Kamchatka-2015: Pauzhetka – where the electricity is free.

There’s a small remote village in Kamchatka called Pauzhetka – to the far south of the peninsula. It’s so small and remote, Google Maps shows, er, nothing, where in fact lies this settlement. It just didn’t get round to it I guess.

Perhaps that’s understandable: the village (situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and Kurile Lake) is surrounded on all sides by volcanoes. Pauzhetka is so unremarkable, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page dedicated to it. (Hmmm, maybe one just needs writing then; maybe even a grandiose Wiki affair with photos, facts and figures, history and other details? Well why not? Any volunteers? Internet enthusiasts to the rescue of online Pauzhetka!)

We were told that the name Pauzhetka comes from the former name – Pauzha – of a local river. I wonder, was that the Itelmen name? Well, anyway, that river is now called Pauzhetka too. Just so no one confuses the two.

I like how Pauzhetka sounds. I imagine a ‘pause’ when thinking of this place. As if life is put on pauze when folks come here, as it’s so out of the normal rhythm of life and the world. Something like that anyway.

Pauzhetka is just one of many interesting-sounding names on Kamchatka. Others include: the Goreliy (burnt) volcano, the Dvugorbaya (twin-peaked) volcano, and the Falshiviy (false), and Zhirovoy (fatty) streams!

// Sure, pioneers often gave bizarre names to the peaks, valleys, bays and other places they discovered. For example, in South Africa there’s a False Bay, which has a most interesting tale behind it. However, today’s post is about Kamchatkan names only.

There are more odd names, particularly of volcanoes. Examples: Mutniy (muddy), Beliy (white), Ploskiy (flat), Shish (the ‘bird‘:), Ostriy (sharp), and Spokoyniy (calm).

But now – back to the main topic: Pauzhetka. What else is there to Pauzhetka? Three main things (besides volcanism plain and simple):

– A geothermal power plant;
– Fruit and veg;
– Much natural beauty.

The geothermal power plant produces not only gigawatts of free-of-charge thermal electricity for Kamchatkans, but also lots and lots of boiling water for the valley below (also free), which the locals naturally put to good use with pleasure.

The hot water might also have a hand in making the fruit and vegetables grown in the many greenhouses in and around the village as tasty as we discovered them to be. And not only the obvious tomatoes, cabbages and potatoes, but also watermelons! Some even claim that pineapples and papayas are grown, though we didn’t catch a glimpse of any such exotic fruit – they must be tucked away deep inside the greenhouse jungle.

Here’s the view of the Pauzhetka area from one of the mountains next to it (the village itself isn’t visible, just like on Google:).


Pauzhetka – not only a beautiful place, but very tasty too one too!


I mentioned ‘free-of-charge’ when I wrote about the electricity and hot water. It’s soooo totally free-of-charge that in some of the buildings and homes they don’t even bother to turn the heating off – ever!! And since it was a warm summer this year, well, the houses were more like saunas than living quarters. Accordingly, I chose to spend the night in a nice cool tent.

Also in Pauzhetka: hot streams and swimming pools (somewhere around 25 to 30 degrees centigrade). Oh so nice!

Back to the ‘free’ theme: the street lamps here never get turned off either! Absurd enough for you? No? Then get this: you’ve heard of under-floor heating in fancy bathrooms so your poor little bare feet don’t get a chill, right? Here they used to have under-footpath heating! Yep, they had the hot water pipes take the same route as the footpath (or the other way round, same difference) in the below pic! Sadly the pipes rotted away years ago. I guess the next folks to take an interest in them will be surprised archeologists a zillion years from now :).


So yes. I reckon Pauzhetka is well worthy of its own Wikipedia page! Need to develop the idea…

All the photos from An-Kam-2015 are here.

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    Richard L

    Just come back from there.
    We spent some time with people who work at the power plant.
    Been told they supply power for Ozernovsky and Pauzhetka.
    Power is not free and never was. It’s not very expensive.
    Also they have to pay (in Pauzhetka) for hot water, just little bit.
    Like you story and photos. End you are right it’s great place to visit.
    Cheers, Richard

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