The highlights were Siberia and Alaska. two of the most remote places, that get very cold, but has the some of the warmest people.
I came to a empirical observation after this trip, in my view the colder the place, the warmer the people are!
Here are some example anecdote that I remember from the stay at just one such family
We had landed in Yekaterinburg a tiny little town in Siberia, in the evening. the guide had picked us up and being very organised gave us our plans for the next three days and dropped us of at our hosts (home stay) the hosts happened to be three women of three generations. The grandma who was about 70, the mother who would have been in her late 40's and a teenage daughter. The apartment was a tiny two bed place, and I think we dislodged the grandma from her room!
Some of the lasting memories of this household
- The grandma was of the era who loved Indian movies and wanted to have a photo of me with her (BTW me in my Sari) I had to explain using the phrase book that I do not carry my sari in my backpack.
- In the morning the mother saw me in my layers of warm clothes finishing off with my three season jacket ( I had thermal, full sleeve tshirt, Woolen Jumper, Double sided Fleece jacket, followed by the three season jacket). Looking at my penguin gait, I could not touch my thighs with my hands and I looked like an ungainly emperor penguin, she said "you cant go like this", and lent me her 'fur' coat. I could get rid of the top two layers of my attire and wear this one coat that kept me as snug as a bug in a rug.
- The teenage daughter got a royal tick off, because she was in the shower for an hour and we were waiting to get ready in the evening... Guess Teenagers world over are the same
- when I got back from our days ramble on day 1 with a Valenki (a molded woolen boot like thing , which cost $10, and would have been a fashion statement back in cave man days...) the grandma was reminded of her childhood when she used it, and took the boots literally off my feet and put them next to the radiators to warm them up for me to use the next day...