“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Inspired by these words of Mark Twain, one of my favourite American writers, I once realized that if I want my dream to become reality, I need to act. All I had to do is to take that very first step out of my “safe harbour” and it would lead me towards my dream. For years, I’ve been dreaming of visiting the sacred Lake Baikal. To make this dream come true, I hitchhiked more than 5200 km alone, and then another 300 km together with my dear sister Sin from Ulan-Ude, and finally, on January 19th, 2009, I saw Baikal.
After spending six days on the road hitchhiking from Moscow to Siberia and crossing more than 5200 km I finally arrived in the city of Irkutsk, one of the biggest cities in East Siberia. A good sister of mine was waiting here for me, with whom we were going to hitchhike to Ulan-Ude and the Lake Baikal together. But before hitting the road, we spent one day in Irkutsk, and I had the chance to explore the city.
The city of Chelyabinsk was the first city on my way to Irkutsk where I made a stop during the hitchhiking trip to Siberia in 2009. I had limited time to explore the city, since I was waiting for a call from the driver, who was going to drive me all the way to Novosibirsk. Yet, I liked Chelyabinsk with its new and old buildings and people wearing big fur hats. Chelyabinsk is the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast of Russia and is located on the Miass river, just to the east of the Ural mountains. The city takes its name from the fortress of Chelyaba, which was built on the site in 1736.
Tomsk is my favorite city in Russia! And even though some may say St. Petersburg is more beautiful (which is not that far from the truth), still among all the cities I’ve visited in Russia, Tomsk is the number one for me! And it’s not only because of my good friends who live there, or its amazing wooden houses, or the friendly atmosphere, or tonnes of white snow on the streets in winter. Or, or, or. There’s something special in Tomsk, which I hardly can express using words.
The impression that the Aginsky datsan left on me was universal! I’ve never expected to see something like that. But my friend assured me that there’s another datsan not far from Chita, which is even more impressive. Maybe not that beautiful, but the atmosphere there is much better. She was talking about Tsugolsky datsan located about 300 km East of Chita, in the village of Tsugol. As usual, I hitchhiked there and got to the place in some 4-5 hours. Tsugolsky datsan is located 3 km off the road, so I had to walk through the hills along the rocky road. Right behind the last turn the roof of the temple appeared, and then the temple itself. The scenery was so beautiful I hardly could find words to express what I’ve felt.