Russia
Irkutsk

Here you’ll find travel reports about Irkutsk. Discover travel destinations in Russia of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

39 travelers at this place:

  • Day15

    Beautiful Lake Baikal

    June 22, 2017 in Russia

    Today's visit to Lake Baikal has been one of the highlights of the trip so far. An early start and one hour on the bus from Irkutsk, following the River Angara, brought me to this wonderful place. Lake Baikal is the world's deepest lake, and contains 20% of the world’s freshwater supplies If all the rest of the world’s drinking water ran out tomorrow, Lake Baikal could supply the entire population of the planet for the next 40 years! Known as the Blue Eye of Siberia, it can apparently be seen from space.

    The main town, Listvyanka, is a bit touristy as you might expect. I joined in some of the tourist fun and enjoyed a show at the Nerpinarium by Lake Baikal’s famous freshwater seals. Not exactly Sea World, but the kids, and this adult, enjoyed their performance. I had a lovely walk in the sunshine along the front, and found a nice restaurant where I dined on fresh Omul, a fish only found in Lake Baikal, baked with cheese and potatoes - lovely (and I’m no’ a fish haun). A highlight however was going on a short boat trip to experience part of the lake. Again the weather hot and sunny, and it was a pleasure to feel some breeze about you and admire the beautiful scenery.

    Back safely in Irkutsk, no thanks to the marshrutka driver, who insisted I sat in the front of his packed minibus, while he drank coffee, smoked, ate his lunch, used his mobile phone, played loud Russian ballads which he sang along with, while driving at breakneck speed. When he stopped to pick up more passengers, an old woman got in the front beside me and I signalled to him that I couldn't find the seat belt - he dismissed me with a wave indicating I didn't need it - and I noticed he wasn't wearing one either!

    Once back in the city I had a walk round the extensive market. Although it was late afternoon it was still thriving with a huge selection of fish, fruit and veg, meat and bakery items. I decided to stock up on goods to get ready for tomorrow’s marathon train journey - 3.5 days to Vladivostok! As I probably won't have wifi on the train you may not hear from me for a while. What's that you say - thank goodness?
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  • Day12

    Een tussenstop in Siberië

    September 14 in Russia

    In Irkusk trotseren we de lichte maar toch zeker voelbare koude Siberische lucht. Temperatuur vandaag: -2 met sneeuw in de ochtend. De ingepakte trui en jas kunnen dus aan. We verblijven momenteel in het Rolling Stones Hostel.

    We doen inkopen bij de plaatselijke supermarkten, koken samen in het hostel, starten de dag op met een instant havermoutje en oploskoffie en bereiden onze reisroute door China verder voor.

    Hoogtepunt in Irkusk was een bezoek aan het Baikalmeer. Met een oppverlakte van 31.500 km² is dit het grootste zoetwatermeer ter wereld. Met lokale bus en over een hobbelige snelweg rijden we tussen de lokale bevolking naar het dorpje Listvyanka. Na korte hike een prachtig uitzicht over het oneindige meer.

    Morgenochtend vertrekt onze trein richting Ulaanbaatar, Mongolië. Een treinreis van anderhalve dag naar het dunst bevolkte land ter wereld.
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  • Day13

    Life on board the Trans Siberian

    June 20, 2017 in Russia

    For those of you imagining the Trans Siberian as being pulled across the frozen wastes of Siberia by a puffing steam locomotive - think again. The whole line has been electrified by Russian Railways (RZD). Gone too are the days of the marble bathtub, ingeniously designed not to overflow as the train rounded a corner. Tanks full of fish in the dining room are sadly no longer a feature of the cuisine in the restaurant car. However the Trans Siberian still has a mystique and attraction of its own, and so far I am loving it.

    For someone more accustomed to 10 minute trips on the Cathcart Circle, journeys of 24 hours plus are a different matter for me altogether. This leg of the journey takes 48 hours. I am sharing a compartment this time with a young military guy, who fortunately speaks some English. When I said I thought soldiers travelled in the multi occupancy 54 berth carriages, as opposed to our comparatively luxurious 4 berth kupe (2nd class) compartment, he laughed and proudly declared that he was an officer. He kindly offered to share his food, but I headed for the restaurant car for breakfast. Again it was largely deserted but, in wee Jean’s style, I asked for a table for one!

