the world, and in a diminishing dosage after 1989.
A Mosaic the size of…
If Siberia was desolate and miserable, Yekaterinburg proves the opposite: a good size city of two million people and beautiful. They have the only remaining statue of Lenin in whole Russia, a token consolation for affecionados. Siberia, by nature, supports man and his world. She welcome people to make her their home, their world, beautiful. If only political reality allowed. Omsk and Siberia at large is thousands of miles away in any direction from open seas. Air moves over thousands of miles over land and leaves behind their moisture long ago on the way before reaching Siberia. And yet there are hundreds of rivers criss-cross this land mass making sure that it gets its fair share of nourishment.
The land nourished. Nature’s generosity cradles all things which care to live, even though some proved to be of nuisance to others. Some travelers reported convoys of trucks slumbering with massive trees which I didn’t see, travelling along the inundated road. With no regrets, I missed the notorious swamp of insects too.
There are cultivated forest showed up from time to time. The trees planted are mostly birch (or aspen, if not birch), not massive as described by other traveler, but lined in an orderly way fading away as the train chugging along. And the famous Russian dolls are made from birch. A great many dolls can be made from these trees than the world can buy. So When no better thing to do, they are just sitting there to grow to massive size and getting pruned the way as witnessed by freedom warrior James Bond, where the helicopter carried a humongous hair clipper dangling in mid-air while Bond racing his government-issued Ashton Martin to stay out of the way.
Other travelers, documentaries reported members of the phylum arthropod in its natural sizes with no respect for dietary constraint. When they come, reportedly, it’s orchestrated like a blanket furled over none but the brave. Again, I missed this frill which I suppose its local travel bureau would have it a more civilized image. And I’m not getting paid for not seeing the insects, nor hearing its coming.
I didn’t see any convoy of trucks slumbering with massive tree trunks. I witnessed sparsely slumbering small rickety trucks and passenger cars which helped me understand Cuba was once very vibrant by the virtue of its fleet of vintage cars still proudly running around to this day. With great gratitude I also missed the stink from the insects. Certainly there is no regret for missing the insect bites or the worst, only the hundreds of dollars in getting all the shots necessary for this trip.
All I have experienced is not to discredit other travelers or documentaries. Siberia, being so huge, if you have a wide enough lens, you can actually see the earth bent to accommodated Siberia literally. And I showed it to a catholic nun while on a trip to HK with the help of the on board online flight map. To my surprise, she agreed graciously. With her close relationship with the almighty up there, she extend her generosity saying she would pray for me. I have nothing to offer in return only my best wishing (at no cost to me) her all the blessings of the almighty.
What we, one individual to experience is actually a minute speck in a mosaic the size of Siberia. Whether Mosaic is the reason that Siberia attracts travelers, people from around the world do come with not just sightseeing but a sense of adventure. At any given moment, people from different corners of the world come to savor the awe of Siberia. They formed a mosaic of their own as each one brings a unique color. Each carries his or her very own self –a life-long journey totally different from the others’. Each one lives his or her life everyday going different places, meeting different people, by design or chance, at different times. Here we, like a droplet in a watershed leading to a creek, a stream before emptying into a river, you just don’t know where and when you run into a petal peeled off from a flower somewhere. Bobbing along together for god knows how long, but definitely not forever, and not knowing when is the last tango. If it’s delightful, treasure every moment of it. If not, again it’s not forever. All assembled exactly as in a random draw for only a very short span of time and in a tight squeeze manner – the very carriage of the trans-Siberia train leading to a mosaic of humanity which appeared as magically as a rainbow and faded away when normalcy resumes.
This mosaic may well be more colorful than the greatness of Siberia as shown:…
The New Zealand mother and son. A well read mother and a son on hot pursuit of the ultimate…
The heavenly endowed wife from Canada with her man, not just any man,….making a live example of me.
The Canadian couple of seasoned world travel who brightened this travelling troupe….
The Swiss family, an extraordinary mother ushering her 2 teenage children into a …
An Australian father and son on a generational-defying mission showing…
Then spice it up with local flavor (no extras, real ones)…