Welcome to Koshlandia, Siberia’s Whimsical Land of Cats

At first first sight, Alla Lebedeva farm doesn’t seem very different fro all the other in Prigorodny, a small village in western Siberia. But then you notice one of her fluffy Siberian cats, and then another, and another and you being to realize why this place is popularly known as Koshlandia, or ‘land of cats’.

59-year-old Alla and her husband Sergey got their first cat in 2003, a beautiful Siberian feline called Babushka. A year later, she gave birth to five kittens and before long cats pretty much took over the whole farm. When people ask how many cats live in Koshlandia, Alla simply says ‘a million, maybe more’. Some sleep in the henhouse, some in the shed, others are chilling on the fence around the farm or on the roof of the farmhouse. They’re pretty much everywhere, and that’s just how Alla and Sergey like it. In fact, they are so proud of their cat paradise that they always take photos of the cats and post them on social media.

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Russian Millionaire Announces Real-Life Hunger Games TV Show Where Everything Is Allowed

Game2:Winter is an upcoming reality TV show where 30 participants will compete against themselves and the dangers of the Siberian wilderness – including brown bears and extreme temperatures – for a prize of $1.7 million. But the most shocking thing about this show is that, just like in the Hunger Games, “everything is allowed, fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.”

News about this seemingly brutal reality show first broke out about a month ago, but reports were coming mostly from obscure news outlets and the whole idea seemed so extreme that I was pretty sure it was nothing more than a prank. Then I read that contestants had to survive until April 1st, 2018 – April Fools’ Day – and I was convinced it was fake. But the news never really went away, and now the Siberian Times newspaper announced that this Russian real-life version of the Hunger Games is actually happening, and it promises to be just as ruthless.

Ever since watching the hit TV series ‘Lost’, 35-year-old Yevgeny Pyatkovsky, a millionaire from Novosibirsk, Russia, had been wanting to create a reality show about surviving in the Siberian taiga, with little, to no help from the outside world. Now, thanks to technological advancements in surveillance equipment and online streaming, he is ready to make his idea a reality.

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The Mysterious Giant Craters of Siberia

Something bizarre is happening to Siberia and it’s got experts all over the world worried. It seems that the vast Russian province is simply cleaving into unexplained giant craters that are so huge they can be viewed from outer space!

It all started in 2013, when helicopter pilots spotted a mysterious hole in the permafrost while flying over the Yamal region in northern Russia. A few days later, reindeer herders spotted another hole, and a third crater was found not long after. In February this year four new ‘giant’ craters were found, surrounded by dozens of ‘baby’ funnels, some of which had turned into lakes. And a leading geological expert predicted that about 30 more craters are waiting to be discovered.

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This Canned Air from “Yeti’s Cave” Will Apparently Make You an Animal in Bed

If the claims of a group of Siberian entrepreneurs are to be believed, their new product might just give Viagra a run for its money. They aren’t selling another expensive pill, just a can of fresh air!

According to Vladimir Makuta, head of the local Tashtagol district, air from Azasskaya Cave and its surrounding area, which is where the fabled Yeti (a.k.a Bigfoot) was supposedly sighted on more than one occasion, is crystal-clear, full of goodness, and has a healing effect. It can apparently help strengthen immunity and positively impact mental state. But most importantly, it is said to works wonders for people who want to perform better in bed.


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Russian Streets Turns into Giant Ice Blocks after Water Pipes Burst During Storm

A water main burst during an ice cold storm in the small Siberian town of Dudinka, causing the streets to promptly freeze into solid blocks of ice. The water that had burst out of several broken pipes flooded the streets, and subsequently froze as temperatures dropped to -40C during the night. When residents emerged from their homes after the storm was over, they found their town had completely frozen over.

Although several homes had no water or electricity during and immediately after the storm, many of the 22,000 Dudinka residents still had access to the internet, so they were able to share shocking images of their frozen streets on social media. Some of the photos show vehicles encased in four-foot thick ice, with only the tops visible, while others show massive icicles clinging to building exteriors.

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Family Exiles Misbehaving Teenage Daughter to Siberia

While most parents punish kids by sending them to their room, Sofia Petrova’s mother went a little further than that – she exiled her misbehaving daughter to another country. The 18-year-old hasn’t been home in three years; her mother hasn’t permitted her to return in spite of repeated apologies and pleas.

So how does a parent actually convince a 15-year-old high school freshman to board a plane to Siberia? Well, it turns out that Sofia was tricked. Her mother and stepfather told her that they were sending her on a three-week vacation to visit her biological father for the first time. But when Sofia reached Novosibirsk city, she realised the chilling truth – there was no return ticket.

That’s when her mother and stepfather informed her that she was actually being ‘punished’ for her typical teenager behavior – flunking school, running away from home and stealing money. She was to remain in Siberia with her father until she learned to change her ways. Sofia was pretty much helpless; although she grew up in the US, she was born in Siberia and had a Russian passport. So she needed her mother’s consent to return.


