Return to Civilisation
18-19 July 2013. Who would have thought that arriving to Siberia would feel so good? After driving for days through the taiga with the same monotonous view of trees/lakes/swamps and without passing through any proper city, only grey and dirty villages along the transsiberian railway, the landscape suddenly opened up and we found ourselves on the wide open steppe of eastern Siberia.
The villages were still a bit rough looking, but there were blue-painted window frames and well kept gardens with lots of potatos behind the small houses and there were cows grazing along the road (and sleeping on the road).
There were small shops along the road selling and fixing everything.
We camped along a large river and celebrated out exit from Far East Russia!
The next day we passed through several spectacular villages of the so-called “old believers”.
And the mosquitos? They are still there but much less and we have the tent!!! Here images from our campsite high above the Selenga River, just before arriving to Ulan Ude.
20 July 2013. Ulan Ude is the capitol of the Republic of Buryatia, Russia. The city center of Ulan Ude is lovely with its big open square surrounded by Stalin era architecture and watched over by the world’s largest sculpture of Lenin’s head.
20-21 July 2013. The buddhist temple complex of Ivolginsky Datsan has a special history. It was opened in 1945 as the only buddhist spiritual center allowed in the USSR. Nowadays, it attracts students from all over Russia who study at the buddhist university which opened in 1991 as part of the datsan. We went to visit the datsan in the beautiful evening light, see photos below, and then settled our camp for the night on the parking lot outside the gate. While we were eating our pancakes with new Siberian honey, Valery and Dennis came to see who we were. Valery is a novice at the datsan, studying at the university there to become a monk and later a lama. Dennis is a good friend who is considering to also join the buddhist university. And later came Leo, who is studying Russian at the university in Paris. We enjoyed a real good talk and the next day Valery showed us around at the datsan.
Locals tend to mix in ancient animist beliefs and rituals with the buddhist religion. Here a local woman is showing us how we should make a wish, close the eyes, and then try to walk straight for about 20 meters till you reach a special rock. If you end up right there, touching the rock with your hands, then your wish will come true. Almost impossible!