We were awakened from our deep slumber at about 1:30 am by students celebrating their graduation from school. There was a lot of noise, fireworks, and festivities. It was a enjoyable to be able to see the local people enjoying themselves. So often throughout this trip we have seem gloomy faces.
Today I learned the town down by Lake Baikal is called Listvyanka. We started the day by walking up the hill from our hotel to a local ski resort. Not very large at all compared to Colorado standards, they only have one lift. We took the chairlift to the top of the hill and went to a spot that overlooks Listvyanka and Lake Baikal. This was a very scenic location. There are many trees that look very similar to Aspens. Many of the trees branches were covered with hundreds of ribbons. Shamanism and Buddhism are common beliefs here. Each ribbon is a prayer, and the belief is that as the wind blows through the ribbons the people's prayers are carried heavenward. These beliefs were carried here from Mongolia and from southern regions.
In the early afternoon we went to the port in town and boarded a ship for a three hour cruise...the weather started getting rough...the tiny ship was tossed...if not for the courage of the fearless crew the minnow would be lost...sorry about that I just got carried away in the moment. We took the ship to the south and actually went ashore for a little walk. The shoreline drops off almost like a cliff to several thousand feet so the boat can ride up all the way to the shoreline. It was a pleasant little excursion.
We we got back to Listvyanka we stopped for lunch and I had pork-kabobs and something like naan bread. The local people here look a lot more Asian than European. We are actually pretty close to the Mongolian boarder. The faces and religious practices here are starting to be more eastern in origin.
Since today is Saturday the town of Listvyanka was busy and full of commotion. The locals from Irkutsk come here for a nice weekend away from town. They can relax at the “beach” and have a picnic, because “warm” is relative.
Afterward we went to a local museum about Baikal. We learned a lot about the region, the lake, and the local wildlife (above and below the water). We are in a seismic hot spot. That is the reason for the lakes great depth. They had a couple live Baikal fresh water seals in an aquarium.
Today I found out that my mom will video tape anything...including a dead fly among other things. In the evening my dad and I went out on the balcony overlooking the lake. We had a couple ice cold cokes and talked for a long time. We are having a wonderful time.