Thursday, November 1, 2012

Goodbye, Mother Russia!

We arrived in Ulan-Ude in the dark, with no reservation for the once-daily bus to Ulan Bator at 7am the next morning. Then we heard that almost all tickets were sold-out hours ago and it was too late to try and get them that night. So we wrote down a back up plan for taking local busses to the border, hitching/hiring a taxi across the Russian-Mongolian border, and then finding local busses to Ulaanbataar. It sounded pretty tricky but we both felt like we could now handle it (a month ago, maybe not).

We woke up very early and headed to where the once-a-day bus was, on the off chance that that hadn't actually filled up yet. Almost to our surprise, we were able to get on the bus.

- Bree

Dawn in southern Siberia.
Our bus featuring The Notebook, dubbed in Russian. 
The last of the snow, as we head into the dry Mongolia steppes.
Mongolian landscape.
Each small village had it's pack of dogs roaming around.
Loading back onto the bus after a short lunch break.

The 12+hr bus ride was interesting. The bus itself was nice, cushy seats and in good condition. After getting out of the city, the bus driver powered up the TV and started playing The Notebook. Dubbed in Russian of course. The scenery very quickly changed from the snowy Siberian taiga to arid hilly steppes. After The Notebook tearfully ended, a Russian comedy/bro-mance film with a lot of yelling interrupted our attempts at napping. The Russian-Mongolian border came up, and aside from a little waiting around, was no problem. Back on a now bumpier road, the final film was Furious Five, again dubbed in Russian. Which, I actually think made the film, or at least the acting seem better. The added benefit of bouncing around on the bus made the action scenes 4D. 

So we are done with Russia. I already kinda miss it. But the intrigue of Mongolia has my full attention now.

- Matt