The Unknown Russia photo exhibition at The Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Brussels is a unique journey to secret corners of Russia together with famous Russian travellers and photographers, Dmitry Chistoprudov and Nikolay Rykov.

Launched in Brussels on December 11th, the exhibition has attracted fans of Russia in spite of the snow showers and traffic that blocked the city though the Russian Centre of Science and Culture was not as difficult to reach as the remote places captured by Dmitry and Nikolay in various locations of the world’s largest country.

Test yourself: can you find a car in this photo?

Photo of Baikal by Dmitry Chistoprudov and Nikolay Rykov

During the opening ceremony, the photographers shared stories about their travels, as well as some unusual tips. Below are the Top 5 Tips to save you time, money and, possibly, life.

1. Never run out of ketchup…

When travelling to see reindeer breeders in the North, prepare yourself for the most unusual food experience: wild game, partridge eggs and fish are on the daily menu. If you fancy sauces and spices, never fear, if last-minute ketchup is available since, after the deer is butchered, his fresh blood is mixed with salt to create a sauce.

2. VIP refuelling service

What if you want to refuel your car? In the village of Ukyr near the Mongolian border one should knocj in person at the fuel station attendant’s home during opening hours, and be prepared to drive her to the station and back. No hard feelings: there are not many places to go in this snowy area, and refuelling is not a very common occurrence.

3. No warm socks – no Northern Lights

In photographic art, being organised and prepared is 90% of the recipe for success, where every small detail counts, says Nikolay. Though this sounds reasonable there can be unforeseen consequences to being unprepared: for example, leaving your warm socks at home may cost you the view of the Northern Lights you had been dreaming of.

4. Where swearing is obligatory!

Swearing is likely to be your personal protection from bears as, seemingly, these creatures believe that such disgraceful behaviour negatively affects the quality of meat. Therefore a man who swears profusely is not worth eating. If you are not yet equipped with a wealth of profanities, there is still an option to buy flares to scare bears away.

5. Getting sick? Visit a shaman.

In the Republic of Tyva shamanism is an official profession. Shamans obtain certificates to become qualified and are permitted to practice in local clinics providing fee-based shamanistic services. Some will make you buy lamb meat, cookies, sweets, and sausages to burn them in flames. The others will use tambourines and drums to beat your problems away.

Stories by: Dmitry Chistoprudov & Nikolay Rykov

Written by: Vera Lipkovskaya