Tag Archives: russia

Remote working – even miners do it.

Hi folks!

I’d heard a lot about modern mining equipment that works autonomously, i.e., without a miner nearby controlling it. Well now I’ve seen it in action too – the other day, when I paid a visit to Phosagro in the Khibiny Mountains on the Kola Peninsula – inside the Arctic Circle! – in the northwest corner of Russia, not far from the Finnish border.

Here’s a robo-miner drilling into rock, all on its lonesome:

Whereas today’s ‘miners’ sit in a brightly-lit, air-conditioned office operating joysticks occasionally and checking the progress of the robots on a bank of screens:

Read on…

Irkutsk to Taishet: 700km – in the net.

After Irkutsk, our next main stop was the large Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. But since it’s a long way – 1100km – we broke the journey up, staying overnight in the town of Taishet, whose main claim to fame is that the Baikal-Amur Mainline (railroad) (BAM) starts out there.

In Irkutsk we were up early, and off – in a pea-souper reminiscent of the one in Yakutsk. No doubt the steam emitted by the cooling towers of the Irkutsk power plant had something to do with it. Ouch: that must mean it’s like this all the time in winter. Still, at least the road was a good one: traditionally fresh (recently repaired/re-laid), smooth, and with two lanes going each way. Ouch: but those four lanes only lasted around 30km, and after that it was down to just two lanes – for the next thousand kilometers! More ouch: the fog remained. More ouch: we were stuck in the slow-moving traffic practically the whole day – zero chances of safe overtaking. OUCH OVERDOSE.

Mercifully, toward the end of the day’s driving, the fog did abate and rays of sunshine started to appear; accordingly, up went our mood.

// Btw: Below and in future posts, the photos you see are a mix of mine, DZ’s, and travel-blogger Sergey Anashkevich‘s.

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Lake Baikal: halfway to Moscow from Magadan.

Onward we drove. And drove, and drove… on our Magadan–Moscow road trip. Today’s stretch – further along the Baikal Highway, heading for Irkutsk (not Yakutsk, though I’m sure they get mixed up a lot:).

The road is smooth and mostly straight (like most highways in this part of the world), the views all around – outstanding, and the drifting snow on the road – spookily stunning:

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The other side of Mosfilm.

Brief intermission in among the Tales from the Permafrost Side!…

Moscow for the tourist: there’s plenty to do and see. But after several days filled with Red Square, St. Basil’s, the Kremlin, the Arbat, Tverskaya, the Park of Victory, the Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum… what else is there? Well here’s one worthy suggestion, which I can now share with you after visiting the place myself for the first time the other day – the Mosfilm studio! ->

This legendary film studio complex was founded in 1923 – so in two years’ time it’ll be its 100th jubilee!

Mosfilm today is also a museum dedicated to itself and the movies made there. In we popped…

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700km Chita to Ulan-Ude on the Baikal Highway.

After yesterday’s 900km to Chita, we were up early for another 700 to Ulan Ude, with a brief stop at Ivolginsky Datsan along the Baikal Highway:

But before setting off we needed to make a few changes: First – to the cars we were driving. As per the plan, we said goodbye to the hardy Renaults from Avtorazum, and hello to some Mercedes. Second – our group of road-trippers were joined by some extra K-folks from our HQ, since from here on in the road trip became somewhat more businessy, for we’d be dropping in on some of our cherished clients and partners.

Read on…

BAM – been there, touched it, need the t-shirt.

Next up for us in our car trip across Russia – the Amur Oblast town of Tynda, informally referred to as the ‘Capital of BAM’, BAM being the Baikal-Amur Mainline – a second pan-Russia railroad in addition to the famed Trans-Siberian Railway (running parallel to it, approximately 700km north of it).

A mere -31˚C. Soon we’ll be in shorts and t-shirts ).

Tynda may not be well-known outside Russia, but inside – especially for my generation, who grew up in the 1970s – it sure is. I was too young to join up for service with a Komsomol Student Construction Brigade in building it, but that didn’t stop me hearing about the impressive engineering feats – Brezhnev called it the ‘construction project of the century’ – involved in its construction for years on the radio and TV. And I must say, I never thought I’d ever visit the place. But here I was! ->

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Back on our way – along the most impressive Lena Highway. 

Having driven the full length of the Kolyma Highway from Magadan to Yakutsk (via the Pole of Cold / Oymyakon), and walked around Yakutsk for a day, it was time to moving along – further on our pan-Russia road trip…

Ahead of us lay 1200 kilometers of the Lena Highway heading south, until it meets the Amur Highway (which skirts southern Russia near the border with China and Mongolia), passing through the towns of Neryungri and Tynda on our way.

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A trip to the Lena Pillars; the cold – nearly killed us!

This continuing Yakutsk topic is all very well, but it’d never be complete without… the Lena Pillars! Unique – check. Grandiose – check. Must-see – check! A long (~250km!) line of huge stone ‘fingers’ (~200 meters in height) sticking up out of the ground along the eastern bank of the river Lena ->

The Lena Pillars have been a firm fixture on my Top-100 List of Most Beautiful Must-See Places on the Planet since its inception, it goes withoug saying.

Read on…