- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
- Archaeological Site
- Place or Historical Monument
When I arrived in Ulan-Ude on the Trans-Siberian train during my trip to Russia, I didn't expect to stay for long because the town looked very Soviet. What a mistake! Fortunately I wasn't in a hurry because there's a lot to do there.
First of all, its not just an ugly town with typically Soviet architecture, but a town that mixes modernity and tradition. It's very pleasant walking through its pedestrianised streets and the enormous head of Lenin, which looks like its been put on the ground in the central square, can't help but make you smile. On the other hand, walking along the banks of the River Uda is a lot less pleasant because the water is really muddy.
In the end, although I thought I would only stay a day before leaving for Baikal, I couldn't stop walking round the town! What with the museums, orthodox monasteries, and datsans (Buddhist temples), there's plenty to do.
The most important site is Ivolginskiy Datsan, about 30 km from the town. Stalin authorised its construction at a time when the religious repression was terrifying, and it is the most important Buddhist centre in Russia What's more this datsan is the centre of an enigma: that of the Siberian mummy that was found in 2002, which is preserved in the datsan.