Bilderverkauf aller 50 km / Pictures on Sale every 50 km

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Car was stolen

But we, the "Stolen Car Project" working on it! We means a lot of people and we really have to say Tank you to all of them.

No details now. But today we had some hope, lets see what happen next.

Translated versions, not perfect but understandable:

Now we are living like Homeless Santa Claus and his wife. But there are nice people and we are couch surfing through Irkutsk.

Before the car was stolen we were one week together with my parents. It was really nice. Later more since I am not really in the mood now to write so much.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grey streets impossible, white streets off-road experience, yellow streets you can go at least 50 km/h, and Red you have Asphalt

13th to 14th

After asking 5 people for the way to Juri Panovs, the sculptors, house we finally found it. In front of the house are three or four wooden columns and from each maybe 5 or more faces looking on you. You can see that he mostly used the already natural existent shapes of the tree. But each face has really strong expression and one almost look like a BORG from the spaceship enterprise. The neighbour Алексеи told us that Juri Panov died 8 months ago.. He looked like "Popey", stripped to the waist, with a French cap on his head. "Mr. Popey" asked us to come in his garden where he is building his own wooden ship. The ship looks like the once in the cartoons (You know this East German one, Abrafaxe or how was it written?). The ship is 18 m long and has two mast with the heigth of 8 m. Next year in the winter he is planning to transport it down to the Ангара, first over his potato field, then over the fence (:), and down the village road to the river. It is really impressing what he made by himself the last 6 years. If there is no wind he will use an old tractor engine. He is pensioner and his hobby is Siberian handicraft, like cups made from birch bark, and building his own ship. Kotomi wanted to have the birch cups we bought some and asked him for the way we wanted to go to the island Олхон. He explained us it is a bad road but possible. Nevertheless there is a national park but if you want to drive there just tell them you want to meet my friend Виктор. Well, I thought would be a nice idea and in my map the road was printed grey. In the legend they just say unpaved road. We went to the entry point of the park close to the village черемшанка.

At the ranger house I carefully opened the door to the garden since I am afraid of the dog but nobody is there. But the barking of the dog made them come out. The rangers girlfriend was just making some kind of Piroschki, flour filled with fish and Onion. She was speaking quite good English and invites us to come in to have some. I explain where we want to go but it seems we could go in even without the written permission of the park director (:). But it would not help us since the grey road is impossible at least in this time of the year. It is just a winter road and now we would just stuck in the middle of the mountains somewhere in the mud. Well after chatting and talking we go back to Irkutsk, what I wanted to avoid, and take the yellow road being the last part white until Олхон. Well so far it seems to be a good road no asphalt but good to drive. Along the road we are driving through a shower of white butterflies which decorate now the front of our car. In Мал. Голоустное, the end of the yellow part, we decide to make our camp at a river (N 52.30433°, E 105.35013°). A family is just going home and leaves us some firewood. I ask the guy, who is actually from Bulgaria, for the way to the north. He say it is bad but maybe possible. So I decide to ask next morning at the petrol station we saw some kilometres ago.

The morning is very nice and we almost decide to stay one more day until a lot of horseflies want to eat us, but especially Kotomi. This makes us easy to decide to go on to the north. Before we ask at the petrol station if it is possible, she looks at our car and say yes. First there are just deep tracks of the trucks which transport the wood but since it is dry it is possible. Going on it starting to be holes filled with water but still hard underground. After maybe 20 km it gets more hard to find the way and we often almost stuck in the holes which have a muddy underground now. That is the first time I am really happy that we bougth the Landcruiser that can lock all diffrentials separately. In Japan they told me you will never need. Jup they are rigth but maybe they never wanted to use Russian "roads". Somewhere around here we met 5 pimped up Toyota Landcruisers in the middle of the forrest. The guys in there are all drressed in army clothing and try to look as manslike or scary as possible. I show them a part of my map and point on the way to Куртун and then to Олхон. They say I have to go always straight (:) and not to the rigth. The most angry looking guy looks at our tyres says "плохо", which means I ahve a bad tyres. Well that is true and compared to his pimped up Landcruiser with special Mud tyres I am not sure anymore if we can do. But they look at each other a little bit sceptic and then say it will be ok; maybe it will be ok I can read in their eyes.Thanks to my GPS and wonderful Russian maps which include even the smallest forest way we are slowly approaching a street which would be yellow again. In Куртун we are already happy to have good road again. The village looks nice with special kind of window frames we did not see gefore. But after that we stuck again in some forest way and have to turn. Another time we have to repair something which was a bridge before, or we are sliding through the mud. This all doesn't sound so nice and Kotomi could not believe that we will ever see the road again. But then we are suddenly in a deep valley. In the valley there is a meadow where to left we have some rock formation and to the rigth the forrest and a river. The meadow is full with flowers and not only one kind maybe 5 or more. All the way before, sometimes not faster than walking, was worth to go; just to be able to see this. Well there are other meadows you could say. That is true but most of them are touched by humans or their animals. That means, you may find one or two kinds of flowers but not that much. Around Алагуй we reached the yellow road which was drivable again and in the evening we got the ferry to go to Олхон. On the first glance the island looks like a Ying Yang island. At one side looks like Mongolia; dry meadows and the on other side to the east; mountains with forest. We want to camp at the sand beach a few kilometers after the ferry but we stuck again; this time in the sand. Tired we just stay here (N 53.11448°, E 107.08263°) but having a nice view at the Баикал and some small island.

