A Travellerspoint blog

Pure relax at Lake Baikal / Pohoda pri Bajkale

sunny 15 °C
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We arrived in Irkutsk at 4:30. It was still pitch black and 1* Celsius outside. After approximately 45 minutes searching for the direction we finally found a bus to Listvyanka at Lake Baikal. At nine we arrived at our guesthouse and there I took one of the nicest showers in my life I guess (I think Zuzka was happy too after 4 days without a shower in the train).
Listvyanka is a famous travel destination for tourists and Russian people during the summer. We however had all this beauty for ourselves as the season has barely started yet. I wanted to take a nice swim in the lake but quickly made up my mind as there were still some parts frozen :) The lake is pretty impressive and presents 20% of the worlds fresh water reserves and is 600 km in diameter (larger than the size of Slovakia). There was not much to do though but we had a relaxing 4 days. The only highlight I would say was that we saw a wolf very close to us in the taiga. We also went to an exhibition park where they show the history of Siberian architecture.
Next day we departed to Ulan Bator. We had to wait a few hours at the station, and decided to stay at a guarded cosy place - which we needed to pay for. Since, after a while we run out of rubel I went to the bank machine close to the station. The ATM was out of order and a few sinister guys were waiting in the bank. I went out and one of them wanted to show me where a different ATM is. He showed me but then kept on following me, I decided to turn around to go back. When he approached me he said that I should go with him and that it is very close. He then asked me if I had a cellphone. That was enough and I decided to go back, just when I wanted to leave he grabbed me by the arm and pulled on my jacket. I tossed my arm free and pushed him back, just when he was tripping back I ran like Usain Bolt back to the station. He was small (still taller than I am ;) and thin, but you never know...besides that he had tattoos on his hands and scars in his face. Later when I was back with Zuzka at the protected station we saw him with 3 other guys. That was way more excitement than I wished for and left me with a slightly negative impression of Russia (the country is still beautiful and impressive).
We took our train at 22 pm and had the whole compartment for us. While we were playing cards and had a good time heavy smoke came out of the roof. The conductors were frantically moving and finally opened the windows. After a while the smoke faded away and everything was back to normal. The way to Ulan Bator is full of marvelous nature and we met our Canadian friend Darryel again. Together with him and another nice guy, Cahir from Ireland, we will continue to travel...and finally we shared the slivovica we brought from Slovakia ;)

P.S. For now we will only post pictures from the iPhone until we have a 'good copy' cable to upload the pictures from the camera.

P.P.S. Our trip to Lhasa, Tibet and the Everest base camp is cancelled as the group we wanted to take called the trip off. We see it positively as it will give us a chance to see Australia or New Zealand later in the journey.


