Coldest Place on Earth
It was already dark in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. This is a place where the day is short in the winter but in the summer the sun never really sets. I was looking at the outdoor temperature on a thermometer: minus forty-one degrees centigrade! Yakutia is the coldest place where people live all year round. It’s situated in an area of true permafrost.
Near the airport I checked the room at one of the two hotels there. They told me that the rate for a single room, which included breakfast, was three hundred roubles. That’s less than ten American dollars.
On the following days I was invited to try ‘kumis,’ a drink made from the milk of mares. I listened to an old local musician playing a small instrument that they call a ‘jomus,’ shaped like a soup spoon. It’s placed in part of the mouth and a reed is vibrated to produce sounds very pleasing to the ear.
I had to take a photo of a thermometer to prove how cold it was. At night, it gets down below minus fifty centigrade! I kept warm by wearing a ‘shuba’ or anorak that was given to me. I also wore two pairs of trousers, leather boots, several sweaters and a sort of Russian peaked cap called shapka.
Well, I took off my right glove for less than ten seconds, just enough time to take the photo of the thermometer. Then I reached out to put my glove back on. But it seemed as though the fingers of my hand were in the process of falling off! I went into a cafeteria and pleaded for a glass of hot water, tea or coffee or whatever they had. But one of the two beautiful waitresses informed me they were having a ‘pererib’, a 15 minute break. One was smoking and the other painting her nails as they looked at me without any interest. I rushed into the toilet and turned on the hot tap. It took a full ten minutes with my hand held under before I recovered any feeling!
— Posted – July 2012