BEAM ME DOWN
Sunday 15 November 1998
Beam me up again, fast.
COUNTRY AND REGION
You have landed in Krasnoyarsk (Red Hill) Territory, Siberia. The territory stretches 2,000 miles, from the border with Mongolia in the south to the Arctic in the north, and used to be the Soviet Union's largest administrative division. The Yenisey river runs right through the territory.
NATURE OF THE TERRAIN
You have landed a little to the east of Yenisey river, just avoiding Siberia's arctic tundra zone, where most of the ground is permanently frozen. Geographically speaking, you have ended up in the taiga - or Boreal forest - zone, encompassing birch, larch, spruce and firs. The region is largely characterised by podzolic (light-coloured and water-saturated) soil.
LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS
Getting very cold and very dark. Temperatures may already be as low as -20. Sorry.
Russian would be useful if you are lucky enough to bump into anyone. Otherwise, any dialect of the Samoyed family of Finno-Ugrian languages would be handy.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
Alexander Lebed was popularly elected governor of the region in April after being dismissed as Kremlin security adviser. Now he is one of the bookies' favourites to be the next president of Russia.
Ust'-Mukduyka is the nearest dot on the map, but don't get your hopes up. It is not a big place.
Slightly more sinister than the obvious winter hazards of frostbite, hypothermia and tripping over things in the dark are the risks posed by radioactive material. An explosion in 1993 near the industrial city of Tomsk cast a vast cloud of radioactive dust over the entire region.
REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND
To make money. The region is one of the richest in Russia for natural resources, and is fourth out of 89 in economic and social terms. It contains, among other things, large deposits of brown coal, copper, gold, manganese, graphite and iron ore, unlimited timber and 60 per cent of the world's production of platinum.
If prospecting for gold, or mining for brown coal sounds too much like hard work, the banya, or local saunas, are reputed to be fun. Popular male-bonding rituals inside the banya include beating each other with birch branches and afterwards, enjoying an invigorating rub-down with honey and coffee grounds.
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE
The Yenisey river is your only highway to freedom: convoys of ships navigate the waterways all year round, resorting to ice-breakers in the nine months of the year when ice covers the northern waterways.
This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are:
67 48' N 88 52' E
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