Sunday, May 28, 2006

Time Travel

With the increasing appeal of exotic vacations, it was a sure thing that someone would come up with the idea of travelling back in time to a remote destination. In the great contest to see who can tell the most boring stories about their holiday (complete with 11,739 photos), Mr Sergei Zimov has come up with an idea that guarantees to have family and friends begging for mercy. Mr Zimov is offering the chance to go back to the Pleistocene Period and spend a happy holiday in Yakutia, Siberia.

The Pleistocene Period dates from about 1.85 million to about 11,550 years ago. That should be enough to upstage your neighbour’s four-hour soliloquy on how Stonehenge was built. At a lousy 4,000 years, visiting Stonehenge is not much more impressive than visiting a 37-year old motorway service area. Outdoing your brother-in-law, who likes to bang on about his Caribbean cruise, is just as easy. Going to Yakutia makes going to Jamaica about as exciting as going to the corner shop.

In order to create this truly unique tourist attraction, Sergei plans to populate his 194,000 acre Lenskiye Stolby Nature Park with animals that lived there during the Paleolithic Age. He has released several hundred wild horses and brought in a herd of Siberian musk oxen. Canada has donated 30 bison to replace the local herds that died off about 5,000 years ago. But the real attractions will be the woolly mammoths.

Japanese scientists are busily working on cloning one of these extinct animals using DNA from ancient frozen remains. Apparently, Chief Scientist Dr Mokimoto Yakimori is optimistic based on his successful work on the Godzilla project. As a backup plan, defrosted woolly mammoth sperm may be used to impregnate an Indian elephant to recreate the species through breeding. A prehistoric, ten ton animal that looks like an elephant in a floor-length fur coat, and that can stand on two legs on a little platform, and dive into a tank of water, should be a real crowd pleaser.

A holiday at Lenskiye Stolby Nature Park should appeal to everyone. For sun lovers, in the two-week summer it gets hot enough to melt the asphalt on the roads. But for people who like it a bit cooler, Yakutia is really a treat. The coldest temperature on earth was recorded there in 1885: - 68.5C. That’s -98.3F in real degrees. It’s normal for the local lakes and rivers to freeze solid all the way to the bottom in the winter, and there is year-round permafrost.

As if wandering around 194,000 acres of frozen tundra to catch a view of a musk ox is not enough, side trips can be arranged to the many Siberian slave labour camps that were built in the area. Getting there couldn’t be easier either. Domodedovo Airlines offers several scheduled flights on their comfy Ilyushin 62-M’s and 96-300’s. The airline guarantees that all parts falling off their airplanes are of the finest Soviet-era craftsmanship. (For flight bookings simply type in Домодедовские Авиајіинии on Priceline or Orbitz.) Sergei certainly knows how to market a tourist package.

So the next time some obnoxious bore starts talking about his vacation as if it were as exciting as a holiday in Jurassic Park, just tell him that real men go to Pleistocene Park. With any luck, the hypothermia will get him, Domodedovo Airlines will get him, or Dumbo the flying woolly mammoth will get him.


Blogger Jorge said...

Sign me up!

2:01 PM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

real men might go there, but birdwomen won't go near it!

Takes the soviet mindset to turn a cool idea like Jurassic Park into something like this, tho.



4:44 PM  
Blogger Ken Grandlund said...

When traveling here, be sure to watch your step. I hear wooly mammoth dung is hard to get off your shoes.

4:59 PM  
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