Khanty-Mansiysky District, Russia
Towards the end of the day on the hydrofoil I met some new young lads. First was a young serious robot-like Artyom who was a youth member of the alliance between the two leading parties in Russian politics: the United Russia party and the United National Front party. He gave me a pen with the logos on it as a momento.
On the observation deck I was asking Artyom what time do we arrive. But he didn’t understand my question and young Dmitri (17) who was standing nearby overheard and asked what I was trying to say. Soon I was talking with him and his mate Andrei (15 but taller than Dmitri). They were both great fun and Dmitri was enjoying practicing his English. I asked Dmitri for his help once we reached Khanty-Mansiysk to buy a bus ticket to Tyumen. No trains from Khanty. They were doing the same and they were more than happy for me to tag along with them.
As we sped closer to Khanty-Mansiysk a fan Valyera, who must have seen me play guitar in Мужи and who on first impressions I thought was slightly drunk but was just actually very friendly, was keen for me to play songs for his mate – a music lover who would come to the station at Khanty. I agreed but said in earshot of Dmitri that my first priority was checking the bus timetable to Tyumen.
We got to the confluence of the mighty Ob with the Irtysh River, which the hydrofoil entered to head up to Khanty-Mansiysk. Up ahead I saw a gleaming city with brightly coloured modern apartment blocks, a church on the hill above the city with its gleaming gold cupolas and a massive pyramidal obelisk on the hill top above the river and the city.
Bus scheduled to leave at 21:00 hours but we had to wait to buy tickets directly from driver. There was no time for a shower. So I suggested beers and zakuski all round. Left our packs at the luggage storage service at the bus station which was right by the river port and after a visit to the shop we found an empty bench to share. There were three extra friends of Dmitri and Andrei who had been waiting to meet them at the river port. They were all between 15 and 17. I played a few songs and Sergei, my brother red head, played some tunes, which had the whole group singing along. We had the attention of other river side park wanderers as well.
Beers consumed we headed as a gaggling bunch back to purchase our Tyumen tickets from the bus driver now in. This would be my first long distance non-train trip. And it didn’t auger well from the start when I couldn’t find a seat space that was big enough for me to sit in!
Andrei sitting next to me played me the Russian rap song he’d written and composed. I was very impressed. He then said in his rudimentary English that he would miss me when I was gone and then promptly turned and lay his head on my shoulder. I wasn’t sure if he was seeing me as a father figure or not. I was sure old enough to be their father. I decided that this seat wasn’t big enough and moved up the back for a while. Tired and irritable I wasn’t in the mood for consoling young teenage boys.
I eventually moved again and ended up beside the biggest guy on the bus with the worst body odour and opposite the lady with the chihuahua on her lap breathing foggy doggy breath my way (see Fug Bus entry).