Back in our Western "civilized" world

12th of June:


After almost two weeks living in the nature having almost everyday our fire and a peacefull place at the Baikal, some river, or just being invited somewhere in the village, we coming back to the "reality". Already on the way between Ust Bargusin and Irkutsk, around the south coast of the Baikal it feels like back to "Western Civilization". Now the Магазин has neon signs or fancy three dimensional letters, everywhere along the street you can find a Кафе which are painted in all colors they could get. The railway and industry you will find along the way, the 3 to more floor grey sowjet buildings between the old wooden houses. The coast is slowly changing. Before it was flat and now we have to cross from time to time the cliffs. And from the most southern part until Irkutsk you won't see the Baikal anymore and you are driving through mountains. Irkutsk was really hot and the people were dressed like summer.  


We went to the Mongolian consulate. They are very friendly and they also could speak English. It was good that we did not dry to apply for the Visa in Ulan Ude, as they were quite stoic. If you wait 1 week you have to pay around 1500 RUB (ca. 35 EUR); we wait 2 weeks which is 1020 Rubel (ca. 23 EUR). Well as usual we went for shopping vegetables .... and some beer sitting on a big place where they made some kind of music dancing contest. From Russian Kosak dance, Arabic belly dance, Buriat, to Techno they had everything. We did not want to stay here for the nigth so we decided to go to Больжой Речка, where some sculptor is/was living. The village is at the Ангара the only river that is flowing out of the Байкал. All the other rivers flowing into the Байкал. We found a nice but cold place at the Ангара where also a lot of other people, I guess from Irkutsk, were spending there weekend. Making fire sitting together, some with tents, some with motorships and a lot with cars having a loud sound system. In the night we could "enjoy" the Techno music or some "bumbum" from everywhere. Kotomi was really disappointed about that and asked how can hey be so impolite. I told her that this is not a campsite and people who come here they know it. Ok we did not know but we are not natives. Anyway it is the same in Germany and even so we did not like the music it is a kind of freedom to do what you want. The only thing which I did not like was that the people were less open or more arrogant. Even so they can speak English it is harder to communicate with them.



Monday, June 15, 2009

The Director and his Wife

7th of June:


After a really rainy night we started to the hot springs. We got the rough description yesterday from the policeman. We really just had to go straight. Just not sure how long. After ca. 40 km we came to the village Alla. Before it looked everything like the way after Khabarovsk, birches, birches, birches ..... But in Alla you had wide meadows encircled by forest and behind the mountains. They suddenly are standing there like a wall. At some point you can see a steep valley, which looks like a cut in the mountains. And through the valley you can see snow caped mountains behind that wall. From Alla you just go 7 km to the left (coming from Kurumkan) and then you are exactly at the base of the mountains and the start of this valley. At this place in the middle of the forest you see some wooden nice houses (N 54.70184°, E 110.70703°), which are a База Отдыха. It is something like a Spa resort but more cozy. The place is operated by a Buriat couple Зырема and Алек. They are really funny. She was maybe double size of him, but still sporty. Wearing work clothing and a headscarf, she was painting a room inside one of these houses. He was small compared to her and telling me prices if we want to stay here. But we just wanted to go to the hot springs. Anyway we did not have enough money anymore. When he realized this, he started to ask for Euro, then for USD, and finally for Vodka. In this moment she got angry on him. But he said he is director, so he can drink and she can work. That made us all laughing. They prepare for the coming season, which is quite short, but they had visitors from all over the world. And at the rocks of the valley already an American girl died because she just fell down. It is a really amazing place. Sun and rain were alternating. Meantime he agreed to the 100 Rubel we wanted to pay just for the hot spring, although he always started again with 600 Rubel if we stay here with our car (:). While going down into the valley to the hot springs he showed us a lot of this shaman points. He explained we should put the coins there. I saw him how he collected some of them. I think that is not the intention of such holy points. Anyway he was a nice person, just funny and a little bit addicted to the Vodka. The hot springs were really refreshing, alternating hot spring and the cold river let me feel really good. After that it started heavy rain and we decided to drive back to Bargusin valley as it seemed that there the weather is always better than here. Around the mountains all the clouds are stopped and it is raining quite often. This makes the area greener than the Bargusiin valley but we preferred a dry place for the night.





Roof Tent Experience


Gerd asked me how we like the roof tent so far. Basically it is really nice. It is like a home. You open it in a minute and you have your home sweet home everywhere you go. Buuuut......, we had to learn some things.


1. Never buy the Chinese product. Maybe everybody knows but although the one German company which is selling this tent gets it from China. We did not have another chance, since this kind of roof tent I could not get in Japan. Furthermore, I did not want to buy the one with the plastic cover since you can not put any heavy stuff on it and it takes all the space you have on the top of your car.


2. It gets really noisy and we are sometimes afraid to fly away if there is heavy wind. In this case I cover it now with an additional strong plastic sheet. Do not take a thin one it will be noisy to.


