Unsurprisingly, internet access has been fairly limited through Mongolia and the Eastern reaches of Russia. Sadly, this leaves me with an excessive number of experiences worthy of mention and time only for a few.

A couple of days ago (and after the best part of 10 hours festering at border control), we entered Russia on our way to the first town on route: Ulan Ude. Perhaps the only Russian town hosting a Buddhist community, it had an oddly homely feeling; traveling out to the monastery at Ivolginsk Datsan, one encounters a somewhat garish-concrete Russian take on the temples and shrines which become so familiar when living in Japan.

The town center sports a more European feel. That, perhaps, of a small sleepy French city. It differs from this in only the Cryllic signs—which still instill in me strong communist feeling—and a gargantuan statue of Lenin’s head overlooking the main square. The suburbs, however, still have dirt roads and are much more reminiscent of what one would imagine as Russian ‘architecture’.

Traveling on the 10.17 p.m. train, Ulan Ude slipped into the distance late last night. Now, we trundle onwards towards Irkutsk and Lake Baikal.