We took a detour off the main highway to visit the lower reaches of the Selenga Delta, an area of Lake Baikal where the great Selenga River arrives in a wide shallow estuary. Around here, we found the waters were actually warm enough to submerge in but never deep enough to swim. Even Vaga came in for a splash along the sand banks.
From the beach we gave a lift to a babushka who sold us some lean, organic beef for dinner – she spoke some English since, she told us, she used to holiday in Pakistan – and by evening we were looking for a place to camp. Dunia, an occasional vegetarian, was less than impressed with the red meat, though, wondering how good a life the cow had led. The next events told us something:
Entering a larger village we ran into the back off what must be a daily occurence for these people – the cows coming home. A great herd of cattle was being driven skilfully along by a cowboy with everyone standing around watching them. We thought, like us, that they were just out to enjoy the show but, following the procession, we saw individual cows amble up to their homes past their waiting owners who shut the gate after them, disappearing inside. By the end of the settlement, the whole herd had dispersed to their separate abodes, the cowboy rode off across a field into the sunset and we carried on impressed that we had just witnessed the cows coming home.