3. Isolation: well in the cold areas we had the problem that the mattress was quite wet below in the morning. We were hot (:) the bottom of the tent cold, where warm and cold air meets you have condense water. I bought additional isolation mats, you the one you use in tent. I changed the order of all components several times until I got the best order. Now the mattress is not wet anymore.


I do not know other roof tents of this kind but maybe some of the problems you will also have. The two Belgium guys: ....... were also complaining that there roof tent was almost damaged after one year using although they had roof tent from a better maker. I friend of us had a Beduine roof tent which is also quite expensive but the manufacture quality of his one was also not that good. One advantage of the one we have is also that it is not so heavy. It is around 40 kg. I saw the others have much more, but maybe because they are more reliable (:). Yeah and so far we did not get wet but I do not trust in this Chinese product in a really heavy rain.


But I still think it was a good decision to buy the roof tent (:).


Guest at Eva's and Andrei's home, Relation between Russians and Buriat

8th to 9th of June:


We visited Eva and Andrei in their house. They moved there 4 or 5 years ago and when they started there was nothing. The previous owner was drinker and he sold everything from inside the house what he could carry. Doors, parts of the oven .... If you look at the house now it is a really warm and cozy place. Kotomi just wanted to have such a house and she almost forced me to promise that we build a Banja some day in Germany. The shelves in the house are made by Andrei and Eva was painting them I guess. The combination of blue and white is really nice to see and because of the wood it feels really cosy. A big kitchen table, a gas stove and stove  for wood. In the garden they have of course a Banja. Eva invited us to stay and also for Banja. Of course we liked to stay there and it was also time for Banja (:). Kotomi was cooking some Japanese food and after that we went to Banja.


It was really interesting to talking with both of them. Andrei’s gandgrandfather was living close to Mongolia and before the revolution he joined one or more expeditions of a Polish scientist. They went to Mongolia, China, and Tibet. Starting with 30 camels and coming back with 5, sometimes close to death because of the lack of water. This sounds really like an adventure. The grandgrandfather was a guard for the expedition and made quite a good money. In Mongolia he met his wife and after the expedition they were living in Russia. The family was quite wealthy having big herds of horse, cow, and sheep. But after the revolution they lost everything and had to leave the place. That is somehow the story how Andrei’s family came to the Baikal. Andrei tries to find out more about his grandgranfather and in the internet he also found some historic documents from one expedition, mentioning also his grandgrandfather. But it is hard to find documents from that time. We started with the story since Eva told me that Russians sometimes call the Buriat, the "Blacks". It is some kind of discrimination.  That means, sometimes Andrei is proud of his Mongolian roots but sometimes not (Buriats look like Mongolians). The other way around in the main city of this area, Bargusin, mostly Buriat people are living and most of the jobs in the city hall or official offices are occupied by Buriats. Eva told me that the Buriats treat the "Whites" in the same way as the Russians the Buriats. Well, who started with the discrimination, I guess the Russians were the first who occupied the land of the Buriats. In the cities like Ulan Ude Buriat and Russians mix, but the villages are strongly separated in Russian or Buriat villages.


Andrei had to go to work early so he went to bed and I was talking with Eva almost until 2 in the morning while Kotomi was checking e-mails. During talking we recognised a lot of things we both like although we are not the same star sign (:). We also talked about problems they have. Both made there own place really nice and giving their heart into the place. However it is hard to make friends. Also Andrei’s friends from the village are not living there anymore. Everybody who studied did not come back. Only Andrei, who want to take care about his family and of course he likes his motherland, came back to Ust Bargusin. Actually that is the same that happens in my hometown or also in the small cities of Japan and all over the world. I often think about that and I wonder why it is not possible to have a work in the small places since nowadays a lot of people could work over internet everywhere and they need to eat and other services. That means actually all professions would be needed in the small cities too, consequently there would be Jobs. But maybe I just make it to simple and I overlook some important point.


However, world problems or discrimination was just an interesting topic. We enjoyed the time at Eva’s and Andrei’s place very much.


Thank You, Arrigato (:)


10th to 11th:


We stayed one more day at the nice beach of Ust Bargusin. I was Kite Surfing and Kotomi reading and writing. Again we got some Omul for free from some young guys who we gave salt and bread before. They showed us how to grill the Omul at the fire. Just a stick, put the Omul on it, Ca, 15 to 20 cm away from the fire you put the stick vertical in the sand. Well the stick I also tried before but I always put it to close to the fire (:). Was good but not as good as the new way or better experienced way. The next day just driving, around 700 km close to Irkutsk. Nothing special. Update of the coordinates: N 52.11396°, E 103.97549° (:). 


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fu* steep........, Shamanism in Bargusin Valley

I got the question from Gerd who is asking if the places we go are also possible for backpackers. Around Ust Bargusin it is a really nice place for backpackers too. You can go to Moskau and from there to Ulan Ude and then take a bus to here. From there you can hitch hike to the national park and the Holy Cape. In German they say “Heilige Nase” (Holy Nose), which is actually wrong, Andrei told me. Andrei is Evas Husband who is also working for the National park. Until now we actually did not meet any Tourist. But Siberia, especially between Vladivostok and Ulan Ude is not really a place where you can individually travel without car. Around the Baikal now is still not the season, but Eva told me there are more backpackers in the season. For now still the West part is visited most even so the East part is nicer (That is my opinion for now, I still did not go to Olchon!). It is still more difficult to reach but definitely possible.


