Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Bolshie Koty (5th of August)

In the morning armed with the coffee we walked for 45 minutes to 1 hour to the bus station where we waited for a marushky (minivan) to Listvyanka. The Americans who had been there the day before said it was pretty easy and you just had to find one, hop in and it would wait to fill up and you’d be off. We however found loads of people waiting at the bus stop, it being Thursday and there only being one boat. We waited and didn’t get space in the first one, but managed to in the second one. It was full of Irkutskians, most on their way to a day out in Listvyanka. Two little girls copied us when we put our seatbelts on. Hopefully we hadn’t offended the driver – Lonely Planet tells you that Mongolian’s get offended by seatbelt wearing. I was glad to have it on though, as I began to think more and more that I was in a theme park. We were facing backwards and couldn’t see the road ahead so it was like one of those in the dark roller coasters. Not a treat. Trying to divert my attention from feeling sick I came to the conclusion that people from Irkutsk must have very valuable heads, what with all the gold fillings they have.

In Listvyanka we bumped into the Russian speaking English lady off the train and her husband. After we had tested the water temperature and admired the lake we headed away from it and up a road. The road soon became a track and we found ourselves a bench surrounded by rubbish, massive grasshoppers and some butterflies, where we could peacefully consume some of our eggs. We came to the part of the path we expected to split in two, but there were three paths and we weren’t sure which one to take. Jenny went to the top one and I went to the bottom one. Mine went over the river, which the path isn’t meant to and Jenny’s was steep and the path was unscuffed. We took the middle path since it looked most used and had litter along it. A lady walked past us and we were almost sure we’d made the right decision.

The path went up and up through the trees and we saw a black woodpecker hammering away on a branch. As the path levelled out there were lots of large plants on the ground and it began to smell like a combination between pleasant pine forest and a zoo enclosure. There were huge ants everywhere making massive anthills and we came to fully understand the expression of ants in your pants. Once more there was a fork in the path and we didn’t know where we were really meant to go, so we took the bigger track, which zig-zagged down the hill. We thought we might have heard a large creature, maybe a moose, but there wasn’t actually anything to see. Down the bottom we thought we were nearing the village and took it easy looking at the bright yellow birds, which we thought at the time we could come back and look at in the morning.

As we reached the lakeshore and no houses we could only conclude that we weren’t in Bolshie Koty. There were no signposts nor any sign of a village and we weren’t really sure if we were meant to be going left along the shore or to the right. We concluded that the Latvian and German team wouldn’t have got lost on the dangerous cliffs if Bolshie Koty was to the right so we headed up the steep path on our left, which skirted round a headland. After a few more climbs we really weren’t sure if we were going the right way, but continued nonetheless. With time ticking on we really couldn’t afford to be going the wrong way. The landscape was rather beautiful with plenty of wildflowers and then craggy sections with Sardinian looking plants. Unfortunately, becoming increasingly sure we were lost, our ability to appreciate it was somewhat diminished. On seeing a boat that looked like it was heading inland we got pretty excited. It was heading into a bay and we became convinced that Bolshie Koty was just around the corner. Sadly when we got there we saw that they were just picking up a lobster pot or similar. We had no option but to continue on the path, with nightfall due in about two hours. We walked quickly with thoughts in our heads of where the best place would be to sleep out on the path. At one point we came across a wrapper lying on the ground, if it was an ice cream wrapper we had to be near the town. Unfortunately it was a muesli bar and didn’t raise our hopes particularly. On and on we walked and as we got into a wooded area we finally found a signpost for ‘Kotie 2 часa’. We had been walking the right way. But it wasn’t the 2km minutes walk we had got excited about, but took a further 2 hours. We dug our torch out and then we came across the man from the hostel who had come out to find us since it was getting dark. It was a bit embarrassing to have him come to look for us, but on the other hand it was very kind of him. He seemed very excited to have two more sisters join the two Dutch sisters who were already at the hostel, naming it ‘Sister Day’. We chose accommodation in the old looking wooden hut, which was actually rather new inside, but still freezing cold. Wrapped up in hats, scarves, gloves, tights and multiple layers of other clothing we nodded off to sleep.

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