Let’s go to Oymyakon…

Coming from us you’d think Oymyakon is a place in Japan. Well it sort of is…close, about 2200km north of Hokkaido across a stretch of ocean….heheh

So where the hell in the world is Oymyakon? If you Google it, you will see that it is located in the eastern reaches of the Russian far east. So you thought that -27°C is cold? How about -90? Fahrenheit!! For those who remember how to convert this to Celsius – thats approximately -68°C… enough for cars to be useless there, or so we read.

Incredible as it sounds, there are actually 500 souls (give and take a few) living in this village according to the Huffington article.

Such a cool pic.jpg
Lifted from the article. Cool or what?

It is reported that this is the coldest permanently inhabited town/village in the world. And the pictures in this article come from an Amos Chapple who visited this remote and cold (lol – understatement) place of inhabitation. Why of all places he, and apparently a female partner (who models in the photos) visited such a location is beyond us. Wait…why do we tropical folks went to the slightly less cold Harbin is a wonder too! Btw if you look at the photos it’s sure damn cool – no pun intended.

Can you hear Suan in the background going all excited about how awesome this photo looks? For the backdrop and fashionable model that is…

Hmmm, for that matter why do we (humankind) climb the highest mountains, dive the deepest oceans and trek the driest deserts? Because there is an insatiable thirst in our species to get out there and explore the ‘unknown’. We wrote about (here) how NatGeo is sponsoring Paul Salopek in his trek to the ends of the world.

Alright, so this place is not exactly unknown. But it is the novelty of the experience and the memories of “roughing” it out that was probably what went on in Amos’s head. We think.

Shall we make a journey to Oymyakon?

Bespoked travel plans

We’ve written about boutique airlines (here), and we’ve shown how the really wealthy purchase what would be considered out-of-this world experiences (here). For folks with busy lives that leave them little or no time to develop their own travel itineraries, perhaps intermediaries can still be the answer.

Now even plebians such as we can craft unique travel journeys that might erstwhile be the domain of the wealthy. We came across this website after reading Thrillist, and by no means are we in any way linked with them.

Just that this is yet evidence that travel has become mundane.

Yep. We know this is a sweeping assertion. But hear us out.

Try this as an experiment. Type “Paris” into the search field of wordpress. Do you see how many posts come up? While they all may be unique and individual experiences, does this not make one ponder about how common a trip to Paris is these days? Add to the folks on other social media outlets and the ones who don’t (ie social media hermits), there is an incredulous amount of sharings and pictures out there!

Just as we wrote about in naughty cruise journey, people are increasing looking for customized ways to experience travel. Perhaps this is the reason why we see the rise of the ‘Travelers’ – ie folks who want to ‘live’ like a local where they travel too?

What do you look for when you travel? Do you travel with a purpose?

Long term effects of travel (flying that is)

You might recall that we made mention about how flying dumbs down your sense of taste (read here). Well, yet more articles had been circulating about the health impact of long distance flying. This is probably applicable to road warriors who ply the skies for work.

We are quite ‘avid’ fans of reading the UK Daily Mail, travel section only of course…all to trawl for a good story. And one of their article suggests a wide range of potential health problems afflicting those sitting for long periods in that aluminium can – hurtling at supersonic speeds. Heheh….as if we all did not know of it already.

The list of acronyms representing the different ailments that can afflict one on flights is quite long. And not being medical professionals, we are cannot comment on whether these effects are real and impactful as suggested.

One thing we did note from the article is the amount of UV and cosmic particles one can be exposed to while on a longer haul flight. Wow, 56 minutes of flying is like 20 minutes on a tanning bed…so on an intercontinental flight of 12 hours…Wonder if that would be less if we flew at night? LOL. Seriously, can someone answer that?

The other would how sitting for long periods might lead to increased cardiovascular disease (not just DVT). Sigh, being office workers how are we to avoid sitting down in meetings or at our work desks?

What do you do in your daily lives that may mitigate the effects of flying? Mel and Suan exercise quite regularly. Do you think taking flight will negate the therapeutic effect of the vacation?

How far will you go?

In recent years, newly wedded couples in Singapore have been yearning to seek out locations for that ‘special moment’. It used to be locations in Singapore that exude old rural or colonial charm. Then it became holiday shoots where couples enjoy a vacation while taking their wedding shoot at the same time; to countries such as Taiwan and Korea. Some are making their way to even more exotic locales!

It seems that our younger compatriots are willing fork out great sums and go to great lengths out of their way for the moment of a lifetime!

