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Russia

OK, quick pop quiz. What's the biggest forest in the world? The Amazon? What about Indonesia or Central Africa? Not even close. The Taiga is by far the biggest, and while it's not as critical to the atmosphere as the fast growing and diverse Amazon and other tropical forest, it is absolutely massive covering an area the size of India. In my ignorance, I had expected Siberia to be rolling grasslands - I wasn't expecting dense, ongoing woodlands punctuated by the occasional city and many small villages of dachas, or Russians' weekend country retreats. I also wasn't expecting Siberia to look so idyllic. In early summer it looks absolutely beautiful, untouched and peaceful - the sort of place you would have wanted to be sent to get away from Stalin and his fellow mass-murderers. Human impact, even along the railway, which is almost the only inhabited part of Siberia, is tiny. After the over population and massive natural destruction in so many parts of Asia it was wonderful to see.

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Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and holder of a fifth of all unfrozen fresh water. You can drive across it for about half the year.

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Part of the Taiga forest whizzing past – it went on and on and on and on for days. Almost completely untouched!

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Many Russians have dachas that they go to on the weekend and tend small gardens.

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Four days later and we finally arrived in Moscow. I could have quite happily continued on the train for another week. It was brilliant!