|We disembarked from our 4 day adventure and headed stright to our hotel (sorry hostel - and believe me it is more than just an 's' that distinguihes between the two)for a shower. Our room was beautiful,a wooden chalet high up in the hills overlooking Lake Baikal. I didn't even mind the spider infestation that we had to endure - I was too tired to care. That afternoon we went for a walk high up into the hills for about an hour and got am amazing viewpoint covered with trees that were filled with prayer and wish ribbons. Lots of people here believe in Shamanisn and it is making quite a comeback since the fall of Communisn that had previously banned it. The view overlooking the Lake was phenomenal... it is more like a sea that a lake - It is also the world's deepest freshwater lake and it contains 20% of the whole world's fresh water resource. Over 80% of the flora and fauna is endemic to the region (which apparently means it can't be found anywhere else in the world) which I thought was pretty amazing and it is so clear you can see for up to 40m. If you swim in it legend says you will add an extra 25 years to your life - but it is so cold that in winter it freezes over up to a m deep. I managed to put my feet and fingers in which means I get an extra five years - that's fine by me.
The next day we went for a four hour hike around the outside of the lake, again words cannot describe how beautiful it is. It has that feeling of being on the egde of a tourist explosion, there is a lot of building work going on and the prices int eh restaurants are quite high and constantly increadng. For those of you who have persevered to get to this entry, (why aren't you doing any work ??!!) I recommend that you go to Lake Baikal within the next five years... Anyway, back to me, that afternoon we took a boat trip to the next settlement up which was rural to so the least. The shop was someone's front room and there were cows just chilling on the sandy beach ...very weird but fun !!
The next day (Thursday) we left to go back to Irkutsk where we spent a day wandering around and generally relaxing. The weather is starting to get really hot now .... which is great news for me !!!