Monday, June 15, 2009

A Train to Ulan-Ude 6/15/09

A Train to Ulan-Ude 

Weather-AM sun, PM rain

After the disappointment of the night before, we
were happy to get on the train and be underway. Our car, or wagon, was the most modern I have seen with molded plastic surfaces, flat-screen TV in each compartment (3 channels in Russian) and a modern bathroom with airline-type toilet, not one that dumps onto the tracks. We enjoyed the luxury while it lasted. 
The first 8 hours of travel were in the dark, or at least I thought so because my eyes were closed. Here are some pictures of the countryside during daylight hours.

Getting on the train ready to leave at 7:38 Our "wagon's" attendants

I took many pictures from our train window as we traveled 40+ hours from Novosibirsk to Ulan-Ude in the Buriyat Republic. Rural Russia looks a lot like rural anywhere else fifty years ago. You have to wonder what these people do for income.
I was fascinated with the business of life in the villages and the people out working in their gardens looking like a picture out of a history book.

Life in these villages has not changed much over the last century. Even the flea market had an old feeling about it.
Finally we pass Lake Baikal and end up at Ulan-Ude where the real adventure begins. This is what the internet says about the region and city.
"The Buryats or Buriyads, numbering approximately 436,000, are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia and are mainly concentrated in their homeland, the Buryat Republic, a federal subject of Russia. They are the northernmost major Mongol group.[1]

Buryats share many customs with their Mongolian cousins, including nomadic herding and erecting yurts for shelter. Today, the majority of Buryats live in and around Ulan Ude, the capital of the republic, although many live more traditionally in the countryside. They speak in a dialect of Mongolian language called Buryat. In 1923, the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed and included Baikal province (Pribaykalskaya guberniya) with Russian population. The city's current name was given in 1934 and means "red Uda" or "red gate" in Buryat reflecting the communist ideology of the Soviet Union to which it belonged."
In Ulan-Ude we will meet the senior couple Moleff, 4 elders and two sisters. We will present a FEP Seminar and financial clerk training the first night. The second day we will accompany the Bowdens on their Humanitarian events, and the third day we will head to Irkutsk along the train route we have just traveled. We are looking forward to a great event tonight and more adventures.

What a country among the Burat.

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