Two weeks ago I went back to Ulan-Ude. As I was not in a hurry I wanted to take the bus in the afternoon, and not that one at 7am. But my hostel was not able to do some reservation for me. By chance there was another Russian family, which just stayed for one night and drove back to UU that day. They agreed to take me with their car. Hence a was a little bit on pressure to pack my backpack fastly after breakfast. They were originally from Moscow and now also on holidays at lake baikal. I guess they were heading back to Irkutsk that day, because the small car was rented there. The drive in the small car on the backseat was horrible for me. After not even one hour my knees started to hurt and it was a pleasure for me having a break after 2 hours…but still the same amount of time was infront of me. Nevertheless, I was more than happy, when we reached after about 4.5 hours UU. Once again it turned out, why I’m not into hitchhiking 😉
Sunday two weeks ago I started with the German family a hike to the highest point of the Svyatoy Nos peninsula. The first three hours up to about the half of the track we hiked together. Then the mother and daughter said, it was enough for them and so they made a break. I just continued directly into the cloud and eventually to the top. There the view was marginal, below 40 m, and I only could find the peak with the help of my GPS in the smartphone. Additionally there was a strong wind blowing from this site, so my hands were frozen very shortly, as I didn’t had gloves with me. There are even some prominent lookouts at the plateau, but at this day there are pretty useless. Nevertheless at good weather you’ll have just a beautiful surrounding view. On my way back I found a wind shielded place for some picknick before I returned on the same way down. As I had time, I took every rock in between on my way down to the cross, even for some light bouldering in between 😊. And then the last about 800 m altitude were a super easy hike down in a little bit more than one hour.
Saturday two weeks ago we made a boat excursion at lake baikal to a small island, which is nowadays a nature reserve. We started with the typical Russian minibus in the morning as the same group as a day before. After about one hour drive we made a first stop, as Thomas got out. He hiked up the highest mountain of the Svyatoy Nos peninsula this day and didn’t joined for the boat excursion. After another 20 min we reached our small boat and embarked to it. The first stop was already at the first settlement after a couple of minutes to get some gasoline. Then we headed for about half an hour to the hot springs. This is also for locals a very popular excursion at the weekend, as they are bathing in the hot springs. The German family got off from the boat and hiked part of the way back.
Gilles, Marina, Galina, her daughter and me continued to the island for about one hour. Here we passed the ranger station and got to the observation platform for the local seals, which were called nerpa. They are going to the rocks infront of the island to sleep. For about 45 minutes we were allowed to watch them, but we had to be very calm in order not to disturb them. It was a very nice show and the time just flew by. After this we returned to the boat in order to have late lunch und drive back. The water at lake baikal was very calm without any waves, whereas in the bay the water was more rough with minor but already feelable waves. On our way back we passed to small islands in the bay, where some bird colonies are living. Then we returned to another local settlement, were we met again Alexandre who was waiting for us here. In this settlement they celebrated the day of the fishermen…just an official excuse to get drunken 😄. We needed to wait another 45 minutes for the German family before we could finally continue. On the way back we picked up Thomas who was already waiting for us. He successfully hiked up the mountain and was very happy but also a little bit tired.
Ust-Bargusin and the region is mainly influenced by the logging industry. Nowadays Chinese business men are buying almost all timber, and 60% of the local jobs are related to this industry. So more and more area is used for logging. In former years trees were not cutted beside 50km of lake Baikal, but nowadays this distance is no longer maintained, as long as one get paid for it.
Friday a week ago the two French men, another family from Germany and me, made an excursion to the Barguzin Valley. Firstly Thomas and me wanted to hike a nearby mountain, but as the weather changed and the forecast was rain the whole day, we decided not to go up to the mountain. This was a really good decision, as the rain even increased during the day.
After about half an hour we stopped at a small village of wooden houses and walked a little bit through it. In Barguzin village we just stopped at the old Jewish cemetery before we headed on to a Datsan. Before we could enter the Datsan we needed to go around it and pray at each prayer wheel. Inside each wheel there are written prays and once you rotate it you pray these. At the place of the Datsan a special stone, which looks like a pyramid, was found, and hence the Datsan was built. It is now known to give fertility to the pilgrims who visit it.
After finishing our round in the rain we were finally allowed to go to the Datsan and have a look inside. Eventually we finished our excursion at a nearby Kafe and got again some Buuzi. Due to my experience which I had from Seseg, I was able to explain the others the eating procedure of them. As we were all more or less wet and as it was also cold, the warm Banya in the evening was a real pleasure.
Thursday morning a week ago Aleks took me for a short city tour through Ulan-Ude. In buryatiyan language Ulan means red and Ude is the name of the river which flows into the Selenga river nearby. And as the name of the city just changed in the 1930’s you could easily guess what it means.
We first visited the local Datsan, a Buddhism temple, at the top of a hill with a nice view and then went to the city centre. Here the world’s largest Lenin head might be the most touristic attraction, which is located near the renovated opera. After having lunch together Aleks joined me for the bus station and to get a ticket. The bus should go at 15 o’clock but we were there already at 13:20 o’clock. Getting the ticket was not a big deal and finding the bus also not really…but it was almost full and I just got the least seat. And hence the bus just already started at 13:35…and I was a bit surprised, as there were only two buses each day which are driving to Ust-Bargusin. But they explained me, that this is quit normal. Once the bus is full, it just starts to drive. So luckily, just by chance, I was almost two hours to early at the bus station, which is absolutely not common for me. But therefore I was also early at my small hostel. Here I met two travellers, which were actually from France, but had independent journeys. Gill was the older experienced one, which already travelled since more than one year and Thomas is just heading to Beijing and then maybe further on to South-East Asia, as he need to return in Autumn. After having tasty lunch, with local Omul fish from lake Baikal, I went to the Banya for some relaxing.