This bin made me think of a frustrated skier: he’s chained to an ornate wrought iron fence and has lost part of his left ski. In winter, skis are useful around Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and largest freshwater lake, since it freezes up for over four months a year. I ate smoked omul, a fish endemic to Lake Baikal and considered a delicacy throughout Russia, on my second day, sitting by the lake with my feet in the water. All round me were cheerful Russian hen and stag parties bathing in their clothes in the water. Despite the warnings on the WWF website about increased pollution in the lake, the water is considered to be pure enough for local restaurant staff to dip a bucket in it for their water supply.
The main frustration for me was seeing what looked like a very good exhibition about the lake and its various ecosystems, but it was only in Russian. Outside Moscow, there is little in English in the tourist sites I visited. The lack of English was however compensated for by the aquarium showing local fish and the balloon-shaped Baikal seals. I watched them gliding gracefully around their glass cage; one of the world’s only freshwater seal species, they can stay underwater for up to an hour and are a joy to watch.