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Published: February 20th 2006
Situated on the southern shores of Lake Baikal
(Quick note...this was posted from a computer in China and the text format gets a bit funny)
We did have a few days off the train in Siberia.
First we had three days and two nighs at Listyvanka, a small village in a
Russian national park on Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is famous for holding 20
percent of the worlds fresh water and it boasts a huge variety of marine
life which is not found elsewhere in the world, including a freshwater
seal. The omul fish is eaten by the locals and not exported outside the
area, or at least Russia. We toured the musuem and the village with our
local guide, Ella.
We were the guests of Olga and Victor, staying in their cozy izba. A
typical Siberial izba is basically a giant stove/chimney which then serves
as the supporting column for the house. This column emanates heat into all
the rooms in the house. The walls of the house stop six inches below the ceiling leaving room
for the warm air to flow throughout the house.
It is cold in the morning when the fire goes out! Also, the toilet
is an outhouse...outside. Not such
The 'steam' in this photo and the Lystyvanka one is because the water temperature is warmer than the air temperature. Its a lovely 2 degrees celsius if you fancy a swim!
fun at 4am - although the stars are nice!
Olga prepared some lovely food for us. This included some omul but we also
enjoyed Russian dumplings and Russian salads. These salads rarely feature
lettuce, but rather, hearty portions of cabbage, carrots, peppers etc.
We didnt shower at all, but enjoyed something better: a proper Russian
banya. This resembles a sauna with dry heat. An outside shed has a
stove built into it to heat the chamber to delightfully warm temperatures.
Hot water is heated in the stove and this is mixed with ice cold water in
bowls to wash and rinse after sweating for a little while. We slept very
well after this and the nice dinners.
A highlight of our stay in the village was sledding with dogs in the
Siberian forest. The company we booked the Russian part of our trip with had arranged for us to go snow-mobiling in Siberia but apologised when we arrived that this was not possible. However, to make up for it they offered the chance to go dog-sledding with a professional group from the village instead. Even better! These dogs have competed all over Russia and in Europe in
Our Siberian home for two nights
major sledding competitions. One race was from Irkutsk to Moscow! We, however, only sledded 5km round the forest - a mere warm-up for the dogs! We took turns on or in the sled (with the professionals). Fantastic fun!
After Listyvanka we had one day and a night in Irkutsk. This city is
famous for being the meeting point for the Trans-Siberian railroad as it
was being built from both directions. It was a typical Russian city and
still had "Karl Marx" and "Lenin" streets. We walked around and explored
the city but it was freezing cold outside. So much so that they were building a number of beautiful ice sculptures in the central park. Very We were hosted by Galina (a German speaking Russian - created some interesting communication problems!) and
spent the night in her city flat before catching the Trans-Manchurian train to Beijing.
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