Friday, November 25, 2011

Russia "Snapshot" #2: Lake Baikal & Lady Angara

According to a Buryat legend, Old Lake Baikal had a beautiful daughter named Angara. He chose a suitable mate for her, but Angara rejected his choice for her. Father Baikal flew into such a rage that he locked her up.  The seagulls had pity on her and arranged to help her join her love, the River Yenisei, in the North. When Father Baikal discovered what had happened, he flew into such a rage that he threw a huge rock into the water after his fleeing daughter.  To this day, the rock stands where the Angara River flows out of Lake Baikal on her way to join the Yenesei River in the North. Legend says that if one were to remove the rock, the waters of Baikal would then flood the whole earth . . . 

When asked to share about his trip to Russia in class, my son excitedly told the story above to his classmates.  I think it was the only way he could adequately explain his wonder. (You can read a longer  version of the story here.) Standing on the shores of Lake Baikal is like standing at the ocean: one can't help but be overwhelmed by its vastness. The world's deepest fresh water lake, it home to many types of flora and fauna that can only be found near its waters.  It is truly the "pearl of Siberia".  Of all the things that my children saw and experienced on this trip to Russia, Baikal is one thing they will never forget.  

With dear friends on the shore of Baikal at Listviyanka on the Irkutsk side of the lake.
The sun beginning to set on the lake. 
We took this picture from our van window on the way to Baikal.
The rock in the middle of the water is the rock from the legend
where the Angara flows out of Baikal. 
Other highlights for us including eating "omyl", a type of white fish only found in Baikal, that is delicious when smoked.  My children especially enjoyed seeing the nerpas, a type seal native only to Baikal. When I lived in Siberia, you weren't able to see them, but now there are "nerpalarii" that have live seals and perform shows with them.

My son wanted to climb one of the mountains
overlooking the Baikal shore.
My daughter climbed about halfway and then decided to take a break
and have a snow adventure with her dollies.
Exploring the banks of the Angara in Irkutsk.
We brought many rocks back from both Baikal and the Angara.
Building a snowman on the Angara. 
And a playground near the Angara. 

The residents of Ulan-Ude and Irkutsk have a standing argument over which side of the lake is most beautiful. I can honestly say that the argument is impossible to resolve, because they are equally enchanting in every season of the year.: )

Linked to The Magic Onions