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We got a car to take us from Listvyanka back to Irkutsk, about an hour's drive. The scenery here, as all of Russia so far, was exactly like that in Canada, the same types of trees, the same temperature, and maybe six inches of snow on the ground.

Irkutsk is a fairly featureless city, but pleasant enough. We walked around to get our bearings and see some of the sights. I was taking pictures of the ice sculptures in the main central park when Will spotted a suspicious looking character watching us. We walked away and kept an eye on him. We turned a corner and sure enough he was following us. We just stopped where we were, turned around, and stared right back at him. He jumped a bit and then pretended to walk right on by us. We continued on and later watched him as he walked back to the main square. He had certainly been up to something. We were quite observant after that, suspecting many people for a while, but we calmed down later in the day.

We walked by the old wooden houses described in the Blog. They were interesting to look at, but they are so poorly maintained that one of them had even collapsed. If the local government doesn't do anything about the others soon, Irkutsk will lose its only tourist attraction. We then went to a mall to eat.

Will insisted we go out to "Siberia's largest discothèque", and "disco" it certainly was. Outside of Moscow (and I guess St. Petersburg), stepping into Russia is like stepping into the 1970s and early 80s. The music, the dance moves, and the clothes were very 70s in this discothèque. It was much more modern and slick than I was expecting, though. As we entered we got searched by guards armed with sub-machine guns and dressed in camos. This may be normal now, I don't know, but it wasn't that way last time I went to a disco, 20 years ago in Ontario. Anyway, the music was way too loud and I was feeling way too old, so I bailed after two drinks and left Will to it. I got lost a little in the dark going back to the hotel, and got a bit scared again all by myself in these alleyways, but I got back OK.

The next day we spent a considerable amount of time in the Internet café and ran into Lisa again. Sophie was off seeing a doctor. She had twisted her leg cross-country skiing. The fact that we ran into these girls four times around Lake Baikal, unplanned, convinced me that the four of us must have been the only tourists in all of Siberia at that time. If there were others, we would surely have run into them as well!

We stayed there for two days and nights.

Eric - from London