A random guy approached me in the streets of Almaty and shook my hand: „Welcome to Kazakhstan!“, followed by a „Autostop?“. Surprising! „How do you know?“ He pointed on my uniform. This was the first time in my life, that I met someone in public who recognizes the hitchhiking uniform. It is not only a uniform, but also identity marker of an alternative hitchhiking culture, which is popular in Russia, but not in Western Europe. But here in Kazakhstan people know. And it made me very happy having this experience.
It was at the end of my China expedition. A 15.032 km run with 86 rides, exploring the four corners of China. I accomplished this route in 16 days and 11 hours. It was a long tour, I hardly left the road. And there have been a lot of challenges along the way. Many difficult places and situations, where I had to use all my experience and hitchhiking tactics to keep on moving. Beside this there is another challenge. If you go a distance of 15.000 km, it also means, that you have to sit 15.000 km in vehicles. Hard work for your back.
On top of this I added a little detail to increase the difficulty. I was on this expedition without spending money. I arrived 30€ in my pocket and left with 33€. It was just an experiment. See how it is possible. Basically you have to life from the charity of others. I never asked for anything, which also means, that when I was really hungry and in the need of something, there was no demand, but just me and the situation. For the experience and the challenge. Just a sidenote. I don’t really like moneyless traveling. It is very exhausting for me. Not my way to go. My focus is totally on movement. Doing my tour as quick as possible. With hitchhiking.
I don’t see myself „visiting China“, but on my way – a road which leads through China this time. When I do long distance hitchhiking you rather compare it with bicycle touring. Or long distance walkers like Karl Bushby, whom I feel really inspired by. Karl Bushby is a British adventurer, who left his home in 1998 to walk from southern tip of Argentina back to England. 16 years later he completed 29.000 km and is still on his way. One of his biggest achievements is the Bering Straight crossing by foot in 2005. Since then he is struggling with Russian immigration to continue his route through Siberia. He also passed the Darien Gap by walking, got kidnapped by the Guerilla and ended up drinking cola with the commander. This man has an unprecedented endurance and is following his mission. I admire this.
My 15.000 km long expedition throught China has been a big challenge and I reached my limits during this run. I can emphasize much better now, what a „long run“ means. And I totally appreciate Alexej Vorovs accomplishment within his „Very small planet tour“. He did a full overland circumnavigation of our earth with hitchhiking in 500 hours. Means 20.000 km in around 21 days. And I can tell you, it is fucking hard. Not even to get your rides, but also to sit and move. 20.000 km in 500 hours is unreal.
On top of that: The first section of 9.900 km from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok (nearby) was covered by Alexej in 168 hours. 7 days on the road without sleep and then performing such a good run, which is far from everything I ever covered on my tours. It is not about luck at all, but about decisions, difficulties, problems solving. It is about skill. Hitchhiking skill. I still learn a lot about movement, when I do a big trip like my China tour. I still do many mistakes. I don’t know if I could do 20.000 km in 500 hours. It is definitely a massive performance.
We all have in common to experience directly, that this world is far from being endlessly big. The earth is tiny. China right around the corner of my hometown and South-East Kazachztan in the realm of St. Petersburg Hitchhiking community. You need some grit to go on that way and crossing all the world. But it does not matter, if you do it with hitchhiking, by foot, bicycle or any other way of movement. Most important is always the distance you travel.
My hitchhiking suit is taylor made by Alexej Vorov. All existing hitchhiking suits of this kind, worn by people in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Baltic States andby us in Germany, are made by Alexej Vorov. And if this random guy in Kasachstan is recognizing me as a hitchhiker, it goes back to him and all the other fellows, hitting the roads of the world in their yellow racing-club uniforms. And when I am coming from a massive tour through China and then someone in Kazachztan „knows“ what my emergence is about, then I feel really proud to be part of all this. Part of all those geeks who hit the road and kick the shit! Move around the our tiny little planet. Warm Roads to all of you!