The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
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
On the Road from Moscow to Irkutsk: Part Five
Two hours later Volodya parked the truck by the café he was talking about. It was a beautiful Russian-styled wooden house, and with the snowy forest as its background the café looked like a house of wonders from some fairy tale. “This place is great, and the food here is delicious,” said Volodya. We went in. Turned out almost all the dishes they served contained meat. It was getting harder to find vegetarian food in Siberian café. The ladies who worked here were stunned when I told them I don’t eat meat.
“What? You don’t eat meat at all? How are you still alive?” asked one of them.
“I don’t even know what to give you to eat,” said the other woman.
“Well, what about that veggie soup you have?” Volodya was trying to help, since I stood there not knowing what to say.
“Ah, yes, but still… how is it possible that someone can live without meat?” said the third woman. And this made the driver angry.
“Enough!!! Everybody. Follows. His. Own. Way!” He was short and clear! The ladies disappeared in the kitchen.
“You know, usually the drivers are trying to convince me to eat meat, blaming me for being vegetarian. Thank you!” I said to Volodya when we sat around the wooden table. He didn’t say a word, but just smiled.
Later that afternoon we passed Nizhneudinsk with its dense forests, and the small town of Tulun with its ghost-like countrymen. “There’s a chance for us to be in Irkutsk by midnight if the weather will not get worse,” said Volodya. And now I had to think of a way to get to my friends’ place when we arrive, since I only had the address, but had no idea in which part of the city they are.
In the evening, on the road between the 1675th and 1676th kilometers of the Novosibirsk-Irkutsk highway we almost crashed into a horse herd. About 20 horses crossed the road and disappeared in the darkness of the night. Me and the driver looked at each other surprised. Then we passed Malta, a small village in Irkutsk region of Russia, founded in 1675. 15 minutes later we were driving through the city of Usolye-Sibirskoe. “Oh babies, you got frozen? But that’s your job, oh poor you. You all depend on weather conditions,” suddenly said the driver. I realized he was taking about the prostitutes on the road. What I saw was hard to believe in. Ten girls per each kilometer of the road through the city. “They cost $20. But you have to be careful. Most of them are HIV-positive. No jobs, husbands are drinking all the time, so these girls are forced to freeze here to earn a little money for living,” said Volodya.
Around 11.50 PM we arrived in Irkutsk. Volodya dropped me off at the beginning of the city and drove to the nearby rest area. I thanked him, we shook hands, and I walked away to find a suitable spot for hitchhiking. It was snowing, but the weather was warm.
18 January 2009
There weren’t many cars on the road, so I was just observing the surroundings when suddenly a taxi stopped for me. I opened the door and said I am hitchhiking. “Yes, I know. Get in. Where do you need to go?” said the driver. I was surprised. I think it was my first experience in hitchhiking a taxi. I showed him the address. He turned on the GPS. The street I needed was on the other side of the side. Nevertheless, the driver took all the way to my friends’ place and dropped me off at the lobby. At 1 AM I was already drinking tea and sharing stories with friends. 6 days on the road. More than 5200 km. The part of my trip from Moscow to Irkutsk was over. But there was Ulan-Ude, Lake Baikal, Buddhist monasteries, Chita and many other adventures ahead. I stayed in Irkutsk for the whole day of January 18th, and the next day together with my hippie sister Sin we hitchhiked to Ulan-Ude. But this one is another story.