I Live For You

Jul 9, 2013 by


At The Europe-Asia Border – Ekaterinburg, Russia

The thing with visas is that they eventually run out. They provide you with a certain amount of time within a country’s borders, and then you have to go like hell. My 26 day visa for Russia has taken me from Moscow, backtracking a bit to St Petersburg, and then all the way to where I am right now: Irkutsk.

I decided to speed up the last few stops on this Trans-Siberian journey in order to make time for a place I’ve been dreaming about for months: Olkhon Island. I know myself and my travel habits well, and I knew that I would regret not spending enough time on this isolated island in Siberia. A day trip or even one night just wouldn’t suffice. We have 4 nights booked there, and because of our visas running out shortly thereafter, this is all we get, and I already anticipate that I will want to stay longer than 4 nights.

I live for places like this. Nine nights on Easter Island, the most isolated inhabited place in the world, only left me wanting more (and for the first time ever, I considered cancelling my flight home). A week in Saba, a Caribbean island most people haven’t even heard of, made me feel cozy and at home from the moment I stepped off the ferry. Who knows what Olkhon Island will bring and what experiences are coming my way? If all I do is see the island, breathe in cold Baikal air and swim in the lake, I will be happy. I don’t need much to feel fulfilled by a place, but often it’s these very special places that can provide me with the soul healing simplicity and solitude I need.

As for the coldness? Bring it on. When I mention that I am going to swim in Lake Baikal, most people agree that it’s A Thing To Do. Others just mention how cold it is and how the lake is frozen for the majority of the year. Lucky for me, I spent most of my childhood summers in Northern Manitoba in a cabin at Clearwater Lake, and that lake too, is frozen for most of the year. I’ve been in May when the ice from the lake is sticking up in jagged shards, uninviting yet beautiful. Likely Baikal is an extreme version of this coldness I’m used to, but this childhood of mine has provided me with a standard for what it means to swim in reallyย really cold water. Perhaps Baikal is colder. But you might just say that I’ve been training for this my whole life.

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  1. “If all I do is see the island, breathe in cold Baikal air and swim in the lake, I will be happy. ” That’s the right attitude but something tells me, you’ll do a little more than that. Can hardly wait to read about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Colleen

      Sometimes keeping up on all these kind comments gets away from me. I promise to be better! Honestly, I really did have a pretty relaxing time on Olkhon Island. Maybe I’ll let you be the judge of that… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. 26 days of fun! Please post some pics, Colleen! Can’t wait for your Baikal story ๐Ÿ™‚

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