(Russia) Things at the end…

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[14/11/09~16 (D+1173) to Lotta] Russia301

The cloud covered the hill. Today temperature was around -5 (23). It would take only a few days to Murmansk, my destination.

 

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As soon as I entered into a restaurant, the owner shouted and yelled at me with the reason I put my helmet and gloves on the table. Was it so reasonable reason to be yelled loudly? I felt very offensive, but I cannot go to the other restaurant because it was only one today I can have meal. I showed her the picture on iPhone what I wanted to eat, so it was no problem to order food.

(Price 90 Rubles ($2.3))

 

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Another customer came and ordered it. It looked so nice that I asked the owner the same thing with body language.

(Price 100 Rubles -$2.5 )

 

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Russian cemetery

I’ve seen the same gravestone in Balkan that they put the picture on it. I was not sure it is the traditional way of Second World.

 

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There was something on offline map after 40 km (25 mi) at the next lake. I was not sure it is parking place or village. I decided to stop and stay there, because the next city is 80 km (50 mi) far that I could not cycle in one day.

When I arrived there, it looked very poor village or just garage.

 

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This lake was not frozen yet.

 

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Coldness..

I found some guys fixing the car. I asked to set up tent at their garage. He opened the next door and introduced his friend. When I entered to their house, three guys were so excited and happy to have me. On the contrary to this, I was in panic. It looked they were drunken.

I decided to get out of here. I said I am sorry I will go. Usually I always said thank you for inviting me. But this time was exception that I just run away.

 

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I went to next street. The house looked family house. When I knocked, he said he has to go home. After hearing my story and checking my passport, he decided to let me sleep at his holiday house alone.

 

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When I went to the house, it looked so nice. It was totally different from the outside. I asked him to take the picture.

 

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There was Sauna at the downstairs.

 

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When I opened the door, the lake view was just at the front. He said he jump to the lake after sauna sometimes. Everything was so good. But the weather was very cloud that it was not possible to see Aurora even if there is sun activity. Although it was around 4 pm, it was already too dark to enjoy the view of the lake.

 

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The house was quite complicating that he explained the house for one hour. This kitchen was also special that when the water touched some metal stick at the some point, the light changed to the red on the sink. He showed me where I should throw away dirty water. It was quite shocking place.

It was not to the lake, but in front of his house where he left his car and where he walked. Anyway better than to lake.

 

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Thanks to him I could take the rest well.

At the front the flowing water and at the back frozen water with snow

 

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It looked interesting cafe. It seemed the toilet is at the outside. It was early morning that I didn’t stop to save my time.

 

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It is so beautiful ever.

 

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Wilson Bentley captures more than 6,000 images of crystals in his lifetime. He published the book of Crystal snowflake in 1913.
I can understand why he falls in love with it.

 

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It was so gorgeous that it was so worth to cycle in the winter.

 

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When I was closed to my destination, the weather changed badly. It was long time no see the mount.

 

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some scary scenery. It looked everything was dead.

 

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There was strong wind that it made snow dance on the lake. I felt also dangerous to cycle because of too strong side wind.

 

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Thanks to local people which I already contacted before, I could stay warmly for a night.

It was fuel for a bicycle these days above the picture. I had to eat high-calorie junk food to save my time on the road because my fingers and toes could be frozen easily if I have the break for an hour. I ate one chocolate for a day.

 

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The weather was quite warm yesterday around -1~-2 (30f) that snow melted on the main road.

 

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Hills~

 

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Another beautiful lake

 

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At the middle of way, there was a gas station. It was really good time to take the rest. The noodle was 35Rubles (0.9$).

 

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It is interesting to see that there are many Korean food or similar Korean food. The pictures were taken while shopping.

In the night I tried to set up my tent around the hotel, but the owner of hotel invited me at the inside. Maybe because I looked poor. Tomorrow finally I would reach my destination, Murmansk, which I had dreamed.

 

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At the next day it snowed lot.

 

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If I cycled 40 km more (25mi), I could have reached to my goal.

 

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Although I could not see Aurora yet, I felt I reached to the other goal, which was going almost to the end of the north in Russia. I would stay for a few days in Murmansk to see Northern Lights.

But suddenly, I felt weird thing.?I didn’t know what is happening at first. The view was blinked like turning on and off light in the dark.. ‘Why I cannot see clear?’ And the next thought ‘Am I sliding??’ And then I saw the car on my head.. ‘Am I hit by car??’