Do Irkutsku sme dorazili 4.5. o 5:30 miestneho casu. Bola tma a asi 1 stupen, na stanici vsetci "napomocni", ako sme si uz v Rusku zvykli. Nakoniec sme ale uspesne zistili, ako sa dostat z vlakovej na autobusovu stanicu, odkial asi za 10 minut odchadzal autobus do dediny Listvjanka, nasho ciela na brehu Bajkalskeho jazera. O 9 sme uz boli v ubytovani, Sasha's guesthouse, v teple a popijali sme s chutou caj. A potom sme si dali vytuzenu sprchu!
Listvjanka je popularne bajkalske letovisko, ktore oziva hlavne v letnych mesiacoch. My sme tam takto na zaciatku maja boli spolu este s jednym japonskym parom sami. Lodicky este tiez nejazdili, pretoze jazero by mohlo byt na niektorych miestach zamrznute. Tobiho plan okupat sa v Bajkale za kazdu cenu sa rozplynul velmi rychlo, hned pri prvom dotyku ladovej vody. Od nasej domacej sme sa dozvedeli, ze zima bola tento rok ale velmi mierna a jazero zamrzlo az vo februari... Bajkalske jazero je najhlbsie na svete vdaka svojmu tektonickemu povodu. Preto sme na druhom brehu mohli vidiet 3000 metrov vysoke hory. Nachadza sa v nom 20 % svetovych zasob pitnej vody (je naozaj pitna, vyskusali sme). Svojou dlzkou viac ako 600 km je vacsie ako Slovensko.
Uprimne povedane, nemali sme tam az tak moc co robit, ale bol to dobry relax. Kazdy den sme zacali vybornymi domacimi ranajkami: volske oko, parky, palacinky s dzemom. Boli sme na ture v Pribajkalskom narodnom parku, kde su nadherne vyhlady na jazero a obzervatorium. Na odporucanie domacej sme si spravili vylet do skanzenu Taltsy s ukazkami typickych sibirskych domov. A na plazi sme si dali grilovany barani saslik so Zlatym bazantom :)
Posledny den rano nas vonku cakalo poriadne prekvapenie - 10 cm snehu a fujavica. Nastastie sme v ten den uz odchadzali, najprv naspat do Irkustku. Kupili sme listok na vlak do Ulaanbaataru a cakali na vlakovej stanici, lebo v snehovej fujavici sa nic moc nedalo robit. Tobi chcel ist este vybrat peniaze, tak sa vybral sam a ja som zostala pri ruksakoch. Bankomaty hned pred stanicou nefungovali, ale stali pri nich chalani, jeden z nich sa hned ponukol, ze Tobimu ukaze, kde je iny bankomat. Po chvilke cesty sa Tobiho opytal, ci ma telefon. To uz bolo podozrive. Tobi mu povedal, ze nemusi ist s nim, ze to uz najde sam, ale chalan ho zacal tahat za bundu, ze nech ide s nim. Tobi sa mu rychlo vytrhol, sotil ho do seba prec a sprintoval naspat na stanicu ako Usain Bolt. Chalan bol sice maly a chudy, ale mal potetovane ruky a jazvy na tvari, no clovek nikdy nevie. Z okna stanice sme ho videli potlkat sa pred budovou s tromi dalsimi chalanmi, ale nastastie sa nam podarilo sa im vyhnut.
Vecer o 22:00 sme teda nasadli na mongolsky vlak, konecne sami v kupe (takze ziadne napinave historky tentokrat), stretli sme hned jedneho spolucestovala, Cahir z Irska, a tak konecne nastal cas otvorit slivovicu a sprijemnit si vecer. Na druhy den sme vo vlaku stretli aj Kanadana Darryela, ktory s nami cestoval uz do Irkutsku. Ako sme tak vo stvorici hrali druhy vecer karty, zacalo sa v kupe zrazu dymit z vetraku. Vsetci sme vybehli na chodbu a nastastie sa to po otvoreni okien za chvilku vyvetralo a katastrofa bola zazehnana.

P.S. Uz mame konecne aj fotky, z Tobiho telefonu. Zistili sme totiz, ze nemame ako nahrat fotky z fotaku do iPadu, ale v Cine snad zozenieme nejaky "good copy" kabel.

P.P.S. Sme nuteni zmenit plany a nepojdeme do Tibetu. Ziadna agentura nam nenasla skupinu a ak by sme isli len sami dvaja, bolo by to strasne drahe. Za tie peniaze radsej pojdeme nakoniec na Novy Zeland alebo do Australie. Musime teda vymysliet nahradny plan v Cine, ale to asi nebude problem! Nakoniec sa do toho Chengdu na pandy naozaj pozrieme ;)


Posted by zuzana.zav 03:42 Archived in Russia Comments (5)

Fulfilled dream: the Transsiberian railway / Splneny sen o..

..Transsibirskej magistrale Ja ne govorju po russki!

