The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part One
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part Two
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part Three
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part Four
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part Five
By 10 o’clock we already in Bashkortostan. The sun was shining bright, the temperature was +1°C, nothing like the colds I’ve been experiencing only few days ago. On the road police check point we were stopped by an officer. He walked to us, smiling.
“Can I pass for 50 rubles?” simply asked the driver.
“What was your cargo?” asked the policeman.
“And where are you heading now?”
“OK give me your 50 rubles.”
“If your trailer’s empty, it’s 50 rubles. When you are loaded, it’s 100 rubles,” said the driver to me when we drove away from the police station.
“But what for?” I asked.
“Because the truck has Ukrainian vehicle registration plate.”
As I decided to travel through Samara region, I soon asked him to drop me off on the Ufa bypass. I could feel the spring in the air. It was hot, so I took off my winter coat and my sweater, and walked along the road. There was another hitchhiker on the road. He wore black clothes. I approached him, asking how long was he standing here. He said for an hour. We talked a little. He was hitchhiking from Tyumen to Orel, his hometown. I left him standing there and walked forward. The first ride I got only 1,5 hours later. Sasha was in that car, too. We were dropped off by Ufa road police station. There was another passenger in the car and it turned he was also a hitchhiker from the city of Samara, going from Ufa to Oktyabrskiy. We walked all together for a while, sharing stories. Then we separated and started hitchhiking, but for 40 minutes, none of was able to get a ride.
The Samara guy was the luckiest of us, a minivan picked him up. “Minus one hitchhiker on the road,” I thought to myself. They picked me up, too. “I can take you all the way to the city of Tolyatti, but I will have to make a stop in one village. So I’ll drop you off, you wait for me, and then I’ll come back for you,” said the driver. At 4.30 PM he dropped us off on a junction and drove to the nearby village saying, “If you manage to get a ride, don’t wait for me and go.” While we were standing on the roadside, a “Freightliner” truck passed by. The hitchhiker from Orel was in the cabin, waving his hand and greeting us. We soon, too, got a ride, though only for 80 km. The driver, who was a punk music fan, left us on the Kondra junction. In 10 minutes the Orel hitchhiker was also dropped off at the same spot. Sine the Samara guy had only 20 km left to his destination, he said goodbye to us and walked away. Me and Sasha decided to hitchhike together for a while. I went in the roadside café and asked for hot water, but the 50 y.o. lady also gave me few teabags and sugar. I thanked her and went back to the road. We gor a ride until Oktyabrskiy, and from there we walked 6 km, crossed the Bashkortostan-Tatarstan border, and around 8.30 PM we got a ride from the very same guy who drove to a village to visit someone.
His name was Ruslan, he was from a port city called Nakhodka in Primorskiy region of Russia. While driving, he told us all the jobs he ever worked in his life – a deputy lifeguard, a journalist, mass-media manager, he did business, drove trucks, and now worked at a meat processing and packing factory. As he explains, he just gets bored by one job, and gets another one, moving from one place to another. He was also fond of foreign languages and by himself he learned Tatar, Bashkir, Uzbek, Chinese and Kyrgyz languages and was now studying English.
We arrived in Tolyatti half an hour before midnight. The police stopped us and they searched the car, trying, I guess, to find drugs. Not finding anything, the let us go. Ruslan dropped us off in the city, and walked through it, crossed the dam and not far from the hydroelectric power station a taxi driver picked us up.