Falling in the deepest lake in the world!
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
99Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
I slept poorly the first night again but happily slept in till the afternoon, eventually getting up to make myself a coffee and munch on a banana for breakfast! I tend to drink my tea or coffee looking out the window, watching Siberia fly by as the train motors east. There was one stop no the first night where we had 4 hours to kill. The carriage became very warm so I ventured out and bought a couple of boiled eggs and some sausage thing. When I leave the shop, the train has gone and only one carriage remains! Luckily, that was my carriage, left on its own for another 3 hours. What would I do if I missed my train?
We arrived into Irkutsk very early. I was asked by the hostel to kill two hours at a cafe in the station so I did. Walking over the bridge to the city was a joy each time. The sun takes longer to rise in Siberia, so the mornings are very misty. The hostel messed up my booking so I had to sleep in a homestay next door that housed the largest ginger cat I've ever seen! It was like a mini lion walking around, he kept flopping over for a tickle but I worried my hand may not be returned. Of course, when I went for a morning nap, lion and the other cat both joined me. I'm sorry, but I forgot to take a picture.
I tried to watch the rugby but no one in Russia was showing it. I tried to book an ongoing train to Ulaan Bataar but after finally finding the correct ticket area (after being pointed in the wrong direction 7 times) they would only sell me 2nd class. I wasn't convinced so I walked off.
The following day, I got my ticket. There is only kupe (2nd class) over the Russia-Mongolia border. There were other ways but I wanted to stick to the train. I tried to grab a bus to Lake Baikal but was in the wrong area, so I walked back over the bridge to the hostel.
Irkutsk is similar to Tomsk. A built up Siberian city. The days were warm, the people of the city dressed like smart Europeans and many buildings looked and felt modern. There were old wooden housing near the bus station and various statues of Lenin. Again, it did not feel like Siberia one bit! But I am happy to be here.
I met a girl from the USA and we were going to venture to Lake Baikal together but I ended up not going as the bus was leaving too late. I ended up at my hostel, eating noodles and chatting away to Canadians, Frenchies, and a guy called Bob from Mongolia. Some guys from Lebanon invited us out for drinks and I walked us to a Beatles bar I had spotted earlier. Expensive beer and fun chat ensued, but you should know, Bob, for some reason, had his hand on my knee in the picture?? The bar was also offering body shots, so we wondered who the shots were to be drunk off? For 8 quid, no one bothered to find out. We grabbed some beers from a supermarket and continued to socialise back at the hostel. A fun night.
Next day, I was due to leave in the evening for Ulaan Bataar, so I went to Lake Baikal for the day. Officially, it's the deepest lake in the world. So I can add that to the highest lake in the world that I've seen this year. The ride was only an hour by bus and the lake was a true blue when I arrived. The sun was out, the sky was clear and I couldn't believe how lucky I was to be in Siberia and big be wearing any thermals.
I read/heard about a viewing point so I set off in that direction. I was only spending the day here, due to funds and wanting to get to China ASAP. After walking a few kms past beautiful houses, small banks of sand and little bridges, I found the viewing platform. I stayed there for an hour, watching, reflecting and enjoying the sun. It was on my way back to the bus, that I encountered some problems.
Five minutes after leaving the platform, I am walking with the lake to my right and the road to my left. I spot some rocks in the lake that might make a good picture. I jump down to the shore next to the rocks and take a picture. I have turned now, so the road is to the right and the lake the left. The picture didn't turn out so well, so I edged forward, rested my left leg on a log and slipped and completely lost my balance. Slipping, I landed on my back in the water. I can only assume my bag took the force of the fall as I neither hurt my back or banged my head. My first and only thought....... Camera was in my right hand, itouch is still playing music and is in my left jacket pocket!! I jumped up, feet now under the water, and spot my camera battery by itself? That's weird? I climb back onto the shore and pull out my itouch, it's dry!!!! Yes!!! I place it on the bank. Drying the battery to the camera, I place that carefully down, remove my backpack and turn to look for my camera, in the water. It had to be in the water, where else could it be? I was gutted, another damaged camera but I was desperate for the camera card. I've taken more pictures than I have uploaded on my blog. Minutes went by, I just couldn't see it. Could it have floated away? Surely it would have sunk? Then, in the corner of my eye, I spot my camera lodged on the shoreline next to the road, battery casing wide open. In my slip, I must have inadvertently thrown my camera. Luckily I was facing the way I was!
Ok possessions are fine, but my clothes and shoes are soaked! I strip to my tshirt and underwear, find some old sign to hang my clothes on and point my butt in the direction of the sun! I'm sorry to all the people that walked by me, and cars that slowed down when driving by me! My legs looked very white! My boxers had a hole! My tshirt dripping wet but I couldn't take that off as well! I stand there for an hour, trying to avoid little insects biting my naked feet! What a plonker! I can't believe I fell in! The relief of not damaging both my itouch and camera really didn't settle in!
After 90 minutes, I got dressed, and slopped over to the bus station. Sitting with a wet bum, I get back to Irkutsk and my hostel. I jump straight into the shower and warm up my feet and bum! Poor wet bum!
Changing my clothes when I get out, I meet a British girl called Carly and we natter away for a couple of hours, she really enjoyed my story of falling in. We ended up walking to the train together as she was off to Ulan Ude. There were a few others from my hostel when we got to the station and finally, I boarded the fancy 2nd class carriage. There was no pushing and shoving, I gracefully walked on, dropped my bags, and with 4 beds in my room, all were for me! Sweet!
Next stop, Ulaan Bataar.