In our minds we divided this Russian adventure into two parts: riding towards lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world and riding from Baikal towards the border of Kazakhstan (the country has a new spelling of it's name too: Qazaqstan). Baikal was truly a milestone in our Russian adventure - we both were looking forward to reaching it. I was dreaming of a few days of rest and relax on the coast of this special lake, meanwhile Linas had a thing to strike out of his bucket-list: dipping in the lake Baikal :)
We reached the Republic of Buryatia, a mountainous region in Eastern Siberia, on the east coast of lake Baikal and the views around us changed. The local people in this region are called Buryats. Historically they are the descendants of the ancient tribes which lived here before the white people came. Their facial features resemble those of Mongolian people and they have their own traditional cuisine and architecture.
Nature in this region is special as well, and combined with gently fresh autumn weather and beautiful colors of golden leaves of trees made the ride truly pleasant. Touristic season around Baikal lake is already over, so the wide roads are almost empty and we had the coastline only for ourselves.
We spent a few days on the coast of the lake in a tiny and almost empty village called Maksimikha. The owner of the summer-house there offered us a true Russian banja (sauna) experience and we surely said yes. As in this stage of our lives we do not have an opportunity to comfortably take a shower every day, we really appretiated being able to take the process of washing our bodies to a whole new level :)
Finally, next day Linas took a chance to dip into the lake even though the weather temperature at that moment was barely reaching 12 degrees Centigrade. But the cold water of the lake just made him feel even more refreshed and a bright smile decorated his face as he was drying himself up and putting the riding gear back on.
No matter how much we enjoyed our time next to the lake, it was limited due to the short-time Russian visas we had and the seriously cold weathers that were coming to these places soon. So we took off to continue riding west. We spent the whole day riding along the coast of the lake until we reached the town called Slyudyanka where we stayed in one of the bike-posts which is built and run by a local biker who's nickname is AlPachino due to the obvious reasons :)
Just about 100 kilometres from Slyudyanka lies the city of Irkutsk. We knew that in that city there is a motorcycle-themed bar called Obarmot. We were told about it by the French comics artist PtiLuc in Vladivostok - he drew an angry looking bear on the wall there which became a symbol of that bar. There we had arranged a meeting with the French couple which we also met a couple of weeks ago in Vladivostok - Philippe and Natalie. They left Vladivostok about 5 days earlier than us, but had some technical problems with their motorcycles which made them stop in Irkusk to do some serious maintenance on both engines. So we met to share our impressions about Russia over the bowls of the traditional Russian soup solyanka.
Just as we were talking about the opportunity for the French couple to load their bikes on a train to Moscow in case the weather got too cold for riding, a Dutch/German couple Denise and Esben (follow their adventures on Motourama) were sitting at the next table feeling a bit desperate because of the fact that they could not find a way to ship their two Honda NX250 to Japan and already had to leave on the flight to Japan in a couple of days. As they heard us all talking about motorcycle logistics, they came at our table and explained their problem. You can guess - we wrote pages of notes for them about the people they have to reach out to in Vladivostok and in Japan, we gave them phone numbers, emails and prices we paid and so their logistics quest was solved in just a few minutes. This was a nice afternoon for all of us.