Blogs from Siberia, Russia, Europe - page 4


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk October 16th 2013

When I was younger, I imagined Siberia as a big, cold place, where nothing grew and no one lived. Of course I was wrong, but that is how I imagined it. As I said in the last blog, I have passed through forests, around lakes, and stayed in two cities, one on either side of the lake. I spent yesterday relaxing and chatting with the people in the hostel. Hostels tend to be friendly places, with backpackers moving through, always moving from one place to another. ones who have been in the city longer offer advice to the noobs. There are lots of people traveling alone, in pairs and in groups, and after a long enough time, people need someone new to talk to. People traveling alone need someone to chat to. People in pairs tend ... read more
A Modern Tapestry
Tourist Information and Tea Museum
LGBT in Russia

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude October 15th 2013

Before we start, all the pictures are of round Baikal, the last photos of Mongolia are on my iPad and it's too much of an effort to dig it out of my bag. Ulaanbaatar train station at 6:30am is a cold and dark place, especially when you have to wait an hour for the bus. I say bus, it was actually quite a nice coach. And, I shouldn't complain about being there so early, I was given a free ride by the man who fixed the light bulb in my hostel room. Mongolia; the land where every car is a taxi, which is fortunate, especially in the wild where transport is hard to come by. My friend at the Ger had to get a lift with a woman when it turned out there was no bus ... read more
On the Train
Still on the Train
Other side of the carriage for a change of scenery

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude October 9th 2013

Ich starte meine Reise in Moskau, Abfahrt 13.50 ab Bahnhof Jaroslawl. Nochmals zittere ich kurz, ob das zu Hause ausgedruckte e-ticket wirklich alles ist, was ich brauche, um zu boarden, ohne mich an irgendeinem Schalter blicken zu lassen. Doch die sehr nette Schaffnerin scannt den Barcode kurz ein & heisst mich an Board willkommen. Der Zug faehrt puenktlich ab und haltet den minutengenauen Takt 3.5 Tage lang durch! Ich bin die gefuehlte einzige Nicht-Russin. Alles funktioniert reibungslos, von angeblicher Unfreundlichkeit keine Spur. Die erste Etappe geht nach Ulan Ude (non-stop 5600km). Ich habe mich fuer Zug #2 entschieden, den "Rossja", der auch als der teuerste der Zuege mit Nummern unter 10 gilt. Da die 1. Klasse weit im Voraus ausgebucht war (zumindest online ueber die Russischen Staatsbahnen, bei Kontingenten der Reisebueros weiss ichs nicht), habe ich ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude October 9th 2013

Hier liefere ich Informationen zum mongolischen Visum, beantragt in Russland/Ulan Ude: Zuerst hat mich dieses Visum einige Nerven gekostet, schlussendlich lief aber alles reibungslos ab. Wichtig zu beachten ist folgendes: Oeffnungszeiten des mongolischen Konsulats (das mitten im Zentrum ist): MO - FR 10.00 - 12.00 und 17.00 - 18.00 Die Tueroeffnung erfolgt "in einem Schub", man muss spaetestens um 10.00 dort sein, sonst erst wieder am nachsten Tag. Visumsantrag einreichen NUR AM MORGEN, abholen am selben Tag am Nachmittag. Der Service war nicht harsch, aber unfreundlich und bestimmt nicht serviceorientiert: das erste mal kam ich um 17.00,wurde nach einigem Anstehen mit einem Handwink ohne Erklaerung abgewiesen und die Person hinter mir bedient. Stellte mich nochmals hinten an und nach nochmaligem Nachfragen mit Hand und Fuss hat er mir 10.00 - 12.00 auf ein Bl... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 28th 2013

This is embarrassing. The Lake Baikal trip was a big failure and I did not see a Baikal seal! Also this is a very long post because I've been writing it day by day, so before you start reading go get some slippers, a packet of biscuits and a cup of coffee (or a pot of tea if you're that way inclined). Lake Baikal has a lot of superlatives attached to it. It is the deepest lake in the world at 1642 metres (and apparently there is 7000 metres of sediment below that to the actual floor of the lake!). It is 636km long and 79km wide and thus has the largest surface area of any body of freshwater in Asia (31,722 km2). In terms of volume it is the largest freshwater lake in the world, ... read more
entry to Zabaikalsy National Park
Lake Baikal


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude August 21st 2013

Well I've done the Trans-Siberian (part of it at least) and now I'm in the city of Ulan Ude just by Lake Baikal. The Tran-Siberian is a very famous train ride but as most people reading this will know there's not actually one train called the Trans-Siberian, it is a whole fleet of trains servicing the country. The routes the tourists usually take are the Trans-Siberian route which remains entirely within Russia and goes between Mosow and Vladivostok (very few tourists go westwards in the opposite direction); the Trans-Mongolian which goes from Moscow to Irkutsk at Lake Baikal and then turns south to go down through the middle of Mongolia to Beijing; and the Trans-Manchurian which skips the Mongolian part, but likewise goes from Moscow to Beijing. The trip is basically a famous “must-do” trip simply ... read more
entrance to Traveller's House hostel
the biggest Lenin head in the world
...and the smallest. Chortle.

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 21st 2013

When boarding the ferry to go to Olkhon island I was among the dozen or so cars that obviously weren’t going to fit on the boat, meaning another hour to wait. But at the last minute the official pointed at me and I jumped the queue. I thought that perhaps he gave preference to Russian cars, but it turned out that Agatha’s slimness was her advantage in this case. I spent a couple of days on Olkhon Island, the largest island in Baikal and a popular destination for tourists. My accommodation here chose itself: investigating whether it was worth camping on the beach, Agatha showed herself unequal to driving across sand. There wasn’t time to look for help that evening, so I resigned myself to staying in my tent. By the next day I’d befriended my ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 18th 2013

Apparently, the Lada 2107 is the cheapest car in the world. Not only economic in fuel consumption, service costs and spare parts are astonishingly cheap. This fact I’ve discovered for myself as I’ve repaired and tinkered with Agatha over the course of my journey. One of the first improvements I made was to change the cracked windscreen she came with when I bought her. The cracks were in my line of sight and distracted me while driving. However, at the Lada garage in St. Petersburg I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and fatally agreed to have a windscreen with a tinted band at the top. A Lada 2107 is quite a small car, so that things like traffic lights and road signs are visible in the top part of the windscreen. The tinted band ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 16th 2013

One of the results of the breadth of state control in the Soviet Union was that it encouraged the attitude that ‘The State will look after everything’. Perhaps this is one factor that contributes to widespread littering in Russia: a lack of personal responsibility for the consequences of individual actions. Another result was the almost complete lack of civil initiatives. Seen as a threat to the power of the Communist Party and the stability of society, non-government organizations in any form (political, religious, even recreational) were forcibly opposed by the state. Although there were many opportunities for worthy civil activities (such as cleaning up rubbish, planting trees and helping pensioners or disabled war veterans), these were always organized and controlled by organs of the state. Consequently, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, such ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novokuznetsk August 6th 2013

It is currently 7am and I have been awake for almost an hour, excited because today is the day we have all been waiting for- we are arriving in Moscow! The end of the train trip is rather bitter sweet it signifies the end of our journey together which for the ones of us that became such close friends, is really sad. Our carriage has become like a little community, we're all travelers yet we're all on very different journeys. Four days on a train sounds like a lot but it's like a little holiday break from all the exhausting travelling. You get to relax and enjoy the view, read a tonne of books, play games- what more do you need? Well maybe some better food would have been nice. From what I had read about ... read more

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