A Travellerspoint blog

There’s No Answer for That…

sunny 1 °C

As we near the end of the Russian leg of our trip we realize that there are things that puzzle us here:
To obtain a Russian visa it is necessary to provide an invitation from all of the hotels you will stay at – obviously a problem. Or you can simply pay $20 to someone in cyberspace and receive a completely bogus, but perfectly acceptable, invitation by email.
If your bags are missing on arrival don’t list the actual contents – copy the list that the customs officer gives you because she can understand that.
Russians drive on the right side of the road – the same as Canada – so why are two-thirds of all cars in Eastern Siberia right-hand drive models – the same as England?
Russian women have nice hairdos and clean clothes. But where are all the hairdressers and dry-cleaners? We have seen neither – though they must be there.

Here are some questions from blog readers that we can answer:
Catherine wondered if we had already left Lake Baikal before she pointed out that we could have swum there – Yes we had.
Jean asked where all the horrible places are today – try Guantanamo Bay Jean.
Tony was very interested in Olga’s woolly undies – but he is from Yorkshire!
Tom was curious about the washrooms on the Trans-Siberian. Believe it or not they are very smart aircraft type washrooms though much larger – and, just like every washroom we’ve become acquainted with in Russia, spotlessly clean. Here’s a look at the loo as we take our last train in Russia – from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude, skirting the southern end of Lake Baikal...
This leg is by far the most scenic of our trip so far, with great views of the lake…
And ranges of snow covered mountains…
This is the playground of Siberia. Communities of small dachas line the lakeshore and riversides and millions flock here to escape the heat in the short Siberian summers when temperatures climb to 40c in the cities. In winter the frigid alpine slopes attract skiers and hunters...
Ulan-Ude in southeastern Siberia marks the end of the line on our Russian adventure. Now we will join the Trans-Mongolian and begin our trek back through the seasons. From the Siberian snows we will head south across the Gobi desert into a Mongolian autumn and keep going until we hit summer on the other side of the equator. But first a quick look at the most important monument in Ulan-Ude…
No – we haven’t shrunk. Uncle Len really has the biggest big head in the world – a whopping 42 tons of cast bronze. But, despite Lenin’s gigantic presence here, Ulan-Ude isn’t really Russian; it’s the capital of the Buryat republic, the ancestral home of the northernmost tribe of Mongols, and it is a world away from all the other cities we’ve visited. Don’t tell the Buryats, but the rest of the country has left them behind. Although this is the nearest we will get to North America on this trip, the West hasn’t made it this far. If you want to catch a glimpse of Soviet Russia before McDonald’s turns it all into a junk food heaven then Ulan-Ude is the place for you. But it isn’t pretty. This is a city of Soviet style apartment blocks, with giant smokestacks polluting the air...
The shops are full of cheap Chinese goods and the streets teem with Asian faces.
Fortunately, we like Asian food and we were happy to find this little Vietnamese restaurant…
… but we were the only customers eating there.


Posted by Hawkson 16:51 Archived in Russia

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I can see where you could be happy in there for hours in the time zone waltz! Gabriola looking almost as cold today as Ulan-ude. Smoke stacks are classic. Bet the Hble (where is the inverted e when you need one.) were very tasty! Might be world's most northerly Vietnamese restaurant. Sheila always look great in that red coat, but never more than with Lenin. Stay warm.

by Tom

Sheila and Jim I am looking out of the window at snow covered mountains in Vancouver. We have had hail and cold weather. Enjoy the warm spots as they come. Home may be very cold. Beautiful country.

by Sue Fitzwilson

I have really enjoyed following your journey up to now. The frequency of posts allowed me to stay connected, but there may be some gaps now, depending on where the next Wifi will be. Safe journey wherever you go.

by Janet

Met a couple from our past in the supermarket car park, he is now an author and said he would love to holiday in Russia. From your first class account of your adventures he is in for a real treat. Have a good trip to China

by David Henderson

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