Russia
Ulan-Ude

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

5 travelers at this place:

  • Day21

    Privet Ulan-Ude!

    April 21 in Russia

    My last stop in Russia has probably been one of the best. Let's catch you up withy my stay in Ulan-Ude.

    Train 5 - Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude

    As this train journey was only seven hours and was during the day I decided to choose a seat instead of a bed. My carriage was only about a third full so was a very quiet journey. I read most of the way, although stopping to take in the amazing view of the lake which we travelled alongside for about an hour. I still can't quite get over its size. I arrived in Ulan-Ude at about 10pm and walked the short distance to my hostel. I was quite hungry when i got there and the girl working at the hostel told me there was a shop nearby that would be open. On the way there though i noticed a Subway out of the corner of my eye. I caved. I chose the easy option. Don't judge me...

    Day 1 - Ivolginsky Datsan

    I decided to take the local bus out of the city to the village of Ivolgiansky to visit the datsan (Buddhist monestary) which is the oldest Buddhist monestary in Russia. The journey was very straightforward and I arrived after 40 minutes. As it is a Buddhist temple there are a few rules which should be followed when inside the complex. When you enter the complex (which is a series of temples and buildings within a walled area) you have to walk around the tiled path in a clockwise direction, in a proud manner (being in thought or prayer), and you must spin the Mantra scrolls that you pass them, which is supposed to symbolise the mantras being read and the enegry being released. Only after have you completed this circuit can you enter the temples themself. After the first circuit I walked around again and then went into each other temples as I walked by. As you enter you must take off your hat as a sign of respect, and when inside you must also walk around the room in a clockwise direction. Each temple I went in was empty apart from a single monk who i assume is there to look after the buildings between prayers. The buildings themselves are very colourful, and insde are decorated with a number of coloured silk scarfs and flags. There is an area in the middle of each one with small seats and cussions where the monks pray. And as they are meant for prayer it is forbidden to take pictures inside. It was very peacful walking around the monestary, and as it is off season for tourists, and it was actually snowing that day the place was nearly empty. Just a few monks walking around and locals who are visiting to pray. As i was trying to enter the main central monestary a monk came over to see if I needed help. He explained that the temple was closed as the monk was probably eating. He then said that he had some free time and would i like him to show me around. He explained that each temple was build for a different lama. And the one that i was trying to enter was actually for the 12th Pandito Hambo Lama who was 166 years old and was inside meditating and has been like that for 95 years. More on that later. He gave me a small tour of the complex where he showed me a few temples, the university where the apprentice monks train, and was even kind enough to show me his house on the site. As we were walking around he explained that he studied in India in an english school and that is why he can speak the language but he has forgotten alot, so when he sees tourists here and has some free time he likes to talk to them to practice. As we were about to part ways, as the main temple was about to open again, he asked if I had facebook. So now folks I am facebook friends with a very cool Buddhist Monk. I didn't expect that when i woke up this morning! I then whent to visit the 166 year old Lama. And as no photos were alowed inside the temple I am afraid you will have to visit Ulan-Ude to see him for yourself. Words will not suffice.

    Day 2 - Ulan-Ude

    I decided to get the local bus to Datsan Rinpoche Bagsha, the temple within the city, which also provided a panoramic view of the city. When i got on the bus it was standing room only and I positioned myself in the aisle next to an older man. I glanced at him and he took that as an ivitation to start talking to me. I told him i didn't speak any Russian (in Russian), but he carried on talking to me. He had a book with him, which i later learned was of foreign literature, and he was trying to show me pages from England, in Russian. I kept smiling and nodding along and then he closed the book and handed to me and said "present". I said "are you sure?" and he kept nodding. I thanked him and took the book and then sat down in a newly empty seat. He then turned around to me and nodded and said "hmm... Beatles!...John Lennon... Paul McCartney...". I then interjected "Da... Ringo Star." He smiled excitedly and then turned away. I then heard people laughing and turned around and saw two local girls who said "he's crazy". After a few minutes he got up for his stop and said "Goodbye my friend" as he left. Well that was definitely the most interaction I've had with a local who wasn't working in a hostel. Once at the temple I followed the same rules as the previous day and walked around the complex in a clockwise direction, but this time i took a few pictures as I walked as it seemed to be a more relaxed place. As I was walking around I saw the two girls from the bus ahead of me talking. As I approached them one turned around and said "Hello, where are yoou from?", I said "England", they said "Oh, England! How exciting! Maybe we can help you?", I said "oh yes please!" Cue me spending the next hour with them walking around the temple, talking about travelling and what they do (both 22 years old, studying helicopter engineering). One of the girls, Kristine, spoke English quite well and the other one, Masha, could understand quite a bit but only felt confident to speak a few words. After walking around for about an hour, talking and taking pictures, we came to the end of the temple walk. The girls then asked what my plans were for the rest of the day. I said I had none. They then said they had another friend who had a car and we could go to the Ethnological museum just outside the city. Of course I jumped at the chance. We got the bus back to the city centre and then walked down the main pedestrian street to where their friend picked us up. Sasha spoke no English at all so spoke with Masha in the front while me and Kristine sat in the back seat. During the drive I could work out that Masha was telling Sasha about the man on the bus. It was then that Kristine told me that the man was actually telling me the he didn't like England or English people and that the Queen was a bad person. And he seemed so friendly! Oh well... My new friends were very sweet and insisted on buying my ticket for the museum, with Sasha saying "present". The ethnological museum is a big open are museum where there are loads of actual houses from different areas of Russia from the last hundred or so years. The houses have actually been moved from other parts of Russia and rebuilt in the museum. It was really interesting walking around and seeing how people used to live in the past, and comparing the sizes of houses to what we are used to now. We walked aroung the museum for about an hour, during which my new friends asked if I wanted to go to Lake Baikal, two hours drive there and back. I thanked them but explained that I had already been and I think too far for me today. After the museum we drove back to the city and they dropped me at my hostel, not before exchanging Instagram details though!

