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Sauna by the lake

Irkutsk, Lake Baikal and the train to Ulaanbaatar


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When you've been on a train for 4 days it is most unnerving to discover you list from side to side when faced with firm ground. We were taken straight from the station at Irkutsk to a village on the shores of Lake Baikal where we were staying in a beautifully maintained chalet with fabulous views.
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After the single best shower of my life and lunch that didn't involve noodles, we indulged in a traditional sauna, complete with cold showers and equally cold beer. The 13 of us may not have known each other at the beginning of the trip, but we were suddenly very well acquainted indeed... If there's a better way to get rid of 88 hours of train filth then I can't think of it. The chalet have made the very sensible decision to restrict guests drinking to a bonfire area at the back of the property, so that's where we headed, experimenting with the Russian style of vodka drinking- each shot followed quickly by something to eat, ranging from pickles to gummy bears.

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A couple of days of fresh air, boat rides, walks and a Raynauds inducing lake swim (estimated at a bracing 10 °C) rendered us pretty unprepared for another 36 hours of railway and certainly not for 7 hours of border control (5 for the Russians, 2 for the Mongolians, mainly just shunting carriages back and forth. Mind boggling). A mere 44 hours (barely a commute by this point) after we started we reached Ulaanbaatar.

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Posted by arianemeena 04:24 Archived in Russia

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looking forward to photos of lake swim and gummy bear vodka -drinking ;though possibly not the communal sauna plus 88 hours accumlated filth!?
love the idea of the 44 hour commute but how frustrating the border control nonsense must be to those who have to cross frequently.

by jane waran

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