Umm I think we're missing something??
30.08.2008 - 01.09.2008 25 °C
Off to Russia
We left UlaanBaatar in the evening, and were in a cabin with a Dutch Guy going to Russia to learn Russian and a local girl (complete with pet terrapins). I figured it was a long way to Ulan Ude as we weren't meant to arrive until 9pm at night (although things get a tad confusing now as we aren't on Moscow time but the trains are!!). But we would have been there so much sooner had we not spent 10 hours waiting at borders.
So we woke up stopped somewhere and upon leaving the train we found our long train had shrunk to 2 carriages and no engine overnight.
The customs guys boarded the train, stamped us out of Mongolia and we rolled over the border to Russia, where slightly stricter looking guards came aboard and searched the train (prior to this some of the people in the carriage had been hiding trousers about the cabins), asked us if we had anything banned, what is banned we don't know but we were stamped in fairly fast. However we remained stuck there for several hours. I needed the toilet, but gave up after being directed firstly to the customs hall, then a room where peope were being fined for bringing in too much stuff. But eventually we got going again, and I passed the time talking to a Russian Family in the next cabin while Brenda slept as she has a cold (who ever said you can't get sick by being cold was wrong).
On the train:
The Mongolian train was nice, not was good as the train out of Beijing but comfortable, although there were no barriers to keep me from falling out of my top bunk.
We arrived in Ulan-Ude and were transferred to our host family, a lady who lives right in the centre of town with the softest beds in the world. After the hard table I got in the Ger it was great.
The following morning we were picked up by Andrei who took us on a tour to the home of Buddism in the area. I confess I switched off, but they all seemed enthuastic about it. I think I have just seen too many Buddist temples in the last few weeks.
We had lunch with a local family, where we ate more traditional food and played bones and archery again. This time we also got to dress up too:
We were then dropped off in town with a map and let lose to explore ourselves. But there didn't really seem to be much to see. In the central square is a giant statue of Lenins Head, around town is a statue of a tank, a MIG15 and a woman. All sights seen in about 10 minutes. But there was a talent show in the square so we watched some of that and then it may have become a political rally or a save the enviroment show, but some important ministers gave speeches. We gave up and went home. I have also given up hoping for food I like, I have drunk more milk than ever (with stomach rumbles that go with it) and then last night Brenda made some comment about wouldn't it be funny if it was fish, then we got mashed potato and fish. Brilliant. Although our host is a very healthy cook, so that makes a change from Mongolia.
This morning we went on another tour to another temple. They still seem to be building this one:
Then we drove through some traditional towns, all the houses made of wood and brightly coloured
and then we reached Siberia (although with my lack of russian I could be anywhere)
After driving through Siberia we went to a church
Where the minister had formed a museum full of artifacts collected from the region.
It does't feel like we are in Russian as the majority of the people are of Mongolian descent. Tonight we are off to lake Baikal for 3 days of trekking. Fingers crossed the weather holds.
We have resorted to surfing the net as we have seen the sights are thought we'd look up the town and see if there is anything we have missed, but sadly no.
Right best go as a guy is waiting for the computer.