Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I am sitting here looking out of the hotel window, 9.45pm, in Ust Barguzin on the shores of Lake Baikal reflecting on the events of the day and watching kids outside in the street. (Sun is still shining)
Those emails we sometimes get saying 'Remember when ......blah, blah, blah' these mostly apply to people who grew up prior to the eighties. The kids here ride old bikes with no helmets, play in the dirt with toys and sticks and have a dog or two hanging around them and are growing up learning lifes lessons by living them. Enough on the reflections, look ahead, there is plenty to look forward to.
The ride here was anything but boring and the road was a challenge in a few places. Our first sight of Lake Baikal was just before Turga. Riding along with trees on both sides of the road it was not immediately visible and it took a few seconds to register that the blue through the trees on the left was the lake. Just the simple fact of standing on the shore looking out over the lake was quite exhilarating. I want down play it by calling it .....Just another lake...., it is the deepest and largest fresh water lake in the world and holds about 1/5 of the worlds fresh water. Riding down the road a few kilometeres and there is ice still floating on the surface and the surrounding air temp drops a degree or two.
Riding into the town of Turga and down to the lake front, the shores are sandy, there is people out lying on them and cooking BBQs. To my amazement there is two kids swimming - I shiver at the thought - there is only one way I like my bathing water - HOT!
Riding up the road, if thats what you call it, I have seem farm tracks that are in better condition, to Ust Barguzin a town of reasonable size and is the stopping point for the road north. You have to board a river barge to be ferried to the other side to continue. We found the local hotel and the place is very pleasantly presented. Our room is a large 5 bed place, we can spread gear out and still have room to move. Ust Barguzin is not quite what J'ean expected. Still farely remote here and tourism is not a major part of the the towns life.
13 June Sunday Ust Barguzin to Tolbazhika
Breakfast was at a small place down by the river where the barge is used to ferry the people and vehicles across. The bikes usually draw some sort of attention and this morning is no different. We are now used to having one sided conversations, they do the talking we do the nodding, and often email addresses are exchanged. The day bright and sunny with barely a cloud in the sky, making for a perfect day to ride.
When we arrived back at the intersection that goes back to Ulan Ude or onto Irkutsk we couldn't decipher which was the road to Irkutsk. We knew the road to Ulan Ude and the road we had just come back on, that left two others, with no distinct signage as to where they go. No problems if your a local I suppose!!
As if in answer to our question along came two local motorcyclists on Urals. Stopping and introducing themselves they offer to ride with us to the river. Not knowing why we are going to the river but understanding that they are going to show us the way to Irkutsk. Everyday is an adventure :)))
As it turns out we need to cross the river on one of those barges they use to ferry vehicles across. We would never have found this had they not turned up. Many thanks to Motopirates.
Back on the road to Irkutsk we stopped in at Kabansk for food and drink to camp the night, well we thought we would camp. A familily of 3 help us with directions to a place they know that is cheap and just up the road. It took us a little over an hour to get there as we took the scenic route. No not lost.... we missed our turn off, the point is we still got there.
The place is like a backpacker accomodation and the people that are there are quite young and already enjoying a few drinks and food on the outside tables. The guy we meet can speak a little english and organises a room and food for us.
Russian hospitality got the better of me and it took me a day to recupe.... bloody vodka!!!