This morning Josh and I caught a minibus to nearby Listvyanka, where we planned to spend a couple of nights in a log cabin overlooking the beautiful lake Baikal. The minibus ride was certainly an experience, as the driver seemed more concerned with saving the remaining suspension on his vehicle than with trifling things such as passenger comfort and road safety. The log cabin that we were staying in was actually a hostel, but we had our own private room (with LCD TV) up in the mountains overlooking the lake, for the bargain price of R750 (~£16) per person. It was certainly a change of pace/scenery from the remnants of the old soviet bloc that we have encountered to date.
Lake Baikal itself is stunning, and (according to Lonely Planet, but which I will now pass off willingly as my own wisdom) it is the deepest body of fresh water on Earth, consisting of over 1/5 if the globe’s fresh water supply. During the winter, and until the beginning of next month the whole lake freezes over, meaning that you can walk right across it, if you feel so inclined to trek either 60km from East to West or 600km North to South. To begin with Josh was rather more trustful of the strength of the ice than I was, but after seeing a couple of cars whizz by my faith swiftly soared. The sun setting behind the distant mountains over the expanse of ice was absolutely breathtaking, a little like the attitude of the local shopkeeper when we asked about the availability of eggs.