Hokkaidō

I’m not a proficient in Japan and Japanese culture but a few weeks ago, thanks to a spectacular video about mountain skiing produced by the well-known Canadian Arc’teryx company, I’ve discovered the northernmost Japanese prefecture, the isle of Hokkaidō.

Hokkaidō on the map

Hokkaidō on the map

As I’ve said previously I’m not a freaky of Japanese culture, and sincerely I’ve never paid attention to these wee bit of land. However, I’ve the impression that, like the entire Japan, Hokkaidō is plenty of contrast between big cities and mountains, between the deafening noise of the biggest cities and the rest and silence of the Buddhist temples, between the all-colours lights in the centre of Sapporo and the darkness of the dense woodlands…

One of the most interesting points about Hokkaidō is their huge snowfalls. In fact is one of the places in the world where more snow: the snow can raise 10m high in some parts of the island!

Due to the greatness and magnificence of Hokkaidō, I’ll spend 2 or 3 posts more to explore this amazing piece of land.

It’s all for the moment. I let you the video responsible of my craziness with Hokkaidō. I think is the most inspiring video I’ve never seen. (The best part of the video starts at minute 5:30 and play it with fullscreen). Enjoy it!

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Yakutsk

Today we’ll move to another Far-off place (as usual), but it’ll be also an “extremely extreme” site, you’ll see…

Yakutsk on the map

Yakutsk on the map

Yakutsk, the colder of the coldest human settlements in the world! Is the main city of Sakha Republic, only 450km under Arctic Circle and with (surprisingly) a population of nearly 270,000! Despite being founded in 1632, did not grow as a city until 1880 decades, when it was discovered a large reserves of gold.

Yakutsk has the coldest city World Record, with a registered minimum temperature of -64.4ºC (-83.9ºF)! Besides this terrible cold it’s a extremely isolated city, only accessible all the year (when the weather allows) by plane. In winter it’s possible to come across the iced Lena river with car, and in mid summer by boat. In summer the upper layers of permafrost smelt and the roads are unworkable.

Road in summer (www.ssqq.com)

Road in summer (www.ssqq.com)

I found this awesome city watching a TV documentary. They commented that in winter the weather is so cold that people could die in the street simply waiting the bus or been trapped with the car broken down. What the hell??? And in summer temperatures can easily reach 30ºC, so they have a 90ºC variation between winter and summer! Though these horrible events and factors, Yakutsk is on the first places in my personal Far-off World places agenda I’d like to visit soon.

Enjoy it!

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia

Or Алтай Таван богд байгалийн цогцолбор газар in Mongolian language. This country was officialy born in 12th. century from the hand of Esugey Baatar well known as Gengis Khan.


He was a ruthless and terrible warrior, but his ambition led him to form the largest contiguous land empire of our history, the Mongol Empire.

Nowadays, Mongolia is one of the largest and unoccupied countries in the world: 1,500,000 km^2 and only 1.81/km^2, formally is the 6th country with less population!

But today we’ll talk about Altai Tavan Bogd (in other post we could talk more about Mongolia culture & traditions). It’s situated in the border with Russia, China and Kazakhstan. It’s home of the highest Mongolian mountains, three large lakes and one glacier, the Potanini.

Probably is the ruggest place I’ve ever met. Infinite steppes and mountain grasslands, snowy rocky mountains, semi-arid and desert valleys… All at 180km of Olgii, the nearest city.

These lonely valleys are only habited by local fauna and Mongolian nomads, living in her typical homes, named Yurt. You imagine living in a place like that, at mercy of the weather and nature?

Obviously, it will be the heaven for somebody who is looking for peace, extreme conditions, lonely or simply enjoy a really far-off place…

Enjoy it!