    So what I have learnt is that in Ulan-Ude, if you look like a tourist you will attract such kind and helpful people, as they are so surprised that you have travelled to their small city far away from Moscow. I don't think i have to tell you that it has been my favourite city in Russia to date.

    So there you have the last of my stories from Russia.

    Before I leave you again here are a few things i have learnt about Russia:
    1. All trains run on Moscow time (which is mighty confusing when the country spans 11 time zones!)
    2. The trains run bang on time.
    3. There is no drainage system in the roads (which means lots of surface water during spring).
    4. Unfortunately (for some western travellers at least) you cannot flush toilet paper, there are seperate bins for that...
    5. Russians have two passports, a domestic and an international passport. Very handy I think.
    6. Unlike other places I have been, you will find many locals living in hostels as they work in other cities for short periods.
    7. There is a statue of Lenin in every city in Russia (and in Ulan-Ude it is just his head, but it is huge!)
    8. Russians like weird statues.
    9. It is not impossible to be Vegan here, but it definitely gets harder the further east you go.
    10. Russia is a MASSIVE country, and one that is definitely worth exploring!

    So that concludes my Russian journey. Next stop Mongolia!

    Dosvidaniya!!
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  • Day13

    Leaving Lake Baikal behind

    August 20, 2017 in Russia

    The time has come to dive into Russian trains one more time. This time: 3. class, 9,5 hours platzkart travel. An intense mixture of all possible human smells welcomes us as we board the open sleeping wagon. This is authenticity at its best. Thank god we ate before.

  • Day100

    Not their kind of Russian [Part 1]

    April 14, 2017 in Russia

    Республка Бурятия (The Republic of Buryatia), to give it it’s proper title, stretches all the way down the east coast of Lake Baikal, it’s bottom half sandwiching itself between Irkutsk Oblast and Mongolia. I’m not sure when I first head of this republic, I think it was whilst I was living in Moscow and my flatmates and I went to a restaurant that, I’m pretty sure, did Buryat food as I remember totally failed to eat the dumplings the right way and wasted all the liquid you’re supposed to drink (see Waiting for Baikal Part 2). Aside from dumplings though I’d picked up along the way that Buryats were traditionally Buddhist, had some connection to the Mongols and probably, like a lot of places round here, became a part of Russia about 300 years ago thanks to the arrival of some explorers and/or Cossaks. My host in town was friends with Sergei (Academgorodsk) and had very, after me being overly British and saying it wasn’t necessary one too many times, told me come to their flat immediately after arriving into the city at 5am on a Saturday morning. Twenty minutes after haggling with a taxi driver, walking away when they wanted too much money then having their colleague shout after me to accept my offer, I arrived*.

    Lina (34) was a molecular chemist who worked at the same Institute Sergei had previously worked at, though they’d known each other since primary school. She’d previously lived in both Seoul and Dresden on research placements. I described to her my route across Russia and told her I’d been asking people seemingly difficult, complex or perhaps just stupid questions regarding whether they thought Russia felt to them like it was ‘one country’. She asked to consider what I even meant and what I wanted to know.

    I thought about it for a bit.