 

 

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And I realized my head was moving under (with) his car. I think I shouted ‘Hey I am under your car.. Stop’
I was lucky that my head was not squeezed by his tire….
So sad…the driver who hit me said something with being angry at me when he got off from his car after hitting me.
He kicked slightly one of my bags on the road after accident with being angry. He didn’t let me use his phone to make a call to a local people I knew in Murmansk. I had to borrow other people’s phone.

I was almost near to my destination, Murmansk, the biggest city in north west in Russia today. But I had to go to Murmansk, my dream city, not with my bicycle.. but with ambulance at the afternoon.

I took CT scans and X-Ray.. there was no problem..I had a strong headache.. My head was scratched with a helmet.

 

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I have ever spent worse time during staying in Murmansk. All of Russian blamed me ‘why do you cycle in the winter?’ ‘Nobody expects a cyclist on the road’. They talked like this. It sounds like ‘You were deserved to be hit by car, because it was your fault’

I didn’t cycle on the opposite way, I was not on the middle of the road, and I was not texting with phone. I was just cycling as usual but I was hit by car from the back. All of Russian talked like it is definitely my fault. I did feel so depressed and frustrated. I was almost killed by a careless driver, but all of Russian support this killer. I could understand why people suicided when they were mistreated after becoming a victim.

 

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He lied that I was on the middle of the road. But it can never be true, because on the middle of the road on the lane, there was a snow. Think about the way tires are. Only the left and right side are stepped by tires and the center is left with snow. After accident he just smoked, shouted at me, kicked my bag, and didn’t borrow me his phone. It was never possible to hear ‘sorry’ from him.

All of Russian felt very sorry for the driver. Although all of them thought it is my fault, they helped me a lot. I felt worst.

 

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The highest language barrier country I’ve ever been is Russia. In Africa, Sudanese government didn’t like the U.S and prohibited teaching English at some year. But Sudanese speak better English than Russian who learned English in a school.

Most of Russian I’ve met on the road even cannot (don’t want to??) speak number of 1,2,3 in English. So, it is not possible to have a police who can speak English. This situation made me to do depend on a local people who can spoke English well and blamed me all the time with many excuses. (Cycling winter is not possible. That’s why you are hit by car. We have polar night. Many people are very tired on the road. Nobody expects cyclist on the road. Do not cycle in Russia and so on)

 

A Japanese adventurer who eight years ago became the second youngest man to complete mountaineering’s Seven Summits challenge has been killed around Kandalaksha where I was thinking of keeping going or stopping. His last destination was Murmansk.

I heard that local cyclist club made monument for Japanese victim. But actually I could feel that they blamed Japanese guys as like blaming me. I felt too sorry for Japanese guy ever. The monument is really meaningless. One of them said there was some misunderstanding between Japanese family of victim who came to Murmansk and cyclist club which made monument because of local Japanese translating. I did not think because of translating. I who never meet Japanese guy could feel that they were blaming Japanese guy with many excuses, then even what family could feel???

When I was sexually harassed at the first day in Egypt, I had asked at many Egyptian facebook club to get help. At that time I got so many messages from Egyptians guys that “I am so sorry.” “I feel too shame.”, “We are struggling with this. I do wish everything would be good one day and you can cycle without problem in my country.” and so on.. But actually those guys who said sorry to me didn’t do any wrong thing to me. They were just very shame about their bad culture.

But Russian.. they never feel shame, but blame a victim and feel sorry for an attacker.

The guy who helped me a lot said to me “I will present a petition to the government about prohibiting cycling in the winter and make a website to warn a cyclist ‘Do not come in the winter’ with red color page”

I lost word. I tried to calm down and told him “My accident was not happened because of the weather, but because of careless driving way. You must present a petition to the government about strengthen traffic regulation strongly and make a website to warn a driver “Do drive carefully.” I saw so many gravestone at the next road. Do you think all of them are cyclist?? It means you guys drive crazily. That’s why so many people are hurting and dying on the road.”

 

I have really worse example what situation was like.

[One girl was raped on the street in the night. And suddenly everybody blamed her with the word “Why did you walk in the night? Why did you wear mini-skirt? Why did you have make-up?” People didn’t blame the assault, but victim. But anyway they helped a victim. And they tried to present a petition to the government about prohibiting women walking in the night.]

You think it makes sense? You think it is humane thing??

 

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I had strong headache, but at that night I had to have an interview. I could not deny because a journalist was the friend of my host who gave me free place to stay.