    As ever, most things I pointed to were ‘aff the menu’ and I ended up with some kind of cold fish with olives, eggs with small slices of ham, a bread roll and black tea - all in all not too bad. I was disappointed however not to have experienced the ‘pickled pike with stuffed cabbage’, or the ‘rabbit living with onions and potatoes served with greenery’. Ah well, another time.

    As if it wasn't confusing enough, Russian trains run to Moscow time, and even local station clocks show this. This is regardless of the fact that this huge country spans 7 time zones. When I was due to catch this train at 03.54 in the middle of the night, my ticket said it departed at 01.54 - panic! But ours not to reason why..

    The weather is sunny and hot today. The countryside whizzes by - mainly forests, lush fields, mighty rivers or woods of birch trees (that reminds me of being beaten in the banya - ouch!). Occasionally, small isolated train platforms sit in the middle of nowhere (reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof - ‘Far From The Home I Love’, Liz!).

    Our carriage is fairly quiet. I decided to explore the train to get some exercise. The next carriage had a party of Germans heading to Siberia. They had put up a huge poster/map of ‘Russland ’ with pictures of wildlife such as bears and wolves they might spot en route. Sadly the only wildlife we've seen so far have been the local neds, hanging about some of the stations as we zip through!

    As I was taking my stroll through the length of the train, I saw some SV or 1st class compartments - not much different from mine, but for 2 people instead of 4, and a lot more expensive. At the other extreme, the platzcart, or 3rd class, is an open carriage with 54 berths, mainly occupied by students and soldiers - the smell of sweaty socks and drying laundry were overpowering, so I quickly retreated to the safety and comfort of my kupe compartment.

    Along the whole length of the Trans Siberian Railway there are markers on the track on black and white poles every kilometre, telling you how far you have travelled from Moscow. They are hard to spot as the train whizzes by, but I'm told if you look closely out of the window on the south (left hand) side of the train you can glimpse them. I have to say I got some peculiar stares from folk passing down the corridor as I pressed my face flat against the window pane, squinting, and looking quite demented.

    We are in Western Siberia now, and there seem to be more ponds and rivers rather than just forests. The train stops occasionally and Madame Provodnitsa lets you know if you are allowed off. I don't stray too far, for fear of the train leaving without me. On the platform various women sell their wares - bakery items, soft drinks, fur jackets and smoked fish. I had been warned not to buy anything hot to eat, as it has often been cooked in the station toilets. I opted for a a soft bun with a sausage through it (not unlike a Gregg’s sausage roll). It tasted not too bad, and the sweet old lady came chasing down the platform after me insisting she give me my change - I had only given her the equivalent of 50p!

    The Provodnitsa keeps busy, hoovering the corridor and compartments, and telling folk off: ‘whit have a tellt you - get yer feet aff that seat!’. She also sells snacks (anything that can be re hydrated with boiling water from the samovar), and comes round selling ice cream, souvenirs and what looks like bingo tickets. However I certainly wouldn't like to give her a false call! She also keeps the toilets spic and span. There are always plenty of towels and loo roll (I haven't had to use those huge supplies you provided me with yet, Campbell). There is apparently one shower somewhere, but some folk just attach a piece of hose to the tap in the bathroom and give themselves a hose down. The water all runs away down a hole in the floor on to the track - just like a kind of wet room on wheels. I think I'll just stick tae a Paisley wash!

    According to my phone, the time has changed again! I don't know whether I'm coming or going. Apologies for the lengthy blog today, folks - I can't get off for more than 15 minutes every few hours, and there is a lot of time to fill
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  • Day82

    Irkutsk

    August 25 in Russia

    After five days enjoying Lake Baikal we returned to Irkutsk today. We walked around for a while and were happy to be in a city with cheap prices again.
    Funny: Yesterday we had our first day of rain since Cadiz on June 8!
    Tomorrow we will continue with the Trans-Siberian Railway to Ulan-Ude, which will be our last stop in Russia.