Gerd also asked how about to join our trip? Of course that would be nice. We have only one problem and we regret this already, we took out both of our back seats and put Diesel tanks, something like a shelf with boxes, and a lot of Japanese food. That means if somebody wants to join, which we would really like, she/he has to rent a car or driver or something, or he has to sit on the roof (:). For now the plan is to be in Mongolia around July, August Kazakhstan East, but from here on I am not quite sure about the time. I am not sure if we just Transit Kazakhstan first because we come back there after Uzbekistan or if we already travelling around there. I definitely want to go to the Pamir Highway before November! In between there is still Kirgistan we want to go. That is all I know for now.


2nd to 3rd of June:


Ok now to the hike; this is possible for everybody who comes to Ust Bargusin as backpacker. There are also other hiking possibilities, like some hot springs and so on. You can easily spend here 1 or 2 weeks, including beach, hiking and ... nice people. We decided for the mountain or better plateau since it promised a nice view with the Baikal in all directions. Eva told us: "take enough water with you because it is hot and very steep". Well we thought Japanese mountains are also really steep compared to European Alps and it will be ok. We took 6 litres of water with us and thought it will be fine. At the starting point of the hike N 53.59683°, E 108.85053° there is a sign written in English and Russian which Eva made. It says without backpack around 3 to 5 hours and down 2 to 3 hours (if I remember correctly). She told me with the backpack she needed the first time 9 hours to go up. First you are walking through a forest which looked like in a fairytale. And now (June) the forest was full with flowers. Almost suddenly it gets really steep; there is also an attention sign 50% steep descent. After some time we recognised what Eva meant. There is almost no wind and it gets really hot, I was sweating like a pig and we always had to drink. Mentally Kotomi had some difficulties since she did not now where the end of this steep part is. Actually I also did not want to think about going down here again. I also tried to avoid speaking to much to Kotomi since I was afraid she wants to kill me, almost kidding (:). Ok this steep part was around 1000 m height difference (around 3 hours) and then you come out of the forest. There you have an amazing view over the Baikal and the natural sand bridge that has a white beach at both sides and connects the peninsula with the main land. You can almost see the top, it is not so steep, and everybody is happy thinking it is not so far anymore. Well it is not steep but you always have to find the way climbing on the rocks or going through small but dense pines. Sometimes you can relax a little bit but then you have to go over rocks again. Finally we need around 4 more hours to the top. Since Kotomi did not drink enough she had quite a headache and went to bed soon. In total it is a height difference of about 1500 m, which is not so much but the steep descent is really tough especially with the heavy backpack. But it is nice to sleep up there to enjoy this silence and the view. As I always say; for the nice things in life you always have to suffer a little bit. It teaches us patience and that we are small compared to everything around.  I made a fire, cooked tea for Kotomi, and throw some potatoes in the fire. During sunset I was walking on the plateau to a small hill (1873 m) 30 m higher than our camp. From here I could enjoy the view in all directions being able to see also the 3 small Uschkani islands. And as I told you before here (N 53.63774°, E 108.80911°) I got the SMS from my friend Rudy, who also like the mountains. What a coincidence.


Going down next day was even harder and we also need almost 6 hours. Especially the steep part is not funny. I wished to have the paraglide with me. Anyway we had to walk and also down we needed a lot of water. But after that we just went to the sand beach made our camp and a fire and jumped in the water of the Baikal.


One thing: the view in June is always a little bit dusty. Eva told me in July it would be better and clearer. So if you want to go here it is better in July. I enjoyed also this time and we had still snow at the top which is also pretty nice.



5th to 7th of June:


After the hike we were going to the Bargusin valley. Anyway we had to go to Bargusin because we were running out of money. Eva told us that this is the only close place which has a Bankomat (Cash dispenser). It is true but we came too late for the Bank, it was already closed. In the Magasin they had one too, but it is only working at the opening hours of the bank. Since it was Friday we had to stay around Bargusin until Monday.


Eva told us it is better to go along the east side of the Bargusin valley where you have a nice view in the valley. We decided to use the biggest road in our map. But almost all bridges are broken so we had to cross the river with the car. Some we could not cross because it was to sandy and muddy. Through the street already grass and flowers were crowing and left and right the meadows were full with white, purple, and yellow flowers. We went in the mountains to the east and suddenly a nice rock formation appeared N 53.64433°, E 110.01958°. Here we stayed the night.


Next morning we were driving through the Bargusin Valley along the small villages in the east side of the valley. Most of the villages here are Buriat and not Russian villages. It was a little bit cloudy but most of the time we could see through the wide valley the high snow caped mountains at the other side. One mountain I really liked and wished again to go up the there with my backcountry skis. Eva showed me later pictures from Andrei (her husband) when he was crossing these area in the winter with skis. They went from the Bargusin valley until the Baikal. Their work is to count one time the year the different kind of animal foot prints they can find on their way. It looked really nice; I wish I could join some day.


