Facationing in Siberia

Hemmed in by the pandemic, my family and I recently started taking “facays”. Each week we take a fake vacation to one of the 52 Places to Love in 2021 from The NY Times.

Last week we were in Siberia. I was taking my 4-year old son on an imaginary ice fishing trip when we came across this piece of gold. It might be the best video on YouTube.

See what I mean? Was that great or what? Hope, joy, curiosity, adventure… a reminder that there is a huge world out there waiting to be explored, and genius, waiting to be discovered.

Hyperbole aside, these facays have been amazing. We spent a week in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the next in Siberia, and now we’re in Isfahan, Iran. Next week it’s off to Peru. Each time we are “meeting” another family there. We’re iterating, but here’s how it works so far:

  • We start the facay by having a kickoff call with the other family on Sunday. We share what we have learned about the place so far, and map out our “itinerary”.

  • Throughout the week we learn about the place through videos and books, listen to music, make food, do an art project as a “souvenir” from our trip, and pretend to visit local sites.

  • Then we meet up again virtually the following Saturday to debrief the trip, share photos, and discuss what we learned.

For Siberia, we painted our own set of nesting dolls, pitched a tent in the living room in front of the fireplace and pretended we were with nomadic reindeer herders, made borscht and pelmeni, went fishing at a mountain lake, read some folktales, and, of course, discovered my new favorite movie, “Winter fishing in the mountains of Baikal region. There will be sure be fish, Mikhalich!”

Our Russian food menu included Borscht, homemade rye bread, something i forget, and pelmeni from Trader Joe’s.

We went “ice fishing” at our local lake and pretended it was Lake Bikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume, and home to a unique freshwater seal.
We also built a replica of the innovation center in Akademgorodok.
We camped out in the living room and pretended we were on the move with nomadic reindeer herders.
When we finally arrived in Novosibirsk at the end of our trip, it was a balmy 18 degrees.
If you want to follow our travels, check out my wife Leslie’s Instagram: lgfranklin_. We have two kids and two busy jobs. Some fellow parents have been surprised we have time for this kind of thing. But what we’ve discovered so far is that the constraint of pretending we are in a particular place actually streamlines meal planning, activity planning, and imaginative play, making us more creative and productive in the same amount of time.  

We’ve also been learning A TON. It’s helping to broaden my perspective, and also to keep things in perspective, bringing a better mindset to work, and making me feel more comfortable being myself (this blog post being one example). It brings me a little joy every time I see my Slack status, which currently is “Pretending to be in Iran”.

After all, as metkii1985 says in“Winter fishing”, every expedition “is like an iceberg whose biggest part is covered under the water. That unknown part attracts the soul of the traveler towards his destiny”. Here, here metkii1985. Keep those wise words in mind when planning your first facay!