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Published: December 10th 2012
"Do you believe in God?" He asks me as we sit on the boat and the wind whips at our hair. It's early August, the peak of summer, but we've done the right thing by bringing our warm coats for this boat ride. The wind out on Baikal Lake is fierce and were traveling over 2 hours to get to the other coast.
He is in his 50's or 60's and he is wearing a cowboy hat with Russian writing that says Черное море (Black sea) in Russian.
"Yes" I reply. His name is Donald and he is traveling Russia from Cornwall, England. He is hosted by Luda a local Siberian from Irkutsk.
"Why?" He asks me.
Following these exchanges a long philosophical debate ensues, which makes the time passing to the Zundusky Bay seem like nothing.
Zundusky Bay, or in Russian the bay of treasure chest is where we decide to head on this fine sunny day. Roman a local Irkutsk boy is our guide for the day. On board the boat is where we meet Donald and from this point we become friends for
the rest of our time in Russia together.
Exploring Zundusky Bay is beautiful and were able to spot some beautiful views of the island Olkhon in the distance and the Bay and water patterns around us. Following the hike and cliff top viewing we take a swim in Zundusky Bay. The water is warmer then Lake Baikals icy waters and we spend a good 10 minutes in the water.
The day before we arrive to Irkutsk and visit the markets,where 4 years prior
I made the same journey to the island of Olkhon. This time we take a marshrutka, or small minibus, which takes only five hours to get on the island.
The island of Olkhon is in the central part of Lake Baikal (the deepest lake in the world). It's 72km long, 15km wide and has a population of 1,500 people who mainly reside in Khuzhir. The local indigenous group similar to Ulan Ude is Buryat. The local Buryats mainly fish and herd sheep but are also involved in the tourist industry - a main source of income for the island.
After checking into Nikita's and meeting Rene again
whom I met four years earlier (this time getting ready for a 200 km skiing adventure across Finland), me Ange and mum make our way to the Burkhan Cape or the м. Бурхан.
... Meanwhile back on Zundusky Bay...
Roman, our cute guide tells us that its important for health or maybe for entertainment to swim in the icy waters of Baikal. Me and Ange are up for the challenge so we run in.
I leave Ange in the waters as I too get cold rather quickly whilst she enjoys taking her time swimming in the water.
Lunch is freshly caught Omul, fish local to the Baikal region. Our chef is Armenian and I have the chance to talk to him about the beauty of his land. Following lunch, we climb another mountain and see a cross a couple of priests felt the need to erect.
The day ends with sun bathing on the deck and a beautiful sunset viewing over the lake.
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