Arriving in Siberia from the south is quite a surprise. Not only are the traditional nomadic gers gone which dot the countryside right up until the Mongolia-Russia border but in their place are little wooden houses. Welcome to south-eastern Russia with towns such as Ulan-Ude, the Buryat capital and an easy blend of Mongolian-Buddhism-Russian. Also Slyudyanka, on Lake Baikal, with a multicolored timber church and cloud shrouded Arshan facing the Eastern Sayan Mountains. All are representative of the timber architecture that marks the Lake Baikal area of Siberia. With their primarily blue or green (sometimes both) wooden, carved shutters and trim, these abodes beckon warmth and coziness, not that fake “made for tourists” replicas. This is the real thing where people continue to make their homes.
The latter is gaining popularity with travellers but the main way to get accommodation when you alight from a bus is to follow one of the many homeowners carrying the sign “house” in Russian Cryillic. There are a few other larger hotels but this is primarily the way to find a place to lay your head. They will tell you right away it is a traditional “wooden” house but they will often fail to point out the lack of plumbing but brushing your teeth with rain water and a home made sauna aren’t so bad now, are they?
For more on Siberia see http://heathersimondsphotography.com/2013/01/17/siberia/