Cool and overcast morning, with bird chatter - maybe it’s the butcher bird look-alike with the long tail? Off towards Gusinoozersk, with its delightful lake (think we must be water-deprived!) but dusty roadworks soon brought us back into perspective. Numerous small roofless, abandoned concrete houses overlooking the lake - why? (Plumes from power station go in opposite direction so can't be pollution) Old tractor pulling long wooden trailer of vegetables next to modern tractors and road machinery. Pivot irrigation. A significant number of RHD vehicles. In the villages houses are timber, as are fences and sheds. It seems the preferred Siberian house colours are teal green and bright blue, and marshmallow-pink bus stops! It seems a matter of pride to have pretty painted shutters and bright flowers in pots inside windows, with lace curtains behind.
Bigger towns and cities have ugly concrete high rise apartment blocks, or concrete houses. Cemetery crowded and totally covered in bunches of bright plastic flowers. Stopped in Ulan-Ude for SIM card (MTS carrier, small phone allowance, larger data coverage 100mg daily through to mid Sept, need to inform when depart and re-enter Russia to avoid accumulating charges - worked immediately - bonus!) Lunch in Cafe Prospekt (cold Siberian summer soup- fermented rye bread and finely chopped vegetables in garlic), found ATM, walked the streets looking for 3rd party auto insurance couldn't find anything other than expensive 1 year coverage, humidity rising with storm on horizon, decided to depart north.
Small lakes, fields of yellow wild flowers. Five gold turrets of Russian Orthodox Church shining in afternoon sun, apparently shape designed initially as snow falls off more readily. Root vegetables growing in many backyards, onions, carrots, cabbages, beetroot, but potatoes definitely predominate. Pulled up just before pretty town of Kabansk on banks of river. With their painted shutters and fences, the wooden houses are unbelievably quaint and fairytale! Drinks all round thanking Marina get us off to such a good start in Russia. Guy tried his hand at fishing, used lures, but no luck in fast flowing water.