Day 3: Breakfast was a bit of a shock for us. There were no cereals or fried bacon. Instead, we found cold meats and cold spaghetti with a coleslaw like salad.
We set off for the day and had to pay a toll to cross a very rusty suspension bridge, to the village of Verkhny Uimon. We visited the Museum of Nikolay Roerikh, a famous Russian artist, traveller, archaeologist and writer.
His paintings have a very distinctive style. We saw prints of his pictures like this one.
Beda the Preacher. 1942.
The Museum of Nikolay Roerikh in Verkhny Uimon 27/08/04
In the summer of 1926, Nikolai Roerikh visited Central Altai, studied its ethnography, legends, traditions, and environment. Being deeply impressed by its wonderful landscapes, he created a series of paintings, reflecting his understanding of local nature. At the 100th anniversary of N.Roerikh, the house where he lived in Verkhny Uimon was recognised as a historical memorial of the Altai region. We learned about his life and heritage and saw maps and photos connected with the work of Roerikh's expedition in this region.
We visited the ethnographic museum of the old believers. The lady who showed us around it was called Raisa. She was the school mistress and curator of the museum. The museum had been an old believers’ house and was typical of their houses with just two rooms, the one on the left of the entrance hall was for guests and the one on the right was where the Old Believers themselves lived. As many as twenty people would live together in one small room.
The ethnographic museum of Old Believers 27/08/04
We had a picnic lunch beside the river. Mischa drove the van a long way away from the road (track) and we laid out a canvas to sit on. Mischa told us that he had grown up in an Old Believers house like the museum with all the children sleeping on the overhead bed.
In the afternoon, we visited a Siberian stag nursery. We saw where they bring the maral deer to have their antlers removed before they start to turn into bone. The antlers are then boiled and dried before being exported, mainly to Korea. We met a tame maral reindeer called Shulik who had been orphaned and whom the farm had helped, although he was not one of their ‘farmed’ reindeer.
The farm is one of a very few business which makes a good profit in this extremely poor region where unemployment accounts for 65% of the population. We drank from the spring there, which they told us had a high concentration of silver in the water and would be very good for our digestion and health.
Shulik the reindeer at a maral farm on 27/08/04
We returned to the hotel for our evening meal. We did some washing and had showers in cold water. They were a little surprised that we wanted hot water and said they would see what they could do.
They agreed that we could leave some of our belongings at the hotel while we visited the Mul’tinskoe Lakes. So we unpacked and repacked everything and took a guess at what we would require for the trip leaving as much as we could behind.
That night we met a young German couple who were hiking through the region. We swapped tales of our trip so far. They were doing it without guides or interpreters and found they could get by with a mixture of German and English and a ‘point at it’ book of pictures. They told us they had been on an eight day trek on horse back and despite the discomfort and despite how smelly they had become, they had enjoyed it very much, so we were looking forward to the next day.
They told us they had found someone who had washed all their clothes to get rid of the horsey smell and the dirt and it had all worked out okay.