Olga's Guest House, Olkhon Island (Lake Baikal)

These are some photos from Olkhon Island at Olga's guest house, where I stayed for about a week last month. The first photo is a view from outside of her front gate looking across the street.


This is inside of her front gate, taken from the guest house and looking toward the main house. Hiding at the bottom of the frame is her dog Фидя ("Feed-ya"). Considering most dogs in Siberia go hungry, the pronunciation of his name is maybe a bit of sad irony. Actually Фидя was pretty well fed, it seemed, but he slept outside in temperatures dropping well below negative 20 degrees Celsius, and the poor guy could have used a new dog toy or two. Instead he played with flattened beer cans and stray pieces of leather from forgotten shoes. He had a great personality but was too skittish to allow me to pet him, not even once during the entire week I was there.


There is no running water on Olkhon Island. Maybe once per week the water truck (Вода) arrives to fill up the huge barrels stored in the banya (traditional Russian steam bath). This water is used for drinking and for bathing. Without running water the only way to bathe is to get really sweaty in the banya, lather yourself up, and then take a bucket full of nearly frozen water and rinse yourself. It will take at least four or five full buckets to get a good rinse, and the first one is always the worst. It is so shockingly cold that it is almost painful (but extremely refreshing).


This is the firewood in the backyard, chopped for heat and also for cooking.


You can see the firepit near the bottom left of the frame. This is where soups are cooked. In warmer months there is more fishing, and if you look closely you can see green fishing nets hung to dry near the top left of the frame. There is also ice fishing in the winter. I was told the locals call it "watching TV," sitting around the ice-fishing hole staring into nothing all day.