I had planned to camp along the shores of Lake Baikal but I wound up staying in the ski resort instead. Still, it was fun seeing Lake Baikal. It is huge, and as clear as its reputation says it is.
All I had read said that I should stop at Ulan Udi which I was told was a good place to visit Lake Baikal from. As it turned out, Ulan Udi is a huge, beautiful and clean city, but it is also quite far from Lake Baikal. However, it did have other interesting things to see and do, one of them being a park with pioneer buildings in it.
It was kind of fun wandering around and taking pictures of the way things were in Siberia around 1920 or so.
Another must do thing in Ulan Udi is to visit the brand new Tibetan Buddhist monastery up on the hill overlooking the city.
Do you recognize the guy in this next picture. Yep, its the Dalai Lama. He "okay-ed" the construction of this monastery, and was here to open it when it was done.
I got to attend a church service while I was there. It was pretty interesting, but far different from the one I went to in Vietnam. It that one, the place was very dark except for a single tiny light, and there we all sat quietly and meditated. It this one here in Ulan Udi, there was a lot of singing and chanting. The singing was "throat singing". You will have to look up "throat singing" on Youtube if you want to hear a sample.
There are some pretty cool statues inside the church. Again, I have to say that this Tibetan Buddhism is a lot different than the kind practiced in China. There, the fog of incense is thick and the churches are dark inside.
Also, in this Tibetan Buddhism there seems to be a lot of emphasis on prayer wheels and prayer flags. Whereas in China you would buy a stick of incense to carry your prayers to heaven, here it is done with flags which are often placed outdoors in memory of loved ones.
I stopped here in Ulan Ude on purpose because it is from here that the road goes south to Ulaan Baatar, the capitol of Mongolia. I wasn't able to negotiate the paths to U.B. across the mountains from the west, so now I will find out it it is better coming in from the north. Wish me luck.