Monday, July 17, 2006

Some Old Pics

Here are some old pictures from Finland. We cant get the new ones to load, so we thought to put some on anyways, even if they are older.
The first pic is Helsinki. The second pic was taken at midnight in Mariehamn, in the Aland Islands.

Lenin Head

We have been in Ulan Ude for two days now, and we lke it better than Irkutsk. There are a lot of native Buriat people here. We feel like we are really in Asia! Yesterday, we walked around the city and tried some KBAC (kvas in english). It is brewed from old bread. It is dark in color like dark apple cider, and it tastes like apples and raisins and is a little sweet. Today we went to the big Buddist temple (the native people here are Buddist). It was very colorful. We also got some prayer flags that they hang up on the trees. The monk put our names on it.
Also, in Ulan Ude, there is the largest sculpted head statue in the world, and it is of Lenin. He is in the middle of Soviet Square, which is two minutes from our hostel! His head is really really big! It is about as big as a bus, if you made a bus round into a head shape!
Tomarrow we are leaving with the GBT to Ust Barguzin, and then starting our hike through the mountains to Lake Baikal.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Overnight to Ulan Ude

We are leaving Irkutsk, and taking an overnight train to Ulan Ude, capitol of the Buriat republic in Siberia. It is a buddist place, and we are hoping to see the nice colorful temples. For now, we are waiting until we leave for the train station. Today we walked around Irkutsk, and went to a market, and lots of second hand stores. The city was not so interesting, but it had lots of old wooden siberian houses, which have very intricate wood work and are painted (some of them) with green, blue, yellow, and brown. They are all older than the 1800s because there was a fire in the city then, and after that, it was not allowed to built wooden buildings anymore.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rafting Trip

We met at 9 in the morning and drove along the kitoy river to the starting point. But it rained for the last 4 days strait, and all the roads were flooded and with mud (they wern't paved). We got the minibus/van stuck twice, and the third time, we thought we'd never get it out! It was out in like one hour because a jeep came by and towed it out. Then we decided we must start the rafting in a small stream nearby that connected to the river. It was all good, becuse the sun all of a cudden came out. We made a camp for lunch, which was all very good food and lots of food, and then we blew up the rafts and started. It was an adventure because the guide never went on it before!

The guide was Sasha, and he was like the nature man. he was really knowledgeable, and then we had a girl to translate into english.

The stream was shallow, and full of trees and bushes everywhere, we crashed a lot. But it was fun! Then we got to a part of it where the kitoy connected and we made our night camp. Sasha built a whole cooking place with a big fire, and a tripod for the big pots, and even a shelter for the rain that came every once in a while between sun. We had herbal tea and black tea, and sasha cooked a good dish with potatoes, chicken, dill, vegies and lentils. It was like a russian/siberian food. We had cookies for desert and bread. It was sooo good!

Next morning, we continued into the kitoy river. we rafted for about an hour and landed on the place where the caves were. We made camp and had lunch, which was the same again, and then we practiced with the climbing ropes. We had fun, we swung from tree to tree! For dinner he cooked us an uzbekistanian dish with rice, pork, and some carrots, it was even better than the night before! And the cookies were better too.

The next day, we took out our climbing stuff and walked up the ridge to the cave. he set up the ropes and then we walked down steep rocks (scary!) to the cave. We saw a little of the cave, but it was blocked off with debris. The ice stalagmite was still there, but almost all gone! Then we climbed up the steep rocks again, and went to the ropes to swing from the top of the cave to trees on the other side. We were suspended on the rope about 100 feet high, swingin to the tree. Not really swinging, but sliding like a cable car does, except faster. After we were tired of going up and down, we put the stuff away, and then headed back for lunch and then dinner again. It was good too.

The last day we slowwly rafted to a town, and cleaned up and went on shore to have lunch and wait for the minivan.

Now we're back. Tomorrow we will be walking around the town and see what its like and doing other stuff like buying train tickets to ulan ude.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Deep in Siberia

Now we know what it feels like to be exiled in Siberia, and now we can say we have been to Asia! Many peoples faces here are getting flatter and squinty eyed! It is a very gradual change, like you can see in the people how east we are going.
Our train across siberia was nice. We spent lots of time looking out the window, sipping tea. The train stopped for 20-35 min every 4 hours or so, and we went outside on the platform to buy homemade food that old babas were selling. Mmmm it was good, but we werent brave enough to try the dried whole fish!
On our last night on the train (4 nights in all) we had a party which was fun, and we met some of the people around us. They were from Checnia, but they were funny and nice. They even gave us a "souvenir memory" of some kind of traditional bead thing with some brown frill. We dont know what it was!!! It looks like a rosary but there is no cross or anything, and its too small to put around your head.
We saw out the window lots of forests and swamps, and the houses (or shacks that were really decorated) had colorful window shutters. We followed the guide book's km-by-km info about what we were passing, and it told us a little about each town and stuff.
When we got off the train in Irkutsk, we were met at the station by Natasha, and she took us to our hostel. Then she told us that just 4 days before,there was a fatal plane crash at the airport!!!!!!!!! Nicole was right, DONT FLY SIBERIAN PLANES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tomarrow we are leaving on our rafting trip. We will be rafting for 4 days. Unfortunately this computer doesnt recognise the camera USB connection so we cant put any pictures us yet!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


We're leaving tonight on train #044 to Lake Baikal. We'll be there in three days!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We Arrived In Moscow

Last night, we arrived in Moscow by the Arora train. It was very luxurious and they even gave us a package of food!! We got into the most beautiful metro station in Moscow, and there were gold frames, mosaics, and painting all over, and marble everything. The trains come every minute. When we got to our hostel, we realized it was an old commie hotel. It is very nice! We have a TV and everything. Today we went walking around the Red Square. It is sooooo nice! We will post pics later. Early tomarrow moring, we will go see Lenin. He is all waxed up and on display. There was a line today about a km long!!!! The kremlin is HUGE and there are many churches. You can also walk around drinking beer, so we did, like it was soda.
We really like Moscow!!!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Today we went to Peterhof, the palace built on the gulf of Finland, about a 45 minute train ride out of St. Petersburg. It was supposed to be like Paris Versailles. It was a lot smaller, but the palace inside was similar. We cant put up any pics from this internet place, so maybe when we get to Moscow.
We walked around the gardens and there were lots of fountains. They were all fed by natural springs, and the fountains didnt run on pumps, but the springs fed into high reservoirs which provided pressure from gravity. There was even a secret "fountain" that squirted unsuspecting passer-bys! It was hot again today, and perfect weather for the gardens.
Tomarow we are going on a walking tour, for about 5 hours before we get on the express train to Moscow. We really enjoyed our short stay here. We wish we could have stayed longer. Our hostel is really nice, and we are meeting lots of interesting people here!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hi from St. Petersburg, Russia

Yesterday we arrived in Russia by train. Everything went smoothly with the visas and everything, so everything was okay. Today we will be walking around the city and tomarrow we want to go to Peterhof palace. It is warm and sunny here. Last night we went on the "white nights" boat tour around the rivers, just as all the bridges were opening at 1:30am. All the buildings and bridges were lit up, and there were so many drunk people out and soooo many boats. We also went through the canals. We can't wait to see all the domed cathedrals and sit down for some Russian beer and vodka!