How Robinzon Crusoe came round the Baikal

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The legendary Englishman, a well-known character of D. Defoe, Robinzon Crusoe was one of the first visitors in Siberia and the Pribaikal area, but he did not see the lake. After his adventures on the island he goes to the long-term travel in different countries of North and South America, Philippine Islands and Asia. He travelled half the world and visited his Island, he lost his faithful Friday in a fight; he was now a merchant, then a pirate. In China he made a caravan and decided to cross Russia and embark in Arkhangelsk. Robinzon passed through Argunsk and Nerchinsk places, reaches Yaravena (most likely that now it is the area of Yeravninsky lakes), and then stopped in Udinsk (so the small town Verkhneudinsk was called, now Ulan-Ude), where the Governor offered him and his caravan an escort of 50 persons to guard them from the Tatars. We know very little about his further way to the West, we only know that he and his companions passed the Tungus regoin inhabited by «heathens and barbarians», and at last found himself in Yeniseisk. Thus, in Defoe's descriptions the Baikal and Irkutsk don’t even get a mention; it is likely that Englishmen knew very little about geography of Siberia at that time. It is necessary to remind the readers that the novel «Robinzon Crusoe» appeared in 1719.

As if eliminating this gap in knowledge of his great fellow countryman, another Englishmen traveler John Bell Antermonsky made one of the first and a very detailed description of the Baikal-Angarsk area and its inhabitants that was based on his own impressions. In 1719 he took part in the embassy mission of the captain Lev Vasilyevich Izmaylov in China. In his diaries he wrote about the life of Tungus, describing them with sympathy and interest: «They are rather polite and compliant, and like to smoke tobacco and drink vodka. Close to their tents the Tungus keep herds of deer, which is all their wealth».

On his way along the Angara Bell describes another tribe of Siberia natives, which the Russians named Brotherly, while they called themself the Buryats. «Now they make a large people and live to the east and to the south of Lake Baikal; basically the Buryats are considered to be very fair and sincere …They are sturdy and active people».

In his story about the Baikal Bell sounds enthusiastic, but at the same time a bit timid. «I can't express the horror of a person who comes here for the first time caused by the sight of such amazing scenes of nature in the places like this, I believe, there are no places like this in the whole world. Navigators and sailors treat it with great respect, and name it the Sacred Sea, and the mountains surrounding it the sacred mountains; and they are very dissatisfied with anyone who speaks about it with disrespect or call it a lake». Bell marks the presence of various breeds of fish in the Baikal, and he shortly describes the Baikal seal and peculiarities of their fishing; he also makes a guess about their origin: «I think that seals and fish first came to the Baikal from the Northern ocean when the passage between them was still open, although the distance was very great». The English traveller moved on to the other coast of the Baikal, and there he described rich crops of wheat, oats, buckwheat and peas, which the Russian inhabitants picked in the valley of River Selenga. He was surprised by the springing up tradition of cultivating fruit trees.

In 1848 and 1854 the Englishman T.U.Atkinson and his wife also came to Siberia. He spent many years here, and in 1858 in New-York he published the book about his travelling that was called «Eastern and Western Siberia. The Story about Seven-Year Research and Adventures in Siberia, Mongolia, Kirghiz Steppes, Chinese Tatar and a Part of Central Asia». Atkinson was an artist, and when in Siberia, he made some hundred watercolor skatches, admiring its beauty and especially the beauty of the Baikal. In 1863 Atkinson’s wife who accompanied her husband on his travel, published in London the book «Memoirs about the Tatar Steppes and their Inhabitants», in which there were a lot of interesting sketches about some features of the Siberian nature, about the Russian old residents and exiled, and about native peoples.

The contemporary sample of Englishmen participation in the improvement of ecological situation on the Baikal is the SEPS project of the British Council «The Baikal Ecoplan», implement together with the Irkutsk regional public organization «Association of the Baikal Ecological System», the members of which are scientists and teachers of universities and schools.

The European partner of the project is the Commission on forest exploitation of Great Britain which has a long-term experience in protection and restoration of woods, nature protection and landscape designing, zones of rest planning, working out and introduction in practice of ecology and nature protection educational materials.

