Chemical runoff from a nearby power plant has made the "Novosibirsk Maldives" the perfect yoga selfie backdrop.
Prospective Instagram influencers, accompanied by their requisite paddle boards, flower headbands, and inflatable unicorn pool floats, have been flocking to an artificial lake near Novosibirsk in Siberian Russia. Located between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, it’s the single, turquoise tinged body of water in the entire landlocked area. But, as with most things on social media, the reality is far from the sparkling illusion in your feed. The lake is adjacent to a power plant, who have warned visitors its azure tint is partially due to that fact it’s an ash dump for chemicals.
Talking to a Russian news outlet, the owners of the plant explained it’s the high levels of calcium and metal oxides that give the water it’s unique tint. Visitors have noted the area smells of laundry detergent and that their skin is itchy for days after contact with the water. The article went on to ponder sightings of supposedly “blue seagulls” in the area, which might just be a reflection of the water and probably not the result of chemical dyes in water.
The plant owners have asked people not to go to the lake. According to Russian reporters who have actually visited the site, it’s quite clearly in the middle of an industrial estate and signs littering the entrance warn “no entry”. On an Instagram account dedicated to the “Novosibirsk Maldives,” industrial smoke stacks and drainage pipes can be spotted amongst the yoga poses and pensive gazes. The water is so alkaline, any vegetation the edges of the water touches quickly die because of the excessive mineralization.
Of course, no one has actually made the journey to enjoy swimming in the ice-blue water or sunbathing on the sandy shores; they’re just there to make other people to think they are. It’s further evidence that we’ve officially transitioned from “pics or it didn’t happen” to “pics and it didn’t happen.” Whether or not we’re vacationing in the Bahamas or a chemical dump is beside the point when public perception is valued over experience.