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kiting, diving, trippin' I ain't never been lost, just confused for a few days - Daniel Boone

Richie Cunningham drives a Marshrutky in Western Siberia

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Sunday, 1 April 2007 | Views [8043] | Comments [2]

One metre thick layer of ice over Lake Baikal, Siberia

One metre thick layer of ice over Lake Baikal, Siberia

I decided on a trip to Listvyanka and a run on the Dog sledding out that way somewhere. Just got to find it now. I caught the tram out to the bus station then a marshrutky ( minivan travelling a set route) to Listvyanka. The trams are the really old steel things. If you had your arm or head in the way when the sliding steel door closed it would be cut off and fall into the street. When I got to the bus station I had to do the whole try to decipher the cryllic characters to find the bus I need. When I found a set of characters that looked right I asked the driver if I had the right van. When he turned around I thought for sure this guy would have an american accent and the Fonz would be in the back seat. He was a dead ringer for Richie Cunningham, but he drove like a russian. Hard to pick the more suicidal, the russians or the Asians. We agreed on 70 rubles for the ride so I thought even if I did have it wrong I wont get too far off course on that sort of money and off we went. When we did get to Listvyanka - surprise, surprise - an old local guy gave me directions to the wrong hotel, and I spent an hour walking around looking at the place before I found it.

Once I had accomodation sorted it was off to find the dog sledding centre. I'd organised a 20 km trip at 5 PM, well I think I had. All good and at 5 we had eight dogs set as a team and hooked up to a sled. Keen these dogs too, nearly had to ride the brake for the first mile or so. One of the guys from the centre came out with me and off into the forest we went. We tried a few times to get a photo of me with the dog team and sled but if I wasn't standing on the brake and this other guy holding the lead dogs we were heading for a knot a fisherman wouldn't bother with. Just had to settle for shots from the sled as I tried to steer clear of the trees and gullies. The only down side to the whole trip, apart from it ending was when we got back closer to the village the melting snow and ice getting thrown up by 32 paws was worse than running last in a field of fifteen horses. We only stopped a few times on the 20 km and the dogs were still pulling when we got back to their camp. The lead dog is steered by voice command and the team urged on by voice as well. Dogs being dogs there were a few mishaps, like one guy not liking his running mate today or toilet stops for the team when one of them is spinning his wheels and the other seven are still pulling. Excellent outing, not cheap but once in a lifetime and worth every cent. Feeling pretty happy with myself I went off fora w alk into town again and bought myselfa 2.25l bottle of beer in a plastic bottle. Gotta love Russia.

Next day I was back in the port area looking for a ride back to Irkutsk. I missed a ride in another marshrutky so I went into the cafe and had a cup of tea nad a smoked omul (fish). Very nice. I was sitting in the sun and out of the wind and a local guy came up and said he could give me a lift in an hour or so. He is a tour guide and had a Dutch guy I had met in Irkutsk with him. It turns out he is taking the Dutchman, Christiaan of course, and an Australian couple up to Olkhon Island for a few days and had room for one more. So I loaded. Martin and Linda from Melbourne along with Christiaan and Anton, the guide and his girlfriend Syvlana, and I had a meal together that night, got everything sorted and headed off next morning. 

Olkhon Island is on the western side of Lake Baikal in western Siberia. Lake Baikal holds one fifth of the worlds fresh water and at its deepest is over 1600 m deep. It is constantly getting deeper because the two tectonic plates that meet at the lake are moving apart and they say it will eventually become the fifth sea. Oh yeah. And IT'S FROZEN OVER !! There is a metre thick layer of ice over most of it. I say most because the ice is moving all the time as it heaps up during the day and cooling down again overnight. We stood on the lake and on the bank above it and could hear the ice cracking as the expansion/contraction thing was going on. The cracks sometime open up, but quickly freeze again, or just push against each other and force the ice to rise up and crack. And a rise and crack with all the noise etc can happen in only 15 seconds. The weirdest feeling is standing on the ice and feeling it crack right where you are standing. It goes on all day and night too. The ice road can be all good one night and next morning it is cut beacuase of another crack that has mounded up up ice one metre high. The tyre tracks from yesterday can be seen too and they have shifted sideways as well by a metre or so too. Anton and Syvlana took us all ove the island and back to Irkutsk over three days and we all had a ball.

This morning Anton and I went to the railway station and I now have a ticket to ride to Moscow tonight, on April Fools Day. The next three days and four nights is on the train until I get to Moscow which is not getting any rave reviews at all from locals or travellers at the moment.

Off to buy some more train food now. More noodles, instant savoury potatoes and fruit. Most of the stations have hawkers on the platforms trying to seel all sorts of things too, so I wont go hungry. Moscow here I come...............

Tags: the great outdoors

 

Comments

1

Hi Gazza, Great to hear from you again! Started to think you may have ended up somewhere you shouldn't have been! After not hearing any news for a week, I hit the web to see what you may have been up to - I've learn't heaps of things about the area you've been travelling in - looks quite lovely actually! Love the little wooden buildings and Lake Baikal itself! Thought you may have taken up dog sledding- Figured you'd need an adrenaline rush by now!!
Have fun and be careful over there!!
Love Cath and Kasey ( the boys are busy)
P.S. Moz - You better organize a BIG home cooked meal when he gets to you!!

  Cath and Kasey Apr 1, 2007 7:34 PM

2

Dude - awesome... I'll be sure to stock the cupboards with some decent food. (Don't worry Cath!) I'll get you rested, settled and off on another adventure before you know it. Not sure what we're doing yet. When do you get here? Oh yeah, expect you when I expect you! By the way.. you've landed some work here too... my assistant on a two day photo shoot. You'll get to meet some real English people!!! See you soon and safe travles!

  Moz Apr 2, 2007 8:09 AM

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