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Siberia’s Real-Life Swan Lake Teeming with Life in the Dead of Winter

Svetloe Lake, located near Urozhainoe village in Siberia, is better known to locals as the Swan Lake. Come February, the lake is usually teeming with activity – beautiful swans arrive in hundreds and make this place their winter home, which is surprising because swans generally prefer to fly further south where the climate isn’t so harsh.

What makes Svetloe Lake so special that swans willingly flock at it in the dead of winter? Well, for starters, it is fed by many warm springs so the temperature of the water is always above zero – even when the surrounding air drops to minus 40C. The lake’s waters are warm in comparison, at 5C to 6C, making it the perfect hang-out place for the beautiful birds. The swans began to appear at the lake way back in 1967. Only about 15 birds would make an appearance then, but the numbers have steadily increased to over 350 today and still continue to rise.


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The Baikal Ice Marathon – The Ultimate Winter Endurance Race

The Baikal Ice Marathon is one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Over the years, the one-of-a-kind event has seen participants from over 50 countries. These are athletes with a heart of steel – they race across a 42 kilometer course across the completely frozen surface of Baikal, the oldest and deepest freshwater lake on Earth. Every year, the Baikal Ice Marathon is held for a noble cause – the Preservation of Clean Water. This year its 10th edition took place on March 1.

Although the terrain for the marathon is predominantly flat, it is still considered to be one of the world’s 10 most challenging competitions because of the freezing Siberian weather. The cold northern winds and harsh, unpredictable climate is, in fact, the biggest challenge faced by runners. In past marathons conditions have varied in severity – from high winds and biting cold, to a sunny sky with almost no chills. The lake’s surface is another problem; at times it can be hard and uneven, covered in small hills of ice rubble. Geometric springs and seismic activity beneath the ice may weaken it to form holes.


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How Bad Do You Have to Go? Extreme Toilet Perched on a Cliff in Siberia

The world’s most extreme toilet is located in Siberia, 2,600m (over 8,500 feet) above sea level. It’s not just the height that makes it scary; the toilet is perched rather precariously on the edge of a cliff. I think it looks like it might fall right off if a very heavy person used it.

What’s this lonely lavatory doing up there all by itself, you ask? Well, it’s meant to serve just five people – employees at the remote weather station at Kara-Tyurek.

Kara-Tyurek, which means ‘Black Heart’ in the local language, lies in the Russian Altai Mountains. Its weather station has been operational since 1939, and the five people working there have just the one toilet to use.


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This Is How They Harden Kindergarten Children in Siberia

The kids at the No. 317 kindergarten in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia are making themselves immune to flu viruses and winter colds by walking outside naked at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius and pouring buckets of freezing cold water over their bodies.

Ever since photos and videos of the extreme hardening process were exposed in the media, the Siberian kindergarten has come under fire from parents worried about the children’s well-being. But caretakers like Margarita Filimonova insist the practice is totally safe, as the children are only allowed to go outside in the freezing weather after three years of slow training and medical testing. It might seem extreme, but the staff insist the practice makes the children fitter and improves their health significantly. Kindergarten No. 317 has been hardening its children for the last 13 years, and some of the kids who went here went on to become Olympic champions in various sports. It’s the only institution of its kind in the region which uses this kind of extreme exercises.

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Siberian Doctors Use Sticks to Literally Beat Drug Addiction

There’s a new way to beat your addiction, but it hurts, a lot. Psychologists at a Siberian drug clinic are using corporal punishment to help drug, alcohol and even sex addicts get their lives back. The bizarre treatment involves lashing patients’ buttocks with sticks and canes.

“We cane the patients on the buttocks with a clear and definite medical purpose – it is not some warped sado-masochistic activity,” Professor Marina Chukhrova told The Siberian Times. Apparently, there are some sound scientific principles behind these beatings. Chukhrova and fellow practitioner Dr German Pilipenko claim addicts suffer from a lack of endorphins, known as the “happiness hormones”, and the excruciating pain stimulates their brains to release endorphins into the body, making them feel better about themselves without having to use any other stimulants. “The caning counteracts a lack of enthusiasm for life which is often behind addictions, suicidal tendencies and psychosomatic disorders,” Pilipenko says. He admits their technique gets a lot of skepticism from fellow doctors, but insists the pain acts as an injection against stress. Read More »

Chara Sands – The Miniature Desert of Siberia

If I showed you an image of desert sands set up against a background of snow-capped mountain peaks, your first word would probably be ‘Photoshoped’. That’s what I thought too, but such a place really does exist and it’s called Chara Sands.

There is really no end to nature’s mysteries and Chara Sands, in Siberia, is just one of them. Located in the Trans-Baikal, about  25 miles from the Kodar Glaciers and right next to the mountains, ice fields and blue lakes, the bright and yellow sand dune is hard to miss. At 10 km long and 5 km wide, the dunes are of varying heights. Some of the tallest ones are 15 to 30 meters high. Given the large volume of the loose and shifting sands, the place actually looks like a desert, although it is not. Spotting a desert-like terrain in the tundra region is nothing short of a miracle and a well-recognized one around the world. According to the Russian Geographical Society, “The contrasts seem impossible: as if an incredible open-air museum was set up, displaying natural curiosities of the north and the south next to each other.” They couldn’t have put it better.

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