Arrived in Irkutsk

The days start to melt together and I have serious problem to say what happen today or yesterday, what time or even date it is. On the train we are living in or own world, our own twilight zone completely disconnect from the rest of the world while we slowly traveling through the Siberian wasteland. We westerns are hanging out and discuss everything form serious subjects like IRA or Berlusconi to more easy subjects like how crazy Russians really are or which vodka or beer is best.

During the evenings its been pretty much party all the time and yesterday we all went crazy, a gang of Russians hit the bottle pretty hard and we joined em. After a while we even got the staff on the train with us and we were a real nice mix of westerners, Russians and staff all drinking and having fun. One of the Russian guys even borrowed a apron from the staff and freelanced to serve us drinks, it was a blast until the police arrived and more or less gave us a direct order to go to bed. I guess this was for the best because I bet we would have missed our stop if we continued partying like that all night. We did not miss our stop and early morning we jumped of the train in Irkutsk where we are now.Minor problem to check in at the hotel since they couldn’t find our reservation first and the language makes it ever more difficult but we manage to solve it and now we are relaxing at the hotel. After 4 days non-stop on  a train I’m actually seasick now, it feels like my body has tuned in that its supposed to move and swing all the time and now when it doesn’t do it my body still compensate for it which make me seasick. Hopefully it will go over pretty soon case its not very nice feeling,


First day in Irkutsk

Today has been a really calm day with not a lot of action because a couple of reasons:
1. We are jet lagged, I’m not sure you can be jet lagged by a train going 60km/h but it feels like jetlagged at least
2. We have caught some sort of Russian super virus which kicks both the bird flue, swine influenza and AID, together! The result is that it feels like my throat is growing together and you spit slime that corrodes a hole in the street.
3. We have a slightly small need of taking a sober day and just relax and let our bodies heal from the last days of partying.

Anyway, we took a small walk in the city and the first impression is that we might have made a bad decision on how long time we will stay here in Irkutsk. In a afternoon we pretty much did the city center and for being a city with a population of 600 000 it feels kind a small. Anyway, we haven’t seen everything yet and in worst case we will do like all other tourist, head out to Lake Baikal, our first mission is to find a pharmacy and cure this virus…

Pharmacy in Irkutsk

Has been a really bad night here in Irkutsk and even if I thought that it was impossible to get worse beds than on the train I miss em and to make it even worse we had a gang war outside our hotel all night between rival dogs. Finally I fell a sleep and then I woke up I felt a little better than yesterday at least. Anton was worse though so we decided to head out and find a pharmacy.

To buy medicine in a new country is always special and to spice it up they don’t speak English here and all labels are written with Cyrillic alphabet. They clerk were very helpful though and after some sign language we got a bunch of colorful pills. I have no idea what we bought but we mix them with some classic pills from back home it seems to work, headache disappear and it feels like you can talk again and once it start to feel bad again its just to load up another hand of colorful pills.

We spent the day downtown along the river and we got our first came contact, a reindeer and a shit loads of horses. I don’t know if there was something special today but it was like a classic city festival with all kind of different activities. Then big difference compared to Swedish city festivals? No drunks, no red necks and way more polices here. Its also a big drifting event a bit further away that our Russian friends are attending too but neither me or Anton had the energy or felt that it would be fun to watch a car race today so instead we just chilled and enjoyed life along the water.





Last day in Irkutsk

Last day in Irkutsk and we spent in in the race track. We woke up well rested and surprisingly felt really good we headed downtown for some breakfast. While eating breakfast I got a text from the italian guys we met on the train and they were heading for the drifting event so we decided to join them. Its a nice sunny day so why not see some drifting in real life with some good friends. While we were standing in queue to buy tickets for the event the Russian we partied with on the train by. They went to Irkutsk just for this event and so happy to see us and they promised to fix us in for free if we just waited a minute. A minute later we suddenly had an ID batch saying that we were a part of their crew and before we knew it we were at the drivers meeting before the race. Everything was of course in Russian and me and Anton did not understand anything but it was really nice to walk around among all the cars. I think i too hundreds of photos but as a teaser you can see a short film clip instead:
[jwplayer mediaid=”7737″]

The afternoon and evening was spent together with the Italians, a nice and funny surprise was that the Irish couple came by too. It feels a bit sad that we wont see them again during this trip but hopefully we will meet up the Italians once we reach Beijing. All together it was an early evening, Italians left at 22 and me and Antons train are leaving tomorrow morning at 5.

After a few days here in Irkutsk it actually feels nice to get moving again. Sure the city has around 600 000 citizens and everything is crazy cheap but I start to get bored and every Russian guy we met who actually speak English ask us the same question: What a fuck are you doing here?

Tomorrow we will go to UlaanBataar and directly from the train we will go camping. In other words it will be radio silence from me for a couple of days but I think you will survive and I will update again once I get Internet connection again

Hello Mongolia

After just a couple of hours sleep it was time to get the bags and take a nightly walk through Irkutsk and to the train station and jump on the train toward Mongolia and Ulanbaator, It might not been our brightest idea to walk alone, as two tourist with all our luggage through the city in the middle of the night but we had no problem what so ever and to be honest, I never felt unsafe here in Russia. On our way to the train station we stopped at a 24/7 open cafe and bought some Russian pasty and while we stood outside and munching our a cop car arrived with the same goal. From this tiny Renault 19 four huge police officers jump out, together with Kalashnikov’s of course. I have no idea how that tony car could fit em all and its quite a difference compared to Sweden there they cops has an huge Volvo for themselves.

The same procedure again to board the train with showing your tickets and passport which is really nice and easy, unfortunately this train had lower standard and you could not open any windows. It hot, stuffy and pretty shitty on the train which may be explained that the train has been running non-stop from Moscow, 6500km away. This time we had a Scandinavian compartment, me and Anton together with two danish guys. Nice but we are bored and the heat make us easily annoyed about more or less everything, it will be nice to arrive to Ulanbaator.

We passed lake Baikal during the night so I couldn’t shoot any picture of it and after that the landscape has opened up with big, wide rivers. If it wasn’t for the pointy mountains you could think we were taking a train ride through the Swedish mountains, The few houses we seen remind of mountain cabins but here its the their permanent residence.I haven’t seen any arable and the few animals we see if groups of 4-5 cows.

The biggest challenge was to cross the border though. I you think that this should be an easy process since the train is passing here on daily basis you thought wrong. First they collected all the passports on the train, then they  passed them over to the soldiers who were checking that you were allowed to leave, had visa and everything. At the same time another group of soldiers boarded the train with dogs  and they really tore downed the whole train is their search for contraband. Once they finally has checked the whole train (which is a long, long train) the soldiers board the train and starts to hand over the passports, of course verifying that its you on your passport. About three hours later we were finally allowed to pass the boarder and we roll away, for about 20km and then the whole process starts over again, this time with Mongolian soldiers and police officers.