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    Travel Tips - Dangers & Annoyances

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    Pokoyniki, Siberia, Russia
    Travel in Siberia is very hard, but not impossible. We had wanted to see Lake Baikal. Pokoyniki is on the Western shore about half-way down. We actually flew into Ulaanbataar, Mongolia and drove to the Russian boarder. (Very stupid). There are places to fly into in Russia, we just thought that it would be "cool" to fly into Ghengis Khan's home town and drive up to the Lake. Do not do this!!!! We knew it would be a long drive, but did not know all of the problems that would ensue. It's only about 684 km / 425 m. Come on, how hard can it be? Road conditions were one issue, the weather was another issue and the car was a third issue. When one of these issues was good the other two were bad. At least we survied. Arriving at the Russian boarder at 11pm is not the best idea. Non-Russians coming from Mongolia are bad enough, but non-Russians crossing at 11pm are trouble. It took us two hours to get across. We arrived in Pokoyniki around 5 am local time. Ahead of time, we booked a dacha. Dachas are like cabins but beautifully painted and carved. A bit spartan for me, but still very clean and everything was in order. A word about money. Before you leave home, buy Rubles. We did this thinking that they would not be able or willing to take Euros or Dollars. Very glad we did this. Some places do take credit cards / debit cards but many do not. There are restaurants and bars, but you should count on visiting the local markets and buying food for yourself. I say this because of the fact that we take so much for granted in the West and seeing what it takes to make it in Siberia was impressive and made me very thankful for all I have. The food in the restaurants and bars was pretty good. You need to be open-minded and just smile and say thank you. We visited many villages and towns around the lake over a period of two weeks. We used Pokoyniki as one of our home bases and made day trips out from there. There are not words to discribe the beauty of this place. High mountains sloping down to this very large fresh-water paradise. Deep blue water that sparkled and changed colors during the day like a caleidoscope. Birch and Aspens fill the hillsides and rocky beaches dot the shore. Even though it was summer, it was still fairly cool. That did not stop us from hiking and from convincing a couple of the locals to loan us a boat for a day. (They thought we were crazy). We also enjoyed seeing the flora and fauna as it were. Wildlife is aboundant so be aware of where you are and what is around you. Big game is found all over and you must be very careful. Do not go out at night if your Dacha is in the woods. Bears and wildcats tend to hunt then. Language was a barrier in some places, but for the most part we did just fine. They may not all like foreigners, but they love our money. Over-all, I loved it. We want to go back, but this time we will fly into Russia and avoid the drama.
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    Khuzhir, Siberia, Russia
    fight as for your life to get a place in a hostel - it is the ONLY decent place to live in khuzir - if not - take you tent and go near baikal (that is SO GREAT), no other options, everything else will suck seriously
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    Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia
    Most Russians here are someway connected to the mafia keep to the city centre and the area surrounding dont venture to the outskirts
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    Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia
    Irkutsk is very expensive, even by russian standards, find a decent guide and if you do have to wander be very careful when parting with your hard earned, watch what the locals pay and avoid "tourist tax"
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    Mondy, Siberia, Russia
    Absolute END of everything. End of road.NO hotels, no restorants. Nothing, but pure Siberian wooden houses, some kind of vodka, and woods, woods and mountain rivers.
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