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Introducing Yakutsk

For somewhere that's over 1000km from any- where much, Yakutsk comes as a pleasant, and sometimes surreal, surprise. Over half of its inhabitants are Yakut - and a good portion of the remainder are Chinese immigrants - so it feels (despite the Lenin statue) less Russian than many places across the Far East. Most of its buildings stand on stilts above a cruel permafrost that never thaws. It's most isolated when the weather's misbehaving - as winter frozen-river highways thaw, and earth turns into an unnavigable slop.

People are particularly friendly in Yakutsk. Visitors often find themselves quickly connected with the local scene.