Posting almost in real time!
Armenia, our camp on a hill in Khosrov national park. I’m sitting under a walnut tree (on which a flashlight hangs and shines on the table), and drinking whiskey from a thermos — so schoolboys wouldn’t suspect anything.
Three days ago M. called me and said “do you want to visit Armenia? Say YES! The tickets are already paid”. I jumped out of the car that was carrying me from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod and a little more than a day later was going to the airport in company of several students and their teachers (M. among them).
It is unpleasant to spend a day in a car. To spend a day in a four-seat UAZ (which came as a replacement for our broken one), traveling across Mongolia, with five people inside, was very unpleasant. We did it twice, on 28th and 29th.
Mongolian landscapes are changing slowly when you drive by, especially in the Gobi Desert where everything is so huge that the mind refuses to believe it. For two days I watched the first season of Prison Break, glancing out the window, recalling the map and wondering – is this already the desert? And now? Meanwhile the hills were creeping further and further apart, gers (or yurts) became less frequent, and sheep and horses were replaced by camels. By the way, I never understood what’s the use of camels, except that they are bad transport. The colors outside were changing chaotically. The dominant, of course, was yellow, but there were red and white, and almost black in any combination.
A nameless village in the very heart of Mongolia. Yesterday we drowned our car in the river as we made every possible mistake on its crossing. I was driving, which is even more sad. And, by the way, today is a month since I arrived to Mongolia. The road that brought me here was long…
It was horrible. 17 hours in a “PAZ” bus with my knees pressed against the previous seat. Of course, I failed to sleep during the trip, so I looked out the window, tossed and turned in vain attempts to find a comfortable position and watched movies on a small tablet. Early in the morning I arrived to UB (finally a normal shower!), developed some photos and had a few drinks in the Chinggis Irish pub. Today is the day of internet and image processing.
When is seems that nothing is happening, there is nothing to write. However, it is not quite true.
Yesterday I had a walk along the shore with the same Dutch guys, who wanted “to see the scale of the lake,” i.e., place from which in some direction the opposite side of the lake will be unseen.
Forgot to say (in not-yet-translated articles) about the road signs. On the road Khankh – Hatgal they were one of the most amazing things. All of a sudden you can find a ban (!) road sign nailed to a tree, or a milestone standing in the larch forest, looking as though it was always there, before the larch trees, before the lake and the mountains, an artifact left over from the previous turn of the Wheel.
I dream something completely impossible these days.
Yesterday, I fervently excused in front of someone for that I am such a loser, today was trying to get on to some, (I think) railway official Belov, and before that very comically tortured one of his subordinates for some microscopic fault. Strange. The mattress is as hard as I like, though there is no cushion. But such a surprise how much shit I have in my head.
Kultuk and Slyudyanka are remembered for there are no one knows anything. I spent three hours riding buses from Kultuk to Slyudyanka and back, guided by the directions of the locals, and eventually found out that a bus to Mondy simply doesn’t exist and I’ll have to hitch-hike at least part of the way.
A couple of tens of kilometers on the school bus, and I went to sleep in the autumn woods away from people.
I woke up completely frozen under a larches somewhere in Buryatia.
A sip of water from a stream instead of breakfast and I went to the bus stop. Place for some reason seemed unfriendly to hitchhikers, and buses were still running. Part of the way was made with a shuttle bus to Arshan (it’s aside from the road, but most of the traffic goes there). Looking out the bus window I could not understand for a while what was that things hanging in the air, seemingly not at all like rain. Then my brain still refused to accept the existence of the snow, as it was, of course, snow.
I lived with friends of friends (thanks to О.!) in the most famous hostel in Irkutsk, in the staff room. Don’t know why I didn’t use CS, but the hostel was fun.
In the evening we were approached by a Dutch guy and asked about the surrounding bars and nightlife in Irkutsk. I told him immediately that he was the man I was waiting for and we’ll go and have a drink immediately. And so we did.
Riding the suburban train was not pleasant. I wanted to lie down and die rather than go somewhere, however, there was no other options, so I rode up to the station “Tyomnaya Pad'”, where the train was stopped especially for me, and making a sip from the every creek on the way (fresh creek water is an excellent cure against anything), went down to CBRY. The descent exhausted me completely, and I stayed right there, in a small coastal hotel, too tired to camp.
[nocrosspost]After a frantic packing Anton brought me to the train station an hour and a half before the train. This was just enough to visit ATM and to drink cognac with Julia from a small coffee cup in front of closed train doors.
Ibid, in front of closed doors of second-class car I met two guys with backpacks with cups and trekking shoes tied. “What’s the plan?” I asked in Russian. One of them turned and said cautiously: “no russian!”. Well, I thought, interesting. Two Englishmen, going to Vladivostok, not a word in Russian, and the way will take a week in this very car.