Hitchhiking Siberia: The Morning, The Driver’s Story and The Road to Tomsk

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

On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part One
On the Road from Ulan-Ude to Moscow: Part Two

February 6th, 2009. I left the café with the first trucks appearing on the road. In five minutes I was picked up by an old man on a dirty Kamaz truck, going to Noviy Akulshet. The truck was falling apart on the run. There were cracks and holes all around in the cabin. The ride was quite icy. The driver dropped me off at 10.00 AM, and right after he left, I got another ride to the town of Taishet, from where I was picked up by two Orthodox Christian priests. We talked about hitchhiking as they were curious if it is possible to hitchhike in Russia and if it’s safe since I am Armenian. They left me by the roadside café. I went in and asked the grannies who worked there if I could fill the thermos with hot water. They offered me tea. We talked about Moscow.

An hour later, when I went back to the road, I found out there were no cars passing. Maybe the drivers stopped for lunch? I didn’t know what was the reason, so I slowly walked along the road in silence. While hitchhiking from Moscow to Irkutsk, I was in hurry and would often lose patience waiting for a ride. But now I was different. And I didn’t care much about being stuck in the middle of nowhere. Cold snowy day, no mechanical sounds, just me, the Road and the forests around. Solitude. Above me were the grey heavy clouds, under my boots were the road and the snow. It was one of the greatest experiences I had during that Siberian Trip.

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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.

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