The other guy helped me a lot announced that I will have a meeting with a local cycling club at the next night so it would be good if I prepare. I asked him that I have too strong headache so I would like to delay one night. But he said everything is already organized which I didn’t ask.

 

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At the next day I felt like somebody hit and kick all my body that my whole body was sore. When I told about it, their face was like “Why is your body like that?”
Oh… ….

Anyway the meeting went very well without any problem.

But a few times I tried to not angry, because I could feel that they are blaming like “To be hit by car is your fault” Of course they didn’t say directly. But like this way “People could be tired after a long drive so they cannot see you and hit you. So you must be careful” “You see it is not good to cycle in the winter. Look Japanese guy was killed because he cycled in the winter like you.”

Their favorite excuse was winter.

 

But actually cyclist is not killed only in the winter, but all year.

http://road.cc/content/news/124860-american-peace-cyclist-killed-drunk-driver-russia

An American cyclist who has spent the past two decades riding around the world to promote peace and raise money for charity has been killed in Russia following a hit and run incident involving a drunken driver.

 

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Actually my bicycle was not seriously broken. Only wheel was bent. I wish I could solved the problem by myself, and then I would not feel much frustrating.

 

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Although I got so many helps from Russian, it was really hard to like this country. There were some reasons.

Language barrier was the highest. It seemed they do hate English or do not know English at all.

People’s face was too gloomy. I’ve tried a lot to communicated with smiling on the road, but what I’ve got back was frown. Their accent was also like fighting that it was very strong. And all happened in the winter, which could look more gloomy.

The worst part was people drove crazily. It was not about my feeling, but true fact. I felt dangerous to cycle all the time in Autumn and Winter in Russia. It was worse than Africa.

This car accident and Russian’s inhumane acting made me hate Russia at the last.

By the way during staying Russia, my website was hacked by Russian and redirect some Russian website when people tried to open my page with their cell phone. On Oct, Nov, and December, I got hacked over 5 times. Every time my web hosting’s company blocked my website. Recently some professional Korean deleted all hacking code. I have to see it would be okay or be hacked again.

Every people has different feeling although they have similar experience. Unfortunately my feeling with Russia and Russian was worse.

 

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What I did want to hear from a driver was

‘I am sorry. Are you okay?’

That’s all

 

I asked the local guy who helped me a lot “Please, let me meet police. I’ve never met them again after accident. At least can I have their phone number or email Please.” I beg over 20 times. I did hate myself, who was begging to him. But he was the only one I know and who speak English well.

He tried to fix my bicycle and helped with many different way. But I’ve never get help what I’ve really needed, which got a police contact. Bicycle was not serious problem though. I paid 76$ to change some old part, which he suggested. He asked me I want to get donations from his club. I did deny and I paid by myself. I could not speak Russian to reach to a police, but at least I had money.

I stayed in Murmansk for a week, but I could never meet a driver and police. It was almost the same as hit-and-run. I fed up and felt disgusting of all.

 

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From Murmansk to Finland was 240km (150 mi), but I did hate Russia at the last that I decided to just hitchhike. I was so afraid of Finland market about the price that I bought some food and other things. Just before leaving Russia, Russian currency kept going down. When I entered two month ago, $1 was 39 Rubles. Now it was 46 Rubles for 1$. Thanks to that I bought 1TB for 65$.

 

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Russian coins. Many times my wallet was full of coins. I thought I took the picture of note, but now I cannot find.

 

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I waited for two hours, but I could not get any ride. My toes and fingers were frozen. One car stopped and took all my luggage to his car. When I sit, he asked me 200$. What? Why didn’t you tell at the first? I took all luggage back on the road.

 

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After a while, I got a ride and went far from the city. I was getting happy.

 

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At the middle of the road I got another lift from a truck driver. His destination was to Denmark that he said he could give me a ride to Ivalo which is over 50 km (31 mi) far from Russian border in Finland.

Actually I was really afraid of Finland. First of all what I’ve worried was how much it would be expensive. The second thing was how much cold people will be. I doubted I could not get any warm place to sleep. If I could not set up my tent at any warm place, I might get a ride to the south.

Although there was some fear about Finland, I was so happy ever with the fact I got out of the hell, Russia.

While cycling around the world over three years, there was only one country I hated. El Salvador. The way people treated me was maybe very bad, so I didn’t like them. But actually now I do not have hating feeling anymore.

