Friday, September 01, 2006

Part V - Just a quick one - Siberia

Hey folks,

This will be just a quickie as we are soon leaving for Mongolia. We've spent the past few days in Siberia (I know, I know, how crazy is that?). We started out at a quaint little fishing village beside Lake Baikal called Listvyanka. Total population 2500.

There wasn't much to do and it was kinda cold as hell but it was a great way to relax. The Lake itself is also kinda fascinating. It is the deepest lake in the world and one of the major sources of fresh water in the world.

We had a cool, old, kitschy apartment to ourselves and we spent our time walking up and down the main street (as there was no public transportation and the town was about 3 km from where we were staying).

We arrived yesterday morning in Irkutsk. The guide book called this the "Paris of Siberia". We're not so sure about that one. The population is about 600,00 and it is a kinda neat city. Especially interesting if you consider that virtually everything had to be brought in by rail in terms of its construction. It is literally in the middle of nowhere yet people here are thriving and seem pretty happy. We are actually enjoying this city much more than we had thought. We arrived on the first day of school and were treated to a great many students, old and young, all dressed up walking the streets of Irkutsk. It made for a nice way to see the city.

We are leaving in less than an hour for our train to Mongolia but not before another trip to a Banya (we LOVE Russian baths...brilliant). Our train ride will take about 36 hours in total and we're a little nervous about the Passport control however I'm sure that everything will be ok....just long and possibly annoying.