    “I guess I want to know where the differences are and, as I’m now in Buryatia, how people feel about their identity. It can’t all be the same but so many people seem to think that it is and that you don’t get regional differences. Most of the people I’ve met though have been русский (ethnic Russian)” **. “Ok, I understand. I’d describe myself as Buryat but yes I’m still Russian. I think you should go to the Regional Museum and tomorrow we can go to dastan with my friends***.” Lina headed off to her parents who lived nearby, handing over the keys to her flat for the weekend.

    After a nap I went to the museum, it was split across three floors. Downstairs was an exhibition about Shamanism and, unexpectedly, an exhibition about Jews and Judaism. On the 2nd floor there was an exhibition about Buddhism. The museum made an attempt at providing English signage but disappointingly on the floor relating to the general history of the region this was restricted to an initial description about the Mongols arrival after which nothing was translated until a few bits about the formation of a science academy in the ‘40s, the building of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (a railroad) in the ‘70s, and Buryatia’s transferal from the USSR to the Russian Federation. There was Russian text about the intervening years: Cossacks/explorers, something about forming a border with China, Decembrists, war (WWI and II) and a few other bits about the Soviet period; but I didn’t have enough time to try and read and translate it. My notebook just says “…possibly formation of border with China but nothing about what Buryat people thought”.

    The next morning we met up with two of Lina’s researcher friends, a geographer – Tima and a geologist – Sveta, outside the datsan located on top of a hill overlooking the city. We started along the wooden walkway that lead around the outside of the main building passing a series of wooden pavilion, each one dedicated to a different zodiac animal****.

    Whilst walking Lina said me “We learnt about religion from our family, not from our schools. I remember having lessons about religion but only in the final year.” My earlier questions about regional identity came up again, Tima answered in Russian which I totally didn’t understand so he had another go in English. “Most people here are Russian first then Buryat, which is what the government want us to feel. Mongolians are usually surprised that we [Buryats] communicate with each other in Russian now instead of speaking our own language.” We did another, smaller, circuit around the outside of the dastan passing prayer flags and prayer wheels, Tima explained bits to me along the way. “The flags are loose so they can be read off by the wind. People used to write their own prayer flags though, nowadays [points to flag] they tend to buy them instead.”

    The inside of the dastan was painted in red and gold with a row of Buddhas along the far wall of varying sizes and designs. Visitors were walking past each one in a clockwise direction, occasionally stopping to pray and make donations in front of their Buddha of choice. In the middle of the room was a wooden board along which people took it in turns to make prostrations in the direction of the largest Buddha that was sat cross-legged in the middle of the opposite wall. “You can make as many as you want, though it should be an odd number.” Lina, Tima and Sveta paid their respects then we left to go get food in town.

    On the marshroutka back Tima told me about a film he’d seen recently, Lion, apparently I reminded him of the main character. I explained about my connection to India then remembered the conversation I’d had on the ski-lift in Irkutsk and asked “What do you guys think of climate change?” “I believe it’s true and I believe we’re causing it. I’m a geographer though.” Replied Tima “And you Lina, “I thinks it’s true too, I don’t know if we can stop it but I think we should do something.” “It’s hard though” Tima interjected. “We don’t have the systems in place for us to do anything. It’s very hard to recycle here and Russian people are of the mindset that we have enough space to just hide our rubbish so we don’t need to worry about it. Rubbish on the streets and rubbish in our minds.” They all laughed.

    [Cont.]

    * These are the small victories that make the difficulty and frustration involved in learning a language worthwhile.

    ** I actually can’t remember a lot of what I’ve written in these blog posts so this may or may not have come across before. Also by this point in my trip I was able to remember the word for ethnic Russian (русский) and Russian citizen (россияние).

    *** Buddhist temple.

    **** Apparently, I’m a ram.
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  • Day100

    Not their kind of Russian [part 2]

    April 14, 2017 in Russia

    Over pozi and tea, with milk*****, Tima expanded upon what he’d said at the Datsan. “…We’ve been in Russia for 300 years so yeah, Mongolia feels foreign to us now. We have trouble communicating and understanding each other…no Ukraine and Belarus don’t feel foreign. They’re a part of Russian civilisation because they speak Russian, the Baltics Less so because they aren’t Slavic and now they’re in the EU…and the Stans? They’re feel partly foreign because they have one foot in the Arab world...Putin and the Government are trying to bring Russia together and build a common identity...why? Because they’re afraid of separatism. They want everyone to speak in a common language and don’t want them to use their own language...We have our own culture and that’s been allowed to develop, our religion, national dance and the arts but we’re losing our language, after about 2070 it’ll be gone.”