    Nach fünf erholsamen Tagen am Baikalsee haben wir uns heute auf den Rückweg nach Irkutsk gemacht. Hier sind wir noch ein bisschen durch die Stadt gelaufen und haben uns auch mal wieder richtig satt gegessen. Es ist schon erstaunlich das lediglich 80km entfernt von Irkutsk die Preise zwei bis dreimal so hoch sind.
    Gestern hatten wir übrigens unseren ersten Regentag seit dem 8. Juni in Cadiz... Heute war der Hochsommer aber sofort wieder zurück!
    Morgen geht es dann mit der Transsibirischen Eisenbahn weiter nach Ulan-Ude unserem letzten Stop in Russland.
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  • Day14

    Irkutsk

    June 21, 2017 in Russia

    I survived the 48 hour train trip from Ykaterinburg and arrived in Irkutsk promptly at 7.18am. Took an extremely old rackety tram No. 1 to my hotel just outside the city centre (20p ride). Although I was very early, I breakfasted in the hotel by which time my room was ready. It is a lovely comfortable hotel with free wifi. I asked to get some laundry done, and it was back in my room washed and ironed by the time I came back later in the day. It definitely helps to travel light.

    Irkutsk is a popular stopping-off point on the Trans Siberian due to its proximity to Lake Baikal. It is a big, spread out city and I did a lot of walking. To be honest I found it a bit soulless and not as attractive as Ykaterinburg. A unique feature of the central area however is that there remains a significant number of wooden houses from the 19th century with beautiful carvings on the eaves and windows, and some beautiful churches (apparently the most beautiful, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan was demolished to make way for the ugly bulk of the Soviet HQ).

    Although I am now in central Siberia you would never know it - it was 33 degrees today - and after me packing my fur hat, great coat and winter boots!

    To get some respite from the heat, I visited the city Art Gallery (not memorable), and a museum of wooden houses dedicated to the story of the Decembrists, a group of nobles involved in the unsuccessful coup against the Tsar in 1825, and who were sent into exile in Siberia to do hard labour. Interesting story and exhibits.

    For dinner, I went to a nostalgia themed Russian restaurant, and enjoyed some delicious local food - great after two days of British Rail type catering. Well, off to bed early - Lake Baikal awaits tomorrow...
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  • Day4

    回到伊尔库茨克

    June 29 in Russia

    利斯特维扬卡小镇上有很多布里亚特人——蒙古人的一个分支,就连我们住的酒店都叫作Baikal Khan。因为是东北亚人的长相,不太了解状况的家人好几次以为来接我们的司机或餐厅的老板是中国人,直接和他们讲起了中文,结果当然是搞得对方一头雾水。

    中午在回伊尔库茨克的路上去了一家当地的布里亚特餐馆,两个简易的蒙古包在湖边非常显眼,餐馆内的装修和服务也极其平民化:菜单要自己去取、吃完饭后要自己打扫收拾餐桌,不过菜品真的非常有特色。我们吃到了被称为蒙古包子的буузы(发音和“包子”一样)、做法和口味与馅饼一样的шарбин(读音也与“馅饼”非常相似),这几天一直在吃俄餐的家人吃得十分合口味。有了前一天的经验,现在的我已经可以“自如”地用俄语点餐了——数字+菜名而已嘛,说实话,我觉得比有时候在墨尔本吃饭还要简单,因为碰到不认识的英文单词,完全不知道该怎么发音,只能非常尴尬地用this one来代替,而在这里却至少可以念出菜名来。转念一想,不由觉得中文点菜才是最高级别的挑战,不仅要读出一个个汉字,而且菜品的名字往往也与真正的菜毫无关系——即便能读出“蚂蚁上树”、“狮子头”来,也不知道这到底是什么鬼……

