After exploring the charming Siberian cities of Tomsk and Novosibirsk for a day apiece, I prepared to plunge deep into the Altai mountains, a majestic range that runs along the borders of Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.

We were two Americans and 16 Russians departing by private bus, embarking on the 12-hour overnight journey to Lake Teletskoye. The ride was uneventful besides the loud music and singing from some of my companions who had enjoyed a few too many drinks.

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