“Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to thank you for flying with us and welcome you to Yakutsk. The local time is 9:30 in the morning, the temperature is 36 degrees below zero.” The landscape seemed totally bleak and white when descending, as if having been frosted over a million years ago and never thawed. However after this announcement, none of the passengers bat an eye, or really seemed to care. I’ve never heard anyone utter this phrase before, and I was nervous, as if my skin would disintegrate as soon as I stepped outside like a vampire in the sun.
Several years ago when I first read an article about the coldest city in the world, I was fascinated, and knew I had to visit so I could create my own stories to tell. Throughout my time there, I realized that the locals are completely unaffected by these kinds of temperatures. Kids played outside, laughing and jostling each other on the icy slides of the main square. People walked through the streets and chatted as if nothing was unusual.
And that’s the point. Nothing is unusual about these temperatures in the winter time for them. They’ve known this their entire lives. Normal temperatures in the winter range between -50°C (-58°F) and -30°C (-22°F) and they say that anything above -40° feels warm.
I found it fascinating to experience this corner of the world. It’s easy to look at a world map and see Russia as a big mysterious land mass, but in the end if you set foot and make some connections, it’s easy to see that there are thousands of normal people living here, where life simply plays itself out in the same ways no matter how frozen the environment gets.
I made some amazing new friends on the first day; and between driving on ice river roads, snacking on frozen horse meat, going out for drinks and parties with young adults our age, the warmth of the local hospitality, and many more new experiences, I came back home with a little piece of my heart remaining in this republic.