    与家人一起旅行的一大好/坏处是,每天的行程都非常宽松,因为要照顾到80多岁的外婆和身体不太好的妈妈,我也不敢计划去太多的地方,或是安排需要走很多路的景点。这样虽然相对轻松,可是心里总觉得没有完全体验到当地的风土人情,不过反过来想想,家人的陪伴,也应该是旅行的一部分才对。今天午饭后回到伊尔库茨克后,我们只去了一处景点——喀山圣母大教堂。这座西伯利亚地区非常重要的东正教教堂建于100多年前,至今仍是一个实用性大于参观性的宗教场所(应该说伊尔库茨克的所有教堂都仍是宗教作用远大于旅游作用,毕竟这里不是什么出名的旅游城市)。虽然有着类似童话城堡一样的造型和配色,但教堂的周围非常接地气——破破烂烂的施工工地、又旧又脏的汽车修理工厂、衣衫褴褛的乞丐、横冲直撞的电车和汽车……总之,当这座鲜艳的教堂从一片灰蒙蒙的背景中跃入我们眼帘时,一切都显得那么格格不入。教堂内正在进行某项宗教仪式,信众虽然不多,但大家都在虔诚地祷告,特别是好几个十来岁的小孩子,也安静地随着神职人员一起,反反复复地在胸前划着十字架。我对宗教仪式并没有太大的兴趣,不过教堂里的壁画和装饰却十分吸引我,就像参观佛教场所时一样,让我感兴趣的往往不是僧人们口中形而上的教义,而是形而下的建筑、绘画、雕塑、诗歌、音乐等等,怎么说呢,比起宗教本身的纯粹,我更迷恋于世俗世界的美,因为它真实、繁杂、丰富、也不完美。
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  • Day2

    小时候,我一直以为西伯利亚里的“西”是一个方向词,所以脑海里总觉得世界上还应该有一片土地叫做东伯利亚才对。后来学了地理,发现西伯利亚原来就在俄罗斯的东边,于是才意识到自己的逻辑不太说得通。再继续学习,才知道“西伯”很有可能是“鲜卑”的转音,顿时一个总是与蒙古-西伯利亚冷高压气旋联系在一起、听起来就很冷的词,一下子就充满了沧桑与厚重。“匈奴、鲜卑、羯、氐、羌”,历史上曾经的“五胡乱华”,在正统的华夏史观中一向被认为是落后民族对先进民族的侵略,来自草原和西部的游牧民族进攻中原,迫使生活在北方的汉人大批南下,极大地影响了中国历史的进程和南北方文化的变迁。据说2017年起,中国的中学教材里将带有歧视性的历史词汇“五胡乱华”改为了“少数民族南下(内迁)”,没想到却在网上引起了很多大汉族主义者们的抗议,认为这是歪曲历史、美化侵略。其实要我说,这些动不动就群情激愤的汉族中心主义者们,不妨去花几百块钱做一个DNA检测,看看自己的祖先究竟是不是纯种的汉族人再说吧。当然,我觉得历史课本也没有必要为了“减少民族矛盾”而刻意删掉一个历史词汇,其实完全可以批判性地去看待这个历史名词,更可以以此为机,让学生去反思汉族中心主义史观的局限性——当然,在现实的课堂环境下,我的想法完全是在做梦……

    扯远了,中午飞机降落在西伯利亚南端靠近蒙古的伊尔库茨克,又小又破的机场让我以为通关的速度会很快,没想到我远远高估了战斗民族的边防效率。排在过关通道的全是我们飞机的乘客,一共也就100多个人而已,七八个窗口同时工作,却足足用了一个多小时才顺利入境。递交护照后,边防警察慢条斯理地对比照片、查看签证、扫描护照、输入信息、检查信息、改正信息、再检查信息、打印入境单、在护照上找出满意的一页、盖章……我看着面前的阿姨,脑海里不禁想到我曾玩过的一款名为Papers, please的游戏,就是以边防官的角色,不停地检查入境申请人的各种材料,并要从中发现恐怖分子的蛛丝马迹然后捉住他们。我承认,我玩游戏的时候效率也不太高,不过因为游戏里的奖金是和我的效率挂钩的,所以我也得在游戏中不断提升自己的业务水平,而很显然的是,我眼前这位阿姨的工资应该与她的工作效率没什么太大关系……

