Irkustk, 4am…

To say I was scattered upon arrival in Irkutsk, is like saying Tony Abbot is a fuckwit, it’s a massive understatement. You know that scatty feeling you have when you haven’t slept all night, then arrive at a random station in Siberia at 4:25am, that’s dead quiet and empty, except for the 20 or so random men sleeping and loitering, and a lady arguing with herself? It felt like that. Totally surreal. My task was to find out, 1: if my accommodation at Olkhon Island had organised my bus, and 2: if so, where it was and what time. I walked around like a stray dog for a little while, wondering what to do, when I saw a sign advertising sleep at the station, so I enquired and scored a room for 160 rubels. The lady lead me to my room, at which point I discovered it wasn’t a room, rather, a couch in the lobby. An argument ensued (well, as much as 2 people who don’t know what the other person is saying can argue) before I was given a refund and a tirade of abuse. I was too tired to care and went back downstairs, when a Chinese backpacker excitedly approached me asking if I wanted to go with he and his friend to a hostel in town. I shrugged my shoulders, whatever, and went along. We caught a cab, and after much pissing around trying to find the place, eventually made it. Not surprisingly, like all of Irkutsk, it was closed. But my Chinese friend wasn’t accepting this. I’ll never forget the site of this tiny Chinese guy running to the door and banging on it trying to alert staff we had arrived. Whoa, I thought, we’re gonna get ourselves in trouble at this rate, play it cool Hong (that’s his name). Then a tall, tired and bemused Russian lady came out, not knowing what to make of the little scene in front of her. They had a brief conversation before Hong excitedly looked back and motioned us to come. And with that, 3 little guys with big backpacks hurriedly entered the hostel, through the legs of the tall owner, tired, but very excited that we had found somewhere to rest, we had struck gold. Credit to Hong and his friend, I was just going to slouch at the station till I’d gathered my thoughts for a plan, they had a plan and executed it with devastating precision. It was a lesson in how to get stuff done. The hostel owner let us rest our heads there in the morning for free, she even walked me to the taxi rank later in the morning.

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