At N 53.70007°, E 110.06493° you have a nice view over the valley. In the west the snow caped mountains and in the foreground a stone which is a holy shaman point for the Buriat people. The stone is framed with a fence that is almost covered with blue and yellow bands. Andrei explained me later the meaning of these bands. The bands will always move in the wind, it is like the Tibetan prayer wheels, as long as they are moving your wish our pray never stops. And Eva told me the Buriat story about this place:


When the Buriats came first time with there cows in this valley and wanted to leave it in autumn, before the cold winter approaches, one bull did not want to go out of the valley. They forced him several times to leave the valley but he always went back. Finally he became this stone. The "holy spirit", who is living now at this place, is the protector from all living creatures in the valley.


The basic difference between the Shamanism and the Buddhism are the places. In the Buddhism you often have a temple. In case of the Shamanism there is a holy place, mostly mountain, or natural point, where some kind of "holy spirit" is living. The Shaman can connect to this spirit. One of such places we found here N 54.09127°, E 110.11263°  (Eva can you please check in Google earth if this is the mountain you were looking for. Is this the mountain where you get holy for one year if you climb it? If it is the mountain please tell me the name!).  Along the road we saw a lot of cars, these blue bands in the trees, a small white Buddhist Stupa, and we heard some sounds. We were wondering why so many people gather around here. We stopped; just curious what is going on. We were walking through the trees with the bands and reached an open place in the middle of the trees, where you could sometimes see a mountain through a hole in the black clouds. The people, almost all Buriats, were sitting in a half circle, looking in the direction of the mountain. In the same direction maybe 5 or more Shamans were playing a drum. They wear the same wicks as we saw it in the Buddhist temple in Ingolstwing. Somehow it reminds at an Indian ceremony (at least in my imagination). It was a big half circle maybe 200 people, Kotomi guessed, I thought it were 100, but I am not that good at guessing.  The shamans playing the drum and repeating some words or something like that. After some time the Shamans turned around 90 degree and looking in this other direction, while all people in the half circle followed this movement. Each move around 90 degree was followed by rising up some gifts for the "holy spirit" and rotating it. The gifts were: all kind of food, cookies, bread, sweets or very often you could see them holding an open bottle of Vodka. Everybody was wearing a cap, some just take an old plastic bag, some just put a leather handbag on the head. When I was talking with Eva later she explained me that they have to cover the head in respect to the "holy spirit".  (It is  funny for the same reason we should take of the cap in a Christian church) The ceremony includes not only all four directions, it also includes the direction of the mountain, the direction of the sky and the earth. During the ceremony it was getting darker because of the rain clouds that were concentrating around the mountain. In the end the Shamans were reading/singing a list of hand written wishes (we guessed). It was funny the one Shaman had to stop sometimes since he could not read what the people wrote. After the ceremony was finished the people went home really fast and it started to rain. All those things together, let me feel very mystic in this moment. Later the mountains were also sometimes in the clouds and it suddenly start to rain. Still it was quite impressive and who knows maybe there is really some “Holy Spirit” living at/in that mountain.


After the ceremony a policemen, I asked him the day before for the direction in Bargusin, came to us. First I did not recognised him but Kotomi did. Soon 4 or 5 policemen were around our car and wanted to know what we are doing, where we come from, and where we are going. They did not ask as policemen’s they were just interested. All of them looked like Buriat and joined the ceremony before. They explained that the ceremony was only Shamanism and not Buddhist. Eva told me that it is often complicated to know which is Shamanism or Buddhism. The people mix both and do not think about it. They just do it as their parents have done. However, the policemen told us that water of the spring at this place is very healthy. I asked is it hot? They said "no, but if you drive always straight and do not follow the asphalt then you will reach after 50 or 80 km or xx km some hot springs, nu just drive straight .... and you will see". Ok and that was our plan for the next day, since we had to stay in the valley at least until Monday when the Bank is open again and we can get money to buy a Diesel to go back to Ust Bargusin.


PS.: I am always slow at writing and behind Kotomi but sometimes there is no time for writing, sounds strange but ist like that (:)






Monday, June 8, 2009

The most wanted, the pictures (:) From Tokyo to East Baikal

Click on the picture below and enjoy the slide show.

From Tokyo to East Baikal

To select this pictures took us almost half a day, just for you (:). Enjoy and travel with us!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The cold Heaven Baikal, Selfmade Banja ... People, People; People ...

25th – 26th N 52.53691°, E 107.08783°: Well we stayed close to the beautiful village where Иван is living. The nights were cold and windy. We were sleeping long and the at first we had to find a place which is wind protected. We found a nice place in the forest and still could see Baikal. The forest is full of these pink flowers and the "Baikal ocean" has white crests. It is beautiful but cold and we decide for a walk along the shore maybe we can see some Baikal seals. The neighbours of Иван a father and his two sons are fishermen. They told us the day before that close to the village they can see sometimes the Baikal seal, the only fresh water seal in the world. They also wanted to sell us the skin of the baby seal which they coincidentally caught with their fisher net. Thanks but we do not need! But they asked us if we want to have smoked fish, because they will smoke (:) next day. Well that is what we did in the afternoon we went there to see how they make and to buy some of the fish. Of course they wanted that we buy all. This would be 30 fishes which are really too much. Anyway we had to try 3 different kind Омуль (Omul) which is something like a salmon. I liked this one most; it is really tasty and a little bit oily. The two others are Хариус (Harius) and Окунь (Okun); do not ask me for German or English names I do not know. I just know that you can find Омуль only here in the Baikal. The smoking is simple; make a fire and above this put a metal plate on which you put a small metal box. On the ground of the box you can put chips of your favorite wood from apple, cherry or …. trees. In the box is a metal mesh where the fishes are put, 20-30 min from time to time put some water below the cover of the box, that is all. I remember in Germany they always build these perfect constructions made from stainless steel, but finally the result depends on the fish and the chips (:).

