Irkutsk, Russia

Over two nights on the train, we travelled into Russia with views of lakes and clusters of wooden Siberian cottages.

In Irkutsk, our hostel is surrounded by old wooden houses, and it has a bust of Lenin in the backyard.

Siberia is chilly.



In Ulaan Baatar, we watched some throat singing, then left for a five
night trip into the Gobi Desert,

travelling largely off road, and sleeping in nomads' guest gers.

The host in the photo below yelled at her husband, because he lost their herd of ponies. Luckily, a neighbour 70 kilometres away called to say they were there.

We saw giant eagles, gerbils, wild flowers and a stuffed snow leopard.

The grasslands are sparsely populated with nomads and their herds of camels, ponies or goats.

We tried fermented mares' milk, cheese and ate lots of fatty goat.

The Packing List

For the first leg of my trip, I carried only a 35 litre backpack, which weighed between 4 and 5 kilos. On travel days, I complained it was too heavy. However, I enjoyed being comfortable in temperatures between 7 and 33 degrees celsius, so I’ll probably carry much the same on my legs with my friend Marie on the Trans Mongolian Railway, with my sister-in-law in North and Central America, and solo in South America.

For my own reference when travelling in the future, I’ve listed the clothes I’ll pack.

2 oufits: 2 long sleeved shirts, 2 bottoms (1 skirt, 1 pants), 2 socks (1 thick, 1 hose for skirt days), 2 shoes (1 covered, 1 water sandals), 2 undies, 2 bras (1 a bikini top)

warm layers: 1 leggings, 1 tee, 1 puffy jacket

swimming: shorts

rain gear: $2 poncho (never used on the last leg)