Thursday, April 8, 2010

Note to Self: Bathing in Siberian Lakes

High on my short list of places to revisit is Olkhon Island, Russia. Olkhon Island sits on Lake Baikal, the deepest fresh water lake in the world and also one of the oldest--at least 25 million years old. From Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, it is over a day's journey via train and then another six hours via bus to the island. To the Buryat people and to shamans, the island is one of the most sacred places on earth, a place of pilgrimage, the source of folklore and legend. According to one legend, a dip in Lake Baikal will add 25 years to your life.

Summers on the island, I've been told, are crowded and busy. When I visited, however, it was the cusp of Siberian winter, so my memories are of a place that appeared untouched, pristine and quiet, the stillness blighted only by the shrieking wind.

We set out in the morning to explore the island by foot, agreeing to return to our guesthouse by dark. I will tell you that exploring that island made me feel like a child, gripped by simple awe, open-eyed and open-mouthed, with constant murmurs of, "Krasiva, krasiva" (beautiful, beautiful).

My two days there were not enough. And, yes, in warmer weather, I will take another dip in the lake. Someday.


  1. Amazing! I haven't been to this part of Russia yet, but want to very much. :-)

  2. Jocy - Thanks for stopping by P. Paradis and leaving your little hellos. I love that you have been to these out of the way places and can share them with all of us. I dream of visiting so many, but some of yours I didn't even know existed! I will be back to spend some more quality time with you!

  3. Rambling Tart: Olkhon Island is kind of remote, but, among Russians, a place well-known. Thanks for dropping by.

    Mlle Paradis: Lovely blog you have. The pictures of Hong Kong are my favorite ... and those birdcages -- lots of inspiration there.

  4. This place looks amazing! I think I'll have to venture up north to Mongolia and Siberia one day.

  5. Tee: I don't know what just happened with my comment. Anyway, I heart Siberia.


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