The Tea and Snow Adventure

It was a calm February evening, one of those you enjoy sitting in front of… well, I’d like to say in front of the fireplace in a Gothic house, but we are not in England of early 20th century, and I’m not Arthur Conan Doyle getting ready to tell you another story of Mr. Holmes. I was sitting in front of my laptop browsing the web, when all of a sudden an unexpected journey began. Somehow almost just as it happened with Bilbo Baggins, perhaps, with the only difference of us being not in Shire, but in Armenia. Anyways… It was a matter of 15 minutes. In a short Facebook chat me and two of my friends we decided to take a trip to the mountains… to drink tea. Yes. To drink tea. As if there’s no other place left on this planet except the snowy Aragats mountain about 20 km north of our town. The tea was in the thermos, the cameras were in our bags, and we were in my friend’s Toyota, approaching the 13th century Tegher monastery, located on southeastern slopes of Mount Aragats, when… the car got stuck in snow… with only about 50 meters left to the church.

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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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The City of Chelyabinsk

The city of Chelyabinsk was the first city on my way to Irkutsk where I made a stop during the hitchhiking trip to Siberia in 2009. I had limited time to explore the city, since I was waiting for a call from the driver, who was going to drive me all the way to Novosibirsk. Yet, I liked Chelyabinsk with its new and old buildings and people wearing big fur hats. Chelyabinsk is the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast of Russia and is located on the Miass river, just to the east of the Ural mountains. The city takes its name from the fortress of Chelyaba, which was built on the site in 1736.
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Hitchhiking Siberia: The Café, The $20 Girls and The Arrival

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
Part Six

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

January 17, 2009. At 3 AM we stopped at the parking lot by the police station to sleep. Irkutsk now was a matter of another day on the road, and there was no need for us to hurry. We slept for more than six hours, and when we woke up it was snowing. Everything around us was white: the road, the vehicles parked along the road, the trees, and even the policemen. Volodya, the driver, boiled some water, and we drank tea and ate cookies watching this white road movie running on the windshield. “About 700 km left. By evening we will be in Irkutsk already. I know a good café 2 hours driving from here, we’ll have our real breakfast there. Cookies are just not enough when you’re in Siberia,” said the driver. He started the engine, and the red “Freightliner” slowly moved.

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Hitchhiking Siberia: The Urals, The City of Chelyabinsk and The Accident

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
Part Three

Read in Armenian

January 14, 2009. Saying goodbye to Mars I walked slowly along the road. I was now in the Ural mountains – a border between Europe and Asia. It was past midnight, and there were no cars passing by, so after 10-15 minutes I just sat on the snow and drank a cup of hot tea. Somewhere far ahead I could hear dogs barking. Snow was falling down from the dark sky. And there was this strange feeling that I was the only one on the Earth now. It didn’t last long though. Few minutes later I saw a car coming my way. I put the thermos back in the backpack, stretched out my hand. The car stopped.
“Where are you going?” asked the driver.
“Well, now to Irkutsk and then to Buryatia,” I answered.
“Oh, nice! Then I have good news for you. I’m going all the way to Tomsk, so you have a ride for the next 2000 km. My name is Andrey.”
“Awesome, and I am Artyom, glad to meet you,” I introduced myself and got in the car. Turned out, a week earlier Andrey drove his friends, who had a flight to India, from Tomsk to Moscow and now he was returning back home. Around 4 o’clock in the morning we arrived in the city of Chelyabinsk and drove to the train station, where Andrey wanted to spend the night and take a rest. We agreed to meet in the morning when he’ll be ready to leave. I went to the common waiting hall and sat on the bench to rest for a while.
Hitchhiking in Siberia, 2009

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