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Wake Me Up!


Vladivostok, January 6th 2014

"Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" Knock, knock!! "Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!"

Ah... it's them again, I thought. I rolled sideways.

"Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" Knock, knock!! "Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!"

Errr...?? What?? I'm supposed to return to Vladivostok today!! What time is it?? 5:20!! I had ordered a taxi to pick me up at 5:00.

Clickkkk.... clickkk.... clickkk....!!! Aaarrrghhhh... how do I open this door??

Bang, bang!! "Houskvousk rousk vousk!" Bang, bang!

Clickkkk.... clickkk.... clickkk....!!! At last the door of my room clicked opened. There stood in front of me a man.

"Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" He pointed on his watch. His forehead frowned like wafer biscuits.

"Give me 5 minutes, please!"

"Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!"

"I'm sorry. Please. Just 5 minutes."

"Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" He pointed on his watch again.

"I know. I know! Would you just give me 5 minutes, pleaaase!" I gestured the number 5 with my fingers.

"Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" But he moved backward.

Luckily I had already packed up my things last night. I grabbed everything on the closet, mini bottles of cream, soap, toothbrush, etc. and dumped them into my suitcase. Bump, bump, bump! Now comes the beauty of winter. No need to care whether your blouse falls neatly, crumpled, etc. Wrap, wrap, wrap... and then put on that thick winter coat. What would make a difference? No combing hair either. Woosh! I slid my hat over. Done.

I opened the door, and the man was still standing there! "Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!"

I dragged myself and my suitcase, to the elevator. Bump! A plastic bag filled with bread fell off my backpack. Gently, the man picked it up for me. The elevator seemed to rattle down from 5th floor to 1st floor like the trams in Khabarovsk. Grooookkk... groookkk.... The man's forehead was still like a wafer.

"I'm so sorry. I'm really, really sorry. I overslept." I pressed my hands together.

He looked down to me -- he is so tall, and I am so short. He nodded.

Ding. First floor. Ugghhh... ughhh.... My suitcase got stuck with the carpet. When you are in panic, everything just seem to be uncooperative. The hotel staff looked at me with a sorry look. He pulled the suitcase for me with a single stroke.

Inside the taxi. The driver continued "Houskvousk rousk vousk!"-ing me.

"Oh please! Just bring me to the bus terminal please."

"Houskvousk rousk vousk."


He turned his head to me while driving. "Houskvousk rousk vousk."

"What do you want??" I was thinking he wanted to charge me more because I had kept him waiting for more than half an hour. And, I was as willing as giving him the world, as long as he could bring me to the bus terminal on time. I just couldn't bear the thought if I miss this bus. What would I say to the manager of Primorye ATP? What if there's no bus running to Harbin on Tuesday??

"Houskvousk rousk vousk." The driver made a square sign with his hand.

"What do you waaannnttt???" I was half crying at that moment. "I'll pay youuu!! Just bring me to this bus terminal!!" I forwarded the bus receipt from Madame Manager yesterday.

The driver took that paper from me. He read, nodded twice, returned the paper to me. "Houskvousk rousk vousk?" He pressed his hands together by his cheek.

"Yesss... I overslepttt..."

The road was dead silence. On complete contrary to how he was at the hotel, now we were like on a date.

"Would you drive faster, please?" I requested.

"Houskvousk rousk vousk."

"My bus leaves at 6:20. Faster, please."

The taxi driver nodded. "Houskvousk rousk vous." I sat back. But we were still like on a date.

"Uhmm..." I laid both hands flat next to him. With my left hand still, I moved my right hand to the front while saying, "Woosh!" Moved right hand again, "Wooosh! Fast! Fast!"

"Houskvousk rousk vous." With his two hands he gestured "ten".

What?? Is the bus terminal 10 kilometers away??! I couldn't worry any longer, because the next minute a board sign written in English: "International Bus Terminal" entered my sight. Hmmm... it's not written how many kilometers left. The next, next minute, my taxi stopped in front of a quiet building. There were some people standing by the closed door, but not even one bus could be seen. I got off the taxi but didn't pay him yet on the account that if this is not the right place and the taxi has already gone, there won't be any chance to find another taxi.

I walked to the people standing, "Excuse me. I'm going to Harbin. Is the bus stop here?"

"Harbin. Harbin." They nodded.

I still wasn't convinced. So I showed one of them my bus ticket receipt. "Yes, yes," they replied.

I returned to my taxi, semi-running. "It's right, it's right!"

My hotel front desk staff with whom I ordered the taxi had told me that the fare would be 250 RUB. But I gave the driver 300 RUB. If he hadn't cared enough to go to my room, bang the door, oh... I can't image how that would turn into.

Once again I was impressed. The taxi driver poked into his wallet looking for a change.

"No, no, keep the change."

Instead of folding back his wallet, he poked deeper and moved his fingers quickly, clearly trying to get the change before I go as I was already turning away. I pressed my hand on his, "Take it. It's for you."

He stood stunned. No exaggerating.

In other parts of this world, such a taxi driver, knowing how panic I was, not to mention a (helpless) foreigner, would have instead taken advantage of me by charging double, triple.

A few men and one lady, all Russian-looking, were standing by the door. The bus terminal was not opened yet... and they, hadn't even bought a ticket!

"Where did you buy your ticket?" asked one guy in Mandarin.

Where?? Hmmm, at number 53a.


Inside the bus. I couldn't help questioning myself how could I oversleep. Such a thing has never happened in my whole history of traveling. The alarm clock on my cellphone showed that it had been set properly. Maybe what laid in my subconsciousness had formed into action.

Posted by automidori 22:23 Archived in Russia Tagged vladivostok

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