The island, as well as the rest of the Baikal region, is populated with « Buriates ». They are Mongols, direct descendants from Genghis Khan. Pierre the Great obliged them to conversion (from Buddhism to Orthodox religion), and many left to Mongolia at the time. A second wave of « russification » took place with Stalin, when he obliged Buriates to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet. Things went smoother after Stalin’ death. In the 1960’, monks even opened temples – We found out recently that those monks were KGB agents, in charge of understanding the local culture, probably to better shut it down…
Russified, then sovietized, they are only now 25% of them in the Buriate Republic.
The republic opened its doors to foreigners in 1991 and not before!
And here we are, on that Olkhon island, 72 km long.
We are in the Khoujir village, the only village of the island anyway.
According to Buriates, it is a shamanic energy center (one out of five in the world).
For us, profanes, it looks like an amazing Far Far East.
Our hotel is supposed to be the “Greenest hotel in Russia”, says the business card we grabbed in Irkutsk.
Indeed, our environmental footprint is gonna be very limited…
More to come tomorrow morning with a short film introducing what’s going to be our reality for the next three day.
NB : Of course, we didn’t have any wifi for three days, that’s why I didn’t publish any post. Thanks for your e-mails wondering if we were still alive. I hope you didn’t worry too much !!!