Anti-Thailand or the January trip to Yakutia

In continuation of the crisis theme, another guest post from my friend Vitalik, but not about emigration at all. In my article about what wintering in Thailand will not go anywhere in the long term, in the comments wentspeech about domestic tourism. I myself would also like it to develop, because I love to go somewhere with a tent, but the conditions are sometimes too wild (few campgrounds, no parking lots, etc.), and in popular places it is so filthy that it doesn’t work in nature. Nevertheless, traveling in Russia can and should be. How about a trip to Yakutia in winter instead of the tropics, at -50 degrees instead of +30?

Part one. Yakutsk.

Last year I bought for the sale of Aeroflotand took tickets for the January holidays from Moscow to Yakutsk at a very reasonable price. The result was a short, but very informative journey, impressions of which, at the request of the owners of the resource, I will be happy to share here. Ahead will be a story about Yakutsk, Lena Pillars, Pole of cold, and much more. By the way, air tickets can be monitored on Skyscanner or Aviaseels.

So, the first day. Early arrival in Yakutsk, at 5 am. The airport met (or rather did not meet) with the complete absence of free taxis. A few minutes later I was lucky, and managed to grab the car, which arrived at the airport with the first passengers of the return flight. To the question “How much?” The driver answered: “Now it’s a double New Year's fare.” I was already prepared to hear an astronomical sum, but in fact it turned out to be only 350 rubles. A very cheap taxi in Yakutsk, regarding everything else.

In the guest house with an optimistic name"Delight", to my second surprise, did not begin to charge for early check-in. But the local shepherd dog, sleeping in the courtyard, obviously did not experience delight on my arrival, rushing at me through vicious barking at the vicious barking (the fence, thank God, was of sufficient height). Although it is possible to understand the dog: spending the night in the Yakut frost will hardly bring complacency to anyone.
In general, my plans for morning sleep were thwarted, and as dawn broke, I went to study the city.

What can be said about Yakutsk. On the Internet, it is often written that Yakutsk is a very dirty city. Indeed, roads in many places are severely broken and almost absent, and the permafrost does not contribute to good soil drainage, which turns the streets into a mess. Plus, it seems to the locals that there are no problems throwing trash right on the road. But it is summer. In winter, most of the time, the city is shrouded in thick frosty fog, which settles on all surfaces, chaining them into snow-white frost. Therefore, even an abandoned garbage bag looks like such a nice gift bag that Santa Claus dropped as he drove past on his deer. And the roads and sidewalks under your feet are like a clean white sheet, which, together with the complete absence of any odors, creates a feeling of perfect sterility.

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I was lucky on the first day with the weather, and insteadfrost mist, I found the real January “thaw” - minus 32. Local people seemed to be eager to get the most out of such a gift of nature, and in the center of the city there was real movement: the people were actively involved in shopping, the children rode down the hills and on sleds with deer, and young couples scurried around the streets back and forth (obviously, it was uncomfortable to sit on the benches). What unpleasantly surprised, is the abundance of drunks on the streets, all of which turned out to be Yakuts. One of them even tried to sell me his fur hat - so he saw the pipes were burning. Not for nothing alcohol in the country is allowed to sell only from 14 to 20, and in many villages introduced strict dry law.

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After lunch, visited the ethnographic complexChochur Muran on the outskirts of the city. There you can ride sleds, snowmobiles, skis (there is a kind of lift), as well as get into the kingdom of permafrost. This is such a deep cave at the foot of the hill in which the installations were made of ice. In addition to ice sculptures and labyrinths, the cave has a hotel room with an ice bed and even an ice bar, in which you can drink vodka from ice-glasses, having a snack of planed bread. The sensations in the cave are very psychedelic, although its potential is clearly not fully revealed. For example, one could arrange a full-fledged bar with à la carte service. Moreover, the constant temperature in the cave (-10) allows us to consider it as a means to warm up after the street.

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In general, ice is for the local sacred substance. Every self-respecting institution of the city puts an ice sculpture at the entrance. The river shipping company has a steamship, the Russian Post has a postman on deer. Even the favorite Yakut snack - sliced ​​fish - must be eaten by all means frozen. Eating thawed planed meat is considered to be a mauve, almost like cold soup. And from the ice on one of the central squares a small art gallery was built - that is, the usual paintings of local artists were built into the walls of ice.

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In addition to ice, the Yakuts love horses very much. But this kind of love, because horses are considered by them solely as consumption. And not horsemeat, like the Tatars, but a young colt, six months old, is valued. Around the pond in the center of the city there are bollards to which the skulls of foals with tails are nailed, apparently symbolizing something. Even at the airport, such an installation is present, but apparently so as not to shock European guests, instead of real skulls, figurines are used. Tails, however, are real anyway.

Slightly less than horses, Yakuts worship fish. At the entrance to the city market, you are greeted like flower tents, but instead of flowers, fish of various sizes are installed in buckets. They are subject to instant natural freezing immediately after the catch, so their meat is exceptionally fresh.

