Irkutsk and Lake Baikal

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Thursday, June 9, 2005

Irkutsk may be the biggest city (or town) in Siberia, but that doesn't mean that it's big. Our city tour lasted all of two hours, some of which involved looking inside more Russian Orthadox churches and then the bulk of it was a walk down the Angara River. We did pass a pretty cool statue of Yuri Gagarin on the way though, and for the benefit of all the Americans reading this, he was the first man into space. Yup, the Ruskies beat you guys there, and by the way, he was a cosmanaut not an astronaut. So there was nothing left to do but to visit the pizza place, Mmmm pretty good, if any of you find yourself in Irkutsk some Saturday afternoon then I'd recommend the Pizza place just down the street from the big Indoors market.

We'd planned to visit the "Decemberists Museum" after lunch, which was about some geezers that had been exiled to Siberia sometime long ago (Before you get on my case about not knowing who they are, read on). So our city leader goes away for a little while and then comes back. He passes on the news that the Museum was closed today. Ok, now what? We'd had pretty full on days in St Ps and Moss Cow with our leaders, and left each city with sights unseen. From what I understand these guys are contracted to spend 12 hours a day with us, he'd only made it to 4 hours. He was starting to sweat, looking shifty. He'd shown us his hand and he had no Aces left up his sleeve. At this he pointed in one direction saying "look over there" while he made a hasty retreat in the other direction, He'd pulled that trick before.

I was happy with this, I just wandered around the city on my own going in no particular direction. After St Ps and Moss Cow it was really very relaxing, and actually quite warm (when the sun was out).

Next day we took our bus on the one hour trip to Listvyanka for Lake Baikal, the largest and cleanst fresh water lake in the world, Ooooooohhh. It holds 20% of the worlds fresh water, Woooooohhh. It contains 23,000 Cubic Kilometers of water, My oh my. And it was beautiful, Awwwww.

I'll try and get some piccies on this site soon, that'd be easier than writing a 1000 words. So, in between the rain showers we took a few walks along Listvyanka, not a large town, but it's really long, I think everyone wants a view. The hot smoked Omul (a fish that's unique to the lake) was really tasty, and cheap too,(yep, you can take the guy out of Scotland) at only 50 Roubles (one scottish pound) it was a snip.

We took a boat ride one of the days onto the Lake, just off shore you could easily look down to the bottom. This is due to a unique type of Shrimp that lives there and eats ANYTHING. Apparently if anyone drowns in the Lake they don't bother looking for the body as the shrimps eat it in a matter of days, nice thought huh. A few more meters out and you couldn't see the bottom anymore. No wonder, it was more than 1Km down.

In short, Lake Baikal was amazing, don't pass it on the train without stopping for at least a few days, you hear?

On our last day we headed back to Irkutsk and had another failed attempt at visiting the "Decemberists Museum". "look over there" I heard, and with a puff of smoke he was gone again. He reappeared long enough to get us onto the Train to Mongolia, He was actually a really good city guide and it was a shame to see him go.

So that was Russia (almost), just a matter of a short train trip to their neighbouring country, Mongolia.
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