Toxic lake in Russia's Siberia becomes selfie sensation

MOSCOW (AP) — Residents of a city in Siberia don't need to fly off to tropical locales for picturesque selfies taken by pristine turquoise waters. Thousands of Novosibirsk residents — ranging from scantily clad women to newlyweds — have been busy instagramming near a bright blue lake nicknamed the "Siberian Maldives."

The lake is blue, however, due to a chemical reaction between toxic waste elements from a local power station. Environmentalists are warning people against coming into contact with the water.

"We can compare it only with photos of the Maldives," said Sergey Griva, a local who visited the lake, adding he's never been to the Maldives and couldn't find it on a map.

Dmitry Shakhov, a Russian environmentalist, warned that the water in the lake can cause allergic reactions or even chemical burns if ingested or touched.

"This water is saturated with heavy metals (and) harmful substances," he said.

The Siberian Generating Company said Friday it has deployed guards to keep trespassers at bay, but insists the lake presents no environmental danger.

Related: Travel trends in 2019

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Travel trends in 2019, according to TravelPirates experts
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Travel trends in 2019, according to TravelPirates experts

1. Bucket-List Hotel Stays

"Hotels that are the attraction will be huge in 2019. Think: hotels with outdoor showers in Manhattan, beer on tap in the room, guest art classes led by a local artist, social networks for meeting other guests (and connecting digitally as you would at a good old-fashioned hostel), and walking tours of the local neighborhood.

Hotels aren’t just your starting point for travel anymore, they are your destination. People are putting accommodation at the top of their bucket lists."

2. Curation — But Ditch the Travel Agent

"This is not your parent’s cookie-cutter trip. The same-old, same-old is not in fashion anymore for travelers: they’re not looking for trendy destinations. They want to see what’s not blowing up on their Instagram feeds.

Travelers want websites that cull the knowledge of experienced travelers and lets them know where they should go and how. Inspiration is a big business."

3. Don’t Think, Go! The Rise of Spontaneous Traveler

"Point to a place on a map and go. Weekends aren’t for farmers markets anymore. Travelers want to embrace the spontaneous lifestyle — bookings for last-minute trips are up and will only continue to rise.

From a weekend trip to Bermuda or the Hamptons to a spur-of-the-moment booking for next week, the “just go” attitude is here."

4. Off-Peak Season Is On

"The boom of cheap international flights from the U.S. has led to an increase in travel. The catch used to be that many of these $99 one-way flights sent you abroad in the “off-peak” season. Yes, off-peak season, where the weather is cool, the bookings available, and crowds minimal. Sounds not-so-off, right!"

5. Food Tourism Embraces Fusion

"“Authenticity” is a huge buzzword, but apply it to food and it sparks debate. Food tourism was on the rise in 2018, but 2019 will take it to a new level, as travelers look to experience the food fusions that reflect the modern culture of the destination.

From the Singaporean hawker centers that dole out dishes that stem from the diverse ethnic group of the country to the famous bulgogi taco of Southern California to Montreal’s restaurant representation of 50-plus nationalities, travelers want to taste something different."

6. Hyper-Connection

"In-room smart devices were a popular trend in 2017, but some hotel chains are taking the demand for hyper-connectivity to the next level with keyless room access. At Yotel Boston, you can check into your room using the chain’s app — no key required. What’s more, the Boston branch has a robot butler, YO2D2, who can deliver amenities and chat with you in the hotel’s lounge."

7. Communal Spaces — and the Hostel Vibe

"Chic, shared spaces are quickly becoming the norm for modern hotel chains. Why? Millennials want the community experience of a hostel with the luxurious furnishings of a hotel. The rooms at The Pod Hotel in Brooklyn are a minimalist’s dream, but the hotel really shines for its communal spaces.

It boasts a trendy rooftop bar and garden — the perfect place for hanging with other travelers."

8. Unique Amenities

"You know the oft-quoted mantra of seasoned travelers: See the city like a local. Authenticity is not just a recent buzzword, and the push for off-the-beaten-path travel has been amplified recently. The Freehand Hotel in New York City offers curated programming like nude drawing classes hosted by a local artist and historic walking tours of the local area.


New York City’s Arlo Hotel has suites with an outdoor shower for a truly memorable Manhattan experience — complete with shower beer."

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