The train trip to Irkutsk will finish today, followed by a transfer to Listvyanka.
Day 25 Planned:
- Arrive Irkutsk
- Private transfer to Listvyanka (70km)
Day 25 Actual:
Russian border control started after midnight. Just before we arrived the train staff closed all the blinds on the train, both in the cabins and in the passageway.
Then the various inspections began starting with a count of who was on the train, initial passport inspections, a more detailed inspection of the passport (including checking the RFID chips and examining pages under a microscope), and a routine search of the cabin.
This took until about 12:30PM. The passport and arrival card were stamped after the detailed inspection, and our passports returned at that point. Interestingly the arrival card has two identical parts, and we are expected to keep the 2nd part with us for the duration of our stay. If I recall correctly Hong Kong gave me something similar but that was just a small slip that was printed when I passed immigration.
After that Benjamin and I made up the beds in our cabins and waited for the train to start before trying to get to sleep. Basically just in case there was one more inspection to be completed before the release was final.
Which there was: a sniffer dog team walked through the carriage at about 12:50PM.
After that I tried to get some sleep but just couldn’t get comfortable. I got up around 6ish and started reading, and then had the 2nd set of instant noodles (chicken this time) for breakfast. Not too bad and the rehydrated bits almost tasted like real meat.
I took some photos during the morning including this one as we passed through a station in Russia (somewhere):
We were also seeing snow and blue skies again:
Around 9ish we headed to the back of the train to check out the restaurant car that was added when the train crossed the Russian border. Quite nice, and reasonably priced for coffee, tea, etc. Whilst we were in the restaurant car we started getting our first views of Lake Baikal.
OH. MY. STARS.
Ok, imagine any other lake you’ve ever seen.
Now imagine that scene in Crocodile Dundee.
Russia’s version of the line is basically “That’s not a lake. This is a lake.”
There will be many photos of Lake Baikal today. And, no, that’s not an ocean you’re looking at in the photos.
Then there was an unexpected inspection of our passports against the train tickets. Given that Todd and I had swapped cabins, that caused a little confusion but I think it was resolved fairly quickly.
I had lunch in the restaurant car, and then we pulled away from Lake Baikal into the hills for the final leg to Irkutsk. I think this was taken just as we were heading into that section and shows the lake curving away on this side:
I also caught a glimpse of a fascinating station building on the way through a minor town:
One of our earliest views of Irkutsk contained something that looked very much like the Sydney Opera House, only smaller:
We were met in Irkutsk and then driven to the chalet in Listvyanka which is on Lake Baikal.
The chalet has hot showers, can do laundry, and kinda sorta has wifi. Hence I’ve updated the text for several posts, and included photo albums in others. Full updates may need to wait for the next stop or for Google Photos to behave itself.
On the way to dinner I caught this lovely sunset shot over Lake Baikal:
We had dinner in a local restaurant that was justifiably recommended to us, and then retired for the night.
Many. Working on it. No, really. 😄
EDIT 16/10/2017: And here they are.
Several older posts have been updated:
- Day 17 – Hong Kong to Beijing – Added photo album
- Day 18 – Beijing – Great Wall and Summer Palace – Added photo album
- Day 19 – Beijing – Tian’anmen, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven – added photo album
- Day 20 – Beijing Free Day – added photo album
- Day 21 – Beijing to Ulaanbataar – added photo album
- Day 22 – Ulaanbaatar – Added description of the Mongolian cultural show
- Day 23 – Gandan Monastery and Terelj National Park – Added description
- Day 24 – Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk and Listvyanka – Added description
Weird WordPress Behaviour
Occasionally I’ve been noticing that when I hit update in the WordPress app it will occasionally delete text and replace it with a “>”. If you notice any of this, please let me know in a comment and I’ll try to fix it.