Another Sunny Day in Siberia

Saturday, March 08, 2014
Irkutsky District, Irkutskaya oblast, Russian Federation
Today we had a bit of excitement, we went dog sledding . We each had our own team of dogs plus an instructor and went for a 20km run through the woods which took just over an hour by which time, even with more layers than described below our extremities were frozen.
The dogs charge along although my team seemed a bit deaf when it suited them. They ignored my "leftie" and "brown" which seems to be left and right in Russian (perhaps it's my London accent) so the instructor shouted the commands and I just steered the sled. There is no instruction for stop, the dogs would ignore it anyway, you just stand on a pedal at the back which puts a spike in the ground.
The only pictures of our trip were taken when I was passenger as you have to hold on with both hands when driving. The photo of two teams on the lake were taken yesterday when we saw another group pass by while we were out practising our skating techniques.

The Cold
We had a preconceived idea about Siberia being like Britain on a very snowy day . It isn't like that, they seem to have less snow than you get in Sweden. What snow has fallen through the winter has of course just stayed there; when it stays below -10c nothing melts, but it is only a foot deep. The side roads are covered in ice, the main roads are mostly clear. When we asked about the weather we were looked at as if it was a daft question, at this time of year it seems to be sunny all the time, just very cold.
Before going outside you need to be dressed, we have long johns (base layer), socks, tee shirts, trousers, long woolly socks, shirt, sweat shirt, fleece, anorak, gloves and a hat. Hotels, restaurants, trains and public buildings have the central heating turned up to 25/26c, much hotter than at home. By the time you have put all the gear on you are sweating like a pig and are as agile as a Michelin man; you then step outside and your nose, the only bit unprotected, tells you it's b..... cold.
You arrive at a restaurant and the anorak, gloves, hat, fleece and sweat shirt come off and are put in the cloakroom however you are still wearing three layers of clothing in a room that is hotter than a UK house in summer.
Of course the warmest place is in the lake, under the ice, where it is a nice +1c, those fool hardy enough to try it cut a hole in the ice and dive in, picture attached.

Back on the train.
Tomorrow, provided we wake up at 4am, we catch the trans Siberian train again and pass from Russia into Mongolia. We will be on the train for 24 hours but strangely we will need to put our watches back an hour not forward. So our next report should be from Ulan Bator where for one night out of the three we will be camping which will be nice and cold!
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