By the time we arrived at the airport, we were very tired. We decided to go a bit early in order to ensure we got there on time and in case of any difficulties that might arise. Instead of a bit early, we ended up arriving incredibly early, almost 3 hours ahead of schedule. It may have been a little much, but the indoor warmth and chance to relax before our flight was enticing.
As we have experienced before in Russia and other countries in the world, the airport did not have dedicated desks for each airline, as do many airports in the U.S. This meant the desk we needed opened up only one hour before our flight, and we had no way to check in early. Since we were already there, we looked for places to sit and lunch to buy. While waiting at the airport, we each also took care of work: Yasha and Polya attacked their homework with vigor, as I worked on my writing.
Our first flight from Khabarovsk occurred without incident. We arrived at an extremely tiny airport in Благовещенск, right on the border with China, for a short layover. We were told it would be only about 40 minutes. What we did not know was there was a mechanical issue with our plane large enough that the plane needed to be replaced.
As these things go, 40 minutes turned into 5 hours. All of the passengers we arrived with started to exit back out through security and we followed suit. We learned a lot of new Russian words and phrases while waiting for our replacement plane to arrive.
“Your airplane is delayed.” “Самолёт задерживается.”
“I left my ticket on the plane.”” Я оставил свой билет на самолёт.”
“That was a foolish thing to do!” ” Что было глупо сделать!”
Because we thought we were going to get right back on our plane, Polya left her ticket in the seat pocket, not thinking anything of it. We had to employ the help of several airline workers to get it back. They were gracious about it, but the man who finally brought it out to us warned her to be careful not to do it again, smirking the entire time.
Another travel tip we learned is it is valuable to watch other people from your flight, to make sure you know when to return to your gate and where said gate is. We kept an eye on one particular man–long-coat guy with a шапка– and made sure he was always in sight. Where he went, we went. It was reassuring, as Russian seemed harder to understand in this part of the country.
Finally, our “Being Stranded in Siberia Adventure” ended. Around 9:30pm, we got onto a new plane and continued to make our way toward Irkutsk. Even though we were excited to be on our way, there was a small concern that our scheduled hostel shuttle would not be waiting for us, as we were expected at 6:00pm, but in reality, made it in around 1:30am. Luckily, there were no problems once we landed. Our transportation was ready and waiting for our weary souls. We made our way to the hostel, checked in, and promptly went to sleep.