Baikal won­der­land

New Straits Times - - Jom! -

WHEN ev­ery­thing around is frozen dur­ing win­ter, the world’s largest, old­est and deep­est lake, Lake Baikal trans­forms into a mag­i­cal win­ter won­der­land. Its ice-thick sur­face is a win­ter sports play­ground and the snow-cov­ered taiga woods, an en­chanted set­ting.

Sit­u­ated in south­east Siberia, Lake Baikal — a Unesco World Her­itage site —

In one of the caves around Lake Baikal; Ve­hi­cles cross­ing the frozen lake; The frozen lake of Baikal; A house on Olkhon Is­land. at­tracts thou­sands of vis­i­tors to its shores all year around.

In sum­mer, Olkhon Is­land — the fourth­largest lake-bound is­land in the world and the largest is­land in Lake Baikal — is crowded with tourists from all over the world. There are many ho­tels and home­s­tays.

Lucky for me, win­ter is not peak tourist sea­son. I stayed there for three nights on a stopover dur­ing a Trans-Siberian train trip which started from Beijing in China.

Ear­lier, I had a week’s lay­over in Ulan Ba­tor, Mon­go­lia be­fore the train jour­ney con­tin­ued to Irkutsk, Rus­sia. From Irkutsk Sta­tion, I went to Olkhon Is­land in a van. The six-hour jour­ney of 300km on the icy road plus the last 12km cross­ing the frozen lake was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I spent the three days ex­plor­ing the north­ern and south­ern parts of the lake.

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