"Shall I make some tea?" I asked."Sure!" – Beena’s face lit up with a broad smile. Well, who can say no to a cup of tea on board a Russian train?So I picked up the fancy railway glass, in its fancier glass holder, filled it up with hot water from the boiler (In an earlier time they used to have samovars on these trains), dipped the Lipton tea bags in it. Then we sat down by our window - that opens up to a marvelous world outside. The semi frozen lake was passing by, ever so slowly, to the west. There were snow-capped mountains on the other side and pine trees all around us. A man was ice-fishing on the lake, sitting on his unfolded chair. A couple of kids were running after each other in front of a log hut. It was April 28, 2016, and we have been on the move for almost two weeks now.
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Kay and I enjoyed Irkutsk and its pleasant atmosphere of a university city. But after a couple of days, we were off to Bolshoe Goludnoe, a Siberian village on the shores of Lake Baikal, not far from Irkutsk. Lake Baikal is the oldest and the deepest lake in the world which contains 1/5 of all the fresh water in the entire world. Even though the weather had been hot during our Siberian adventure, the depth of that lake and the amount of water ensured that the water was constantly freezing cold. My first impression of our new Homestay was that village homes seemed more spacious than city apartments. These were actual houses rather than apartments. There was plenty of empty space outside, though, and we took advantage of being in the countryside to do some long walks – through the village, through the nearby forests, and along the shore of Lake Baikal. It felt so liberating to be out in the countryside for a while with its fresh air and wide open spaces.