The Mongolian Army On Parade – Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - 10th July 2013
by Colin Dunn
On the occasion of the inauguration of their new President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the Mongolian Army form a guard of honour, resplendent in their red, yellow and blue dress uniforms.
Hotel Mayak, Listvyanka – Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia – 6th July 2013
by Colin Dunn
I really enjoyed my few days at Lake Baikal, the beauty of the lake itself and the surrounding mountains in particular, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something…odd…about Listvyanka, though I can’t put my finger on what it was.
It was early July but aside from a small market selling the usual trinkets and tourist tatt there was very little to do, especially in the evening. For such a beautiful place there were very few people around and what few people there where were supplemented by a number of off-duty Russian soldiers that I later found out were actually the Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) or the FSB (today’s equivalent of the KGB)
The hotel pictured above, the Hotel Mayak, didn’t help my uncomfortable feelings. It was open for business, apparently, but I never saw anyone going in or out apart from workmen and none of the rooms seemed to be occupied. I commented at the time that despite its pleasant art-deco exterior there was a definite ‘Overlook Hotel’ feel to the place. Fortunately my accommodation was elsewhere in a very pleasant, bright, timber-lodge up in the hills!
Despite these uncomfortable feelings I really enjoyed the place and would definitely recommend you stopping here on your Trans-Mongolian journey if you can as the lake is spectacular.