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Trans Siberian Railway | Irkutsk (5,185km) - Lake Baikal




Moscow (0km) -> Kazan (820km) -> Yekaterinburg (1,814km) -> Tomsk (3,664km) -> Irkutsk (5,185km) -> Ulaanbaatar (6,464km) -> Beijing (8,015km) -> Hong Kong (10,265km) 

*The km count is based on how far I am from since I started in Moscow, not the actual km marks on the Trans Siberian and Trans Mongolian Railway. 
  • Moscow: Kremlin, Red Square, State History Museum, Izmailovo Market
  • Kazan: Kul Sharif Mosque, Kazan Kremlin, National Museum of the Republic State of Tatarstan, Bauman Street, Epiphany Bell Tower, Nizhny Kaban Lake
  • Yekaterinburg: the Europe and Asia border
  • Tomsk: Tomsk State University
  • Irkutsk: Listvyanka Dog Sledding, Lake Baikal via the Great Baikal Trail and the Circum Baikal Railway
  • Ulaanbaatar: Genghis Kahn Square, Winter Palace, National Museum of Mongolia, Gandan Monastery, Terelj National Park - Genghis Kahn Statue, Vultures, Camels, Traditonal Mongolia clothing, Turtle Rock, Lunch in a Yurt, horse riding, Ariyabal Meditation Temple
  • Beijing: Lama Temple, Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China, Old Summer Palace, China High Speed Train



March 27 (Sun) Irkutsk Day 2 



I woke up early to have breakfast. This time I got extra food, an omlet, Frenchtoast and a fruit salad. I wasn’t having lunch so I thought I’d fuel up beforehand. Today I’m off to Lake Baikal to trek through the Baikal Trail and along the old Trans-Siberian Circum Baikal railway. 

It was a cloudy day, and my guide picked me up at 9am. Maxim is actually the owner of the Travel Project site (5217.ru) and hostel I booked my trip from! They have a lot of good tours and I’d definitely recommend them.We starting our 2 hour drive towards Lake Baikal, further west than Listvyanka. Maxim had lots of stories to share about other travelers he’s toured with, included 2 Japanese teachers working in Russia (one in Kazan, one in Vladivostok who decided to meet in between and travel in Irkutsk), also a German Couple, and a New Zealand girl who worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia etc. He was also very well spoken and well-travelled and shared his experience travelling in the states. His English was really good and he used a lot of difficult vocabulary, however he was disappointed to find that Americans thought he had an accent. (To be fair, everyone has an accent according to Americans). I actually prefer the slight Russian Accent, it just shows the culture of which one is from. 

We continued driving through snowy roads, which reminded me of Wisconsin in Winter! Maxim shared more stories of the Baikal region in great detail. We finally got near the Baikal Trail, but the road was covered in snow. It had been snowing hard this morning so there was no way to drive through. Maxim got off the car and walked with me for a good 3km until the trail was a bit more clear so I wouldn’t get lost.


 

The earliest train to this region arrives at noon, by this time it was only 11am so I was the first person in the forest today. There were no footprints of any living being, just thick layers of snow, and a frozen river where you could hear the water flowing underneath. It felt magical, and really calm. Although it was snowing hard, it was 2C and didn’t feel too cold! The only problem was that the snow was getting everything wet! My hair was all tangled in snow and ice, and my bag wasn’t waterproof so my Russian to English book got wrinkly from being soaked. 

My guide left me after reaching the current 2nd Baikal Trans-Siberian line on the top of the valley. I continued to the river bed and walked alongside it. After around an hour, I exited the forest and reached the old Circum Baikal tracks. I walked for another 2 hours from Marituy to Kaltuk along the Trans-Siberian Circum Baikal railway. It was directly along the Lake Baikal for the whole time so I could get a pretty close up look. The lake was frozen and covered in snow so there were people skiing and snowmobiling on the ice. Instead of dull stones, the tracks here used colorful stones of all kinds. There are also around 3 tunnels along the way. I passed by some areas where there were aggressive stray dogs, they were growling at me and even started to chase me, so I just hurried away. 

At the end, I was so ready for a hot shower. But now I can proudly say I trekked through a Siberian forest alone! 





On the drive back to Irkutsk, Maxim told me about a story where he took an lose railroad nail from the old tracks. He had one in his car where he found while trekking. Once he almost got arrested because he shouted at his friend on the train “look what I have here? It’s super cool” and the police gave him some trouble and said the nail is government property so he had to give it back. He also explained some more about the windows of Tomsk and Irkutsk. So the on the top there’s usually one circle in the center which represents the sun, above that the icing looking decoration represents rain. The bottom will also have one single circle in the center which represents the seed. 

After a warm shower, I laid everything out to dry. My boots, pants, hat, gloves, and bag were all soaking wet from the snow. I went downstairs to the hotel’s sushi restaurant “Kyoto” to try. It’s the first sushi restaurant in Siberia, and it was pretty good! Apparently sushi is the “in” thing right now in Russia and all the sushi restaurants I pass by are packed!


I got another map since my old one was wrinkled from being soaked in snow. I walked down to the river to catch the last sunset in Siberia. It was stunning, and I’m going to miss Russia so much. It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’ve seen so much! I’ll be heading into Ulaanbaatar next in Mongolia, where the scenery will for sure be a change!





Read the Trans Siberian series here (vlogs included), please click on the links below:

Trans Siberian Railway - Moscow (0km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Kazan (820km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Yekaterinburg (1,814km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Tomsk (3,644km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Irkutsk (5,185km) Dog Sledding
Trans Siberian Railway - Irkutsk (5,185km) Lake Baikal
Trans Siberian Railway - Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar (6,464km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Ulaanbaatar (6,464km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Ulaanbaatar (6,464km) Terelj National Park
Trans Siberian Railway - Ulaanbaatar to Beijing (8,015km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Beijing (8,015km)
Trans Siberian Railway - Great Wall of China & Back to Hong Kong (10,265km)



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