September 6th, 2009 – by: orcio81
my room in the 300rur/night accomodation
After arrival to Irkutsk
I didn't stroll around but took the very last marshrutka (minibus) to Olkhon Island. Immediately after I jumped in I realized I'm in a totally different world, in Buryatia!....All passengers looked like Mongols, and in fact, they basically are Mongols :-) The journey took approx 6 hours (incl. a ferry transfer) and my fellow passengers emptied 2 bottles of vodka withing the first part of the journey. As usual in Russia, I also was offered two shots but given that it was only 1pm and didn't feel very well I kindly refused. Shortly after, our marshrutka was stopped by a Belgian couple, Saartje and Simon, who had hiked 4 days in the nearby hills and with whom I spent the rest of the evening.
one of the main streets in Kizgir
Lonely Planet guidebook recommends to stay in Nikita's Guesthouse on the island but to pay 800-1000 rur for a night in a small rural village is at least unreasonable. Instead, I asked the driver if he could recommend any cheaper accomodation and he suggested to stay in his relative's accomodation - 300rur/night in a brand new cottage. The only disadvantage I learned later was no heating in the room and the landlady didn't show any interest in improving it....so that's why I had to sleep in my summer sleeping bag covered with two duvets. It was windy and freezing on Olkhon Island the very first day and now I have to thank Maciek who was there two years ago and who told me it would be 30degrees at Baikal...As I had no warm clothing I had to walk around the island in double socks and a six layer outfit.
...:-(..Why I'm complaining? It's Siberia!....Well, there really was a temperature of 26'C but I missed that nice weather by one week.
The second day I rented a bike for 500rur/day and cycled to the eastern side of the island. All together around 60km, partially on my own, partially in a company of Englishmen. In the evening I tasted a freshly cooked omul (fish) and met the Belgian couple again but this was quite surprising as they had totally different plans than me and we were not supposed to meet :-) So we had tea together before they rushed to a beach to build a tent as the dusk was coming quickly while I went to a banya at my homestay....Back in my room I heard a voice saying "To je ale pekna kocicka" (This is a nice cat), recognized Czech language and knock on the door of a room where two Czech guys were staying...Of course, this was a perferct opportunity to open a bottle of vodka :-)
The third day I took a bus tour around the Island .....it was kind of an American style...driving-stop-taking pictures-driving-stop-taking pictures....etc...but there's no other way to see the best places on the island (expept for walking but it would take enormous amount of time) so it was ok. At the end of our trip the driver cooked for us a traditional Russian fish soup called Ucha.