    我们一家四口终于顺利入境,酒店来接我们的车已经等候很久了,上路之后才发现,这里交通虽然靠右行驶,可开在路上的汽车却既有左舵也有右舵,真是比较随性啊……一路上经过了很多看起来无比眼熟的建筑物,虽然读不懂标识是什么,可我们似乎都能猜出这些建筑是什么(至少在苏联时期是用来做什么的……)。爷爷在微信朋友圈上看到我发的照片后,立刻给我评论:“说对了!我们厂的大楼就是苏联提供的!”六十多年前,我的祖父母辈大学毕业后,从天南地北被分配到陕西关中一个小县城的郊区,和他们一起来的,还有与中国处于蜜月期的苏联的专家们。于是,他们在曾经的庄稼地里一起建起了工厂、医院、学校、居民区、公园、宾馆、餐馆、广场、剧院等一切生活生产所需的设施,至少在我的童年时期,这里依然是一个几乎与周围村镇与世隔绝的微型社会:我们上学去的是“厂里”的“子弟学校”,生病去看的是“厂里”的“一四五医院”(对的,连名字都没有,只有一个简单粗暴的编号),有人结婚办喜宴去的是“厂里”开的宾馆,几万人的社区,却几乎家家都认识,我父母和我同学的父母当年也是同学……更有意思的一个现象,是我们“厂里”的孩子几乎都只会讲普通话,而不会说陕西话,因为祖父母辈来自五湖四海,彼此沟通都只能用带着乡音的普通话,而我们的父辈和我们这代人,又从小生活在这个与世隔绝的圈子里,完全没有讲陕西话的实际需要,天真的我们甚至一直都认为:只有种地和卖菜的农民才说陕西话。直到我高中离开家乡去西安读书,才发现周围同学居然会在课间聊天时讲陕西话,和父母也是用陕西话交流,这简直颠覆了我的世界观:西安不是大城市吗?怎么居然有这么多人讲陕西话?!现在想想真的好笑。

    接我们的司机一边擦汗,一边抱怨,这两天是伊尔库茨克最热的时候,天天都在30度以上,不过满大街的杨絮飞舞,又给人一种三四月北京春天的感觉,所谓“人间四月芳菲尽,山寺桃花始盛开”,就是如此吧。

    期待明天的沿湖火车之旅!
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  • Day8

    今天是我们贝加尔湖之行的最后一天,所以又要从奥利洪岛赶回伊尔库茨克,方便明天坐飞机回国。这次有了之前的教训,我们请Sergei帮忙安排包车,刚好他的朋友在岛上,于是我们一家四口便坐上了相对平稳舒适的小骄车。不知道西伯利亚的乡村公路是不是没有限速,司机全程几乎是以120+公里的时速行驶的,而且不停地借道超车、弯道超车、飞速绕过正在过马路的牛群、接打电话、收发短信等等……坐在副驾驶的我本来很想借此机会好好补一觉,可无奈路途太过惊险,实在是让我难以入睡,心惊胆战地度过了四个多小时。不过,坐在后排的爸妈和外婆,倒是怡然自得,不是安心地闭目养神,就是拿着手机拍照录像,丝毫没有觉得这辆超速飞驰的汽车有任何可能的危险。

    上一次与父母一起旅行,已经是九年前在青海湖了(上上次更是近20年前的宁夏沙湖——咦,为什么每次都是湖?!)虽说自己与父母的关系很近,但是自从离开家上大学以后,这十一年来总是聚少离多,一起生活的时间都是以周甚至以天来计算。不知不觉地,我与家人在生活习惯上的差异越来越多(倒不是越来越大),而这些只有在朝夕相处的旅行中才格外地突显出来。比如说,家人习惯晚饭吃得很少甚至不吃,而我总想晚上吃大餐;他们喜欢早起,而我是个不折不扣的夜猫子;他们买东西喜欢货比三家,而我是看准了就买从不多想……大部分时候,我们都可以相互理解,不过偶尔也会因为一些鸡毛蒜皮的小事(当然,是事后才觉得是鸡毛蒜皮)而彼此置气。可以说,这是一次让我重新认识父母、了解外婆的旅行,在这个过程中,我发现到了他们身上很多我以前不曾留意的地方。

    在我的印象里,爸爸一直是一个低调的人,在工作和生活中都非常安于现状,用我妈的话讲就是“吃饱了不饿”的心态,说得再负面一些就是“没有进取心”和“不求上进”。不过在这次旅途中,我发现爸爸是一个充满好奇心、勇于探索、心态非常开放的人。在岛上的三天里,他不停地让我问Sergei各种各样关于俄罗斯、西伯利亚和奥利洪岛的问题,从农林牧渔到电力运输、从汽车进口到土地政策、从地质水文到一日三餐……他把看到的想到的都问了个遍,得到答案后他还会和自己所熟悉的中国情况进行对比,然后分析利弊给我们听。我心里暗暗想:不错,已经上升到higher order thinking了……刚到岛上的时候,他在既没有手机信号,又语言不通的情况下,竟然连声招呼也不打,就一个人“擅自脱团”跑出去乱转,说他要看看街景、自由地感受当地风情,让我们气也不是,笑也不是。

