I had just turned 19 the day before I flew to Moscow. I didn't know what I was getting into exactly, but I knew I wanted to go to Siberia.
It was early 2002 and I'd spent a year saving my money for a ticket. Before I left for Russia, many people had asked me why I wanted to go, and I honestly never had a great answer. At first I simply felt drawn there and wanted an adventure – something to write home about.
Russia was always the home of the 'bad guys' in movies, it was the home of the communist revolution, the death of the Romanovs, Lenin, Stalin, Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin, Siberia. If anything, I had too many reasons to want to go.
An Expedition to Siberia
The reason I settled on was a visit to the epicentre of the infamous Tunguska-Evenkia meteor impact site from 1908. At first it was a bit of a whim but, as the planning became more serious, there was a lot I needed to figure out and plan for.
Meeting in Russia
First thing first, we needed to get permission from the regional government before we could go there. So after arriving in Moscow, we had to meet with the government officials of the Tunguska-Evenkia region in their offices. They were actually surprised to see a couple of young travellers and not scientists standing in front of them.
After we had explained we were simply a couple adventure seekers looking to get to the epicentre, they figured we would probably die out there and forced us to take two guides with us. They also wanted us to pay upfront for all of the costs that were going to be incurred.
So we met our guides and went to the bank down the street. It definitely had the smell of a scam, but we didn't have much of a choice. I figured I'd said goodbye to my money for the last time and handed over about $2,000 USD in cash.
They told us they needed time to prepare, and for us to meet them in the city of Krasnoyarsk in a month – about 4,000 km to the East.
We soon boarded the train in Moscow and started East upon the famous Trans-Siberian line. One of the most wonderful times I've ever spend on a train in my life. Thousands of kilometres of towns, forests, cities, and mountains clicking by.
We spent the next month exploring western Russia, visiting random villages, travelling along the railway, and spending a few days in the Altai mountains along the China/Russia border.
Meeting in Krasnoyarsk
Eventually the time had come. Our train pulled into the Krasnoyarsk station; the moment of truth. And all I could think about now was if our meeting we'd done in Moscow was actually going to turn into this crazy adventure in Siberia.
I will continue the story of my journey into Siberia in Part II – which will only be available for members of Travel Fodder. So be sure to subscribe and join the conversation.