Ask Baikal

Hi there! My name is Maxim Milyutin. I am based in Irkutsk, Russia's Siberia. Traveller, organiser of local travel talks, and owner of Irkutsk hostel. Travel for me is not necessary movement to some place far away from home, it's a state of soul. That's why I like to travel around my home region and and abroad as well. I'm happy to share my knowledge about Baikal with everybody! Feel free to ask me about Lake Baikal via the contact form Tatiana Baksheeva, our previous blog runner, remains with us as a contributor.

5 interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011

I decided to make a list of interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011. The Lake is very unique by itself, but there are a lot of people’s stories connected to its existence.

A barrel floating on the sea

In summer 2011 one retired man from Kultuk village decided to swim across Baikal in…a barrel. He was inspired to do such a heroic feat by an old song “Sacred sea, sacred Baikal,” in which the main hero – a state convict – swims across the lake in an omul barrel. Modern barrel was made in accordance of author’s drawings. The vessel consists of two sections – large wooden spools, on outer side of them pieces of foam and empty plastic bottles are fixed. There is a cabin with a table inside the barrel.

However Nikolay Lupynin had more difficulties than his inspirer. The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) prohibited this adventure, explaining that he must register the barrel as a vessel and pass through a technical inspection.

The barrel is ready. Photo taken from www.gazetairkutsk.ru

Nilolay was not ready to such requirements and wrote a letter to Irkutsk Region Governor with a request for assistance and permit to swim. However, Nikolay didn’t get any answer. But the traveler is not discouraged, he is confident that the voyage will take place in summer 2012. By this time the retiree promises to fulfill all the demands of the MES and will sail according to the official rules.
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Overall, the health of Lake Baikal is probably very good, says Dr Anson W. Mackay

Dr Anson W. Mackay on the hill, overlooking Lake Baikal. Photo courtesy of Ewan Shilland.

Dr Anson W. Mackay on the hill, overlooking Lake Baikal. Photo courtesy of Ewan Shilland.

Hereby, we are really proud to present an exclusive interview done with Dr Anson W. Mackay, a professor at the Environmental Change Research Centre, Department of Geography at University College London, who shares his thoughts about Russia’s Lake Baikal and its environmental state.

In May of 2011, we were really lucky to have him giving us a like on the Ask Lake Baikal facebook page. Actually, we didn’t do anything to attract his attention. Dr. Mackay is a big admirer of Lake Baikal himself. Has been to the area many times and cares much of its ecology. In our turn, we do what we love to do. We share our passion for the world’s largest & deepest lake.

Our interaction with Dr Mackay started from Voice of Russia‘s live radio story dedicated to pollution in Lake Baikal. There was a live talk on air with Nikolai Yasinsky from the Russian Geographical Society and Dr. Anson W. Mackay. You can listen to it online here.

We had our own questions to the UK-based professor, who, thank God, was really kind to give us answers. Proceed to read the interview.

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Love story: Olkhon Island and Nikita & Natalia Bencharovs

Nikita Bencharov

Dear Readers, I would love to show you not only beautiful views of Lake Baikal, tell you about how to get here ahd there. I also would love to introduce you beautiful people from the area of Lake Baikal. These people live their lives here, love their families, love what they do and love Baikal. Today I would like to introduce Nikita and Natalia Bencharovs.

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Everything has its own deity! Shamanism at Lake Baikal.

He belongs to the Buyan family that has been living in the Baikal region over 400 years. Legends say that there have been 19 generations of shamans in his family, shamanistic knowledge being transferred from generation to generation. The totem of the Byans is a white-headed eagle, the major large bird of the Olkhon Island. The sixth finger on Valentin Khagdaev’s right hand is a sign of being predestined to become a shaman. A baby with six fingers on a hand is given birth in every second or third generation of the Buyans.

Valentin Khagdaev

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Jennifer Smith-Lee: questions and answers

Jennifer at Lake Baikal

Jennifer at Lake Baikal

Jennifer Smith-Lee is an Executive Director of an international NGO Tahoe-Baikal Institute. She studied in Irkutsk for one year in 2001-2002 and travelled to Lake Baikal several times. I asked her to share an experience of being here.

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