Leaving Mongolia was difficult, not only because I wanted to spend more time there but also because the border crossing into Russia took about 6 hours. The only real hardship was not being able to use the loo. Whenever the train pulls into a station the bathrooms, which have a western style toilet over the hole in the floor, are locked. Anticipating this my morning coffee wasn’t consumed until the afternoon when we were on the move again. The destination was the shore of Lake Baikal, also known as “The Pearl of Siberia,” where I would spend the night.
Lake Baikal is not only the deepest lake in the world (5,714 feet) but it is the largest freshwater lake in Europe and Asia. Upon arrival the group I am traveling with (an awesome collection of people) went to eat the local smoked fish while I rented a bicycle and took a spin around this quaint southern Siberian town. Although it was a warm day and the sun was shining but at 6 degrees celsius ( 42F) my foot is the only part of my body that made it into the clear calm water.
As I sat on the pebbled beach every so often there would be a ripple in the water and I could spot the head of a seal emerge to take a breath.
The night at the lake ended with a visit to a man named Nicholi’s home for a banya. (Russian sauna) An experience that was… well I think the word interesting will have to do to describe it.
The next stop will be Yekaterinburg, Russian. It is just a 48-hour train ride away.