A lesson in leadership
March 18, 2011
Princess Anne vs Ghengis Khan
March 20, 2011

Nikky Nakky Noo!

SSC_0444.jpgI spend the day  in Irkutsk before catching the train that takes me to Ulan Ude and then over the Mongolian border to Ulaan Baatur.  Irkutsk is a mixture of styles – originally a fur trading post, then a gold town then a cultural centre for the exiled Decembrists and finally an industrial jewel for the Soviets.

It is crossed with broad boulevards and a wide promenade around the banks of the Angarra where it is so cold that my breath freezes Shackleton-like on my scarf and my camera solidifies into an unusable lump of hardware.  Despite the extreme temperature the standard clothing for women here comprises extremely short mini dresses and boots, making it feel a bit like Newcastle city centre on a Saturday night.

In the Baikal museum, there are exhibits showing the indigenous, cod like fish, called the Omul that is unique to the region.   I decide to do what most human beings have done through the ages when they meet a new species and have some for lunch.  They are thick and meaty, not unlike sea-bass and I eat them with borscht; beetroot soup with onions, potatoes, sour cream and enough garlic to take out a squadron of vampires.  I contemplate pouring some into the camera which has now become an expensive piece of excess luggage.

Once again I am intrigued by the Russian insistence that nearly every every public space should be filled with music – preferably very bad Europop played at a volume to induce bleeding from the ears.  Most restaurants, even quite expensive ones, continuously blast Russian branded MTV where the songs have titles like ‘Nikky-Nakky-Noo’ or ‘The Bip-Bap Song’ and are sung by either young blonde women in gold lame or, strangely, middle aged transvestites in gold lame.

I eat quickly and retire to my hotel, mindful of my early start.  When I get to my room the restaurant downstairs is playing the Nikky-Nakky-Noo monster-dub-drum-and-bass-party-mix which continues  for the next 3 hours.

4.30 am finds me bleary eyed and freezing bloody cold, watching the driver load my bags into the car.  Clearly I look like I need cheering up so, on the drive to the station he puts on his own personal favourite; a collection Eurovision hits played on the pan-pipes.  I am in purgatory and hoping the Mongolians enjoy their meals in monk-like silence.


  1. Carol says:

    Do you remember the restaurant at the top of the Galata Tower? That was a Eurovision nightmare too. Mind you, I am stuck with Justin Beiber and The Wanted!
    Really bad news about the camera – do you think it will work when it warms up?
    By the way, I am glad you took the dog with you. Sadly son of dog is still at home!

  2. Allan says:

    How will I ever forget. I’m afraid I’ve never heard of The Wanted – that piece of pop fast food must have emerged since I left. No joy with the camera unfortunately (actually I think its the lense) – it’s now making a grinding and rattling noise when you turn it on which is not what you want from a precision instrument. Fortunately I have the little one with me so I can still capture stuff.

  3. Technical Support (AKA Paul) says:

    Doesn’t sound good when a lens makes those kind of noises. Looks like you need to upgrade all your equipment when you get back (any excuse).

  4. Katie says:

    You used the B word Daddy!!
    You also need to shave!

  5. Andy Smith (Byrne) says:

    glad to see your having a good time on your travels , dad’s been asking how things are going on, will have to arrange a family get together when your back , will need some notice as i’m not living in England anymore, have move the land of the 40 shades of green , say hight to the rest of the family

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