I believe we had a rare opportunity to visit Lake Baikal.
It should be ranked as a Wonder.
Well, with 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water, with its natural beauty, with difficult to access, and with few people other than Russians and Koreans, it is a wonder.
It is the deepest lake in the world: 1600 metres. It is in an ancient rift valley. It is probably 25 million years old.
We got there after an adventurous bus ride from Irkutsk.
The driver has two speeds: and it was go more often than stop. Overtaking was more a matter of luck than calculation.
Eventually we arrived at the village of Listvyanka at the “mouth” of the Angara River. (The Angara actually drains the lake, flowing into the Yenesei and the Arctic Ocean.)
It is a one-street town, well with a few side streets. The main road is Gorky Street, and there is no Lenin Street. This must be a mistake. How will the Soviet Union survive?
We did the obligatory walk to the market, the purchase of souvenirs, the boat ride on the lake,
and then the Baikal Museum.
I must acknowledge the museum. It was well set out with a range of displays, including an aquarium housing Baikal seals. These are fascinating balls of blubber.
On the way back to the centre of Listvyanka, we hired a taxi (150 rubles),
and the driver saw himself as a tourism ambassador, and included in his commentary identification of the mafia homes.
The ride back to Irkutsk on the bus was more extreme than the previous. It was an 18-seater bus, but at one time may have held 25 or more.
While the driver tempered his speed to match the load, his attention was not always on the road. We escaped this thrill ride at a shopping centre in the centre of Irkutsk (to make use of the free toilets) and made our way back to the hotel.
A day to remember in many ways!