3. Unpredictable situations, take a high risk
After I landed at Novosibirsk, Russia, the first thing pop up in my mind was I needed to change my money to ruble right away and took a bus into the Omsk rail station. It was a bit hard to find signs in English here, even in the airport also a bit hard to seek for help since many people don’t speak English. But after a moment, somehow I could found the only one money changer in the airport. And you know what, I can’t change my money! Not even one dollar. Aaaaarrrhh!. They only serve dollar or euro to be changed into rubble.
This unpredictable situation brought me into big troubles, “Trapped at the airport”!!!. Suddenly I was broke!.No money, no food, don’t know directions, couldn’t communicate with others, even couldn’t seek for help. Though I’ve already booked the train to Omsk, I couldn’t reach the train station with no money left in my pocket. Can you imagine this situation suddenly happened? Really need to stay calm even to face this situation.
I seek help from the security, but I even didn’t know where it was. No sign in English at all. And if I met the officer they don’t understand at all what I was talking about. After moment, somehow, there was a guy, looks like a taxi driver, but without any uniform for taxi driver. Though I know exactly that he’s not an official driver, he’s the only one who talked to me and noticed that I sought for a help. And if you imagine we communicate in English, the answer is no. He spoke Russian I spoke English, but somehow we could understand several simple words. Simple Russian phrases list, made by my friend, Dias, helped me a lot that time. I showed it to the guy I even don’t know his name. He said “central bank”, “central bank”. Since only him who talked to me, I have no choice unless to follow him went to the city and find the central bank. I knew I took a big risk that time. I could be kidnapped, be robbed, or even worse than that. You know what; I couldn’t stop praying during my way to the city. It was the only thing I could do anyway.
He drove me to the city and the central bank (which is actually Sberbank) right away. After we arrived, he tried to communicate with the bank customer service in Russian language. Though I didn’t understand at all, but I knew he was trying to say how I could change my money to ruble. And after waiting for several minutes, I got my turn to change my money. And daaaaa….. I can’t change it! They don’t have NTD rate to be changed to ruble. If the central bank even didn’t have this currency, I bet I won’t be able to change it in all bank, at least in Novosibirsk. Then I told him (the driver) to take me to the place where I could make an international phone call. He drove me to the tourist information center, which is a hotel information center actually. The receptionist can speak English very well and he helped me to check all bank in Novosibirsk whether I could change my money to ruble or no. Unfortunately, I couldn’t!. Just like what I expected. Even so, he helped me to communicate with a driver who drove me that I couldn’t be able to change my money here, in Novosibirsk.
That time, the only thing pop up in my mind was that I need to make an international phone call and asked for help. Somehow, that time, I couldn’t be able to reach my family yet the only one flashed in my mind was my good friend, Dias. I told him that I had an urgent situation and need his help. I asked him to transfer an amount of money right away to my master card. Latter I knew that he did it with big effort too! Since he was in official duty in the middle of nowhere outside the city, it took time to reach city center and found ATM machine. It was raining and almost no transportation passing by. So he was running as fast as he could and he did it!.
After that, I needed to withdrawn my money at the bank. If you thought the problem can be finished by this, the answer is no. I couldn’t use my card at the bank because the money is deposited in dollar not in ruble, so I needed to find another bank which has a service to withdraw money in dollar currency. During our way to find a bank I just knew that the diver name who helped me so far is Anatole, a typical Russian man. We walked to another bank nearby, and after went though quite a long queue, I could withdrawn my money, though not much. (only 3000 ruble (around 100 dollar).
That time I met Victor, a Russian man who also withdrawn money. He talked to me and helped me communicate with Anatole and bank customer service. He’s really friendly and can speak English really fluently. I thought he’s a native speaker, but he’s not. Notice that I need help, he asked me to get in to his car, the Toyota Camry one!, a type of car which is used by ministry in my country. In his car he helped me again to communicate with Anatole and gave me some advice. He translated that I need to pay Anatole 2000 ruble (around 60 USD) for his work. He also advised me not to buy anything during my journey to Omsk. He also gave me his numbers in case I need help in Omsk, he said he has “a lot of guy in Omsk” hahaha. He said that he traveled around the world and just noticed that I need help because when he traveled, many people helped him too and now it’s his turn. He said “it’s my pleasure to help you”, and I said to him, “wish to meet you again, someday”.
After that, Anatole drove me right away to the train station, and I just notice that he’s really kind. When we crossed the street he hold my coat, make sure that I was not slipped at the road, carried all the heavy suitcase inside the train station, he also tried to ask me whether I was hungry or not (well ya, of course I was, but with my money left, better not buy a food until I got to Omsk). After we arrived at train station, there was a man who was approaching us and talking to anatole. I guess he, Anatole, just refused a transport worker who was trying to carry away my suitcase inside the station. I guess it was because he knew that I need to pay him while I almost had no money left, and I could even be charged really high by them.
Though we’ve already reach Novosibirsk railway station, we still need to struggle to change my e-ticket to the official ticket one. We sought help from several people, even the security we asked for help don’t know how to change it. Honestly, it’s really unbelievable for me. Lucky us, after asking to several person, we met an old guy who helped us to change my ticket. I knew, anatole only could help me this far. He tried to explain me several times in Russian how to read my ticket, and how to get to the Peron, he also talked to the old officer lady (which is not quite friendly and doesn’t speak English at all anyway). He said ‘anna.. blablabla.Novosibirk-Omsk.. bla bla bla…’. I guess he just made sure that I was okay here. But, still, I didn’t understand. Since I need to go to the passengers’ waiting room which only can be passed by people who have tickets, Anatole couldn’t be able to help me got into the train. Sooner or later he needed to leave me and I needed to continue my journey alone to Omsk. The last thing he could do for me was trying to explain to me in Russian how to read my ticket in Russian. Because, I was really short than him, he patting me on my head while saying several words like I’m his little sister. I guess he said “anna careful. Bye bye”. Honestly, somehow, I felt really sad for this farewell, I don’t know why.
Can you imagine he spoke Russian and I spoke English to find a way to solve my problem? This is really unforgettable experiences for me. I don’t know how to say it, but somehow I can feel that I’ve just meet a good guy. And the 2000 ruble (around 60 dollar) I paid to him, I guess it worth. The situation that time could be even worse if I didn’t meet him. Still, though it’s really difficult, I was really grateful for what I’ve been going through.
And then I entered the gate to be a platskartny, The 3rd class) passenger in Russian train.
The gate which become a way for me to learn a lot…
to be continued…