Metal Detecting & Treasure Hunting in Siberia
Stories, Photographs of Places Along the Route From Albany, NY, to Irkutsk, Russia
Every time I mention the name Siberia to anybody in the states or Western Europe, I hear the same question, "Is that really cold out there?!" In response, I usually give an example about people growing oranges in the southern Far East (eastern end of Siberia). Nobody believes me but it is true. That is the only part of Siberia that has a mild, almost sub-tropic, climate.
The rest of region has a harsh climate: winters are long and bitter, and snow covers most of the area for almost half a year. The temperature might go below -90°F (-68°C). Because of such a tough climate, the region's development and population growth have been limited. Siberia's population density is only 3 persons per square kilometer, and the abundant natural resources are still to be extracted.
With an area of over 9,653,000 square kilometers (4,950,000 square miles) and population of about 35,090,000, Siberia is the region of Russia in the northern Asia, extending eastward from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to north-central Kazakhstan and the borders of both Mongolia and China. Being an Asian part of Russia, Siberia makes up over two thirds of the total area of the country.
General Map Of Russia
In May, I took a train from Albany, NY, to New York City and began my long journey to the opposite side of the world, south-eastern Siberia. On the map below, I outlined the route that I travelled to get to the city of Irkutsk, the oldest Siberian city, which is situated near the Wonder Of The World--Lake Baikal. First, I flew from Newark, New Jersey, to Tallinn, Estonia, where I visited my mother for two weeks.
Then I took a bus from Estonia to St. Petersburg, Russia, where I met with my old metal detecting buddy Forrest and other friends. After we completed a few treasure hunting outings in St. Petersburg region, I took a two-day train ride to the city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, where I visited my father and met my old friends from my childhood in my home town Snezhinsk.
A week later, I took a train to Irkutsk. It was a three-day ride and I finally had an opportunity in seeing what Siberia was all about. The train crossed the West Siberian Plain, and then climbed onto the Central Siberian Plateau. The route ran through a few major Siberian cities: Tyumen', Omsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk. It was one of the most exciting train rides I had ever taken! I tried to photograph as many interesting scenes as possible at any time that I was not asleep, but, of course, I missed a lot.
The Route I Travelled Across Eurasia (CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE)
Photo Galleries of Digital Images
The digital pictures in photo gallery below cover the entire journey from Albany, NY, to Irkutsk, Siberia. The total distance I travelled one way was 9,000 miles (including the flight over Atlantic ocean). Now, without leaving the comfort of your house, you can see what I saw traveling half-way around the globe.
The digital images in the next photo gallery below depict places of Irkutsk which I came across while taking a walking one-day tour around the city. That was a spontaneous outing so I did not have a list of interesting sites to visit. Irkutsk had been known for preservation of numerous old wood houses that were built in the 19th century. So I captured the images of the beautiful woodcarving and lacy designs that skillfully decorate ridge-roofed houses, window frames and door jambs in the Kirovsky Historical District. It felt like being in the museum under the sky!
Next photo gallery contains pictures that I took while staying at my friend's summer house in Port Baikal which is located on the north-western shore of the lake Baikal, west of the Angara river mouth. Three days of my staying there was not enough time to capture all beautiful scenes that the lake Baikal could offer. Most of the time, I was in a state of awe observing picturesque surroundings that were changing their colors as the weather or daylight changed. The most challenging task was to capture snow peaks of the Hamar-Daban Mountain Range on another side of the lake, some 50 miles away.
Map of Lake Baikal
Because of the incredible depth of the Lake Baikal (1.5 mile deep!), its water stays cold all summer long. In fact, the water was ice cold in hot July! 3 seconds was the maximum time I could keep my hand in water. At any time during the hot summer day, one could see the cold mist layer, up to 30 feet in the air, above the lake surface. The cold layer keeps the air temperature down thus making the lake the best place to be during the sultry summer.
Another impressive feature of the lake was its crystal clear water. While I was taking a ferry to Port Baikal, I kept observing the lake bottom. As the ferry was sailing away from the shore, the lake depth was increasing, but I could still see every pebble on the bottom! I was fascinated: the depth was already about forty feet. Suddenly the water changed its color from aquamarine to pitch black--the ferry was passing over the chasm. More About Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia
In the following photo galleries, you will see the images of everything what I came across during my short stay and exploration in the Port Baikal area. You'll also see how a typical Baikalian fish delicacy, 'Split Fish', is prepared. The recipe is simple and the fish titbit is yummy! The second photo gallery depicts incredible images of Lake Baikal scenic views which were captured by a well-known photographer Boris Dmitriev.
My Treasure Hunting Stories
And finally, the following are the treasure hunting stories with pictures that cover a few metal detecting trips to the Northern Irkutsk region. Prior to my arrival to Irkutsk, I contacted Rudolf, a major Minelab representative and metal detector dealer in Russia, who happened to reside in Irkutsk. Rudolf welcomed me and introduced me to a few treasure hunters, members of a regional Metal Detecting Club, who were happy to show me around.
In return, I shared my treasure hunting skills and my Explorer search programs with them. Even though they took me to their 'hammered' sites, I indeed had a blast. They did not believe that I could recover a few more coins at their 'exhausted' spots. Well, I made them believe.
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