We went from Irkutsk to Olkhon Island and stayed five days in Khuzir, an old fisher village. When we arrived at Lake Baikal we could feel that there is something special about this place. It has something mystical and magical. You can still feel the spirit of old traditions and shamanism around Olkhon Island. Close to Shamanka, a big holy rock on the west shore, you can see several, colourful totems and ribbons hanging in trees. We were told that back in the days villains had to stay overnight on this rock and if they did not freeze to death, fell in the cold water or some supernatural event happens to them, they are free man again.
A legend also says that the lake Baikals’ water has magical power: If you dip your hands into the lake, you will be rewarded with 1 extra year of life. If you dip your feet into the waters, you are to be rewarded with 2 extra years of life. If you dunk your entire head into the lake, you will be granted 5 extra years of life. And if you completely submerge yourself in the waters of Lake Baikal – hands, feet, head, and body – you will either extend your life by 25 years, or be killed immediately.
We only dipped our feet and hands in the water. It was fucking cold. Two weeks before we arrived there was still lots of ice floating on the water. At the shore we sometimes still saw little snow-covered areas.
According to another old legend, Ghenghis Khan was born on this island and received his power from the guardian-spirits of Olkhon island. Besides all the mysteries and legends the island offers a beautiful flora and fauna and the only freshwater seal, endemic to lake Baikal. We spent some amazing, relaxing days on this beautiful, magical island and wished we could have stayed longer.
Banya without birch twig slaps. Long walks at the shore. Friendly dog company. Dead, arranged animals in the forest – some shaman ritual? Clear water. Bumpy earth roads. On a ferry with Chinese motorbike gang. Yummy homemade food. Fresh air. Beautiful sunsets. UAZ van. Wrong guesthouse. Writing a Russian letter with the help of Google translate. Finding the right one. Pine & birch forests & rhododendron dauricum flowers. Steppe-like landscape. Ground squirrels, woodpeckers, eagles.