We arrived in Irkutsk welcomed by sunlight. The first we had seen in about 5 days. From Irkutsk we had planned to spend one night on the shores of Lake Baikal in Listvyanka a Siberian version of Blackpool with seals instead of donkeys, jet skis instead of the pleasure beach but one thing remained the same, you could still get kebabs. Although Listvyanka kebabs were in a different league to British kebabs they actually contained meat for a start and were cooked on demand instead of a big rotating piece of crap that has probably been cooking for 20 years that you find in Britain.
Enough of that brief tangent. Our task was to get to the bus station in order to get to Listvyanka. However, we had done no research on how or where or when bus ran and where to get them from. So after us all having hissy fits in the train station lobby I decided to find Wifi to do some research whilst the other two did their own research which included asking taxi drivers who wanted money just to look at them. The bros actually managed to find out some useful information from a large map on the wall of the station showing us where everything was. I reported back with a bus timetable from 2002 which really wasn't particularly useful. From the map we deduced that we needed the No.4 tram after about 45 mins of this tram not appearing severe doubts started to creep into our thoughts despite Nathan being convinced he saw a No.4 when we were standing around looking like goons. But then again Nathan wears contact lenses and his views and opinions of the visual world have to be taken with a pinch of salt. We eventually manned up and got on the very regular No.1 tram which started off being the slowest form of rail road transport I had ever been on. I could have walked backwards faster. On the tram is a person, in this case a man, who collects your 18 roubles from you. It always has to be an awkward number and then the person seems surprised when you have to use a 20 note or even a 50. They always grumble and give you funny looks but I dont see how it is a problem. These people should have the most amount of change in the world considering all Russians pay in coins and this man has a fanny pack oozing with silverware.
Finally arriving at the bus station everything went pretty much straight forward which seemed bizarre. We booked the bus for a reasonable price we waited and we got on and we left on time. Wow. Arriving in Listvyanka we attempted to find our hostel with the directions "get off bus stop. Walk 400m". There are so many uncertainties with these directions it is untrue. But we eventually found the hostel thanks to a British solo-female traveller who happened to be on the same bus staying in the same place. I shall save my rants on Solo female travellers for my special edition blog called "Women Abroad". The hostel actually had a sign on it that was visible for more than a metre away which was remarkable. We were welcomed by this exceedingly grumpy Russian woman who went I met instantly realised why the directions were so shocking. We felt like us paying guests were interrupting her day of sitting in the sun and writing s*** directions. But we soon got over this cold welcome and the room was fairly decent. We all desperately needed a shower as we all smelt like an old man with bladder control problem who hasn't washed for a week. The shower had a temperament to drastically change it's temperature from cold enough to make your external genitalia become internal organs to hot enough to melt steel. After this thorough clean we were ready to check out the sites and sounds of Listvyanka. However, we were warned in the welcome brochure to not stay out after midnight as it was dangerous. Previous to this we were also warned by the youngest alcoholic I've seen so far that, in his broken English - " Welcome to Irkutsk. Danger. Gangsters". I thanked him for his warning but I was fairly sure that we weren't going to take part in any extortion whilst we were here so his warning was futile. But these two warnings in such short period of time but us all on edge and put the possibility of having to use close quarters armed combat on the up.
Listvyanka had stunning views of Lake Baikal and the surrounding tree lined hills and was well worth coming. We also met more English speaking people in Listvyanka than our whole trip so far. One guy was from New Zealand and was doing a bizarre and outrageous route of Moscow to Beijing to Vladivostok then to St Petersburg. But his stupidity was not the first think to strike me it was the two danglers he had on each hand next to his little fingers. They were like an extra finger but didn't have any bone in them and were attached by just a small amount of connective tissue. They were just flapping about during normal conversational hand movements and i couldn't stop staring. I was more perplexed to why he hadn't had them removed yet. Even I was going to offer him the surgery with some thread and nail clippers. The night came to a close as everybody seemed to go in at about 11 despite another stupid wedding.
In the morning we got up relatively early and made it out for 10:30am ready to get the bus back to Irkutsk and then onward to Olcon Island. Getting to the bus station we soon discovered that all buses leaving before 9am and that all buses were now fully booked til Monday which really wasn't compatible considering we are leaving for Mongolia on Sunday morning. On exiting the station we were approached by a male of 20ish asking is for the time. We soon found out that this was his chat up line and he was a tour agency rep of some sort. Everything just seemed a bit odd. We could hardly understand a thing he said with his mixture of bad English and excessive salivation. We ended up waiting for 2 hours in the baking sun for this guy to try and organise a taxi for us to Olcon island tomorrow. Which in fairness he did but we could have done so quicker if he allowed us to leave the confines of the glare of his mute female accomplice. His favourite phrases included "Don't worry, in this situation we should do... And you only have one decision." He always used the latter in the completely the wrong context as well. The guy who we nicknamed Anatolli after the Saxophonist from Byn'gi was quickly becoming the most annoying person ever to set foot on earth. He walked us to a hostel that he claimed was nearby and owned by a friend. Both of which proved to be lies. However, arriving at the hostel we hid in our room until he had gone expecting him to try and charge us for his unwanted help.
In Irkutsk we managed to track down a German themed beer haus that served cider which put me in heaven. All waitresses looked the same dressed in traditional German waitress dress with pig tails and they all laughed and giggled when we said thank you.
I am currently in a full 10-bed dorm with people still awake and I really need to expel gas but I know it is going to make a noise but thank god it is dark.