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
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part Six
Two of the policemen at the road police station were very surprised to see a hitchhiker running along the road. They asked a lot of questions about my trip, we talked about their life. We drank tea, they offered me few mandarins and cookies. One of them kept joking all the time. Then he decided to help me to get a ride to Moscow. He stopped the first passing car, but turned out the driver was going only to the next village. I said I’ll wait for the next one, and when the driver left, I explained to the policeman that drivers usually don’t like it when policemen stop them and force to take a passenger. “Yeah, you are right. Then I’ll go, you try your luck. If you feel tired, come over to the police station to take rest,” he said and left me alone.
At 3.10 AM a Volkswagen minivan stopped for me.
“Where you going?” asked the driver.
“Well then get in!”
I said goodbye to the policemen, jumped in and we drove away, leaving the city of Syzran behind. The driver, Dmitry, was driving from Samara to Saint Petersburg and as he was gonna pass by Moscow that meant a ride all the way to the Russia’s capital for me. While driving, Dmirty kept talking and complaining – financial crisis, corruption, bastards on the road, bunch of idiots in the government. Almost every driver I met while traveling from Moscow to Siberia and back talked about financial crisis, which was the trending topic for conversations on the road that winter.
Around 6.00 AM we passed the city of Penza. It was snowing. According to the road sing we had less than 650 km left to Moscow. Two hours later we drove in the Mordovia region of Russia. And by 9.00 AM we were already passing through the village of Umet, where, according to Russian magazine “Ogoniok”, there are more than 500 roadside cafés. Some of them had funny names: “Two Tatyanas”, “I am waiting”, “Eat with mother-in-law”, “Gee!”, “The Eater”. There were also Armenian names, such as “Ararat”, “Lori”, “Akhtamar”. But the best one was the café called “MordDonald’s”.
On the road through the Ryazan region the drivers were actively communicating via radio transmitters, informing each other of the road conditions and policemen hiding behind trees. One of the drivers then said:
“Happy upcoming holidays!”
“Huh? What’s the holiday?” asked the other driver.
“March 8. International Women’s Day,” said the third, ending the conversation.
By noon we passed the city of Ryazan, and after having our lunch in an Armenian café, at 1.00 PM we crossed the border of Moscow region. I now had 142 km left to Moscow. We were passing one town after the other, but 3 km before Moscow, we got stuck in a bad traffic jam and only around 3.00 PM Dmitry dropped me off on the Moscow Ring Road. I thanked him, wished good luck and walked off the Ring Road. Soon I got a ride from a 40-year-old man, who smoked Armenian cigarettes. I asked him where he got them from. “My son-in-law is from Armenia. He recently came back from Yerevan and brought these cigarettes for me,” said he and offered a cigarette. I thanked him and refused. He dropped me off at the bus station, from where just in 2 minutes I hitchhiked a JEEP. The driver, a 30-35 years old woman drove me to the city center, and not long after, I finished my Siberian trip on the Red Square, visiting the Saint Basil’s Cathedral.