The father and the two almost grown up boys live from the lake and the fishing. The mother is working as a nurse in the city Ulan Ude (around 150 km). She comes back only one time the month. If there are no tourists who buy the fish, which may happen only in the short summer, then they feed their huge scary dog with it (of course not scary for Kotomi, the dog got very peaceful and forgot to protect the house (:) while playing with her).

27th N 53.05555°, E 108.32648°: Since the hot springs we tried some days before were not operating, we wanted to try some other ones which are close to Турка (Turka). This was written in the book I was reading from Klaus Bednarz (Ballade vom Baikalsee), it is a nice book which describes the life of the people and the Baikal. But most of the places he describes are not at the point were he describes. For example the hot springs are in Горячинск (Gorjaschinsk) not in Turka and furthermore he wrote the book 10 years ago, which means a lot has changed since that time. Nevertheless we arrived there at the evening at the place but it was toо late. We found a beautiful place at the Baikal again, which still had ice the last 30 m until the beach. The ice was formed to sharp mountains. I really would like to see the lake in the winter time. We made a big fire and went in our icy cave to sleep.

28th to 30th N 53.30017°, E 108.66704°: 28th morning we tried the hot springs. Unfortunately the hot spring was closed but it seemed they prepare for the coming season. The only thing we could do was to put our feet in a small rinse of hot water. The area seems not to be private operated and if you ask something they just say Я не знаю .... не работает .... (I do not now …. It is not working) or something like that maybe, at 6 a clock…. or tomorrow … not at weekends, but it was in the middle of the week. Anyway we decided not to look for places anymore which are described in the book it is better just to go somewhere and take the chances as they come. However, we were waiting in the car; it was snowing outside, for the promised Sauna at 6 pm. But finally it was not open and somebody else said we need reservation. A friendly guy, who is working for the sports center in one of the thousand properly signed buildings told us a place of a Banja outside the area. Unfortunately also this was …. не работает .... So we left the Курорт (Kurort, like in German for health resort or Spa) Горячинск and were driving in the direction of Уст Баргузин (Ust Bargusin). There is a national park and a penisula with promising nice nature. As always, around 8 to 9 pm we found our sleeping place, which is really incredible, wind protected and view to a sand beach with pine, birch and larch trees in an ocean of flowers. Looking over the lake we can see sometimes the snow covered mountains which suddenly show up in the middle of the clouds and disappear some minutes later. Those are the mountains from "Heilige Nase" I do not know in English maybe "holy nose". Whatever, try to find with Google Maps and the GPS coordinates I gave you at the beginning. We made again a fire. This time I remembered a back country trip with my cousin Thomas in the Alps. There it was cold too and we were sleeping in the tent. That time we heat up some stones put them in a cotton bag and it got quite hot inside the tent. Unfortunately, stupid us, the bag was burned. This time I used our big rice pot and it got really nice and warm in the tent. When Kotomi let some drops of the tea on the stones, I got my idea for the next day.

29th it is not so cold anymore the sky clears up until the evening with an sunset that let us feel like floating in a river of thousand colors. For me it is a lot even so I am partially colorblind. For Kotomi it was more, she was almost exploding at that evening, she could not believe it, green and pink and all the colors which look almost grey for me. All this with the snow capped mountains of the Bargusin valley in the background. Well this was the evening, but what did we do at the day time, she was writing blog and I had this idea to have a Banja directly at the Baikal. I was all the time looking for something like that to have the opportunity to go directly after the Banja in the lake, sorry ocean. As always she thought it will not work (:). Nevertheless, I wanted to try to build my own Banja and just see if it is not working or working. So I used an big plastic sheet to build something like a tent, then I made a big fire and heat up a lot of big stones, which I got from the beach. When they are yellow put them in the tent (be careful (:), the grass is burning fast, so put some water before) and ready is your self made Banja. Sit inside relax if you can and throw some water from time to time on the hot stones. It is working great, I used the stones three times, going in the Baikal for swimming which is not so cold anymore and enjoy again the hot steam in your private Banja at any place you want (:). I was so happy, it is a small thing and sounds maybe weird for you, but having my Banja at this place was just great. Well (30th) today we stay here one more day reading, cooking and enjoying the sun and the warm wind at this peaceful place.

