Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autumn in Siberia (Part 1)

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia was the venue for the Hepatitis C and Co-infections conference which I attended together with two other gastroenterologists from Cebu, Dr. Arlene Kuan and Dr. Jenny Limquiaco. While reviewing the world map (which I always do before travelling), I can see that China was below Mongolia while Russia was above it. “I’d love a side trip to the Asian side of Russia”, I told my wife.  The city of Ulan-Ude, one of Russian Siberia’s major cities was just an hour and 15 minutes by plane from Mongolia. Siberia conjures images of a perpetually cold and dreary place where prisoners and outcasts were exiled like in the movie Gulag, a Russian forced labor camp, which I have watched a few times during my childhood. This movie has somehow imprinted this scene in my mind. Is this the kind place I would want go?

Tick encephalitis, Lyme disease, Hepatitis A were some of the diseases one might acquire while traveling to Siberia, I am warned by The Lonely Planet guidebook. As a doctor, this made me quite apprehensive about going there. But the love of traveling, especially the off beaten track, and my penchant for learning about remote people and their culture somehow compelled me to push through.  For me, the journey was more important than the destination and I realized that this was a once in a lifetime trip.  For full article as published on Sunstar, Cebu click here, Autumn in Siberia.