Published: October 8th 2010September 6th 2010
Listvyanka (Lake Baikal)
Arrived in Irkutsk at 6am. Caught a taxi to from the train station to the bus station, where we waited in a little cafe until 9am, when the bus for Listvyanka was due. Surprising amount of people in the cafe also waiting for buses here and there. Lots of Mongolian looking people around - it definitely felt like we were getting closer to Mongolia. I felt absolutely rubbish, as the cold that had been building up for the last few days reached its peak!
Jumped on the bus for Listvyanka and arrived an hour later, but missed our stop by about 2 miles! Luckily a local gave us a lift to our hotel. The hotel was huge, and overlooked the lake, as did the balcony in our room. What an amazing view!! The lake looks like an ocean - you can just about see faded mountain tops on the other side.
Spent the next few days walking into town along the lake. Took a boat ride and the English interpretor explained that the clarity of the lake was due to millions of crabs filtering the water.
Went for a swim in the lake -
it was absolutely freezing, so only stayed in the water for 1 minute!
Had a great meal in a restaurant on the lake. They served the best bauscht in the world! We also ate plenty of smoked fish from the market at the far end of the village. Thousands of smoked fish hanging from little wooden market stands.
Caught the chair lifts to the very peak of the village where we had amazing views of the lake and village below. At the peak, people had tied ribbons around the branches of trees, which I think is a symbol of good luck - possibly Mongolian influence. We met a Russian man at the peak, who we chatted to. He couldn't understand the concept of exploring Russia and Mongolia by train “why not fly? Why go to Mongolia?” - we tried to explain but he really didn't get it!
On the last day we walked to a picnic area in the forest at the end of the village, near the market. We ate our smoked fish and I hiked up a very steep hill through the trees. At one point I was using my hands and feet to climb
the hill!! Great view at the top!
Caught a taxi back to Irkutsk (the driver was a maniac) where we boarded the 22:50 train for Ulaanbaatar...
There are more photos below