Day 15: Irkutsk-Sljudjanka
Our guidebook said, that the rail between Irkutsk-Sljudjanka is one of the most beautiful parts of the whole Transib. So we decided to go to Sljudjanka by train, do some sightseeing there and go back. At noon as we were asking for the next train to Sljudjanka at the train station, we’ve been told, that it would go there at 5pm. That was much too late for our plan, so we made a new plan, to go there by taxi. A nice young taxi driver called Alex made us the best offer: For 25RUB per kilometer he drives us to Sljudjanka. That sounds good, so we jumped in the car and the adventure began immediately. Because you should know, that Alex is, like most Russian, a very ambitions driver. You don’t have to tell him that he should go fast; he always drives as fast as possible; he over take trucks even when he cannot oversee the street ahead and you sometimes get the feeling that he’s driving on two tire around the curve. At one of his psycho overtake maneuvers we almost crashed frontal in a minivan. We were lucky that the approaching minivan could sidestep on the gravel side lane. After one and a half hour of fear we reached Sljudjanka alive and were lucky to get of that taxi.
After a few 100m walking around in Sljudjanka we began to realize, that that village couldn’t keep up with our romantically imaginations of having a nice walk along the beautiful coast of Lake Baikal. The coast there is more a mix of swam land, industrial zone and rubbish dump. The village also made a very seamy impression. We haven’t had the feeling to be save there, so we skipped the walk at the coast and were back to the railway station. We were lucky, because we haven’t had to wait very long for the next train to Irkutsk. This time we bought tickets for an open wagon and it was really funny to travel with the Russians. One of the old ladies in our compartment could speak a bit English so we had a nice conversation. The other lady were so nice, she suddenly toke her bracelet and put it on my mother’s arm. She meant, that it looks very nice on my mother’s arm and that she donates it to her. My mother was very delighted and gave her a big hug.
That was funny a day and for me this is the real Russia.