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The train departed on the dot and went all the way to Ulaanbaatar. Initially we wanted to book two berths in the open carriage but ended up with two berths in a compartment for 4. This was quite lucky as in the open carriage were only Mongolian construction workers (with a big chance that at least a few of them were snoring). We got the two upper beds in the compartment and were initially quite lucky as two elderly ladies shared the compartment with us. Nina was from the Ukraine going to Perm and Jana was traveling to Novosibirsk. Both were very sympathetic and one was even calling me "my love". Strangely enough we had decent conversations, even though they spoke Russian and we spoke Slovak. In general we have the feeling that no one in Russia speaks any other language than Russian. As Nina was getting off in Perm a young girl took her place for a couple of hours. She didn't say a word, not even hello or goodbye. Following her was Kristina, a sympathetic 27 year old Russian girl who stayed with us for one night, traveling back from a trip to Turkey. Everyone left the train in the evening in Novosibirsk. As we were just saying how lucky we are with our company a big middle-aged Russian man/bear got in the compartment. He only said a few words with his deep growling voice. Ten minutes later a good looking young woman also got in the compartment with us. They decided at 11 pm that they would go to the dining car (which I though was very strange as he could have been her father). They only came back at 2 am, both very drunk and stinking of cigarets. They kept on drinking in the compartment and were negotiating a price for "something" (you can probably imagine what for). He was molesting her and started touching her, while "the hooker" was trying to force up the price. This was all happening in a compartment of 4m2, equipped with bunk beds. As we didn't want to witness anything further I turned on the light and red my book to "spoil their party". This did not seem to bother him as he - sorry for my directness - was already aggressively horny. He kept on harassing her and I could not bear it any longer. I looked down and asked them if it was not time to sleep. He was not impressed and didn't even turn to look at me. So I addressed him two more times directly, "Mr., Pan...", finally he turned around and snapped something back in Russian. I asked him if it was not time it go to bed again and we starred in each others eyes. He then closed the door rapidly and I thought "ups now I'm in trouble", I opened it again and said "that it is very hot in the compartment" :). As I stood my ground in front of the door he must have understood that I do everything for my sleep, stood up and went to bed. After snoring the whole night he left the train early in the morning.
To sum up, the Transsiberian train was a great experience. We went through the industrial parts of Russia, the Siberian taiga and lowlands, crossed the Ural Mountains and witnessed breathtaking nature. We also made friends with a Canadian and Brazilian that we might meet in China. We ate directly at the stations as "babusky" were offering delicious homemade food. The only drawback was that we went through 5 different time zones which is now taking its toll on us. Next stop - Lake Baikal.