Now I think maybe also heaven can be sometimes warm, not only hell. The days before, I thought heaven must be cold since it is the opposite of hell. (:)

31th of Mai N 53.40644°, E 108.9878 °: we made our way to Ust Bargusin as we had nothing to eat anymore. We choose one of the thousands Magasins and since it is weekend we also allow us some beer. The town looks like a village with wide streets. It seems like it wanted to be a town, but finally, the architects decide to build village houses beside that wide streets. Anyway I like those wooden houses more than the concrete metal glass city buildings. Having our food we drove to the beach which is really amazing. I know it sounds strange everyday something beautiful, can this really be true. As long as you stay at the Baikal it seems so. We just sit on the white sand beach, having our weekend beer. Close to us are some grandparents, their daughter and grandson enjoying the sunset over the Baikal. The grandmother is sitting on a fishing boat, which is on the beach. We somehow started to communicate and she told me that she never left the village. We both come to the conclusion that this here is the nicest place in the world, no need to go somewhere else. It seems her daughter does not feel the same. Maybe she is around 25 and she is obviously bored from this "stupid" nature. With her big city outfit her Tokyo Sunglasses and a fake shiny leather jacket she really does not fit in this place. Later on I met a guy at the beach who is grilling some Omul at the fire. In the background is his big American truck, which he is using as his beach ghetto blaster. His hometown is Ust Bargusin, where he comes one time the month. The other time he is on the road between Sankt Petersburg and Irkutsk. While I am searching for a nice sleeping place I met Лёха (Lioscha) in the pine forest behind the beach. He is dressed in army clothing which you can find here very often. He is the uncle of the two young mans who are preparing a fisher net. As normal they ask where I come from and I tell them that I am German. That brings up the Second World War in Лёха's head and he calls me Fascist, the two young boys are already laughing. He does not say it in an aggressive way and I tell him I come from East Germany and I am "Communist" (:). That he understands and from now on he asks me for my name every 5 minutes. We drink my beer together Сибирцкая Корона, but he would prefer Vodka, but anyway he is glad that I share my beer with him. Meanwhile a motor ship is crossing the Baikal and the two young mans suddenly hiding a little bit. I am guessing they are illegally fishing and they smile and say yes. It is like a cat and mouse game and even the police or security is illegally fishing. If they want to have more than just to eat it is necessary and everybody does. Later we can see that they go out with their fishing boats, but only from our position it can be seen. The Security can not see them since they hide under the cover of the approaching night.

While Kotomi is preparing Thai Curry with chicken a married couple is approaching with their 4x4 and enjoys the last minutes of the sunset. Kotomi greets them with Здраствуите (Hallo) and they come to us asking the usual questions and observing interested our car, roof tent and kitchen. They invite us to their home. We tell them that the beach is so nice and we set up already everything for the evening. "It would be better for us to come tomorrow". Well and that is what we will do next day, we will visit Оля и Валере.

1st of June N 53.41757°, E 109.02075°: Before we go to Оля и Валери we want to visit Eva, a German we met some days ago, in the Visitor centre of the Holy Nose Park. (N 53.41239°, E 109.02063° Ленина 23 ?!) Currently they are renovating the building but we can find her in her office. The office is full with pieces of interesting looking wood maybe from the park or the beach. We have a time and start talking. She comes from the Spreewald from East Germany and is living here since 5 years. She married here and decided to live with her husband here. Last year she was starting to work for the national park where also her husband is working. Basically she has to do German or English translations. In the summer times she helps to prepare new hiking routes around the Baikal. Therefore, an organisation invites people also from other countries. You work 10 days and have 4 days free time. (I will ask her later about more information if somebody want to do this!) I am interested in how she feel here and how is the life in Ust Bargusin or how she feel as German living here in another culture. She likes to live here but still, even after 5 years, she needs time to adjust to the way of living. Sometimes she wants to do something and it takes so much time to get it done. "Everyhing" is slow, but everything depends on nature she had to learn. She always wanted to everything right now, the German way, but that is impossible and maybe not necessary. "We can not do it now, it is still winter"; she gets sometimes to hear. Furthermore, most people do not care about the things happening at work, "it is just work". They care at home, she says. Her family is living in one side of a wooden double house which was built in the end of the Sowjet union times. It is nice but they built to fast and did not use good wood, which means there are all over cracks in the wood because it was not dry and nothing is straight. However, she has a garden and tries to be independent having potatoes and all kind of vegetables. The salary is normally not enough to have a car or something like that. Because of that most people have a second income apart from the official work. Her husband for example is sometimes guiding for tourist. Others are illegally fishing ….

While we were talking suddenly the door opens and a sunburned guy with wild hair maybe in his forties and his Hippy-like girlfriend or maybe wife step in. They are Germans too, just coming from Mongolia, Dubai ..... It seems they are really in a rush, speaking fast ... need information, information "...... want to go North around Baikal than to Finland, ... "

Eva says: "there is no street .... !"

"Isn't there a dirt road ?....."

Eva: "no there are mountains .... ,"

"... where is the supermarket ?" (Actually outside you can find thousands of Magasins (:))

... and so on and on ........

Later we decided to call them Mister and Misses Hectic, because they were so fast that we even could not get there names. I wonder how they travelled through all these countries, just in a rush never have a time to feel and understand the people. I think in their mind they are still in Germany and doing things here as in Germany even so they are thousands of kilometres away. I do not want to judge and I know that not everybody has so much time as we have this time. But really after they went out of the room I feel relaxed. I mean I think they are nice people but they are to fast to recognise anything and maybe they even do not recognise their self.

