|We pulled up to the homestay in Ulan Ude, Russia--the roads were unpaved and muddy, and every house had a guarddog. The homestay family was very friendly despite speaking no English. We went to see the largest Lenin head in the world which, ironically, was put in this part of Russia to remind the Buryats (an ethnic minority) of who was in charge. We also visited a Buddhist monestary outside of town. It was also the homestay mom's birthday, so we bought some pastries from the local grocery store and sang happy birthday to her. She was so happy and she gave each of us a piece of her china set to take home as a gift.