Monday, March 14, 2011

Siberia: Dating Shows, Ice Skating and Piroshki

Finally drying out my soaked boots

From Switzerland I got a free flight to Siberia. I decided it was pointless to return to Nepal, where I would have to pay $800-$1000 for an 8 day visa through Tibet. You can’t travel by yourself either, and have to be on a group jeep tour until you reach Lhasa---not very appealing. I don’t enjoy being told where I have to eat, sleep or take a photo. So Siberia was the logical next step. 

My Uncle Kolia
I arrived in Novosibirsk in the cheap, white sneakers I’d purchased in Kathmandu for $3, a windbreaker and trekking pants. My uncle Kolia looked me up and down as I came out of baggage claim with my backpack, and decided that he needed to move the car a bit closer to the airport entrance, or else I would freeze in the -30C walk to the parking lot. 

On the Ob Sea

I lived in a town called Akadem-Gorodok with my 83-year-old grandmother Lena and her orange cat “Hosia”. It’s a less-glamorous, Russian-version of Silicon Valley. There are many science-oriented universities in town (from the academy of Organic Chemistry to Nuclear Physics), and everyone that lives here is either a professor, a student, or works in a foreign tech company.
My cousin- Anna
Life was slow and calm compared to the active lifestyle of the previous couple months. I got force-fed piroshkis, buttered-bread with honey, and home-made pelmeni. At night I was kept awake by the loudly-purring and attention-seeking Hosia.

Blueberry-apple tart

My uncle put out the word that there was a bored American girl looking for entertainment in the evenings. Several local students took it upon themselves to show me the “sights and sounds of Akadem-Gorodok”. So every night a new guy knocked on my sixth floor apartment with either tickets to the local theatre, ice-skates or xc skis in his hand---it was like a poorly-attended dating show. I wonder what the neighbours thought…

Siberia has a lot of mammoths

I was given....a rose?

The Ob More is an artificial sea created by a dam blocking the river Ob. In the winter, when it freezes over, you can kite-ski more than 200 km across the hard, crusted surface.

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