Hitchhiking Siberia: The Taiga, The Crows and The Traveler’s Fate

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
Part Five

On the Road from Moscow to Irkutsk: Part One
On the Road from Moscow to Irkutsk: Part Two
On the Road from Moscow to Irkutsk: Part Three
On the Road from Moscow to Irkutsk: Part Four

January 16, 2009. Our goodbyes were short. We shook hands, and Andrey walked to his car. He had barely started the engine when I got my next lift from a truck driver heading for Tomsk. Vova, the new driver, was very interested in hitchhiking, so he kept asking questions, and I shared my hitchhiking experience with him. What always makes me smile is when the driver, who just picked you up from the road, asks: “So what? Do people stop for hitchhikers?” And shortly before that you told him that you are hitchhiking, say, from Moscow to Irkutsk, and by now you’ve made 3500km. “Well, you see? I left Moscow and now I am here. I guess that means people do stop,” I answered to that question of Vova. He smiled, saying, “Yeah, true. I didn’t think of it.”

Vova dropped me off at the parking lot a few kilometers before the road turned left towards the city of Tomsk. In the café I ordered two cups of tea and few pies with potatoes and mushrooms. Around 5.30 AM a cargo van stopped for me. Two hours later we were passing through the city of Kemerovo. The driver decided to help me a little more and drove me out of the city. He left me on the road to Krasnoyarsk on a perfect spot for hitchhiking, not far from where the Church of St. Nicholas was located. “If I don’t get a ride, at least I can find shelter in the church to warm up,” I was thinking. But the luck was on my side that morning. In 10 minutes I got a lift from another cargo van. The driver’s name was Kostya.


We were now on the M53 highway, and the Road was stunningly beautiful! It ran through taiga, and Kostya was all fervent ardour to tell me little stories about his life here, about the forests, about the great variety of mushrooms and flowers, about rivers and lakes, and beavers of taiga, which he did not stopping for even a single second. And I kept looking far into the horizon where the sun seemed to be reflected in the woods and the mountains.

At 10.50 AM, between the 407th and 408th kilometers of the highway on the top of the hill I saw about 50 black crows sitting on the snow. Kostya said the crows appeared here a month ago: “There was a terrible accident on this spot. Two huge trucks. Head-on collision. And a car between them. All the passengers in that car and one of the truck drivers died instantly. And since then crows are here all days and all nights long.” I got goose pimples.

Kostya dropped me off on the Mariinsk bypass and drove to the city. Since all the trucks were taking the bypass, I was hoping to get a ride all the way to Irkutsk from here, but I got stuck for an hour and a half, or maybe more. Two locals and one bus driver helped me to leave the Mariinsk city limits. Then an old man offered a ride for the next 20 km. He said he’ll drive me to the nearest rest area where there are many trucks. “It’ll be easier to get a ride for a longer distance from there,” he said.

And the old man was absolutely right. Five minutes after he dropped me off, a red “Freightliner” truck stopped for me.
“I’m going to Irkutsk,” said the driver when I opened the door.
“Oh, great! Me, too,” I said.
“Then what the hell are you waiting for? Get in.”
I got in. We introduced ourselves and talked a little. Now when I was sitting in a warm cabin, I felt sleepy. The driver noticed it and said I can sleep for a while, which I did and slept for 3 hours.

Around 10 PM by local time I noticed a road sign that said we had about 900 km left to Irkutst. “You almost made it,” I said to myself. By 11.40 PM we were passing the city of Kansk, when I received a text message from my mother, in which she wrote that my brother and his wife are going to have a son! It was great news, and I was happy for my brother and my parents, but I was sad, too. I realized that while I’m out in the world, roaming around towns, walking along the roads, meeting new people and exploring new cultures, back at home my parents grow older, my younger brother becomes father, many a things happen and many a changes take place, and I am to miss it all. And this is probably the biggest sacrifice to be made when one chooses the path of the Wanderer. Call it Traveler’s Fate.

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24 thoughts on “Hitchhiking Siberia: The Taiga, The Crows and The Traveler’s Fate

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