Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude


After returning from our fantastic visit from Olkhon we stayed two days in Irkutsk. Being a popular stop-over by Transsib tourists, I was expecting a rather modern and well developed town. The opposite turned out to be true. The town is rather run-down and poor, compared to Barnaul and Novosibirsk. Many streets don't have street lighting. From fellow travellers we heard warnings about tourists being robbed, so we decided to be pretty careful. In addition, the weather had changed dramatically from our stay on Olkhon Island and it was now raining and snowing(!). Not the best weather to enjoy a town. On the good side of things, the city has a certain authentic feel to it, with many nice Siberian wooden houses and a large market hall.


This small Buryat town west of Lake Baikal was our last stop in Russia. This allowed us to use a day connection from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude, enabling us to enjoy the magnificent scenery on this trip. Again we were amazed by the beauty of Lake Baikal and its shores, now covered with snow. The next morning the weather had improved again and we took some time exploring Ulan-Ude before our train to Mongolia would leave. We enjoyed the nice atmosphere in the pedestrian area of this town. Thanks to the many Buryat people, descendants from Mongolians, we felt like we were in Asia for the first time this journey.

There's not much to see in town, however. The only "attraction" is a giant statue of Lenin's head on the main square. Not exactly a flattering tribute to the man, if you ask me... Later that day we took the train to Ulan-Bataar, leaving Russia after long journey through this fascinating country. We thouroghly enjoyed our visit and will surely return to Russia in the future. Goodbye, Lenin!