Just how far will you go for a wedding photo of your dreams? Would you drive more than 6,200 miles for it? Well this couple did. While they reported that only 30 photos out of the 580 that they took they loved tremendously (a 5.2% hit rate), it was the memories (see we told you!) that mattered ultimately more than the photos themselves.

Now they have bragging rights : “most dramatic wedding picture” etc. Which we think they thoroughly deserve. Because, lest you think it was just glamour, the couple did not hesitate to remind that to get well off the beaten track, you have to walk (work) for it. Hiking or trekking is not the kind of thing Mel and Suan subscribe to. And carrying 25+ kilos of gear, that reminds Mel of military service days. He’ll take a rain check on doing that…heheh.

We are not sure how many will this appeal to. Perhaps you can tell us if this would be something you’d do for your dream photo?

What is the dirtiest item in a hotel room?

Hey travelers, what is most important to you when it comes to travel accommodations? Did we hear you say : a clean hotel/hostel room? And does that come with expectations of a clean bathroom and towels too?

Whatever the form of accommodation, be it a hotels, hostels, dormitories or apartments, we believe you look for a constant (high) level of hygiene standards. The last thing you want is to fall ill while you are on holiday because the room you are staying is crawling with bugs, big (bed bugs…) or small (bacteria and viruses).

So where do you think is the dirtiest part of your room?

This may seem alarmist, but if this article is to be believed it is the remote control. Although this may seem to apply only to hotels and apartments, come to think about it that’s logical to apply this to dormitories and hostels too. We cannot believe that the cleaning of the room will include the remote in the case of hotels. Besides with the large number of rooms, the cleaning is more than likely focused on the prominent things. And do you think your AirBnB host routinely clean the remote too? How about the remote in the common lounge of the dorm or hostel? Seriously?

It may not be the fairest of assessment, from reading around and just putting our thinking caps on, perhaps there is a list of top 3 worst things to touch or use without being careful:

  • TV remote control
  • Bathroom sink and toilet seat
  • Switches – be it for the lights, power etc

For us we believe if you do not habitually touch your mouth or eyes, than most of this don’t matter if you wash your hands regularly with soap (not just rinse in water). Some authors recommend you prepare sanitation wipes to take preventive measures.

What would you do?

Are you overworked?

If one reads history like Mel does, then it did surprise him that despite the improvement of labour rights over the last 150 years, we are all working harder than the serfs of the middle ages ever did!

Really you ask?

Well if you believe this report, you’d think that these poor serfs had it much better than the average office stiff/drone today! To think these near slaves have 150 days off in a year? And some of us work weekends these days? Because the article cited sources, it was the ever inquisitive Mel that did some researching into the history of the supposedly dreary lives of peasants 5-600 years ago. In the western European context (his favorite).

The findings:

  • Farming, as it still is today is intense, but usually only at field rotating, planting and harvesting. In between its like watching grass grow (literally). Yes this is simplifying it, but like herders the serfs watch their farms – to keep away pests etc. It is not back breaking planting throughout the whole year. Many a time it was spent drinking ale…Statistics are hard to get, but Mel found out that some monastery in England was giving their serfs a gallon of ale per day in the late 1300s according to historical records.Ok, shortage of clean drinking water was another reason…but still, ale?
  • Serfs probably spent more time on other things such as maintaining their tools, homes etc. Which is actually not so far off from what farmers do today. And for the womenfolk, working on fabrics, housework etc while minding children. We know of some folks in the US (ladies) who quilt in the fallow months today (not medieval times).
  • Sundays were definitely a day off – as serfs file off to church. If you look up the feast days of medieval England you will find 45 of them. Not sure if each and every one of those are days of revelry or rest. But they are days off the farm.
  • Serfs had to work for their lords as part of the feudal contract (yep there’s one) and this could be 2-3 days in a week. But at the same time they also participated in the manorial lord’s activities such as feastings, joustings, hunting etc. Yes it would be callous to compare that to work vacations, but hey that’s a comparison!
  • And serfs did also have rights – such as help from the lords during crop failures, a medieval sort of social security. Just like unemployment benefits. Who foots the bill? The manorial lord of course!

It is not a totally fair comparison, because today we have mostly 5-day work week. Which means 104 days of weekends + the paid vacations and public holidays.

medieval-feasts
45 days of this every year? Wow.

Conclusions

With many now working long hours in the weekdays (12+ in many cases that we know of) and some hours over the weekend, we can safely say we might not have it that much better. Ignoring the threat of plagues and wars, materially yes but socially and leisurely perhaps not.

Would this convince  you to be teleported back to medieval times as a serf?