As much as I’d like to pretend that there was no enormous gap between this post and my last post, there is. This post is about a trip that happened a month ago (shortly after I found I was sick, actually).
I’ve had some problems and, while they aren’t resolved, I can at least write this blog post. Mostly because it’s mostly pictures! There will be some explanations to accompany them.
Anyhow, my group and I traveled on a red eye train to the capital of the Buryatia region, Ulan-Ude. It’s not too far south of the lake. Allow me to illustrate (courtesy of Google maps):
So it’s quite far. Anyhow, let me show you what exactly we did out there.
So firstly, here’s the train car.
Here’s my view on the train from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude. It was about a 7.5 hour trip over there! All at night so we had a sleeping car!
Here’s my view out the window. Dark!
Here’s the hostel where we stayed in Ulan-Ude: Dostoyevsky Hostel.
The big sign leading to the hostel! Gotta have some English on there for backpackers! There were many of them staying with us here.
Here’s the sitting room with some awesome wall art! My compatriots are here lounging.
Another part of the wall with more compatriots.
My bed! All together more comfortable than a college dorm room despite the lack of outlets!
Some nice art on the wall of the room I stayed. Nothing like a good quote to make everything homey!
After having gotten an extra three hours of sleep at the hostel, we took a bumpy bus ride to a small village of sorts of a group of people known as the Old Believers. They follow a way of life that existed during the time people first came this way in the 17th century! I’d equate them to the Amish, if I had to. They’re much more colorful and lively, I think!
Here’s a good example of the kind of artistry typical to the Old Believers. Beautiful, colorful floral patterns adorn many of their windows and many exterior and interior surfaces.
Here’s the yard we went into when we first got here. I imagine it’s even neater when there’s plenty of snow!
This is one of their many stone stoves/furnaces. This keeps the whole room warm! And, trust me, it is quite warm!
Here, we see the Old Believers engaged in a song and dance.
… And then we see them pull members of the audience into their dance.
This man was very excited to dance with them!
They got him into costume!
And now they’re putting on a sort of ceremonial display.
They brought another person into it!
Here they are together.
He rather enjoys this whole thing!
And here’s the other group that was there with us. They pulled us into the picture later. Americans are somewhat of a side show…
And here’s a couple of the guys on a standing swing. I didn’t want to give it a try but it seemed fun!
Here’s the exterior of some of the other houses.
More house exteriors!
Gratuitous landscape shots for all to see! (Couldn’t get enough of those rolling hills!)
Ilya for scale.
Yasha for scale.
Don’t be fooled! It’s freezing in there.
Tiny dudes in a tiny boat!
And up close!
Next we went to visit the more traditional part of Buryatia: the place that involves the Buryats themselves! Buryats are the native people to this part of Siberia. They descend from a nomadic culture not unlike the Mongols. They primarily follow Tibetan Buddhism but also follow Shamanism, though it’s not as widespread.
We headed out to a Buddhist temple. The last tsar, Tsar Nikolai II, came out here a while back.
One of the statues they had (unfortunately I forgot to whom)
These ribbons are a traditional part of Tibetan Buddhism, they’re known as “prayer flags”.
Unfortunately, I also forgot to whom this statue was.
Here’s a lineup of some of the past Dalai Lama. You can see our current Dalai Lama up there! We were here to listen to a brief history on them and their place in Buryatia
Here, the speaker illustrates her point!
Her granddaughter was really active and liked to play with us while we listened. It added an extra layer of difficulty. Here she is with Ilya, who seemed fine with it.
Here we had already arrived at the Buryat nomad tourist camp. Wolf pelt and antlers on the wall!
Here’s the wolf pelt by itself.
We played a sort of game with vertebrae. I forget from what animal!
Close up on them bones.
Bear pelt on the wall!
We stayed in an actual yurt! A modern one… But a yurt nonetheless!
My sleeping arrangements. Not bad, all things considered!
Rev up that stove! It’s our only source of heat all night…
Then we switched gears and headed to another part of Buryatia to stay at a hunter’s cabin! We stayed at a sort of bed and breakfast first! It was wonderful to have a room to myself for once!
This is what luxury looks like!
Complete with antlers at the door!
Yasha hangs out with a book!
It had snowed overnight! I can’t tell you how excited I was to see snow for the fifth time in my life!
Now we head out for the trip to the cabin!
Took this picture from the truck! Most vehicles were fitted like this.
Boy, that snow!
Got some fresh water from here!
What a sight!
We took a short walk!
Less snow but still good!
Old, OLD art. Several thousand years!
More on that art.
And from far away.
The road side.
A panorama on that wide openness!
Ilya with the “Sphinx”
We reached a salt field! This is a nice panoramic!
Popular with the local wild ponies, no doubt!
Some of the neat stuff you can find on a mountainside.
Look at how far down everything is!
Finally got everything in place!
Me at the beach
A man and his dog. This concept can be found all over the world!
What is that building?
WE’LL NEVER KNOW!
Ilya takes a leap!
Look at that! We’re still on the road!
White capped mountains! I’ve never seen something like that before!
We stopped at another temple! (Haig for scale)
Killer mountains still!
That temple by itself.
Our sleeping arrangements! They actually built it for us the previous day! (Yasha for scale)
The most Russian picture I’ve ever taken! Here’s our “hunter”, Aleksandr behind the spread he prepared.
The cabin from the outside!
The outhouse! … I found out that you squat in outhouses here in Russia…
The banya! Much more refreshing and pleasant than I thought it would be! (Though that could have been because I was by myself!)
The stream behind the cabin!
Would you look at that ice?
Then it was the long trip back to Ulan-Ude… I got a couple city shots!
One of the stately buildings of the city!
The WORLD’S LARGEST Lenin head! It was big… So, so big…
The WORLD’S LARGEST Lenin head… At night!
And the train station from our hostel’s door. Time to go home!
Well, then our trip came to an end. It was a sweet trip while it lasted despite the tail-end of a cold and horrendously uncomfortable shoes.
I think… I think I’d go again if I could. Maybe when there’s more snow and my shoes are better!