I remember nothing before the experience 0f stumbling, falling on gravel, somewhere in the countryside. Early morning sunlight. Didn’t know where I was. Certainly not the city.
And it then scared me the realisation I’d been robbed. Abducted. Ditched somewhere.
Yesterday was surreal.
And today, I’m still here in Irkutsk, Siberia, near lake Baikal; analyzing what little I remember.
I had gone to a kiosk-cum-beer garden a block from where I was staying to get a shish kebab – grilled meat – and had a beer, while I waited; intending to return with my meal to the hostel to watch a DVD; have a quiet night.
It was around 10pm and still light. Busy streets. A group of student-looking guys (4) and three girlfriends got talking to me and offered some vodka.
That morning – as I stumbled to my feet, I wondered in surprise: “Where the fuck am I … ???%!!!”
Trees. Fields. Country road.
Thankfully, it wasn’t cold or raining. I had all my clothes on from the night before – gore-tex jacket, fleece. And my soaked boots – but how had these gotten wet? And how far had I walked? I have no memory; no idea; not even of awaking into this scene.
I thought I was in a dream for several minutes.
But my hands were cut and bruised from falling – my first memories of the countryside, so weak was I. And my head, above my eye, was a little banged up, too.
My first instinct was to check my internal money-belt – yeah, money missing. My cash dollars and rubles, all gone.
And I had no idea where I was …
And I felt really wasted. But not an alcoholic hangover joy – euphoric yes, but a swirling, freeing, dizziness. A dull blanket headache – not searing pain. No vomit; so I guessed, that I hadn’t drunk much but that I’d had my drink spiked. Drugged.
A doctor later confirmed this … Back at the hostel some hours later he checked me over and stated that there’s this drug for lowering blood pressure that when mixed with vodka it knocks you out within 20 minutes and wipes memories. I was showing these signs, as he checked my pulse, suggested that I drink alot of coffee – to get back on the planet.
… I tried hitching. But no one stopped. There were few cars.
I stumbled, and I fell. And walked, and walked; in an instinctive survival mode of keep-going. Until somehow, somehow, I’d walked in the right direction – towards an asphalt road and then the odd house. Then over a hill, into concrete block suburbs, and what must have been the outer limits of the city.
I must have looked like a madmen. Shockingly lost, like never before in my life.
Dizzy, strangely-elated, heavily sedated (I believe that I was strong enough to break through this disorientation – maybe because of many altered reality experiments from my years past). The few people in the streets were frightened by my approach. Some shouted at me, and hurried in the other direction, when I tried to ask which way to the city.
I kept walking. Then a young Russian guy asked me what had happened as I was trying to communicate to another frightened local at a bus stop. He spoke English. He paid 100 rubles ($3) to a taxi driver to take me into the city center. But when I went to the ATM for more cash, the driver left me there.
Having walked around Irkutsk the day earlier, I eventually found my way back to the hostel (actually an apartment with a few beds). The manager was blown-away by my story. I crashed out.
The owner was called along with a doctor, who said this is the kind of thing police know, and do. Two police cadets had been caught robbing a taxi driver the other day. I’d had a flashback of a big building, wide corridors and uniforms (but here even firemen have camouflage uniforms) and I can’t be sure if this was just a dream when I slept, before the doctor arrived to check me over. Maybe I was lifted from the streets, searched in a station, money found, and to cover their tracks – dumped way out of town as nothing was gone – aside from the money – except receipts for cash dollar withdraws.
I lost $372 US dollars and about $300 in rubles.
My most expensive travel loss, ever. But nothing else.
No organs extracted; no indications of rape. Just scammed.
Thankfully, they didn’t find my hidden supply of an extra $600. True thieves surely, would have taken everything including passport (normally, if I plan to go drinking only $20 or so is on me, to counter this exact possibility).
So, I was unlucky and lucky
The damage could have been way worse. In fact it was a bit of a laugh because it’s so bizarre. And, an interesting experience and a silly traveler’s tale, but I’m not sure if it was value for money?
Anyway, need I say more: Watch who you drink vodka with !
Join the journey !