    与爸爸相反,妈妈在工作时完全是疯狂的状态,认真忘我的程度总让人想问:“你值得吗?”前两年工作不忙了以后,她开始疯狂地学琴、学英语、背诗,而且总是以一种要备战高考一样的心态去学习,好几次搞到心力交瘁,累到住进了医院才罢休。可有意思的是,到了出来旅行的时候,妈妈却是一个不太喜欢冒险和主动尝试新事物的人。吃饭时点了从来没尝过的菜肴,她总是皱着眉头不愿下口;在岛上游玩拍照,她竟然不敢爬上一个连外婆都敢上的石头。当然,她还是很喜欢欣赏新的文化与现象的,只是她不会像爸爸一样去思考分析评论(“什么分析评论,那是信口开河”——我妈说)

    外婆一直都是一个乐观积极的人,在工作和生活中也非常要强。重庆大学毕业的她曾经是厂里的高级工程师,在那个女性50岁必须退休的年代里一直工作到了60岁。退休生活基本上是围绕着我刚刚去世的外公而展开的——三十多年前的一场意外让我的外公常年瘫痪在床,起居生活都需要人料理伺候。去年查出癌症以后,我们一家人都为她唏嘘不已,可外婆依然像没事人一样,每天坚持锻炼身体、练习书法、背诗、写日记。这次出来玩,她也继续保持着“时髦老太太”的形象,一路上拿着手机拍拍拍,在微信上给老同学们分享旅行见闻,主动用英语去和其他国家的游客打招呼,每晚都会和我一样把当天的感受写进日记(她总是当日事当日毕,而我却总是在赶前一天的进度……真令人惭愧)

    总之,与家人一起旅行虽没有自己一个人来得潇洒自在,但在这段日子里,我可以暂时放下工作的烦恼,他们也不用操心生活的琐碎,不失为一种难得而美好的相伴。
    Read more

  • Day42

    Transsib Teil 2/4

    October 1, 2016 in Russia

    Nach zirka 2'500 Kilometern Zugstrecke erreichten wir heute morgen Irkutsk.
    In Irkutsk haben wir im Vergleich mit der Schweiz sechs Stunden Zeitverschiebung. Unsere "Schlafrythmen" sind ein bisschen durcheinander, wir hoffen uns rasch anpassen zu können.
    Hier merkt man nun doch, dass man sich in Sibirien befindet. Das Thermometer übersteigt die Nullgradgrenze nur um ein Grad. ❄️

  • Day42

    Irkutsk

    October 1, 2016 in Russia

    Gestern war "Waschtag"!
    Wir wuschen wie wild drauf los, bemerkten jedoch erst später, dass wir auch noch trockene Kleider zum Anziehen bräuchten... Das Resultat seht ihr in den Bildern 😁 Trotzdem konnten wir Irkutsk besichtigen, auch wenn wir einige schräge Blicke ertragen mussten. Da wir ja ca. 8'000km von zu Hause entfernt sind, war uns das aber ziemlich egal 🙈
    Wenn man sich die Temperatur-Tabelle von Irkutsk ansieht, würde man nicht denken, dass hier in dieser Stadt trotz den extremen Temperaturschwankungen rund 600'000 Leute leben... 💂🏼‍♀️❄️Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Irkutsk, Irkoetsk, إيركوتسك, İrkutsk, Горад Іркуцк, Иркутск, Irkoutsk, Эрхүү хото, Irkùck, Ιρκούτσκ, ایرکوتسک, אירקוטסק, इरकुत्स्क, Irkutszk, IKT, イルクーツク, ირკუტსკი, 이르쿠츠크, Ircutia, Irkutskas, Irkutska, Эрхүү хот, Irkotsk, Irkuck, ارکٹسک, Irkuțk, Иркутскай, อีร์คุตสค์, Өркет, Іркутськ, ایرکتسک, אירקוצק, 伊爾庫茨克

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