Monday, June 4, 2007

Irkutsk - 4 June

We arrived in Irkutsk at 2pm today. It was surprisingly all very familiar from being here two years ago. We have made contact with Sergey and Nadia who were the fixers for the ABC film crew while we were in Russia on the Peking Paris trip, and have been invited to Sergey's place tonight.

I left you last time in Chita, and Lang is at present doing a report on the car and roads so I will skip that only to say, I waited patiently at the hotel until 8pm thinking he was having all sorts of problem with the car which was true to some extent but when the work was finished the owner of the garage put on a meal for his staff and Lang was invited.

While I was at the internet dutifully doing a report and hence not contactable ( Lang had tried !) I ran into a fellow Queenslander - Ken Taylor who we first met in Vladivostok. Ken lives at Maleny and he is riding a motorbike across Russia and Europe to Ireland to visit his family. Needless to say he and I went out and had a meal, to celebrate surviving THE road.

From Chita on Sunday and on sealed roads again, but still of dubious condition in sections, we did 800kms, bypassing Ulan Ude and made it to a resort hotel on the edge of Lake Baikal. We had stayed in this particular place last time we came through.

Today we spent the first few hours taking everything out of the car and did a big repack. At Vladivostok we just jammed everything in, as it was cold and wet on our first day and we just went. Hence for the last week we have been living in the same clothes and rinsing out the essentials as need be.

Our main aim is to make as much headway as we can. Lang always said Irkutsk was our first big hurdle as from now on everything is a little more accessible. So having made it here puts us more than a third of the way across Russia. The two week delay with the shipping left time fairly tight and as we only have a tourist visa so now have until the 21st to get to the Latvian border.

We will post some photos when we get a chance. Today the scenery around the lake was beautiful with snow covered mountains in the background.