The project is aimed at accomplishinf the following tasks:

• the choice and monitoring of nature protection sponsored territory on the coastal line of the Baikal on the basis of technology of physical planning;

• the accomplishment of the rest zone at the lake coast;

• the creation and implementation of methodical nature protection educational materials at the local school and in the ecological camp;

• the assistance to the development of cultural skills and traditions of tourists and locals, oriented to the protection of the Baikal.

The point of the project is not only the involving of the local population in the process of physical planning of the Baikal settlement Listvyanka, but also the ecological and nature protection education, nature protection culture of behavior education system for local people to make them feel their responsibility for the unique treasure, the Baikal, which belongs to them. These ideas and plans’ realization on one stage led to the release of published version of methodical materials for ecological education during the vacation time entitled «Baikal Lessons» (see 30). This child, undoubtedly, is worth taking into consideration, as it represents a good sample of real work on the ecological conditions of the Baikal improvement.

The possibility of Great Britain experience in this field adoption can be illustrated by another example of the British national park “Peak District”. In all park guide-books and publicity editions there is the «Code for Visitors» with 10 commandments. The commandments are very precise and do not need any commentaries: protect the park from fire, close all gates, control dogs, in the farm territory walk only along paths, do not break fences, don`t throw gabbage around, take care of water supply sources, protect wild animals, wild plants and trees; be careful on your way, respect lifestyle of rural area. In the “Code” the duality of protection tasks is embodied; on the one hand, it is the protection of nature, landscape, and resting place, on the other hand, it is the protection of property right on the ground as a means of agricultural production. The solecism of behavior in the national park is punished according to the English law by the fine of Ј5.

I should make a special emphasis on speaking about one tourist “innovation” which appeared in Great Britain. I am referring to a widespread and unique national institute. On thousands of houses in Britain you can see the sign “Bed and Breakfast”. The sign means that every wayfarer who is in need of lodging for the night can enter this place. And he will feel at home there. In the last decade of the 20th century in Great Britain, not to mention Scotland and Wales, they recorded 14 thousand B&Bs, three thousand of them are locate in the country side. But these official datas do not show the real situation. Actually there are much more families who in holiday seasons rent a room in their house to tourists and breakfast them. In a word you can find the sign even in the most remote and at the same time the most picturesque places of the country. Tourists and businessmen like to stay in such hotels: they are noticeably cheaper and there one can find a true, nonofficial hospitality.

In the Baikal region the form of B&Bs began to appear in the middle of the 90s of the 20th century. And now the position of it is neither good nor bad. The reasons for it are well-known: locals do not possess the necessary skills, do not speak foreign languages and a low level of cultural education. But what is beyond doubt is that like in Great Britain for many «picturesque remote places» of the Pribaikal territory this form is a very good prospect in economic, social and cultural aspects.

The development of tourist-recreation zones in the Pribaikal region undoubtedly will stimulate many inhabitants of Great Britain to visit these severe and at the same time picturesque places, admire there beauty and experience some adventures. In March of 2009 this was done by the professional traveler Konrad Dickenson and his three companions. They travelled through Germany, and made expeditions in the South and North poles. First the travelers intended to cross the Baikal with a help of kites, which allows using the wind force to get high-speed while skiing. Even in Great Britain Dickenson got to know that the Buryats had 30 different names of winds, and he hoped that they would be helpful in their kite expedition along the Baikal. But it was not that easy. The Englishmen were not lucky with winds and had to pass almost 700 km over the ice either on foot, skates or skis. At that they were carrying heavy sledges. They did not enter settlements during 21 days; however they bore the hardships with dignity. «We expected that after the North Pole expedition the Baikal journey would be a pleasant walk for us. We were wrong. The Baikal is an ideal polygon to get ready for polar expeditions», – said K. Dickenson at the end of his journey.

See also

Literature

  1. A.D. Karnyshev "The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal"© BSU Publishing House, 2011

Выходные данные материала:

Жанр материала: English | Автор(ы): Karnyshev A.D. | Источник(и): The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal. Ulan-Ude. 2012 | Дата публикации оригинала (хрестоматии): 2011 | Дата последней редакции в Иркипедии: 30 марта 2015

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Тематический указатель: Irkipedia English