    “…yes, we learnt Buryat in school but most of us don’t remember it. My parents speak it but I only understand, like a dog. Haha. Tima can speak it though!” Lina added. I turned to Tima “When we were in the datsan and you spoke to that old lady?” “Yeah, that was Buryat.” “Ah! I knew that wasn’t Russian. Cool.”

    “I was in the museum yesterday and there, just as in Novosibirsk, there seems to be a general lack of explanation as to how this land came to be a part of Russia. I get some explorers appeared 300 years ago but there were people living here before that. They never explain what they thought about it, they just state that it happened.” “Haha.” Both Lina and Tima smirked then Tima explained; “Russia’s history, in their words, is to расширение и осбоение (expand and assimilate), they’re meant in a good way. New land was acquired by присоединение территори (accession of territory). The people gave, Russia didn’t take. [laughs]. People [today] sometimes ask us why we [Buryats] wanted to join Russia but we didn’t. There was a deal between Russia and China. They say it was for our protection and we wanted to escape from the Mongols but no one asked us. There is another history but it’s hidden so no one ever speaks about it.” “So, I get that you guys are Russian and that’s how you feel but you are just not their kind of Russian?” “Yeah. It’s a bit like that. We’re not they’re kind of Russian.”

    Leaving the café we started to wander towards the centre. In one part of town a small group were holding a меетинг (‘meeting’, protest) about animal rights. It involved music, posters and petition signing. I can’t remember if it was this or something else entirely but something made me turn around to Tima and say “…in that case I’ve gotta ask you, what do you think of Putin?”. “I don’t support him. Not after Crimea. He broke international rules and accepted land from another country, no matter what the people there felt he shouldn’t have done it.”

    Later on, sat in the square outside the regional theatre, across the road from the world’s largest statue of Lenin’s head, a group of people were skateboarding, trying to grind along the steps across from of us. “Did you two skateboard when you were younger?” I asked the others. “No.” Tima responded, laughing. “They’re an American thing, we didn’t have them when we were young. We used to play in the street, this was before computer games.” “Ok, here’s one last question I keep asking people. How would you describe this point in Russia’s history?...Well, for example, some people have called it a time of opportunity and others have called it a time of crisis?” “The word crisis has two meanings, a positive one and a negative one. It means both problems and solutions. So I’d agree, it is a time of crisis.” Tima explained to me. “What do you think Lina?” “I’d agree. It’s time of both problems and solutions. A time of instability.” “There are projects across the city, half built buildings, that aren’t getting finished. Since Crimea joined Russia we’re sending a lot of money over there so can’t complete the things we wanted to and don’t know when we’re going to be able to.” Tima added.

    Tima headed off as Lina and I went into the theatre, it was their “Day of theatre” variety show and she’d managed to pick up some last-minute tickets. Inside beneath a stained glass window was relief showing unity between the Buryat and Russian peoples, hand in hand under a red flag depicting both Lenin and Stalin. After the performance Lina asked “Do you want to go to banya later? I can find some people for you to go with?” “Yeah, definitely! If you know people that are up for going.” “Sure, my friends are. I’ll message you when I get home.”

    It turns out Buryat’s also love both banya, and picking mushrooms.

    ***** From Ulan-Ude onwards people starting having milk in their tea, which I swear didn’t happen West of here. It’s one of the jokes (Western) Russians like to make about British people.
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  • Day82

    Ulan Ude

    July 26, 2014 in Russia

    Fazit Ulan Ude:
    Kurz und knapp: Die Stadt, die ein Besuch nicht lohnt.
    In Ulan Ude steht der grösste Leninkopf der Welt. Ein tibetische Tempel auf einem Berg. Und ein Panzer. Und einen Club, wo ich bei der Einlasskontrolle durchgefallen bin.
    Mehr hat die Stadt nicht zu bieten. Ausser drei Caches, deren Suche uns hilft, die Zeit rumzubringen. 24 Stunden hier sind zuviel, vier Stunden hätten es auch getan.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Ulan-Ude, Oelan-Oede, أولان-أودي, Ulan Ude, Горад Улан-Удэ, Улан Уде, Улаан Үдэ, Ulan-Udè, Улан-Удэ, Ουλάν Ουντέ, Ulán-Udé, اولان‌اوده, Oulan-Oude, Vû-làn Vû-tet, אולן-אודה, Ulan-Udė, ウラン・ウデ, ულან-უდე, 울란우데, Udinium, Ulan Udė, Ulanude, Улаан-Үд, उलान-उदे, Ułan Ude, اولان اودے, Ułan-Ude, Ulaan Üde, Улан-Уде, اولان-اودے, Ulan-ude, Улан Үд балһсн, 烏蘭烏德

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