The First Week

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The First Week

  1. 1. Irkutsk, Tallin, Baikal, Zhemchuk, Arshan, and somwhere really close to Mongolia… The First Week
  2. 2. My bedroom
  3. 3. The view from my window
  4. 4. Looking out at the Angara from my window
  5. 5. Our first day, we went to Baikal. On the way, we stopped at a museum that has taken old wooden-architecture peasant village houses from all over Siberia and moved them (all the original wood) into a mock-up village. It reminds me of an ornate old-western-looking town.
  6. 9. The ribbons on the tree here are everywhere near the rivers and the lake. They are prayers to the god of the river or lake (usually Burchan (sp?)).
  7. 10. Just what I came to Siberia for -- Mexican food!
  8. 11. Looking out over Baikal from the top of a trail we hiked up...
  9. 12. In the Baikal Museum: funny-looking fish from the Lake (for lunch, we ate Sig (pronounced seek, and quite delicious) - apparently unique to Baikal. We've also had Omul, another endemic species.
  10. 15. The Baikal Seal. They're really cute.
  11. 17. Lake Baikal
  12. 18. Our "Rocket boat"
  13. 19. Atop of the rocket boat, travelling down the Angara back to Irkutsk
  14. 21. On the way to Arshan, the next day, we passed a town on the lakefront that had been hit by a serious earthquake a couple years ago. There’s a lot of minor seismic activity here still – the lake isn’t finished forming.
  15. 24. Our driver, Yura (left), Marina (middle), and Nina Nikolaevna (right). Nina Nikolaevna is the person running the show here in Irkutsk, and she and Marina are our professors.
  16. 25. On the way, we stopped in Zhemchuk, a town built up around natural hot springs.
  17. 26. ...public restroom...this is the only option available for standing and sitting...(it’s okay, he’s one of my classmates =P)
  18. 27. Pozi! We ate lunch in Zhemchuk. This is a traditional Buryat food (one is called a poza). I am becoming convinced of the universality of meat dumplings...
  19. 33. I’m not the only one taking hundreds of photos of all the pretty scenery we pass. (Charles (left), and Michael (right)
  20. 34. Our hotel in Arshan. An awesome place owned by a friend of Nina Nikolaevna. We spent two nights here.
  21. 36. Most of us (left to right: Michael, Charles, Thomas, Nina Nikolaevna, Marc, Nick) gathered around a place that apparently some monks came to and believed to be holy. They built a cairn, around which you're supposed to walk twice in a circle, then clap once.
  22. 37. Arshan...
  23. 39. I went walking in the forest for some ways, when all of a sudden, before me was hovering this guy -
  24. 40. With a web that stretched 8 ft. in diameter across the trail.
  25. 41. In the evenings, we built a campfire to sit around.
  26. 42. And sing around, of course. What follows are some video recordings of traditional songs sung by our hostess, Zoya Yulievna and Nina Nikolaevna.
  27. 46. Breakfast! (oh man...the food...dear god it's good) Here's the remains of Wheat Kasha (think sweet liquid cornbread) sausage and cheese, deliciously strong caffeinated tea (which I can't transport past customs, sorry; I bought some here and it's amazing), and pancake-like things - thicker, and more like a doughnut.
  28. 47. The six of us squished into the back of a van (driven by someone we didn't know - presumably a friend or employee of the owner...) to ride around behind our professors to the Mongolian border zone.
  29. 48. Said unknown driver pulled up to the gas station, left the car running, started pumping gas, then walked away, leaving us to contemplate our potential future as a fireball...
  30. 49. This is a shrine along the way, where you leave cigarettes, money, or sprinkle vodka on the pipe of Ghengis Khan.
  31. 50. Pretty mountains (more of those coming up).
  32. 51. Michael, Charles, Bern, Thomas, Nick (l-r)
  33. 53. These grow by the road, near the river. I have no idea what they are...
  34. 54. Much less if they're any good for you...
  35. 55. But they were delicious! (Not dead yet.)
  36. 59. Of course, with so many big rocks nearby, I had to climb some...
  37. 60. The lot of us. Left-right: Me, Marc, Nick, Marina, Nina Nikolaevna, Sasha (Zoya, our hostess' husband/employee), Michael, Thomas, Charles, Bern.
  38. 62. These mountains are rich in raw marble
  39. 65. When in Russia...
  40. 66. At the end of our stay, I dug a hole, and we planted a tree together.

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