We arrived in the village of Listvyanka by bus from Irkutsk taking just over an hour. Our hotel - U Ozera (near the lake) - is right across from Baikal. We had a perfect view from our cabin, decorated much like a mountain chalet. I had a big dinner - the local omur - a salty white fish, BBQed and stuffed with dill and pine nuts, with potatoes and a salad.
After dinner, I watched the moon rise and the sun set over the lake and met a couple of guys from Uzbekistan who were working at the hotel, one as a cook the other as a driver. The cook was making about US $600 a month, the driver $300. They were both muslims. Lora or Lorissa, the receptionist soon joined us. She is a Buryat and a graduate in English from the university in Irkutsk. She looked Chinese and in fact the Buryats - the local indigenous people - are descended from the Mongolians. They actually have a “republic” based in the city of Ulan Ude.
Next morning I woke and ran across the street for a dip into Baikal - cold! My legs were stinging from the chill so I jumped out as quickly as I’d hopped in. Bliss!