Оля и Валере:

The day before, they invited us to their home. They are also living in such a double house like Eva. The difference is that they totally renewed their part. Inside everything is in western style, wide screen TV, new kitchen, everything new. The bath is in Turkish style with golden ornaments and the shower is all electronic, but they can not use now because they do not know how to operate the electronic. And it is funny they still use their Siberian toilette which is outside the house and just a hole in the garden where you put a small wooden house over it. Both are around 50 and their kids are already married. The two sons are living in Sankt Petersburg and Ulan Ude. Оля and Валере import clothing from China. First some Mongolian guys buying the stuff in China and then driving all the way to Ust Bargusin with an old Japanese Minibus. This business seems to work quite well for them. Nevertheless, he wants to exchange his 5 year old patrol against our 14 year old Landcruiser. I wonder why he wants to have a car which is 9 years older. Олия has her own garden and Валере goes often fishing and especially in the winter time. Before the Banja gets hot we have to taste the dried Омуль he caught in the winter and Оля prepared dinner for us. Banja no need to say but I say: nice and refreshing as always Спацибо. The owner of the Banja says Лёгким паром. In the room before the Banja they prepare a bed for us so we decide to stay even so our roof tent is much more comfortable.

2nd N 53.62197°, E 108.92251°: In the morning we meet Eva again since she told us that her Russian friend, who is studying in the USA and is visiting now, also want to go to the same mountain on the Peninsula Holy Nose as we want to go. But somehow they did not show up and were not sure anymore if they want to go to the mountain or the Hot Spring. Therefore, we start alone. First you have to take a small ferry from Ust Bargusin to cross the river.This reminds at a story when i was 5 years old and travelling with my parents:

That time we were travelling with our old Russian Lada in Bulgaria where they had the same kind of ferries. The ferry was almost full but they told my father that he can put the car at the end of the ferry and they put something under the wheels so the car can not drop in the river. While crossing the river one of this something dropped in the water and my father was asking afraid the skipper what do do. He said there is one more. Everything is fine.

After the ferry it is just 1 km until the entry of the national park. Here you have to pay an entry fee. Two park ranger stopping us asking for the passport and how long we were travelling at the Baikal. After web told them that we are here around 1 1/2 week they starting to calculate somethhing. In the end there is a number of almost 3000 Rubel. Nice try, funny cute old guys. They are really nice but they wanted to be clever. I try to explain them that I do not understand why I should pay for the days outside the park. So if I would be 4 weeks outside the park and then coming one day in the park theyy would charge 4 weeks and a day !?!? (:) That is funny. So I told them we will stay four days. Which makes 50 Rubel per person per day and the car which is 100 Rubel. Finally we paid 500 Rubel. Anyway my wallet was empty since we could not get a money in Ust Bargusin. So 500 was all they could get. But still I like that two guys even they tried to cheat. After that you are driving on a natural bridge made of sand and marsh around 25 km to the peninsula. There we stayed the nigth at a really clean and nice river aclose to some shaman point, where everybody drops some coins or cigaretts or puts a blue band in the tree.

In the evening Sascha is passing by the first time. He gives us some Omul and say he will come back later since he has to go back to Ust Bargusin. The dried Omul is half raw so we decide to grill it at the fire. On the way back he drop by again and we are sitting at the fire. We offer him some tea and although he would prefer Vodka he enjoy the tea with us. He told us that he drives for the fishing company and complaining about the small salary he gets. After that he went to small village Glinka. This is actually the starting point for the next days hike. Everybody told us we should not put the car there because the people are not so good there. But Sascha is really nice and we decide we will park the car there. Also Eva just said to me: "Only the people who woory will get a problem." So I decide not to worry.

Another day I will write about the hike it is enough for now. Just one thing: I got a SMS from my friend Rudi while sitting on top of some mountain peaceful silence and around me I could see everywhere the Baikal and in the West the suns set. Isn't it a strange coincidence that I get this SMS from friend with whom I enjoy backcountry skiing and mountains. Anyway here the SMS: "Hallo M&K, gibt es auch Bilder zu deinem Blog, ich fand es sehr interessant zulesen, kannst am Ende ein Buch rausmachen -:) Viele Gru?e an Alle und gute Reise, Rudi


@Home: Wir hatten kein Geld mehr auf unserer Telefonkarte. D.h. da wir in einer anderen Zone in Russland sind und unsere Karte in Vladivostok registriert ist konnte uns niemand anrufen da wir da auch was zahlen müssen. Wir hatten nur in den kleinen Orten keine Möglichkeit das Ding aufzuladen.

@Rudi: We hope we will have a fast Internet in some days so we will try to upload some pictures. And later in Germany we will get more maybe more than you want.

@Mutti: Jetzt ist es schon warmer auch wenn es ab und zu mal regnet. Vegetarisch essen vor allem auf dem Trip mit den Buriaten ist sicher möglich heißt aber das man alles von Irkutsk mitschleppen muss, da Sie sich sonst eigentlich anders erbähren.