Irkutsk Travel Blog› entry 6 of 10 › view all entries
We hopped off the train in the early hours of the morning to the fresh temp of -18!!! Brrrrrrrr! We found a warm hotel (naughty!! but we couldnt find a hostel!!) and had a walk round town. One major thing we noticed was the fur hats seemed to be alot bigger here!!!! Our main reason for stopping here was we wanted to head to Lake Baikal for a few days and this was the way to do it. We caught a bus the following day and a hour and a half later we were there. Lake Baikal holds twenty percent of the earth's fresh water and at this time of the year it was completely frozen over so looked like a beautiful white sea. It is about 636 km long and about 80 km wide, and it's volume (at 23,600 km3) is greater than any other fresh water lake and makes approximately 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water. At 1,620 meters (nearly a mile deep) it is without doubt the world's deepest lake. I did copy and paste that by the way (hehe!)
Jen and Martin met us at the bus stop and by this stage it was sunset so we headed straight to the bar. We were already on the waterfront, as there is only one main street in Listvyanka, and it runs along the lake which is a great sight. We gottold about the fish market that gets held outside everyday where you buy local smoked Omel then and there so we were excited about lunch the next day!! They took us to the hotel they were staying at...about 5 doors down.... and all had a nice chilled out night.
The next few days will remain imprinted in our memory forever. They really made our stay in Russia.The small town feel of it all, the aquarium (with two very overweight seals!!), going on a hovercraft ride on the lake doing 360 spins, and best of all....Ice diving!!!!!!!!!!! It was our first experince of wearing a dry suit (as you could imagine the water wasnt exactly warm, plus the wind was blowing a gale) so I was a bit nervous and almost pulled out last minute but when was I ever going to have the chance to go Ice Diving in Lake Baikal again??!!! So in we went and it was amazing seeing all the frozen ice above us....awesome. I did have the feeling of water seeping in but told myself it was my imagination until everything started going numb! Once out of the water (and my hair freezing like icicles!!!) I took the dry suit off (with the help of 3 people) and discovered it wasnt my imagination after all...I was wet! ARGH! I have never been so cold in my life. Ever. Ever. When we got back to the hostel I spent about an hour in the shower defrosting, and came out to Borcsh Soup (delicious meat and tomato) and vodka waiting for me. Thankyou Jen, Martin and Johnny!!! You all saved me that day!!
Before we knew it we had to leave. We did make the most of the local fresh fish (it was gooooooooooood!) and had heaps of fun mucking around on the frozen lake. So back on the bus to Irkutsk to catch the night train to MONGOLIA!