Ulan Ude, Russia

The Dalai Lama has visited Ivolginsk Datsan, the center of Russian Buddhism, five times.

The largest temple at Ivolginsk Datsan (monastery) offers vibrant colors inside and out. The bright colors are at odds with most of Russiaís grayness. Along the 16 wooden columns inside the Temple are golden dragons and on the walls are hundreds of incarnations of Buddha.

Jim turning a prayer wheel clockwise, according to Buddhist practice, inside Ivolginsk Datsan.

Flies are a way of life in Siberia.

These Russian-made filter-less cigarettes cost $.13 or 3 rubles. The pack includes 20 cigarettes.

Two lamas of the Gelukpa Buddhist sect, who reside at Ivolginsk Datsan

A home within Ivolginsk Datsan

Russian public transportation

The Virgin Hodegetria Cathedral, built from 1745 to 1785, offers perhaps the most beautiful architecture we have seen thus far in Russia. Located at the end of Lenina Street, the Cathedral is situated among tall trees, which frame and hug the structure. Unfortunately we were told the Cathedral is no longer active for any congregation. Instead it is used as a warehouse.

Around 6 p.m. we saw this man being carried home. Alcoholism is rife.

The Open-Air Ethnographic Museum in Ulan Ude includes exhibits like this pre-Revolutionary Russian Orthodox Church and others showing the homes and architecture of Cossacks, Buryats and 17th century Orthodox Christians.

Chinese entrepreneurial farmers in Siberia


Another face of Siberia

25 July 1999 - During our walk to dinner, we saw a passed-out drunken man being carried home over another drunk manís shoulders. Alcoholism is rife.

We stopped at the Hotel Barguzin to look it over and decided to eat dinner there even though the flies were more abundant than I've seen in any restaurant to date. They kept landing on Jimís shaved head and Sergei (our interpreter) joked that the flies were using Jimís head as a landing strip.

The large restaurant, packed with 30 tables or so, had only one table filled when we arrived. Ordering our dinner took almost 45 minutes. Finally the server brought our salads, but they were not what we'd ordered. We ate them anyway. About an hour later, the entrees of beef stroganoff and boiled fish arrived. They were filling and I can be no kinder in description. As I ate, my hand kept a constant motion over my plate so the flies would not be a part of my dinner.

Midway during our meal the music and the deejay started Ė not too loud at first, but then so loud we could not hear each other speak. I noticed the restaurant filling up with women. Five tables filled with two or either three women at each, but there was just one table with two men. Everyone looked to be late 20s or early 30s. A little later, women began to dance with each other and Jim and I joined the fun. At one point a beggar from the street came on the dance floor and started dancing with me. The loud music in restaurants and women dancing with each other is common in Siberia. Around 10:30 p.m., we headed home and the dance floor and restaurant were just coming to life.


  The road from Chita to Ulan Ude (Jim)
  Lenin (Jim)