Sasha invited us in while the storm passed by. He talked a lot and I understood a little, but it became apparent that we needed vodka to stay. The nearest shop was 15km away and we had directions, however we couldn’t all go. One of us had to take Sasha, so I dumped my gear and off we went.
Breaking all the rules of adventure motorcycling, I set off into the dark down a dirt road with a stranger riding pillion. It soon started to rain as we headed into the storm, brilliant flashes of orange, purple and white lightning ahead of us in the inky blackness. The rain was making the track slippery, adding to the ‘fun’.
The shop was a small cafe. Everyone stopped taking and stared when I asked for a bottle of vodka. The lady said they didn’t have any and I believed her. I told Sasha who was waiting outside. When I produced him from the darkness, eyes rolled all round. The lady shook her head and gave me a bottle from under the counter. All good!
Back at Sasha’s place we all had a drink and we talked while the rain passed. After that it was hammocks up and dinner for the boys. (I couldn’t face cooking, chocolate and tea for me!). Sasha did a lot of talking and I sensed he was a lonely old man who didn’t get many visitors.
In fact he’s only 53. With no running water or power it must be a hard life, especially in winter with the freezing temperatures. I didn’t catch everything he said, but I know he lost his only brother in some war. He makes honey to survive but it’s a poor living, he made bicycles in the past in Khabarovsk. He grows his own vegetables, which he loaded me up with before I left.