Siberia Travelogue

 

A couple of weeks ago I promised my twitter followers that I’d do a short blog post about my trip to Western Siberia. After all, it isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence

How it came about

About 2 years ago a man called Gerry attended a lead auditor course I was delivering in the UK. He was working for an engineering company based in Noyabrsk (about 3.5 hrs flight north east of Moscow). Like most people who attend public training courses, he disappeared into the ether once the course was over. Then, in September, Gerry called me out of the blue on my mobile. He asked if I wouldn’t mind coming over to Siberia to train his team of internal auditors as it would be easier and cheaper to get me a visa and travel to them than it would be for them to come to me

The Journey

The journey out to Noyabrsk involves a flight from the UK to Moscow, followed by an internal flight from Moscow to Noyabrsk by UTAir (which was fine, actually). This journey puts you 6 hours ahead of GMT, and into another world. A world where planes land in all weathers and can offer you a landing experience unlike any you’ve had before

Life and work in Siberia

With 9 months of winter, nothing else for thousands of miles, and temperatures of -40, Stalin knew what he was doing when he identified the punitive potential of a stint in Siberia. There is little chance that anyone could mistake it for a treat. People live and work there because of the oil and gas reserves and, because of the value of the resource, the actual facilities and infrastructure are quite good, as are the calibre of people you work with. It is the elements you need to watch out for. At -40 (so I am told) you have to guard (amongst other things) that the fluid in your eyeball doesn’t freeze. There’s a scary thought.  The worst I experienced was a very mild -12. My eyeballs did not freeze

Photos

On a whistle stop tour, photo opportunities are limited, but here are a few to give you a flavour of things

A good idea for any office in Russia, so I am told

View from my bedroom window, Park Hotel, Noyabrsk

The general terrain

Siberia sunset (about 3.30pm at the end of November)

I took a telling off by a gentleman who looked like Klinger from M*A*S*H for taking this

Cheery Noyabrsk Airport

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2 Responses to Siberia Travelogue

  1. Richard Allan says:

    Just read this and it reminded me of my trips to Syktyvkar about 1500km NE of Moscow, about a 1.5hr flight. It was place where Stalin sent people into exile too.
    These places are soooooooo isolated. On my flight you see nothing but trees, rivers and lakes until the town of Syktyvkar suddenly appears with its two paper mills.
    We landed in snow that would have shut Heathrow for months. The taxis, cars, vans all drove on roads of compacted snow / ice which would have shut down the UK.
    What struck me about the factory I visited was there appeared two types of people. Those who were open and willing to engage and work with you. Some others were cold, sullen, very unfriendly and only smiled when you were leaving.
    This attitude was strange to me as we were potentially offering them millions of dollars of business if they could show they could do a good job for us in a town and factory that was suffering economically.
    One of our team from the Moscow office explained the attitude difference. “What you are seeing” she said “is the difference between Russians and Communists”.

  2. Shaun says:

    I have to say, Richard, that your experiences are 100% consistent with mine. The weather, the topography, how the country copes with the extremes and also the attitude of the people. Factory was nice and warm, however. Warmest one I’ve been in probably.

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