V Moskve sme nastupili do posledneho vagonu 16-voznovej vlakovej supravy iducej do Ulaanbaataru. Povodne sme chceli spat v tzn. platzkartni, otvorenom vagone s asi 50 postelami, ale nakoniec sme boli nuteni kupit si listky do kupe, lebo uz ziadne ine neboli. Ked sme videli do platzkartnovych vagonov nastupovat samych mongolskych robotnikov, boli sme za to nase kupe celkom radi. Boli sme ale napati, akych spolucestujucich schytame. My sme mali dve horne postele, takze pasazieri 2 dolnych boli prekvapenie.
V Moskve sme mali stastie, boli s nami 2 Rusky okolo 60-tky. Nina bola navstivit mamu na Ukrajine na Velku noc a cez Moskvu cestovala naspat domov do Novosibirsku. Dobre som jej rozumela, lebo ukrajincina je predsa blizsia slovencine. Jana isla navstivit sestru do Permu, takze vystupila hned na druhy den vecer. V Perme nastupila mlada "dievuska", ktora ani nepozdravila a vystupila na dalsej zastavke v Ekaterinburgu. Tam na jej miesto pristupila Kristina, 27-rocna Gruzinka, ktora sa prave vratila z dovolenky v Turecku a isla navstivit otca do Novosibirsku. Kristina bola prvy clovek v Rusku, ktoreho sme stretli a vedel po anglicky, tak nam trosku rozpravala a prekladala. Obe sa cudovali, ze nie sme studenti a cestujeme taku dlhu dobu a mame na to peniaze. Ked sme sa lucili v Novosibirsku na konci druheho dna, pozyvali nas obe k sebe domov na navstevu nabuduce, ked prideme, lebo je to krasne mesto s operou, metrom, riekou Ob a dobrou univerzitou. Ked sme tak stali na stanici, zelali sme si, aby uz nikto nepristupil, ale marne. V ten vecer prisiel muz okolo 40, ktory bol na sluzobnej ceste a isiel domov do Krasnojarsku. A mlada ruska krasavica. Nepoznali sa. Ked spolu odisli do jedalenskeho vagona o 23:00, Tobimu to bolo cudne. Ked sa nevracali, pripravili sme si radsej stuple do usi, lebo nam bolo jasne, ze pridu asi pripiti a on bude chrapat... Tobi ale tusil to najhorsie a mal pravdu. Ked sa dotrepali naspat, smradlavi a na mol, zacali sa dohadovat o cene...no coho asi. On ju zacal nechutne obchytkavat a ona sa nicomu nebranila. Tobi uz to nevydrzal a zasiahol, povedal ze chceme spat, nacoz sa chlap konecne prevalil na svoju postel, zaspal a zacal chrapat. Fakt bolo stastie, ze vystupil hned skoro rano, lebo by sme sa museli presunut do ineho kupe. V Krasnojarsku nastupila nie velmi sympaticka babka, posledna spolucestujuca, ktora pojde az do Ulan Ude, takze vystupuje po nas. Uff.
Okrem zazitkov so spolucestujucimi nas ale Transsibirska magistrala prijemne prekvapila. Vlak je vcelku cisty a pohodlny, kazdy ma vlastny matrac, vankus, perinu aj uterak. Provodnica kazdy den vysava a upratuje a okrem toho si u nej clovek moze kupit caj, kavu, vodu a nejaky snack. Je tu samovar s horucou vodou na cinske polievky (Vifonku som fakt nejedla od vysky) alebo cestoviny a tiez kohutik s pitnou vodou (ktora chuti ako zo zachoda). Je tu dost teplo a okna sa daju otvorit len na chodbe, ale da sa to vydrzat. Na kazdej stanici je stanok alebo babusky s jedlom, o to nudza naozaj nie je.
Z vlaku sme videli rozmanitost ruskej prirody. Najprv industrialnu europsku cast, pohorie Ural rozdelujuce Europu a Aziu, zapadosibirsku nizinu, obske mociare a pohorkatinu zacinajucu pred Bajkalom. Presli sme cez jedny z najvacsich ruskych riek: Irtys, Ob, Jenisej a Angaru. Cestou bolo este vela topiaceho sa snehu a jar na Sibiri rozhodne este nezacala. Je tu vidiet obrovsky rozdiel medzi bohatymi mestami a velmi chudobnym vidiekom. Zatial nas sprevadza slnecne pocasie a teploty okolo 20 stupnov.
Aj ked sa do vlaku este vratime, uz to nebude Transsibirska, ale Transmongolska magistrala. Prvy detsky sen je teda splneny. Dalsia zastavka - Bajkalske jazero!


Posted by zuzana.zav 04:02 Archived in Russia Comments (8)

The pride of Russia in one day / Pycha Ruska za jeden den


sunny 20 °C

We had planed this trip for quiet some time but I have to say that it was only two month before the farewell party that we realized that the adventure is really going to happen. Among many other questions, and comments from friends and family was: are you not afraid? Wow, this must be quiet expensive (it really isn't and with some planning a moderate budget will do it), I would do the same if I could and by far the most frequent asked question: what are you going to do when you are back?
It was great to see our friends all together at the farewell party and it seemed that everyone had a great time. Adventure, be ready for us...here we come ;)

