No picnic, no shower
Khabarovsk Travel Blog› entry 54 of 125 › view all entries
Miraculously, I managed to sleep for 9 hours on the boat, in a small plastic chair. It helped that I had a front seat, so I could lay down my backpack in front of me and stretch my legs on it.
The boat got to Khabarovsk about 2 hours late. By the time I`d got to a hotel I might be able to afford it was almost 10 pm, so I would probably stay there no matter what it cost (within reason). To my relief, the price was OK - less than 500 Rubles. When I told the receptionist I wanted to stay for 3 nights, she said she would only register me in for 1 night, as they had no hot water at the moment and she wasn`t sure it would be fixed the next day. That evening even the cold shower felt great, but when I heard the next day the hot water would not be back soon, I decided to look for another hotel. Unfortunately, all of the other supposed budget hotels in Lonely Planet were very expensive, between 880 and 1500 rubles (or about 25 to 45 Euro) a night. In my Dutch Trans-Siberian guide I found a real budget hotel (though I had bought the LP just because I thought that would have better info for budget travellers!), but it was full (the receptionist was almost as sorry as I was). I tried the student dormitory, but thay didn`t take foreigners. So 4 hours after I`d checked out, I checked back into the Hotel Turist, a fine hotel except for the hot water problem - large rooms, comfy beds, friendly staff, balcony. Khabarovsk is a rather nice city, it`s no Ulan Ude but I did enjoy my stay there.
Then I took the train back to Ulan Ude. My last Russian train journey. I was lucky with my compartment mates this time, no screaming kids or poodles, but two nice young men with whom I could practice my Russian, share drinks and play cards - not that I understood the game we were playing, I just sat there with my cards open so they could tell me what to do most of the time.
From Ulan Ude I moved on to the border town Kyakhta, where I stayed in a (very basic and cheap) hotel without hot water once more. I was happy to be back in Buryatya though. Kyakhta is a very pleasant small town with loads of pretty wooden houses, once (before that trans-siberian railway was completed) an important stop on the tea route. In those days the presently ruined cathedral reputedly had silver doors decorated with diamonds. None of that now, but it certainly seemed a lot less impoverished than Nikolaevsk.