The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
“Where are you going?” asked the driver.
“Well, now to Irkutsk and then to Buryatia,” I answered.
“Oh, nice! Then I have good news for you. I’m going all the way to Tomsk, so you have a ride for the next 2000 km. My name is Andrey.”
“Awesome, and I am Artyom, glad to meet you,” I introduced myself and got in the car. Turned out, a week earlier Andrey drove his friends, who had a flight to India, from Tomsk to Moscow and now he was returning back home. Around 4 o’clock in the morning we arrived in the city of Chelyabinsk and drove to the train station, where Andrey wanted to spend the night and take a rest. We agreed to meet in the morning when he’ll be ready to leave. I went to the common waiting hall and sat on the bench to rest for a while.
In was cold at the train station. I had no tea left, so I went to the nearest grocery store and asked a lady to boil water for me, which she did. We talked a little bit, and upon hearing that I am hitchhiking to Irkutsk she offered me a pack of chocolate. I felt I was now on the Asian part of Russia.
I had a close friend living in Chelyabinsk, we were going to meet around 9 AM, and since I had nothing else to do, I decided to sleep on a bench. I fell asleep immediately and was only woken up around 8 AM by a little girl with curly hair who was laughing out loud. Soon my friend arrived and we went to walk in the city center. But first, we had breakfast in a Soviet style café where the most expensive dishes costed around $1.
It was my first time in Chelyabinsk, and although it’s an industrial city, I found the city center very nice, especially the old 2-storey buildings located on the old street of Kirovka. We walked around for some time, and since none of us wanted to freeze to death, we visited an esoteric café and had a delicious Chinese white tea. Soon, I received a call from Andrey, who said that he’ll be ready to leave for Tomsk in half an hour. We took a bus to the train station and met the driver. I said goodbye to my friend, and we left. The cities of Kurgan and Omsk were ahead. Due to a hard snowfall the visibility on the road was poor, so Andrey had to drive carefully. We were talking about religion and philosophy when around 9 PM we passed Kurgan.
15 January 2009
Past midnight we stopped at a restaurant called “Stranger” in the town called Berdyuzhie to eat something. “Oh, look, this is right about you, my friend,” said Andrey to me. We laughed. For our late supper we had vegetarian soup with beans and potato pies and lemonade. I said I will pay this time, since Andrey was paying for everything. He refused, but I insisted. He eventually agreed, but warned me that if I do it again he’ll drop me off right away. I agreed.
At 2.20 AM (I remembered it very well, because I checked the time right before the accident) the rear-wheel drive of the car unexpectedly refused to act, the vehicle skidded on ice, the driver lost the control, and on the speed of 100 km/h we flew off the road straight into the bushes in the ditch.
Fortunately, nobody was hurt, although we weren’t able to speak a word, trying to fully realize what has happened and if we are still alive or not anymore. Andrey got off the car and I followed him. Now we were stuck in the snow in the middle of hell knows where. Andrey decided to hitchhike to the nearest village to find a wheeled tractor to pull the car out. I was left to guard the vehicle and our belongings. It took Andrey half an hour to find a tractor. When they arrived, we tied the ropes and pulled the car out of the ditch. Now we were able to continue our road. But after an hour of driving Andrey decided that we had enough of adventures for the night, so at 5 AM we parked by a hotel. He paid for two rooms. We said goodnight to each other and went to sleep.