RUSSIA, Siberia- Irkutsk/ Lake Baikal
May 17, 2005
|It is very Soviet looking! Not as cold as expected, happy days, sun is oot and its not fur jacket weather!
Irkutck is 65km from teh lake, so I had my first night here in a homestay before moving down to teh lake for 2 days. As you would expect in Russia everthing is difficults, going into shops where noone acknowledges you, then eventually look at you like you just arrived and serve you, with no explanation of the previous 5mins standing round like an idiot! Shopw where all teh goods are behing glass so anything you want needs to be asked for, but thats difficult when they dont acknowledge you. Apparently they dont see the need for civilities, and keep a public face, stern hard, niet and a private face, smiley and cheery!, an overthrow from the dark soviet years!
On all the street corners seems to be russian guys, all in battered leather jackets, looking pretty mean, didnt spend too long hanging around, especially after Lidia told me her city is now very dangerous so please take care!
Managed to survive, but the most amazing thing is its still light at 10pm at night! Sunsets 930ish, darkness not really untill 11ish!
Next day picked up in a minibus for the journey to the Lake where I met Kate and Amanda , two nice aussies. The town is small and luvly, apart from teh few big ugly soviet-style buildings, and the rusty old ship repair yard, adn the refinery style chimney churning oot black smoke all teh time, people go around in quad bike type things, cows walk down the main street, people spend the day tending to their chickens, well one lady anyhoo, who I asked In Russian, if I could take her picture, and the answer,..... Niet!!
The lake is so clear, you can see down for 40m at points. We went to the museum,local attraction, of which there doesnt seem to be much!, where we discovered the reason why its so clear, there are loads of wee crustaceans munching up everything, making for the cleanest, clearest water I eva saw! the museum houses the 2 fattest seals ever, and the lake is home to many more, but unfortunately didnae see them!
We took the cable car up to the view point, obviously not many tourists come here as it was off wen we arrived an off when we left! We kinda exhausted all teh sights in the town in the town, including the 10km walk it took to get to everywhere, tehre was a wee market that sold expensive wooden stuff and gems, and many people selling smoked fish from teh lake-omul, which we had been warned to be careful with as a lot of it isnae too fresh! So avoided it, didnae like the idea of dodgy stomach + 4 day train journey!
Tried to find out about boat trips for day 2 as the sights of the village , Listvyanka had been done! They dont seem to have seen tourists before as we seemed to be breaking new ground, noone seemed to know anything that we could do, boat trips, got a russian mafia member to quote us 6000roubles for an afternoon(there are 45 to the pound!!) Declined sadly, destined never to actually get on the lake. Amanda kept threatening to swim in it, 5deg was a bit chilly for me, and she eventually ducked out of the challenge!
Got ma best russian oot the phrasebook and approached a guy on his boat and managed to gte an hour trip up the lake for 1500, about 10pounds each, so happy days, on we jumped!
Amanda obliged by chatting the guy up and we ende up with a 2hr journey for the price of one :)
The scenery was just awesome, they really need to get their act togther and make it into a real destination as every question seems to be met with a NieT! And no reason why!
They have the most amazing scenery, and yet all teh russians just seem to come, sit on the pebbley beach in their undies, drink beer n vodka, leave their rubbish behind, and go home!
There was a local picnic spot just outside the town where poeple go up in their cars, have plenty of beer n vodka stand around, then leave , rubbish left of course!
Luvly place, but just not enuff to do, not any info on treeking around the area, discouraged as there are man eating ticks oot there, gorgeous lake, but difficult to get onto it!!Oops, Im sounding a bit cynical and only been in Russia a few days!
* In a gigantic stone bowl nearly four hundred miles (636 km)long and almost fifty miles (80 km) wide, lies almost one quarter of the all the fresh water on earth--Lake Baikal.
* Baikal is the largest lake in Eurasia, and it is easily the deepest lake in the world (1,620 metres- nearly a mile).
* Baikal is so large that all of the rivers on earth combined would take an entire year to fill it
* Siberia makes up more than 75 percent of Russia's land mass. Siberia's 12,488,400 km2 domain reaches from the Ural mountains on the west across to the Pacific ocean, stretching from Kazakhstan, Mongolia through China and up to the Arctic Ocean. It is larger than Canada, the second largest continent. More than 34.8 million people (23 percent of the Russian population) live in Siberia. Three out of four Siberians live in urban areas, the remainder practice nomadic herding (in the northern regions) or live as farmers and hunters in the region's isolated areas.
* Siberia is so immense that a person standing on the beach in Maine is closer to Moscow than a person standing on the eastern coast of Siberia
* While the temperature plunges to -35C near Lake Baikal in January, in Omyakon, in eastern Siberia, the temperature can reach a bitter -71C
* It is predicted that Lake Baikal will eventually split and create the worlds 5th ocean, seperating Europe and Asia as it is seperating at a rate of between 2mm and 2cm every year.