Janey Davies: ahhhh lovely china. We have left the rubble of Russia behind and we are here, in the land of amazing food. Our time in Irkutsk went by ok - we went to Baikal and it was just amazing - can't even describe what it felt like to be there and see the view... Water as far as the eye can see and then snowcapped mountains just visible on the horison, and that is just looking across the narrowest width of the lake. We walked about on the ice, and it was like walking on glass... very very thick glass as it was so clear. you could see air bubbles that got caught in the ice about a metre under, and cracks decorated the ice... and you could hear loud booms that sounded like they came from the centre of the earth which was the ice cracking somewhere near - perfectly safe though... it would take more than a little crack to fall through a metre of ice. it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
we then went on to Ulan-Ude which was quite a nice little city, abit down in the dumps but had a happier feel - probably becaue there was less russians and more mongolians. We went out to a Buddhist Temple which was quite amazing - beautiful datsan in mongolian wildnerness. We walked the correct way round, span some prayer wheels and all decided that if religion was our bag, we'd go for buddhism because of the beautiful things they surround themselves with.
The trip from Ulan-Ude to Beijing was 2 days (48hrs) and passed by without much to remark about - lots of reading and playing cards and lanty even got himself up at 07 30 for free breakfast - first early morning...
AND NOW BEIJING! getting to our hostel was easy as chips due to the helpful american voice on the underground and everything written in pinyin as well as the traditional chinese... We are on a uber cool hutong north of the centre, called the 'downtown backpackers hostel' and the staff are lovely and the dorms are good enough. On the first night we ate out with extravagance. we were given a big bowl of brewing broth that we were given all sorts of raw meats and veggies to dump in and let cook before fishing them back out. DIY chinese cuisine - loves it. we managed to make a phenomenal mess but loved every minute. Although Lanty had to take some time out after experiencing hallucinations from the spice (!?). Today we have meandered the streets and checked out a massive clothing market - intense! also done lots of shopping around for a camera but our haggling skills arent up to much and unfortunately the exchange rate has royally bit us on the bum as cameras are going for more expensive than in the UK here... bums...! so desperate to start snapping china. every turn has more to look at, see, hear, smell and take photos of (if only we could).
to sum up, we love it here!