Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Incredibly Remote Siberian Village of Baikalskoye, on Lake Baikal

approaching Baikalskoye by foot
Accessible only via boat or the 20km trek we've just completed, the Siberian village of Baikalskoye is so remote I tried typing it into Google Maps and the response came back: "Where? ... Why?
The steep cliffs which turn Lake Baikal into into a bathtub larger than the size of Belgium, have given a moments respite to a small amount of flatter land where the hamlet has been able to grow. 


the main road through town 
what once was the town truck, brought by ferry, now looks like the remnants
of an Imperial Walker downed by rebel forces in Star Wars

The village has one (yes one) shop; make sure to close the door behind you to keep out the flies. Snickers bars, some fruit, alcohol, along with smoked fish, fish scones, fish heads, fish bait, fish stew, are what we sell (have any idea what the economy is based on?) 
Remote location combined with monopoly status keep prices high, so stick with the fish which is by far, and unsurprisingly, the best value.    
I'm surprised to see a small group of horses by the bank (lake bank silly), and I'm approached by the beauty in the photo above. He nuzzles up to me, reaching his snout towards my hand several times, hoping for food, but coming up empty. Now, here's where you listen to your instincts, I'm on his side, petting him, and now he sort of awkwardly attempts to change position to get me behind him; this is weird, I take two steps back and the horse raises up on his two front legs and attempts to use his rear hooves to kick me. if I don't follow my instinct, I'm seriously injured there. The fucker trots off. I felt like turning him into the butcher.   

the village of Baikalskoye- video

This place is so remote and even given "village" status, so uninhabited is it, that not wanting to wear any wet clothes in the chilled Siberian air, I decide to wash off from the hike via a skinny dip in the lake. I jump into the icy waters and all goes according to plan until I get out and there's a Dutch girl standing 30 feet away. Oh NO, "Shrinkage!" I yell to the bewildered woman. 
Well, maybe not, considering that she starts chatting with me. Turns out she's owns a tour company and has brought her group here from the Netherlands, and honestly would have convinced me to joining them onwards to their next destination; North Korea- except for the fact that they're heading in from China by train and Americans are only allowed in to Pyongyang via air ... 
We finish our chat in adventure-ese, and feeling hungry, I go back into the store and inquire if they have any horse meat for sale. I'd gladly pay the price. 
view of the wilderness from the boat back

View of Baikal's banks from the boat 

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