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An Introduction to Lake Baikal

Under a constantly changing weather of Listvyanka.


Listvyanka, July 30th 2014

It was extremely nice of Evgenia from RussianTrain.com for providing me with a map of the attractions around my hotel area in Listvyanka. That's how I got to the seal zoo and then the marketplace where I had my first Russian pilaf.

After checking out the ferry port for tomorrow morning's Circum Baikal, I gave Baikal Museum a try, and it turned out satisfactory.

It wasn't just about lake and water. But also the oldies from the day Mom and Dad were dating. Aha.

I think, I have found something older than me.

Along the wall of the staircase from second to third floor hung superb photographs of the Baikal surroundings in all four seasons. If only I could take a one year leave!

I hesitated entering this room. Maybe only invited or registered researches are allowed to come in, I thought. I went back downstairs, upstairs again, stood in front of the door, back downstairs... back upstairs...

"Coming all the way so far you skip a chance whereas all you need is just to step in," said me.

"What if that lady behind the desk gets angry?" asked the other part of me.

"Just say sorry and turn away. Simple." So I stepped in but ready for a rebuke.

Other than the lady's voice giving lecture, I heard nothing else. None of her audience turned to me. Neither did she pause and take a look at me. I entered like I was invisible. And then another guest came in, pulled a chair...

... so did I... and got excited. Every table was set this way except that the objects varied a bit. About each object, an explanation was written on the piece of paper. Too bad, no English. As I surveyed the room, it seemed that the lady behind the desk was giving a free lecture. Before I entered the room, I saw her showing slides on the wall. Someone raised a question, she happily answered. If there was a time when I wish I understood Russian so badly, it was at this moment.

Besides looking through the microscope, you also can admire the details on a computer screen like this. However, you get more details still, from under the microscope. This one you see on the screen are actually just grains of sand. Just grains. Through bare eyes, they look all just brown. You should see the glitter under a microscope. Or you should see a monster swimming on the saucer. I just couldn't belief that I was looking at the same thing, that such a tiny mini mini floating creature carried space for so much detail. Amazing, is not just enough to describe.

Calling the 300 RUB entrance ticket worth, I exited. Outside the museum was a souvenir vendor who spoke Mandarin. Envy.

It's been probably the most expensive accommodation I had along this second part of Trans Siberian journey and yet the least comfortable. The interior of my room was just half as nice as it looks from the outside. Nevertheless, the staffs were nice. Despite language barrier, they made efforts to attend to my needs. This picture was taken when weather was shining bright. I asked the hotel staff if laundry service was available. "Yes. Wait." was the answer.

I was led to a laundry room. Blankets and bedsheets were hanging on the line. Using my translator application, I asked the staff if they had a dryer for clothes, because I would have to leave very early the next morning. The staff lady pointed out through the window. There were several clothe lines there. What if it rains? I asked. "No, no. No rain." was the reply.

I thought I was suppose to do the laundry myself. But she wrote on my translator: "Just give them to me."

"How much should I pay?" I typed in again.

"No, you don't need to pay." I read.

Just a few hours later it rained real hard. Luckily I had finished exploring the lakeside and already under a shelter of 1900 RUB a night. Nothing did I worry more than my laundry. I peeped through the window that faced the clothe lines. Nothing was on the line.

From the balcony of my hotel I played with my camera, taking pictures of both sides, experimenting different kinds of shutter speed, plus risking myself -- and my camera -- being splashed by huge drops of water blown by the wind. It was like a competition between lake and sky.

I went back to my room, laid flat on the filthy sheet, helplessly comparing the huge difference between this hotel's bed and the other beds in previous hostels in Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. Hostels. Next, I tried to assure myself it was summer. I can't imagine staying in this room in winter if the heater doesn't work properly.

Knock. Knock. "Houskvousk rousk vousk." An elderly lady handed me my clothes! Wow! Thank you!

"One hundred," she said.

Oh? Well. I gave her the money. She smiled.

In my arms, my clothes felt warm. Excellent! How could have she made it without a drying machine? I wondered again.

As if the laundry lady had rolled the sky into a drying machine, rain subsided, and sun rose back. Wow! Chance of sunset! I checked my compass. Correct. So at least there is some value for a 1900 RUB. And then I checked my SunriseSunset Application which works by GPS. I couldn't believe my eyes! 21:53 something. 21?!! Am I reading right?? Sunset at 10 o'clock at night?? I closed the window application, relaunched it, the same. 21:51 something.

See! What a difference, huh?

So, how do you think I passed the time before the nearly-midnight-sunset? Like this: Hanging my clothes on the hook. Not enough space. Luckily I use to bring clothe hangers when I travel. I hung some on the curtain railings. But, no. These aren't going to be dry by early tomorrow morning. I went down to the office and asked for an iron. To whoever invented the first electronic translator, I thank you earnestly. It has helped me do laundry, borrow an iron, and an electric kettle which is essential for my coffee especially when there is no WiFi anywhere in this hotel.

Knock. Knock. "Houskvousk rousk vousk." He held a handle in his hand. "Houskvousk rousk vousk." He pointed to my window. When I was contemplating on whether to scream or not, he walked in and stepped on my bed, shove aside my half dry clothes altogether. Oh yeah. I hadn't noticed the handle on my window was broken. I looked down on my bed, saw his toes... Quickly I pulled the bed cover and ordered him to step on the bed cover. Luckily again, the window wasn't on the head side of the bed. Two minutes later he was off my bed, made a big grin, "Houskvousk rousk vousk." and walked out. No, you don't need to scream. Just say, "Eeewww." and "Thank you anyway."

Thanks to the big port just across my hotel. Instead of just taking pictures from the lakeside, I could walked a little further into the lake and take pictures from the opposite side of the balcony where I had challenged my camera to the rain.

Am I standing facing Mongolia? Behind those mountains, I mean. Way, way, behind.

I wasn't the only one on the port taking pictures. There were those bringing huge cameras, cellphone cameras, posing, selfieing. But, I was the only one wearing long jeans. The others wore skirts or shorts.

Not too bad for a sky that had been monochrome.

I couldn't wait any longer for the sun to touch the horizon. My fingers began to feel numb. Besides, the horizon doesn't look hopeful anyway.

Wait and see. Tomorrow we'll drop our jaws on the Circum Baikal Railway.

Posted by automidori 23:32 Archived in Russia Tagged lake bangkok museum russia baikal listvyanka irkutsk

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