Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exiled to the Siberian Salt Mines

Just when I thought it was safe to write in post-Soviet Russia, I managed to displease a higher power, and last week found myself sent to Siberia to investigate a salt mine.

No, I'm not kidding.

So a group of us took a LONG journey from Moscow to find ourselves in a bastion of 1970's-era fashion, food, nightlife, and more importantly- safety equipment.

After a fitful night at the best hotel in town, we met to plunge 400m underground to the depths of a mine, equipped with the USSR's finest CO2 rebreathers ("for those occasional times we need them").

We were picked up by a jeep, and following about a 5km trip through a labyrinthine set of tunnels, the occasional wrong turn, and some enlightened discussions about how salt mines are sometimes prone to flooding, we arrived at the mine face. Taking a few quick photos, & commenting on the lack or air filters, we were informed about how the air in the mine is actually good for those who work there and had been known to cure asthma. Comforted in this knowledge and with a potential new use for the mine as a retro health spa, we headed back to the surface, and back to civilisation...

Photos are here.