Irkutsk again (day 145)

It didn’t hold. My luck, that is.

The round Baikal railway only goes four times a week, and I was not in luck.

I did get to see another dawn over Lake Baikal. The chill wind said “autumn” rather loudly.

I snoozed for three hours on the train back to Irkutsk to find that I had missed the morning bus to Listvyanka (my alternate destination for the day), and the next one would not get me there until late in the day.

I also found out that taxi drivers are the same in Irkutsk as in other parts of Russia. When I asked about buses he immediately said “there are none”, and quoted me a price to get to Listvyanka for which I could have almost hired a car for the day. It took a few seconds to walk inside and check the timetable.

Parenthetically, a taxi driver in Khyakhta did exactly the same thing yesterday, despite it being the work of a minute to walk inside the bus station and find out that there were buses, in fact, leaving very soon, for 15 times less money than he wanted to charge.

I did meet some New Zealanders (on their way home) at the train station though, so that was nice.

Then I had another encounter with the evil Irkutian ticket sellers, who will not sell to foreigners (and require me to go to the foreigners desk). Last time (a few days ago) I only had to wait 45 minutes for the foreigners desk to open (something that I explained to the evil ticket seller, who was unmoved).

This time the train I wanted was leaving in 5 minutes, and the foreigners desk was closed. Having waited in the queue for 30 minutes I was somewhat put out when the evil ticket seller told me she would not help me, essentially forcing me to wait 4 hours for the next train. Particularly when she had the gall to lie to me (as ever) and say there were no tickets.

In the end it is a funny story, I suppose. You have to laugh. I think I shall write up a longer version just for the humour value.

At times like this I console myself by thinking that I do not have to live here. One part of me is going to miss this place. But another part is going to be pleased to give a finger to Russia (only after the border guard gives me a stamp, of course) and say “bugger you, you bunch of unhelpful cretins”.

The only thing that concerns me is that the next country I am going to is Ukraine, which has a similar reputation.


I think I might change my socks.