From the Trans-Mongolian Diary 6 – Lake Baikal

Howdy all, following on from last week, this week the diary from 2017 finds me still in the town of Irkutsk, heading off for an afternoon at the fabled Lake Baikal.

Hey hey! here I am back at the hostel it’s just after 7:30 PM, my pasta is cooking and it’s time for another diary session! I managed to keep myself up until 1:00 AM last night which I guess was a pretty good effort, yet silly thing to do really. Slept pretty solidly all told and woke at 11 AM.

After a shower I headed out to the bus station to take a bus to a town on the coast of lake Baikal – Listvyanka. I needed bus 66 but I waited five maybe 10 minutes and decided to walk, I could get a tram on a different street, I thought all the way to the bus station. OK, I was wrong but I walked two blocks and caught the tram along the road leading to the station and then at the market the tram turned right. I got off and had to walk the rest of the way at the station, bought me a ticket don’t get excited – it’s another receipt style ticket like the tram one and then went to one of a few shops and found postcards. Even better, a bunch of mini postcards snaffled to them right up only to find that I don’t really recognise any of the pictures as things I have seen here!

Small Irkutsk postcard

Sigh another uninspiring receipt ticket. Just paid on the actual bus. I waited for the bus it was 1232pm probably could have got the 12:30 if I hurried waiting outside. Still four layers (wearing) but not really as cold and windy as yesterday so I was a bit warmer.

At 1:00 o’clock the minibus was standing by, but no driver insight. A blonde woman ran, up she spoke English – desperately worried she’d missed the bus obviously she hadn’t she said she’d never seen Lake Baikal before. She planned to spend just one hour in Listvyanka. Driver turned up and we were soon off and then stopped at the market, a little way down the road maybe three blocks. There, we filled up and we’re off to Lake Baikal.

Nice drive scenery-wise. Lots of tall thin trees becoming green. Massive road work, more lines or even a new road in the offing I guess it must get really busy on weekends. But not so busy today. Unfortunately these postcards are not of or from Listvyanka either, but it’s all the same like anyway I wanted to go to the museum but it was on the turn into the to Listvyanka I couldn’t read my map around 4 kilometres from where I deboarded the bus so I missed that I thought it was between that corner and the bus stop.

So when I got off the bus in the absence of a decent map tried the door of the tourist office but all closed, so I made off in that direction. I walked along the shore, a bit too cloudy for great photos but so much better than yesterday! Just the odd visitor, lots of repairs and painting under the way as locals gear up for the tourist season. I walked one and a half to two kilometres I looked again at the map realising my mistake turned around there was some sort of radio telescope at the far end of town uphill.

I walked past a few cafes, restaurants they looked lovely and passed a couple of amusing metal statues on the other side of the road I found a place for shashlik and ordered two – one would have sufficed. I sat down and played stick cricket while I waited there was a long way like 40 minutes. Tasted OK, staff were busy painting the railings blue not a fan of the salsa it came with, seemed a little fishy as in – like fish. So it was 3:50 PM already when I left for my hike! I walked through the end of town – a beach with a couple of hydrofoils. Rocky, not very pleasant 102 places for shashlik and a couple of modern buildings.

Then as the town petered out, a sort of picnic area with little huts for people to eat shashlik. The road turned left round a big fancy looking hotel and then the climb began. I tried to judge the timing of it all and frankly I thought it would take at least an hour. It was pretty high up so I decided I would turn around time of 450 and decided to see how far I could make it.

It was steep enough, but thankfully I didn’t get too tired or out of breath. Went through a turnstile next to a locked gate with a Russian flag on it. Scary dog with a sign – I think said keep out a dog! 100 to 200 metres away on a chain. I walked through an area that looked like a farm work, along the path never passing anyone as I went beautiful spot.

Then I got there and the gate was bolted but not locked so I opened it and climbed a set of stairs to the top. Nice view, the telescope observatory was sort of weird I guess. I’d taken two maybe three photos and a man appeared below telling me to get out! No international incident, he was just motioning me towards the gate. He didn’t really seem anything other than annoyed so I followed the directions, clicking (photos) a couple more times as I did.

So I walked back down the path, no one following me. Minibus waiting, grabbed some water and we were soon off. Bus dropped me – well finished at the Central Market. I stopped at the Slata supermarket on the way back here. Cooked, diary and now time to blog!

Thanks for popping by today! The journey continues next week as I hop the train on to my next stop, Yekaterinburg! May the Journey Never End!

3 thoughts on “From the Trans-Mongolian Diary 6 – Lake Baikal

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