Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday 11 October 2010

To say I woke this morning would be a misnomer as I hardly slept so I'll just say when we got up early this morning it was picture postcard everywhere. We were skirting Lake Baikal (the world's largest freshwater lake) in the most beautiful sunrise. It was an incredible sight with the snow on the hills in the distance

The scenery as far as Ulan Ude which we reached in the early afternoon was wooded and quite spectacular. It then became quite treeless and very spectacular.

The restaurant car was being detached at the Russian border which we were due to reach about 6pm so we went for our main meal about 4pm. Our lovely waiter who has remained sober since that first night predicted our order of 4 beers and 4 borschts.

The second course tends to vary. At a stop earlier in the day we had bought provisions for a supper time snack.

We reached the border just after 6pm and eventually left at 9.43.

The Russian officials were, shall we say, business like and thorough. Our passports were taken away and we had been advised not to leave the train until they were returned so we took turns to get fresh air on the platform. After a couple of hours a sniffer dog was brought on and went through the carriage. It was followed by officials wanting to see in the lockers on the shelf above the door etc. Then just when we thought it was safe to behave normally two guards came along the carriage and unscrewed the few tip up seats in the corridor and shone a torch behind. What they thought they might find provided an entertaining guessing game. Tom, the young lad in the next compartment thought they were searching for their Quality Street. Tom and Evanna had brought chocolates as presents for the provodnitsa but because she was so grumpy they didn't give them to her. They shared them with us instead - definitely a much better idea!

When the guards had not found any illegal immigrants smuggled behind the tip up seats they then went up on the roof to see if that's where we had hidden them. Bizarre.

We're planning an early night as we have to be up about 5.30 in the morning. Tomorrow night will be another adventure - sleeping in a ger.

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