Another story from Jack from Poland (see the previous story) that may be worth sharing to show the spirit of the country. Reminds me of another couple of travellers who got a free tow from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg. So yes, I’d say the situation described below is “typical” for Russia.
As always, I prepared my car thoroughly for the trip. But it’s impossible to predict every failure. At the Russian border, a leak started from the cooling system. My repairs didn’t help for long. Two days later, in the middle of nowhere, a big diameter, long, rubber hose, has disintegrated totally, due to its age. It was looking like a new from outside, while being garbage inside, at least at a section of it.
Without much effort, I stopped a man, who, using a rope, towed me to an unpaved parking lot at a tire service at route M20. He drove to that place only for me and took money only for the fuel.
On this parking lot were two military trucks. Soldiers were taking a rest. When I opened the hood of my car, they immediately came to me. We all saw, that the fix is simple, but what can I do without new hose? They tried to cut off the hose from their pump (used for pumping oil, I think) to replace that in my car, but the diameter was different.
A man from tire service soon appeared. He gave us all that was necessary: a short L-bend hose (from some car), a steel pipe and electric angle grinder. The soldiers cut out excessive length of the pipe, removed the rotten part of my hose and assembled everything, using their own hose-clamps. They even filled the cooling system with water from their own portable tank and bled it.
Soldiers (like the tire-shop guy) didn’t want money. I tried to give them some jars and cans with food from EU, at least. They refused to take more than 1 jar, and one of them gave me an emblem from the shoulder of his uniform.
Contrary to this, in my country (and some others) it’s not easy to find free help. And it’s a real rarity, when somebody offers help to you because he sees you need it. Russian soldiers repaired my car for free, they worked over 30 minutes till my car was ready to go, wanted nothing in exchange, and they did this before I asked them for help. Today, after 10,000 km, their kludge is still working.
While, when visiting Russia, I’ve met many times with warm reception and
gifts, nothing can beat those four soldiers. And their emblem, a personal gift, is my most valuable souvenir.