Not to put a fine point on it, but this really is Capitalism on Steriods. I know somewhere there is a Russian who is not 'into' free markets, because afterall that's what the New York Times says, but you won't find that guy here in Irkutsk. I thought two years ago our wanderings had taken us to all the Irkutsk markets--I was wrong.
In addition to the endless seed vendors (can't find a garden anywhere, but sure can find seeds, seed potatoes, onion sets--you name it), there is that marvelous 'doggie' market. (This is NOT Korea, so it's properly a "pet" market. I know they are pets because Gala, my translator, was complaining that her 19 year old daughter brought home a new dog recently for her. With three grand-pets (two dogs, one cat) I get the point.) [More really cool stuff about the Siberian Bear at the Humane society later this week. I'm not kidding, I have the pictures. (again, one of those teasers to make you come back)]
But the best of all was the 'super' market. We could not, this time and last, figure out why the small grocery store seemed to be the only place to buy food in the area of any size. It is no larger than a big convenience store, though it has everything you could want. Well, now I know. Hopefully some fo the pictures above provide a bit of flavor.