But here Russia will be put at that list of “I never want to go back to that country”

I am writing about my feeling. It means this post can never define Russia. Russia is huge and there are millions people living. So I can never define all of them. I am just talking about my bad feeling at them after worse personal experience.

There are so many traveler coming to Russia and most of them left Russia with feeling of happy. But few of them could hate after traveling. I am just one of them.

The most important is now I am not in the hell anymore!! Yeah!!

===================

I heard later the driver who hit me with careless driving got fine, 1500 Rubles ($32).

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Route
Days in Russia = 53 Days
Distance of cycling in Russia = 1817.8 km // (1136.12 mi)
Cities I stayed in Russia = 24 Cities
Pskov, Katezno, Luga, Gatchina, St.Petersburg, Zherki, Kiselnya, Pasha, Inema, Torosozero, Pryazha, Kondopoga, Medvezhyegorsk, Junction before Zerezha, Pushnoy , Sokol, somewhere, Junction before Loukhi, Lesnon, Kandalaksha, Apatity Raion area, Monchegorsk, After Pushnoy, Murmansk
Expenditure in Russia = $970.46
(230$ for winter cheap gear)
($1=39Rubles 09/26
$1=46Rubles 11/15)


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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi. Im sorry for You. It was driver fault! I completely agree with You. I was once in Russia on bicycle in Russia travelling from Moscow to Poland thru Baltic countries and feel very uncomfortable on Russian roads. They simple very dangerous for cyclists. Russia is mafia state. Bribery, corruption is way of life. You can buy driving licence in Russia and drivers are careless. And I was never again in Russia on bike unfortunately. But I was later few times on car and motorcycle but with awareness for danger…
    Thanks. Michal

  • Oh my! I’m so glad you got out of it ok (ie: with your life)! This has really put me off cycling in Russia, now. I do want to go to Russia, but I think I’ll leave the bike somewhere else, and just travel with a backpack.

  • Dear Jin,

    thank you very much for this honest Journal. For me it would have been very difficult to write about such an experience. I have read all your stories now and could not refrain from commenting on this one. I nearly do not now what to say from anger an sadness against this careless and dangerous people. I feel that whatever you say to them, they will blame you or someone else. Hopefully this will change at some point and that they will learn how to take responsibility and behave on the road. Maybe your story helps in that regard. I am so glad that you could escape and leave Russia and this bad experience behind.

    All the best
    Tobias

  • Dear Jin!

    You’re so brave and all the photos in this post are incredible, amazing.

    Also I’m terribly sorry for all that happends to you in Russia. Our country does have a lot of troubles. =( If you ever would like to visit our country again, please feel free to contact me, I’ll give you all the help I can.
    I hope some day people in Russia will be different, but it’s a long long way before it.

    • Dear Diana,
      Thank you for your comment. I’ve met other traveler who visited Russia and she loved there. Every people could have different experience. So mine was this and some others would have very good feeling to your country. So it is okay!
      Thanks,
      Jin

  • Dear Jin,

    I get really upset to know about the mishap. My webpage of journal was not getting updates. Today I relaunched it and came to know about this misfortune. I am very sad about this mishappening. May God you stay safe and blessed.

  • You are cool) I had an old dream from my childhood to visit this part of the world, but starting a little bit earlier and not from Pskow, but from Kyiv (Ukraine). Unfortunately, this year wasn’t suitable for such visits, however I planned to ride to Murmansk in some nearest future. Maybe because I do know Russian, or because I am used to dangerous driving it seemed to be a walk in the park, so I never could even imagine such sad ending. BUT your experience shows, that one should take into consideration all the risks and think about every decision twice. Well in my case, I realize now, that taking a person for a first long ride in that direction, what was normal way of thinking for me when I invited my friend to take part, is a mistake and mistreating. However, I’m really thankful for the photos and some kind of pionering spirit, so I can be calmer and feel less curious for not to go to Russian north-west for a decade or so. I don’t know what should change for people to change. New generations? Regime change? Just imagine what is to live in the hell you are talking about… And you even couldn’t discover the whole sadness because of the language barier… Luckily to some certain extent. Thank you Jin for your efforts, they worth the risk and I hope one day I could meet you in good mood, because cycling would be no longer a problem in this (and rest) part of world)

  • Dear Jin, you are very brave, your courage will see you through. Russia does have a very bad reputation when it comes down to innocent cyclists and yes they have a huge problem with drunk drivers. Their sense and driving skills are near zero compared to the west.
    Anyway get as far south as possible and hopefully you will be much safer,

    love and best wishes Mike.

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