My journey to South Korea by train, while stopping in different cities. This story will be about my experience and adventure in Irkutsk and lake Baikal. The story begin’s with couch surfing, me and my friends (Timon & Wijnand) where looking for a place to stay in Irkutsk and Zhanna responded on our message. Here she told us about hiking in lake Baikal and that got us fired up. Our first meeting was when we stepped out the train from Novasibisk, Zhanna was waiting for us and was ready to guide us to our new home. I found it really nice to have Zhanna waiting for us on the station and to help us in the city of Irkutsk (it saves us a lot of trouble and hard work).

After we arrived home, the first thing i did was take a nice shower (after a 33 hour train ride). Then we went to scout the city or irkutsk where Zhanna was so kind to show us around and to tell some interesting stories about irkutsk. We also had a lovely brunch in her favorite place, i’m sorry that i can’t remember the name! You get to see interesting places when you have a local around you, Zhanna knows the city as she lives there and she knows the interesting places. It also helps when you don’t know the russian language and the shop owners don’t know english haha :)

After 1 day of Irkutsk we headed out to the Baikal area, to do some hiking in the Siberian forest. So why would i want to go hiking in an siberian forest, with 2 people i didn’t even know?! Well thats because i like to take on an adventure, and i’m a very active person. Back in holland I’m very active as a swimmer, fitness and skydiving. So that said, i love to be active. I actually slept one night in the forest of Siberia in a wooden cabin, here i had to find and cut my own wood, melt snow for water and to build a fire to stay warm. It was a great experience and adventure. I actually never done this before and to have such experience in siberia is really cool, and thank you for that Zhanna! You really start appreciating the little things after such experience, the effort it take to start and maintain a fire. To search for wood, and to cut it all. Also the time and effort it took for Zhanna to cook and make a cup of tea was remarkable.

When you are used to the city you boil the water and your done, here you had to create a good fire, melt snow, and then wait for it to boil. The next day i went further to lake Baikal, i went back to the train station where i had to wait 50 min in very cold weather (-20) so i was really glad i could warm up in the train :) after a 1 hour train ride i started hiking down the mountain to a small village of lake Baikal, here i had a stunning view of the lake and it’s beautiful mountains! After my lunch break i started my journey across the lake, to Zhanna’s home town which took me 5 hours to cross. Yeah it looked pretty close but Zhanna quickly told me it’s the lake Baikel illusion. During this trip i saw cars passing by and took a lot of pictures of the beautiful landscape around me. It was awesome!

Chris and friends Timon & Wijnand.