Zoom Bump Bounce

A trip to Buryatia, Siberia (see feature image) is incomplete without spending hours upon hours bumping and bouncing in a bus. A bus takes you through multiple climates, ecological zones and types of existence. After nine days of long bus rides, one day of which eleven hours were spent on the bus, I gained an understanding of Buryatia and what goes on there. This blog features the things I saw on the side of the road, caught in fleeting moments as we sped by in our beloved bus.

  1. Torn up roads. We were lucky to encounter the number of paved roads that we did, but a large portion of roads are still made of dirt, with plenty of holes and bumps. Our driver, Ruslan, kept us safe and sane, avoiding the worst of the car-sickness-inducing terrain.torn up roads
  2. Trash and tires. Waste is strewn over the ground everywhere – bottles, plastic bags, you name it.trash
  3. Animals. Cows and dogs frequently block traffic, and on the sides of the road they are joined by horses, birds, cats, and goats.cows block road
  4. Potato man. This Mr. Potato Head look-alike stands by the road between Ulan Ude and Kyakhta, waving at passers-by. Photo credit: Julia Preston.potato man
  5. Shamanistic spirits. This carved log is stuck in the ground among the trees, with an owl-like face and arms folded in front, reminding me of No Face in Hayao Miyasaki’s Spirited Away. It is a shamanistic spirit, several of which I saw around Buryatia.spirit
  6. Burnt forest. Dark scars made by wild fires appear across the region, bringing into contrast the whiteness of living birch.burnt forest
  7. Graves. This picture was taken in a graveyard of exiled Jews, but single-person burial markers dot every road in the region.jewish grave
  8. Tanks. A couple dozen tanks sit lined up on the side of a mountain in the steppe region southeast of Lake Baikal. Why they are there, I cannot say, but it may have to do with the nearby border crossing into Mongolia. Photo credit: Maya Costales.tanks

It’s surprising how much one can learn simply by looking. I can’t say I’ll miss sitting for hours in a crowded bus, but I am glad to have seen Buryatia in all its beauty and diversity.

Article written by jonlinc

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