Wow – we’re in Siberia. Kind of the end of the world. We boarded the train in Ulan Bator after a final breakfast and crossed the border around midnight. When I woke up and looked outside I noticed two things: 1) the terrain had changed completely from Mongolia; and 2) it looked a lot like northern Minnesota. Maybe we should have saved a pile of money and just visited home!
Our first stop was Irkutsk, a place previously known as the territory from which you attack Kamchatka. Turns out it’s a city of 600,000 and effectively the capital of eastern Siberia with beautiful wooden buildings and doorways. It’s also the place where we start to realize that not everything is going to go perfectly right on this adventure.
– I wrote about riding horses with our luggage to get out of the ger camp we stayed in for two days. What I didn’t add was that at the end, when I was getting off the horse so I could take a picture of Mark getting in, my shoe got caught in the stirrup, I spooked the horse, he kicked and ran away, and I sprained my wrist when I fell. Since Mark started the adventure with a tennis elbow-like injury, between the two of us now we have no good right arms. You should see us trying to move those 45-pound suitcases…
– We checked into a nice hotel and while unpacking remembered that great storage place on the train where we’d put all our toiletries … and where our toiletries still were. 🙁
– Still, we really liked the hotel; the room was great with big overstuffed leather furniture, really nice for enjoying a lazy couple of day. We’d only booked it for one night to give us a chance to figure out what we wanted to do. What we wanted to do – we thought – was to stay another day. When Mark went to the front desk, though, he was told “Sorry, the hotel is full tonight.”
OK, fine, we won’t stay. Instead we’ll get on a minibus to Listvyanka, a little town overlooking Lake Baikal. That’s what we really wanted to do anyway. We know how to roll with the punches. I hope.