I awake to a grey sort of a day, and take my time to sort myself out.
There’s a map on the wall, which shows icons of the wildlife living around Lake Baikal. Deer, moose, squirrels, pigs, wolves and … bears. I’m sure I could deal with a squirrel or two, but it’s somewhat unnerving to see so many large bear icons. They’re only cartoon bears, but I expect that the real ones will be much more animated.
Feeling somewhat unprepared for my impending wild-camping bearathon, I enlist Polina’s help to tick off a few things from my TODO list. She obliges with written translations of dietary items, and I combine her knowledge of gear shops with some excellent touring info found on Mark and Julie’s Russia page.
First, I want to sort out my bike lights, but, despite the big flashy interior, the X-Master store only appears to sell general purpose sporting equipment. A young lady smiles at me but then looks very anxious when I start speaking in English. Luckily her male equivalent is up for the challenge, and I leave with several spontaneous purchases, of socks and a t-shirt.
The second store, FanSport, is the real deal, and sells serious camping equipment. With my weight-restricted long-haul flight behind me, I am free to purchase whatever I can carry. I buy a tall, weighty thermos for cold nights, a large, collapsible water container for the desert, some kerosene for my Primus OmniFuel stove, and a heavy collapsible pick and spade for snow camping. The shop owner is helpful, but sighs a lot. In return, I apologise a lot.
All up, I spend 8300 roubles on gear. It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s not quite 200 NZ dollars. Still, the prices of consumer goods are much higher here than I expected, and I’m glad that I have a healthy bank balance to dip in to.