A Letter From the Altai Republic

Altai Pilgrim

This article was published in The Calvert Journal (online journal on contemporary Russian culture). The longer version (before being chopped for Calvert) is published here.

A Letter From the Altai Republic

“Gate to Shambhala”…“Pearl of Asia”…“Siberia’s Switzerland”…“The Golden Mountains”… “Cradle of Civilizations”. The list of epithets to Altai is endless, exaltory, eclectic and impressive for a place few have ever heard of.

I first travelled to Altai as a tourist on a trip advertised online as a sacred journey. We were promised shamans and Shambhala but it was the earth and water that motivated my subsequent move to Altai. I was often asked by Russian friends in Novosibirsk, what exactly had driven me to leave the comforts of Europe for an old wooden house in a remote Altai village where I would chop wood, hack ice, lob cow pat and steal coal, all the while contemplating the nature of enlightenment…

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