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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

I done a trip to Olkhon

I am sitting on the train Moscow-Irkutsk. Platzkartnji. My neighbor, who occupies the bed below me, is Grandma Shenja, a resolute 80-year-old lady. Opposite her, her husband, Grandpa Sasha, took his place. A soldier sleeps over Grandpa Sasha. He sleeps because he has drunk with his comrades. He stinks of alcohol and I'm glad to occupy an upper bed.
Grandma Shenja talks to me, she talks all the time: how brave I am, a little girl from far away Germany, all alone in the great Russia; what would the mom say, what the dad. What did the grandfather do in war, what the great-grandfather. She had been to the partisans during the war, but since she was so small, she worked mainly as a courier. Whether I have been to Russia before and whether I understand what they are telling me ... and that is how it has been going since Moscow. Whether I sleep, whether I wake up, grandma Shenja talks and talks. Here starts the idea to continue school and study Russian someday.
I am doing a voluntary social year in an orphanage in Moscow, from August 2006 to July 2007. Now I was informed by the orphanage that the children have summer holidays from May and I am now free. I am free, what a sentence.
I decide to go to the Baikal, it should be so beautiful . My Russian is still very poor, and so the lady at the counter does not really understand where I actually want to go. I finally write "IRKUTSK" on a piece of paper. After much back and forth and several "JA NE PONIMAJU" I finally hold my ticket for the third class in the hand and am very proud of myself. Finally, I managed to buy a cheap ticket.
The lady actually wanted to persuade me to buy a second-class ticket, but not with me ... I'm a poor volunteer from Germany and have no money and have never been to Irkutsk and do not speak Russian and life is hard ... easy annoyed she pushes me the ticket so in the hand and mumble something incomprehensible. Anyway, I got what I want.

The soldier over the bed of the grandfather Sascha snores and makes noises. His comrades come by and take pictures. They have fun. We do not, the snoring is quite loud. Grandma Shenja unpacks her provisions, pickled vegetables and dumplings with stuffing. I also pack my food, cookies from Ikea and chocolate from the department store. Granny Shenja shakes her head and I have to eat her pickled vegetables, strangely it tastes good. The landscape passes by: birch forests, spruce forests, birch forests, small villages, birch forests. The view outside is reassuring and I lie down on my bed and doze off to myself. As reading material I have Stephen King's „It" along with a book by Henning Mankell.
I am 21 years old and have never been to Siberia, but the train attendant has promised me she would wake me up as soon as we are in Siberia.
In the middle of the night she shakes me awake and points out of the window into the dark night: "Wot, Sibir!" she says. It's dark outside and somehow I'm disappointed to see only spruce forest.
... two more days to Irkutsk.
At some point the train stops in Irkutsk. It is early morning, 6:05 clock Irkutsk time, so 1:05 Moscow time. Its cold and dark and I feel a bit disappointed..
My goal was to go to Irkutsk and here I am. I have no plan what to do and so I start going. Straight ahead, past the funny wooden houses. I am wandering aimlessly through the city and have no idea what to do. That's the way I like it. At some point I come to the central bus station and buy a ticket to MRS Sachjurta, from there a ferry goes to Olkhon, which is supposed to be the most beautiful island of the Baikal. I have about 6 hours left before the downhill and try to drop my backpack and tent somewhere. The lady at the ticket office says I can leave my luggage with her until the bus leaves. So I leave the luggage at the bus station and go with my camera on city exploration. In a small cafe I drink cocoa and eat Blinj.
Irkutsk impresses with its wooden houses and the charm of a small town. However, most of the time I spend watching the local people. An old woman, whom I ask for directions, turns out to be a German. She takes me to her apartment and is happy to have a guest. She cooks me kasha and gives me the recommendation to live on Olchon at Nikita, because he has fluent water and is a very nice guy.
Around noon the bus goes to MRS Sachjurta. The bus is an old, rickety vehicle that would never be allowed to drive in Germany.
After a few hours drive through the Siberian countryside, we stop and the driver offers us a pee break, men on the right, women on the left of the bus.
Said, done, and on it goes.
After another hour the bus stops again, same game, same relief. After a nine-hour drive, the bus reaches the small harbor and from there it goes by ferry to Olchon.
The island is already visible, the journey takes about 20 minutes.
On Olchon I ask the way to Nikita. Nikita turns out to be the owner of a holiday resort, with wooden houses, banja and kitchen. Of course I could camp on his property, in the kitchen I could help, then I do not pay anything. I can also use the banya, but please sign up in the usage plan, do you feel like doing a jeep tour over the island, there are omul to eat today (and tomorrow and the day after), you need help with tent construction ... after all this information I first go to the Baikal. There, little Buryat children play with the fishes and I decide to take a bath.
The kids are bathing too and so we are three persons in the water. The children laugh as I quickly get out of the water again; The water is still a bit cold at the end of May.
I am building up my tent. In addition to my small Ikea tent are three touristic tends in the style of Mongolian Gers. A Scandinavian film crew lives in these tents, they make a report on three teams (one Swedish, one Danish and one Norwegian) traveling through Russia and getting assignments.
In the evening we drink and eat together and the next morning I wake up in the Swedish Ger. In my Ikea tent sleeps a massive Swede. Well no matter.
Around noon, a shaman comes by and the film crew films their teams and the shaman. Meanwhile, I join a group and weg o by jeep to the southern tip of the island and I am almost insane: seals! Cute, little seals! Ouuuu, how cute!
In the evening, when the film crew is done with filming (the Swedes won today), the crewmembers, team members, Nikita, co-workers, the shaman and myself sit by the fire.
The shaman gets high percentage out of his pocket and the bottle makes the rounds. At some point he realizes that I have almond-shaped eyes, I have definitely some Siberian ancestors. I find he has a chain with the face of Genghis Khan and he nods joyfully. Yes, that is a god for the Buryats and the Buryats are actually direct descendants of Genghis Khan. Then a sip of high percentage!
At some point the time on Olkhon unfortunately comes to an end, I have a tick bite around which forms a red circle and decides to go back to Moscow; First, I would like to show this circle to a doctor in the area of the German Embassy, there is a German doctor), second, I would like to go to St. Petersburg, before I have to go back to Germany and, thirdly, the Ikea tent broke after three nights.
Well, the next trip is coming!

Submitted: April 08, 2018

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