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At the end of the evening the director of our YakutThe office of Boris Korolev gave me a short tour of the city center and told me about the specifics of running a local business. On the way, he was repeatedly called, despite the late time, from corporate clients to adviser to the president of the republic. I really can not share the details here, for corporate secrets.

Part two. Lena pillars

I stumbled upon the company NordStream onYakut Forum, when I was looking for something to do for a tourist around the city. It turned out that they arrange winter tours from Yakutsk to Lena Pillars - a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, by the way. I signed up for a two-day tour, and now at 7 am, at the gates of the hotel, I was waiting for a mini bus UAZ-loaf with a driver and a guide, Mikhail. We went to collect the rest of the participants in the city. Contrary to my expectations, the participants were not at all foreigners and Moscow tourists, but local residents, among whom there was only one Russian, and one with a Yakut girlfriend. All but him, by the way, were girls.

We had to do three hundred kilometers onSouthwest - first along the highway, then along the ice of the Lena River On the way, the girls showed me pictures from past trips, and also fed me homemade delicacies, of which the braised foal fat and frozen raw foal with onions (“Eat faster, not melted,” they said). Strangely enough, all this turned out to be not that mega-tasty, but very nutritious - the body perceived with a bang.

On the way we stopped at the traditional Yakutfun - salute. It is done without any kind of fire and in general extremely environmentally friendly: it is enough to pour a mug of hot water from a thermos and sharply pour it over the head with a fan. In severe frost, hissing splashes turn into small pieces of ice and ice vapor. From the side looks very impressive.

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Obligatory ritual, by the way, before going to Lena - “feed” her, putting a few pancakes on the snow and (oh, horror!) Pouring out some vodka or brandy next to her. Such are the Yakuts superstitious.

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But the main attractions on the way areyellow rocks with caves and rock paintings from the Stone Age. For local pagans (and according to my feelings, they make up the majority of those who belong to something), these drawings have a sacred meaning, something like icons. By the way, if you see rock art on the Internet or literature, it was most likely shot here, on the right bank of the Lena.

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When all the scribblings were studied by us, the beginningit was getting dark, and we stayed overnight in a guest house in the village of Tumul. The guest house looked like a simple village hut, inside it looked more like a tent: one large room about 60 meters, where kitchen and anteroom are indicated by small partitions. A small but new stove is installed in the middle. Sleeping was supposed to be on the plank floor. The toilet is in the yard, and the only source of water is ice blocks chopped up by a chainsaw, brought from Lena.

The girls quickly built a small clearing, and thenit was found that each of the expedition members took with him a bottle of intoxicant - some who had vodka, some who had brandy, some who had champagne. The evening became even more fun, and ended up leaving everyone to sleep, completely forgetting about the stove.

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I woke up around six in the morning with the feeling thatsomething is wrong. Thermometer on the wall showed a little above zero. Expedition colleagues slept peacefully, wrapped in clothes. The stove was barely warm, and the plug on the pipe, designed to keep warm inside, was not closed. I had to remember the skills of kindling the stove, and besides, it was very helpful to have a means for kindling firewood stored in Moscow.

At 11 am we had to snowmobilemake a half-hour trip to the Pillars on the other side of the Lena. The temperature overboard has dropped to more familiar here, minus 46, so the path was coming, though short, but not easy. Indeed, the snowmobile, maneuvering between the ice ridges, does not go very fast, but if it is impossible to dodge the constant wind, the frost penetrates into all the hermetically “packed” parts of the body. Thanks to the organizers who rented a ski mask, it would be even more difficult without it. In general, upon arrival at the place a sip of brandy from a thermos came in very handy. You pour it into a mug, and from above it, like milk, is immediately covered with a thin ice foam.

The Pillars themselves made an unusual impression thoughI expected a little more. A huge, multi-kilometer chain of columns extending into the fog. It seems that all this was built by someone with an incomprehensible purpose (for some reason I remembered Olympic Park in Sochi). The pillars are located so that they block the low northern sun, which almost does not fall here, and at the foot is always gloomy and colder than in the district.

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A little polaziv on the pillars (and in boots onsnow-covered rocks is not easy), I decided to ride a snowmobile at the wheel. The owner, the local grandfather-hunter was not against it, and I, joyfully seeing the “180” division on the speedometer, gave up the gas to the full. After that, the host shouted: "Slow down!" It turns out that at such temperatures the equipment cannot be heavily loaded, otherwise it may fail. About the fact that this is a harsh reality, I still had to make sure in practice, but this time I managed to do it.

Back in the village, after a short lunch, wewent home, and in the evening arrived in Yakutsk. The next day I had to go to the most severe place on the planet where people live, Oymyakon, but more about that next post.

P.S. Acne does not blog, so here is the link to his Facebook account.

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Choosing insurance is now unrealistically difficult, so to help all travelers, I compile a rating. To do this, I constantly monitor forums, study insurance contracts and use insurance by myself.

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