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'On the Eve of the First World War, the single Siberian province of Irkutsk was larger than all of India'

The only positive image I had of Siberia was of a James Bond saving the world from the Cold War

By 0 and 0 and 0
10 November 2012


'I hate the cold, yet here I was, in winter, boarding a plane for Siberia'. Pictured: town of Gorno-Altaisk, by Alexander Tyryshkin

Coast language school founder Kim Edwards fulfils a dream to travel to Siberia - and finds warm people under a cold exterior. 

'Ever since 1980, I have wanted to travel to Siberia. Back then, it was the heady days of the Cold War and the adventure must-do of all backpackers: the Trans-Siberian Railway. Today, the world is a different place, but Siberia still conjures vivid images of vast frozen Soviet wastelands. 

'Indeed, the only positive image I had of Siberia was of a dashing James Bond saving the world from the Cold War.

'I hate the cold, yet here I was, in winter, boarding a plane for Siberia. This was no holiday– after all, no one goes to Siberia for a holiday!


Krasnoyarsk, Western Siberia

Ekaterina Dersura, student of Siberian Federal University (based in Krasnoyarsk) greets the first snow and below world famous rocks outside Krasnoyarsk called 'Stolby'. Pictures: The Siberian Times 

'I was invited to Siberia to conduct a training course in the central Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk by the director of a private and well-respected English language school.

'From the beginning of my trip, I was completely immersed in Siberian culture. I lived with a Russian family and worked with all Russian colleagues.

'On first meeting, Russians are abrupt and negative. They speak directly, with a brisk tone and stern manner. They are constantly complaining and rarely speak positively about anyone or any situation.

'Everyday life has a rapid pace.

'They walk extremely fast, eat quickly, and give short, sharp answers to a question. It was several days before I saw a Russian smile or heard a Russian laugh.

'They are suspicious of outsiders and the lingering influence of Communism ensures that Russians are not keen to try new things.

'This is not how we do it in Russia” was a phrase I heard often. For an average easy-going Australian, I initially found this a challenging culture to live and work in. And I had to constantly fight against the urge to become negative myself.

'However, once they know you can be trusted, Siberians are warm and generous people. Their homes are warm and they are generous with gifts of food.

'It wasn't long before I discovered the extraordinary culture and people of Krasnoyarsk.

'The city streets are filled with gorgeous chocolate shops and exquisite bakeries and cafes. 

'Many world-class ski fields are on the outskirts of the city. Seven theatres have a constant program of Russian ballets and operas. The city has many art galleries and museums, with a heritage that dates back to long before the time of the great Russian Empires'. 

See more on Kim Edwards journey on www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au 

Comments (4)

So is it normal for bears in Siberia to wear muzzles? What a pitiful, sad-looking creature. Let him or her go!
Steve, Medway UK
17/04/2016 04:41
I think Siberia has much in common with Canada and Australia. With Canada as both share climate and natural resources. Like Australia because they share a past as a penal colony...but while Australia was able to replace its image in the media, it takes more time for Siberia. But will be done.

The population of Siberia is similar to Canada´s (about 34 million people, from the Urals to the Pacific) and their main infraestructure lies next to a populated and powerful neighbor (USA or China) Even Vladivostok can find a mirror in Vancouver.
Enrique, Spain
04/09/2013 06:49
Many people from the Atlantic to Vladivostok initially treat all Engklish speakers as some version of Americans, ie spoiled, ignorant, stupid, and needing to be spanked...! This is my experience, esp.as 'Anglos' seem obsessed with PC. However once they find the English speaker is not American, or even if American is otherwise intelligent, humble, seriois but also human, they will warm to them gradually. Noone in the world apart from Americans 'smiles all the time'. People just get on with life. Visitors just have to tag along and adjust. If they succeed in adjusting they stay, if not they leave.

Siberians are no different to other Europeans in that respect. They want to know if the visitor is intelligent and worthy of respect. If so they may get to like them. Does the visitor respect them? Europeans have too many experiences of Western esp. US arrogance to take this for granted so they wait before welcoming.

This is how the world works in non-PC reality...
Philip, /UK
11/11/2012 17:27
'On first meeting, Russians are abrupt and negative. They speak directly, with a brisk tone and stern manner. They are constantly complaining and rarely speak positively about anyone or any situation'.

hahaha spot on Mr Edwards!
Yelena, Siberia
11/11/2012 14:15

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