Saturday, February 6, 2010

Siberia 5th Stop : Arshan

A village approx 4 hours by mashutka from Irkutsk.
We had the luxury of taking a spanking new Hyundai mashutka.Something we haven't enjoyed in a long time and we were the only 3 passangers in the 9 person van.The driver had great taste in music ( finally something english,think savage garden:) ,a great change and thankfully one that we were looking forward to.It was a smooth ride , not much potholes along the way.

We arrived in Arshan with no accomodation pre booked before hand.Asked the driver for recommendations as to where to stay , he drove us to a house along the main street and dropped us off there and gave us directions to th bus stations nearby to get bus tickets out of Arshan to our next destination.THey are normally really nice , these mashutka drivers.

We knocked on the door a couple of time , no answer.
Moved on to the next house with a sign that has a "жить" something word.That indicates that there are rooms that guests can stay in.A babuska opened the door with her grandson Кирилл and showed us the room.The guest house was a separate house from the main house.Very spartan.3 beds,some utensils table.Toilet was in the backyard.Must be a pain to commune with nature during winter or during a thunderstorm.

Having 3 foreigners in the house must have been a thrilling experience for the grandson.Something to brag to his classmates in school the next day!Arshan is a touristy place for Russian tourists.In this village , there is a spring where the water is believed to heal illnesses and many Russians from all over Russia , head over to the sanatorium here to rest and to recover and of course to drink and bring home bottles of healing water.

But to have foreigners in this village is pretty rare.There were plenty of spanking new japanese cars in the village( Russian tourists).Something we rarely saw in SPB, Moscow and cities around the area.But there were plenty here owned by the russian tourists.

Checked out the open air market.Many goods sold were imported from Mongolia which was pretty nearby.We met one shop keeper who could speak english!Isn't that amazing? A village In the middle of nowhere in Siberia!

Headed over to the stream where russians were queuing up for their healing water.Further up the stream , 1 km or so , cows were seen , walking near the streams.does the water flow down?

Had a sip of it , it was awful.There was a salty taste , revolting sensation.
Walked around the village.THere wasn't much , except for a souvenir shop , some small convenience stores , river , mountains and houses and a datsan ( temple ).The first Temple we have seen in Russia!Where do people buy their meat and fish from? There do not seem to be a market anywhere nearby!

It was an interesting night at the guesthouse.The uncle came in with Кирилл ( grandson ) and started talking to us.Basic Russian.He told us that in most schools in Siberia, students are taught english and even French!And Moscovites say ," Nobody speaks english in Siberia!"
I think I have met more strangers who were willing to speak english in Siberia than in Moscow!

Offered Кирилл and his older sister полина some chocolate and after 20 minutes , he came into our room with m&ms and potato chips , wishing us good health! Isn't that cute?

Had an amazing stay in Arshan.It is a small village and 1 day there will be more than sufficient to make you leave a happy person!

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