Day 19: Terelj National Park
Because of the recommendation of the guide book we hired a car with driver and drove to the Terelj National Park. But to be honest it was not worth to see. The landscape of the National Park is nice, but they have build so many tourist camps there, that it is hard to take a picture without having one of that stupid camps on it.
From the National Park we drove to the Dschingis Khan memorial, which is not to fare from the National Park.
Day 18: Ulaanbaadar
After our arriving in Ulaanbaatar at 6am, we stored our luggage at the hotel and did some sightseeing at Ulaanbaatar.
Day 17: Transmongolia
Going from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar with the train 362 was funny but also a little bit annoying. We started from Irkutsk at 10pm with a long train. When we woke up we realized, that there were almost only foreign people in the wagon. We had nice chats at the corridor with the other travelers and at lunchtime we almost knew half of the wagon. At the last village before the boarder to Mongolia we had a long stop and could get off the train, or what was left of it. Now the rest of the train has vanished and there was only our wagon left. They even toke the locomotive away while we went off the train. After two hours stop in Naushki we went back to the wagon a thought we would move on, but that was wrong. Now the passport control and the custom control started. First the Russian custom came and toke our passports. Then they rummage our cabin and finally they came with a dog to search for drugs. After one more hour of waiting we got the passports back. Now the Mongolian custom came toke our passports and made the same procedure as the Russian did one hour before. Now all together we were stopping for 7 hours at that godforsaken village called Naushki and for 5 hours we stuck in the train with locked toilets. Everyone felt like a prisoner on that train, and that welded us more together as a group.
In the evening we then had great fun. Most of the people in the wagon were drinking and chatting or playing cards together, while we made a jam session in the cabin.
Day 16: Final Day in Irkutsk
For the last day we didn’t had much of a plan, we just walked into Irkutsk to visit some museums and buy some souvenirs on the market.
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.