Our first destination was planned to be Moscow. The flight was from Budapest to Moscow at midnight and would give us 2 hours of sleep. With a stiff neck from the flight but in great spirit we arrived in Moscow at 4:30 am. The contrast between the suburbs and the city center couldn't be greater. However, one attribute can be noticed wherever you go: everything seems to be oversized and colossal. Majestic metro stations with golden lusters and massive beautiful buildings with a touch of communism. The bus drove us directly to the core of Moscow. Not to mention that the bus driver did not have any change and we had to sneak in without tickets :-/ Between 5 am and 7 am you get to see all the workforce Moscow has to offer. Miners, handyman and construction workers soon left the bus and we happily continued on to our first destination, the "Cathedral of Christ the Savior". Initially Stalin wanted to build a massive statue of himself instead, where congressman could summon meetings in "his head" but that never materialized.
We soon had to realize that 2 hours of sleep is not really ideal and we took a short nap in a park in front of the "Kremlin". Still a little sleepy but hungry for sightseeing we decided to take the good old city sightseeing "hop on - hop off bus" which stopped at 32 stops including the Saint Basils Cathedral and the Red Square. Moscow is a beautiful and rich city but quiet frankly, one day was enough ;) Now we are looking forward to the next great excitement, the Transsiberian railway which will depart tonight at 9:30pm.


V utorok 29.4. o polnoci sme v Budapesti nasadli na nas prvy let smer Moskva. Nemozem povedat, ze by sme sa za tie 2 hodiny letu uplne vyspali, ale muselo to stacit na celodenne objavovanie ruskej metropoly. Ked sme pristali, bolo pol piatej rano a mohli sme tak pozorovat vychod slnka nad smogom zaliatym velkomestom. Podla instrukcii inzinierky na letisku sediacej pri prepazke "Informacie" sme nasadli na autobus 611. Este treba dodat, ze hned od zaciatku nas privitala povestna ruska "pohostinnost", inzinierka bola sokovana, ze sa jej akoze pytame na cestu a musela vytiahnut fascikel z uplne spodneho sufliku, no potom nam to plynulou rustinou vysvetlila. Samozrejme sme nemali drobne a autobusar nam nemal vydat, takze sme o 6 rano cestovali s ruskou robotnickou triedou z predmestia do centra na cierno.
Aplikacia s ruskou azbukou v telefone sa ukazala ako nadmieru uzitocna hned na prvej stanici metra, a tak sme dorazili na Jaroslavskij vokzal, vymenili sme poukazy za platne listky na vecerny vlak, odlozili ruksaky do uschovne a vybrali sa do centra Moskvy. Netrvalo nam dlho aby sme zistili, ze 2 hodiny spanku nie su uplne idealny stav a zalomili sme to hned pred samotnym Putinovym Kremlom. Az potom sme sa trochu pozbierali a obisli povinne zastavky ako Chram Vasilija Blazeneho, Chram Krista Spasitela, Tretjakovu galeriu a...Cervene namestie, ktore bolo ako naschval zatvorene kvoli pripravam 1.maja. Poobede nas to zmohlo este viac, tak sme si radsej kupili listky na vyhliadkovy autobus a trochu sa povozili aj po sirsom centre Moskvy. Na konci sme dali na odporucanie sprievodcu v telefone a presli sa po Tverskaja ulitsa, coz nestalo za nic, lebo to bola asi stvorprudova cesta v oboch smeroch, ale Puskinovo namestie na konci to trochu vykompenzovalo.
Moskva na nas urobila VELKY dojem, a to doslova. Velkolepe ambicie ruskych panovnikov, a to aj tych sucasnych sa tu odrazaju v plnom rozsahu. Jeden den v majestatnej metropole ale stacil, o 21:35 nasadame na Transsibirsku magistralu objavovat to prave Rusko.

Posted by zuzana.zav 23:53 Archived in Russia Comments (4)

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