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Yunost island on the Angara river. People lining up, seems to be delicious!

I saw this woman looking wistfully out her window and knew I had to capture this scene. I was pretty sure she'd refuse to have her picture taken but I asked anyway and was very surprised when she agreed. I took just one quick snap, thanked her and walked away. When I got this onto my mac and found it was pin sharp and fairly well composed (could have done with a bit of 'breathing space' round the shutters) I was pretty pleased with myself!

Irkutsk is one of the largest cities in Siberia, it is the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia and has a population in excess of half a million people. The city proper lies on the Angara River, the only river to flow out of Lake Baikal.

Irkutsk was founded as a wooden fort in 1661 on the right bank of the Angara River. It was declared a city in 1686 and nominated the center of Irkutsk province in 1764.


Irkutsk is famous for its wooden architecture. It has preserved many monuments including ancient log structures. Some of the log structures have been restored, others are in a poor state of repair. Almost all of the wooden houses are privately owned.


In Siberia, wooden houses are built in pine and cedar. Sometimes the foundation is of larch because it is firm and when put under water becomes strong as iron. The upper part is built of pine, because it helps to retain heat inside the house. Until the end of the last century, the interior of wooden houses was made out of clean logs.

Saw this tram coming towards me outside the train station and had to have a shot. Lovely old trams running on some scarily unstable tracks, but it all seems to work.

...this happened.


The sky lit up like it was on fire. I couldn't get back to the waterfront and was surrounded by buildings so tried to get a reasonable silhouette snap.


Lesson learned: don't leave a sunset before the action kicks in.

Irkutsk was my last major stop along the Trans-Siberian route, and was my favourite of all places I visited in Russia. There was a great feel to the city, enjoyable nightlife, and, perhaps just through luck, it was the most sociable and welcoming.


On this evening I went out for a wander, hoping to catch a decent sunset. It looked like this, and not long after I took the photo, I started to head back into town.


And then...

I followed this tram in my viewfinder as it approached and passed, but there were always cars blocking my view. Got this shot as it moved away from me; a tram shot is a tram shot. I never got to ride a tram in Irkutsk, which is a shame, because I would have loved to ride on at least one; I doubt there will be a next time.

Nowoczesna architektura w Irkucku, Rosja.

Modern architecture in Irkutsk, Russia.






After 24 hours on the Trans-Mongolian Express, our rain rolled into Irkutsk railway station, I was in Russia. Time no longer mattered because I had no idea what time it really was. Our train was operating on Moscow time which was meaningless to me, while the time on the street was the same as in Beijing, but by now we had crossed several time zones and I had not the faintest idea what time it really was.


According to train time we were 5 hours ahead of Moscow time. All I knew was the sun was rising around 4:30 in the morning Beijing time, and setting well past 9:30 in the evening. The only clock I trusted was my body clock, if I was hungry, it was meal time, and if I was tired, it was bedtime.

Irkutsk is a city with a fleet of aging and modern trams, which for a railfan such as I, were a joy to observe and photograph. It's all very well to take me on a walking tour of churches, the war memorial, civic buildings, markets, museums and the cemetery, all I wanted to see were the trams, trolley buses and hang out at the train station. I found a great vantage point when I was supposed to be exploring the markets, and took more than 100 photos in no time. I'll not bore you with dozens of Irkutsk tram shots today, but be warned, they're waiting in the wings.

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