Mocka and off to The Distant Land of Valuble Furs

Trip Start Jan 16, 2009
Trip End May 26, 2009

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Flag of Russian Federation  , Siberia,
Friday, January 30, 2009

Ok lets carry on where we left off, we set off to the Kremlin on our second to last day in Moscow, wandered round there and then Red Square and St Basils Cathedral, we were allowed to take photos on that day as Lenins tomb was closed. When it's open you aren't even allowed to take cameras into Red Square let alone near Lenin, there are guards with guns and metal detectors to make sure of this. It was all good fun, that night was a Friday night and we set off to find a restaurant at about 8pm, unfortunately for us there is absolutely no where with any spaces by that time, after walking around for about 2 hours and trying what felt like a million restaurants, ourselves and the Irish guys, Tom and Declan ended up at the Pizza Hut near our hostel, not such a great success.

The next day we had to go buy copius amounts of noodles and vodka in preperation for the 4 days on the train ahead. Sounds tasty eh, well they really really weren't. The train was not half as classy as the one from St Petersburg to Moscow, we had found proper Soviet trains now. See the photos for proof! The toilets were very dubious, but the worst thing was the heat. The train was roasting, obviously the heating was either on or off with no gradient in between, so aside from right next to the window (where in one corner we had a snow drift coming in through the gap) it was about 30 deegrees, who'd have thought you'd  need strappy tops on the way to Siberia. We had a laugh though, in our cabin there was us 3 and Alisha the aussie so no Russians to contend
with. The train stopped every few hours at various stations where you could get off and buy various food things from the baboushkas on the platform so there was occasionally something other than noodles.

On the Wednesday we rolled into Irkustk where we immediatlely got on a bus and headed for Lake Baikal.
It took about an hour to get from Irkutsk to our hostel by the lake, and the terrifying icy roads don't seem to make anyone slow down too much. Lake Bakail is absolutley beautiful though, apparently last week there was no ice on it at all, but as you can see from the photos it is now ice as far as you can see!

Our hostel was up a valley and was very much like a chalet style, all wooden and swiss looking. We were absolutey starving and wanted something that was definatley not noodles so we had phoned ahead to make sure there was some breakfast (well even though it was 12ish by the time we got there, it was 6am in Moscow time). Breakfast was awesome, cheese and bread and omlette and blini with jam, and tea and coffee (with the sugar already added (danger)).

We went for a walk with Ted (not his real name, but as close as we could get) the Honcho up to a view point. It was up this near vertical track with thigh high snow in places and we didnt just go up to one peak, we went down and up and down to 3 different peaks. It was so so beautiful though with the sunsetting and the snow everywhere, well worth it. The cold air i'm sure did us some good. We went and had a walk on the lake too, very odd, you can see like straight down through the ice to the bottom and feels really unnatural. Didn't see any fish in the lake but there were hundereds of smoked fish on a outdoor (!!!) market just next to the lake.
Tea was just as good as breakfast, mountains of rice and chicken and then this amazing cake, wow. As it was too cold to go outside we sat in and watched a DVD with the honcho in the nice warm and made friends with a cat called Red (except in russian).

The next day the whole group seperately but unanimously decided we didnt fancy an hours walk to a museum about the lake so we went half an hour to a little orthodox church instead. Was very small but pretty full of gold and icons everywhere. There were some Russian women doing some kind of a service with chanting, all v spiritual.

Then to the Huskies!
Emma, Declan and I had a go on the husky sledging and it was amazing, the mad people even let us stand on the back and do the steering. We went for 5k and it can have only taken not even 10 minutes, but it felt like ages and Emma's ears almost fell off in the cold but my ridiculous looking rabbit hat saved mine, my nose wasn't so lucky though!
Really was amazing, would recommend it :)
The dogs were beautiful but Alicia managed to stoke the one unfriendly dog in the place and got a but of a nip on her hand!!!!

That afternoon Emma W and Becca bought some of the fishies of the stall and had a feast! The rest of the group went on a hydrofoil thingy on the lake, I had a little sleep. After 4 days of doing nothing the great outdoors came as quite a shock!

We helped warm ourselves up with some vodka (mixed with diet coke in a very un russian way) and had amazing lamb and mash potato for tea, Emma W's lasted maybe 30seconds, it was spectacular to see!
Unfortunatley at some point during tea, and whilst Lisa was half way through a shower, all the water in the hostel stopped. Just stopped working. And a bit later, all the heaters managed to blow a fuse in half our rooms. So we had no electricity or water!!
The fuse was easily fixed but there was still no water until after breakfast this morning so no showers!

We set off to Irkutsk at about 2 and got here about 3, its now about 4 and the internet is going to run out of money! so i shall upload this and be gone!

Until next time!
-Emma, Emma and Becca
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salix53 on

Chew Chews
Thanks for the pretty picture of a puffer train. Your journey must be fantastic all those train journeys! I am very jealous of you seeing and experiencing so much of the world and even more to come. Love Dad W.

lizjonwill on

Tyhanks for the icy weather
Hi Guys
A postacard would have done. Eastwinds from Siberia here and lots of snow. see
Your trip sounds fantastic, looking forward to the next edition.

clairey55 on

Wow looks snowy! But then again it's pretty snowy here atm...uni's been closed for like a week cos of it! But we made a massive snowman so it's all worth it!

Looks like your having fun drinking vodka ad travelling on a train! Husky sledding looked so much fun! I'm jealous! The pictures look awesome!

Claire xxx

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