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Full Circle

Day 13: Kodiak Island to Petropavlovsk

Petropavlovsk, Eastern Russia 
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The volcanoes of Kamchatka.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe Pacific Rim is responding. Australians are coming in to save a steel-mill with debts of 56 million dollars, Canadians are building houses in Yakutsk, South Koreans are financing a business centre in Vladivostok, and the immaculately dressed American sitting next to me is hoping to open a string of luxury salmon-fishing lodges.

'It's unbelievable,' he enthuses, 'some of these rivers haven't been touched for years.'

I'm a little depressed by all this. I have long fostered romantic notions of the vast, uncompromising grimness of Siberia. Now it's beginning to sound like an industrial estate.

Two hours out of Anchorage we cross the date line and, quite effortlessly, teatime on Saturday becomes teatime on Sunday.

A short time later we are over Siberia. A bright, unclouded sun reflects off the burnished surface of the Anodyr River. Every variety of natural feature seems laid out below us. Flat, table-top plateaux, perfectly rounded craters, neat volcanic cones, deep ravines, glacial corries and the silvery ribbons of river courses meandering through wide, purple valleys. As we begin the long descent into Petropavlovsk, the volcanoes grow taller, wider and more perfectly proportioned. I feel as though I have happened upon a great secret. Our stock images of mountain grandeur - Switzerland or the Rockies, the Himalayas or Mount Fuji - are well-worn and familiar, but all this beauty, being Russian, hasn't yet been tapped for the calendars or place-mats of the world.
Petropavlovsk, Eastern Russia 
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Igor and I compare holiday snaps in the helicopter.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 13
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Kodiak - Alaska
  • Book page no: 29

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  • Crossing the International Date Line
  • Day 58 
  • Around the World in 80 Days