Sunday, June 10, 2007

Olkhon Island

Later that evening, we had dinner with Caroline, Nic, and Kris. Did I mention that Nikita's Guesthouse provides us with 3 meals a day. Then, we all went down to the beach to watch the sunset and have some uber chilled drinks (we put our beer in the lake). The 4 day train ride and 7 hour bus ride was well worth this breath taking view. Here, you see the Shaman rocks. Our Lonely planet books says that they are nothing spectacular, but I thought they were amazing. Oh, thinking about it makes me want to go back right now. The next morning we ate breakfast and set off for a mountain bike ride with Caroline, Nic, and Kris to the other side of the island. We were ready for a swim! We begin our path thinking that it was going to be an easy ride with amazing scenery. However, we were completely wrong! Somehow we must have made a wrong turn, because we were cycling up massaive inclines, logs, swamps, and ice. We are sweating bullets and actually see snow. AMAZING! Needless to say, we never made it to the other side of the island. We all were completely exhausted and wanted to go back. During this trek, Jay thought that he was going to die. We didn't bring an adequate amount of water supply for the 5 of us. I think we all thought we were going to die. This trail is meant for the Kevin Barefields and Brandi Campbells of the world. I do beileve everyone slept quite well that night.
The next day we ate breakfast and lounged around on the shore of Lake Baikal.
The following day we set off on a five hour excursion to the North-the Cape in a mini-van. The three English guys, Nic, Rob, and Dave, that we met in Moscow. The excursion consisted of beautiful views of the Lake from different parts of the island on the way to the North. Also, there were massive rocks, which are called the 3 brothers, that Dave decided to climb. This was nerve wrecking watching him come down! The Buryat people of this village believe in many spirits and gods. A depiction of these spirits are in the form of dolls that are posted around the village. We were unable to get a true understanding of this, because all the information was in Russian. However, we participated in the ritual of making an offering to each spirit that we passed. Villagers offer money, cigarette butts, lighters, and empty bottles of vodka and beer. We offered small amounts of change. After dinner, all of us (Caroline, the two Nics, Dave, Rob, two guys we met through Nic and Caroline (Phil and John), Jay, and I) drank beers around a bonfire. We discussed current and past travels.
On the 9th, we said good-bye to all of the friends that we met and hoped that we would see them in the near future. We headed back to Irkutsk by mini bus (Did I mention Russian Techno music?) in hopes of getting a train ticket to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Guess what? We did and now we are heading on the train there! It's about 6 am in the morning and we are heading to sleep. We didn't sleep at all last night as we were waiting in the train station.
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