10 oktober 2008
Irkutsk reminds me of the board game ‘Risk’ where it is one of the territories which you have to conquer to get Asia. On those Sundays when we played the game (my brother used to win this game a lot), it never occurred to me that I would ever come to this place, Far East in Russia. So for me, Irkutsk was never connected to beautiful (and apparently world known) lake Baikal, or cold Siberia or the transsiberian express, but to this board game called Risk. Even the mobile provider here in Irkustk is called Far East…just to remind me that I am still a long way from home.
After spending two days in town with my new made friend Sam from Taiwan, I went to Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal on Sunday (LB is the deepest and biggest fresh water lake in the world; I always love to visit the biggest, funniest, deepest, tallest, most remote, most impressive things in the world…). So there I was, at Olga’s guesthouse, together with Katrien, Fred and Klara, a family from Germany, and of course my bike, which is still with me.
I did a bit of cycling (did 90km’s on a day!) and wandered around on the island. In the wintertime the lake freezes completely that even trucks can ride on it. I think half of the people leave the island for the winter, so it was a bit deserted. But with a handful of tourist, a few cows and some locals, it made a good place to be for a few days; breathing in some fresh air and making another campfire just for the sake of it (which is definitely not as much fun when you’re sitting next to it on your own) and to prepare myself on a 4 day train ride to Moscow, and to say goodbye to the coutryside.
After 3 days of cycling and walking through beautiful nature, on the third day I found the garbage dump, just in between the trees, just behind the little village…ouch. I found out during our trip that garbage is one of the most difficult things to deal with. The further we got away from Western Europe, the more garbage we found on the way, just lying there. But I am not going to write an ideological thesis about the cause and effect this right now on my web log, we can discuss it later ;)
It seems kind of difficult to move ahead since I left Mongolia, is it because I am heading home? Initially I planned to come to Irkutsk at the first of October, but that turned out different since I had some problems leaving Ulan Bator. Then it took me another 2 days to get out of Irkutsk and to go to Olkhon. When I wanted to leave the island on Wednesday, the only bus which still worked was full. So I spend another day exploring, and took the bus a day later. A day later from the island, a day later in the train, a day later in Moscow…
But today is gonna be the big day, I am leaving for Moscow! I baked some cookies in the hostel to make new friends on the train, got a bottle of vodka and some noodles, so I should be all right. No I just have to pray that the rail attendant doesn’t get too angry about me taking my bike (it’s good to have a ‘friend’ with you, but a bike is not the easiest). By Monday night I will arrive in Moscow, spent some days there, and then continue to Poland, to see some ‘old’ friends which I found in the Gobi desert.
I am leaving the Far East, heading to the wonderful West.