One of the more interesting and unusual places I have visited is Lake Baikal in Siberia. I stopped there for several days while taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok to Moscow back in 2014.
I will spare you the facts, you can google, or refer to my emails from 2014.
Recently, a hockey game was played on Baikal’s famous clear ice. Small air bubbles can be seen beneath the surface of the ice, since it is so clear. And the Russians even drive over the ice in winter. Yet when they tried to traverse the lake with a branch of the Trans-Siberian, the very first train plunged into the lake! The lake is fed by warm, volcanic springs.
A few things stand out from my visit. The lake contains plentiful fish, the most famous of which is the omul. Omul is delicious smoked or in a Russian “stew” or whatever they call it. Even in May, it was cold, particularly when it snowed for several days. And the residents are a rather cultish and hearty people, who seem to thrive on the lake’s uniqueness.
Walking over a frozen body of water is rather unnerving. When I was up in the Arctic Circle in Alaska to see the Aurora borealis, we passed by the Yukon River. They said the ice was 5 to 6 feet thick, so I did manage to cautiously walk a few yards on the ice.
By the time I was in Baikal in May, the ice was gone, despite the unseasonal snowstorm. In fact, I took a short cruise on the Lake with a variety of strange Russians. They chose to ignore me for the first half of the trip. At the halfway point, we got to the tracks of the Trans-Siberian for a short walk. And they needed considerable help disembarking the boat and walking up a small embankment. Suddenly, I was their best friend. When we re-boarded, they were offering snacks and hot tea, as if I was a VIP!!!!
Is this a trip for everyone? Probably not. Am I happy that I went? Yes. Would I go again? Probably not.