The Siberian Hitchhiking Trip – 2009

~ ON THE ROAD FROM MOSCOW TO IRKUTSK ~

I. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Start, Gosha the Driver and The Prostitutes
II. Hitchhiking Siberia: Ganesha, The Cop Story and The Shivering Girl
III. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Urals, The City of Chelyabinsk and The Accident
IV. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Pregnant Woman, The Names and The Goodbye
V. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Taiga, The Crows and The Traveler’s Fate
VI. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Café, The $20 Girls and The Arrival

~ PLACES ~

The City of Chelyabinsk ~ The City of Irkutsk ~ The Miracles of Lake Baikal

~ BUDDHIST MONASTERIES ~

~ Aginsky Datsan ~ॐ~ Tsugolsky Datsan ~ॐ~ Ivolginsky Datsan ~

~ PEOPLE ~

I. Four Buryats and Klyukovka
II. The Jailbird and The Hungry Kitten
III. Mamikon: The Story of a Lonely Soul

~ ON THE ROAD FROM ULAN-UDE TO MOSCOW ~

I. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Road Back, The Jailbird and The Kamaz Trucks
II. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Farewell, The Stranger and The Night
III. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Morning, The Driver’s Story and The Road to Tomsk
IV. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Nostalgy, The Frozen Toes and The Curious Kid
V. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Cold Night, The Sunset and The Euphoria
VI. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Corrupted Police and The Three Hitchhikers
VII. Hitchhiking Siberia: The Robbery Attempt, The Café Village and The End

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Hitchhiking Siberia: The Robbery Attempt, The Café Village and The End

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow
Part Seven

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

February 19, 2009. The taxi driver drove us out of the city and dropped off at a good spot with lampposts. There were few cars passing by, and soon Sasha, the hitchhiker I met on the road and with whom we traveled some part of the road, suggested to wait until morning and spend the night in the nearby hotel. I didn’t like the idea as I was sure we will be able to get a ride very soon, but Sasha had different plans. And so we said goodbye to each other and I walked forward and in 10 minutes a Kamaz truck picked me up. The driver was a laid-back funny mid-aged man, we talked about the road, about hitchhikers and truck drivers. He dropped me off on the outskirts of Syzran. It was 2.10 AM. I drank tea and ate a potato pie. Sasha texted me saying he also decided to continue his road and now he’s few kilometers away from me, eating in a roadside café. Then I noticed three drunk guys on the opposite side of the road, walking towards me. From their loud conversation I suddenly realized they are talking about robbing me. Not wasting a single second, I took the backpack and rushed to the police station 300 meters distance away. The drunk guys ran after me, but realizing where am I going to they immediately disappeared.

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Hitchhiking Siberia: The Corrupted Police and The Three Hitchhikers

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow
Part Six

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

February 18, 2009. It was around 2.00 AM when we drove in Chelyabinsk region of Russia, and an hour later we took the Chelyabinsk bypass. As the driver said there were plenty of criminals in the city waiting for the occasional truck driver to pass through it and from whom they ask money to allow him safely leave the city limits. There were no lights on the bypass, and at one point we even got lost. It took us about 45 minutes to find the main highway. By 5.00 AM we crossed the border between Asia and Europe. There was no snow in the Ural mountains, the road was dry. We stopped for an hour to take a nap, and while trying to sleep I was thinking of changing my route and instead of going to Moscow via Tatarstan hitchhike through Samara region, since I have never traveled there.

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Hitchhiking Siberia: The Cold Night, The Sunset and The Euphoria

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow
Part Five

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

February 17, 2009. Me and the driver were sitting in the cabin of the truck, drinking the last cups of tea we had left. After several attempts to start the engine the accumulator was discharged, and now we couldn’t warm the cabin anymore. Pretty soon it was just as cold as outside. The driver called to his fellow worker and described our situation. Then he turned to me and said, “Now all we have to do is wait and talk. If we fall asleep, we may die.” And so we kept talking and talking in the cold of the night, until his workmate arrived around 6.35 AM. Realizing it may take long to bring the engine back to life, they contacted other drivers on the road via radio transmitter to find someone who could take me towards Omsk. By 8.30 AM I was already talking to the driver of a tractor with an auto-transport semi-trailer. Upon hearing my story of where am I hitchhiking from, he swore for five minutes.

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Hitchhiking Siberia: The Nostalgy, The Frozen Toes and The Curious Kid

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow
Part Four

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

February 16th, 2009. After spending more than a week in the city of Tomsk, mostly spending my time talking to my friends and listening to their stories from a crazy trip to India they recently did, it was now the time for me to hit the road again. I left the city on a public bus, then walked down over the bridge towards the police station, where, I knew it from my previous visit to Tomsk, there was a nice spot for hitchhiking. In five minutes I got a ride from a taxi driver. “I don’t care if you have money or not, get in, I’ll take until Yurga if that’s on the way,” said the driver when I tried to explain that I am hitchhiking. As the driver said, he was just bored and needed someone to talk to. And he spoke out everything that came to his mind, complaining about his life and the “corrupted freaks in the government, who sit there in their Moscow and do not care about our lives in Siberia.”

He was also very nostalgic for the good old times of Soviet era. “Yes, it’s true, the system wasn’t ideal at all, but I had my job in the factory, earning 400 rubles a month, never thinking of how am I going to get money to feed my family. And look at me now? Struggling, struggling only to survive. Is this life?” he said. And since I didn’t know how it was in USSR as I was only 6 y.o. when the Soviets collapsed, I couldn’t say a word. But from what I saw in Siberia I could say that the driver was right, saying they were strugling only to survive.

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