Travel: Beam me down, Scotty

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The Independent Travel
This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are:

52 32' N 102 35' E

FIRST REACTION

On the horizon, you see piles of translucent rubble, glowing blue.

COUNTRY AND REGION

Welcome to Irkutskaya Oblast, a Russian state on the southern edge of the Central Siberian Plateau.

NATURE OF THE TERRAIN

You have landed on a vast expanse of snow-covered upland. In the distance is the broken and buckled surface of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake and repository to a fifth of the world's fresh water.

ALTITUDE

About 600 metres.

NEAREST SETTLEMENT

The small wood-built village of Dmitriyevsky is just 25km to the southeast. Do not expect to find many sober people here.

POSSIBLE HAZARDS

Unless you were dressed in your winter snow-suit when you landed, freezing to death is probable.

USEFUL LANGUAGES

Not necessarily Russian. This area is peopled by indigenous people of the steppe and a grasp of either Mongolian or Tungusic dialects would not go amiss.

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

Boris Yeltsin wouldn't be seen in these parts even if you paid him.

LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS

Temperatures in Irkutsk can fall as low as -40 C.

REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND

Check out the local people who bore holes in the ice for fishing. To get out of the cold, make for the museums of Irkutsk. Entrepreneurial types might seek their fortune in diamond and gold mining. Or wait until the ice melts and go boating on the lake.

GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE

Dmitriyevsky is just 25km to the southeast, if you can make it through the blizzards. From there you are only about 70km from the Trans-Siberian railway. In Irkutsk you can pick up trains to Moscow or Peking.

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