Shortly after Krasnoyarsk, I spend the night in a tent and wake up in the morning in deep snow and minus 13 degrees. My clothes and shoes were soaked in the sleet the day before and are now frozen stiff.
After Irkutsk I am joined by Andreij, the Russian cameraman from Ravir Film, and his assistant Alexander. A few long climbs up to 1000 metres begin, through dense forests and with lots of snow, and finally a spectacular descent down to Lake Baikal. For me, Lake Baikal is a personal highlight that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I drive a good distance along the shore, sometimes the hilly road goes a little inland, but always through snow-covered forests. I use the first morning on the stony beach as a wash day. The ice layer on the lake is still one and a half metres thick, but here on the shore a small river flows into the lake and a hole can be made in the ice layer with a stone so that I can take an ice bath together with the real Russian Alexander.
There are still 4 ice fishermen on the lake. I go to talk to them and one shows me his fish. They have a drill with which they drill holes in the one and a half metre thick ice, where they then sit and fish all day.
I can’t pass up the opportunity and pitch my tent on the ice of Lake Baikal. I make a campfire on the beach and enjoy the evening before slipping into my cosy sleeping place at night. It snows during the night and when I look out of the tent in the morning, all I see is white.
I arrive in Buryatia, a republic within Russia, where the landscape is wild and the people no longer look like Russians but like Asians. It looks more like Mongolia. There are pictures of horseback warriors in the restaurants and the food is more Asian. The majority of the religion is Buddhist and the architecture also gives you the feeling that you are no longer in Russia. Exciting change.
After Ula-Uhde it gets hilly. Some of the climbs go up to 900 metres. Now I’ve been on a plateau for a while, where a cold wind sweeps. I have to pitch my tent somewhere and it will be minus 15 degrees at night.