December 24th, 2008 – by: nuij
my white christmas in Russia
The most memorable misadventure was our trip to Port Baikal. No thanks to Lonely Planet. According to my friend's Lonely Planet (I have the Trans-Siberian Handbook), Port Baikal is a charming art village, ideal place for those who seek peace and inspiration .. with a lot of extra time on hand, we decided to see this charming village. When we set out at about 7am in the morning, it was pitch dark and we can hear the wind howling and the waves hitting the rocks.... it is really scary and you forget for one moment, you are not by the beach.
When I first set my eyes at Port Baikal, the first thing that came to mind is ghost town. Everything is white. And it looks abandoned. When we left the ship, we realised nothing is open at all. Not even the tourist information center/museum.
The guard refused to let us into the building. There's no coffee shop or restaurant in sight either. With nowhere to go, nothing to eat, we went back to the ship. We were told the ship doesn't leave till about 3 something in the evening. The thought of waiting until 3pm to get out of that place is sheer torture. Not to mention, it was extremely cold that day. I wanted to kill the lady at the tourist information center back at Listvyanka
. One would thought she will warned us about going there in winter and such..... instead she happily send us on our way, confirming what was written in Lonely Planet. And now 24 hours later, we're stuck, miserable and hungry too. The ticket seller placed some calls and indicated we can buy some food at one of the shops.
from the cabin
The shopkeeper is one of the most unfriendly Russian I've ever met. After paying for our grocery, we went back to the ship only to find it's locked. Now we are really screwed. Having no choice, we barged our way into the tourist info center. The guard wasn't very happy about it and was probably cursing us in Russian.. in this case, ignorance is bliss.
About 20 minutes later, our knight in shinning armour came to the rescue.... this tall blond guy really know how to make an entrance... :) He slammed the door open, standing with his back against the light outside, and the fog sneaking in through the open door, he pointed at three of us, indicated to follow him, turn around and walked out.. we were so shocked that all we can do is looked at him, speechless, rooted on the seats..... hahahaah. When he realised we didn't follow him, he came back in and this time, after recovering our wits, we began to ask him questions... again, pictionary/charade always work where you have no common language to work with. We communicate with stick figures drawn on papers.... Turns out, he has a boat and he can take us back to Listvyanka... thank god, but with a price. Soon, we were on our way back to civilization.