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8,000km of Love Series 08 July 2013 268 12691
Aleksey is a 24-year-old taxidermist from Moscow. Being the adventurous type, he is preparing to hitchhike across Russia to marry his true love, Marina, who he met at a music festival just a year before. With only a 12kg backpack and $100 in his pocket, he sets off on the 8,500 kilometer journey to Khabarovsk. Sadly, his trip gets off to a rocky start. Rides are scarce, and at nightfall he finds himself in a small town where he is suddenly confronted by the police.
Aleksey manages to have his phone fixed in Krasnoyarsk before continuing on his journey. The weather suddenly turns bad, however, and his shoes get soaked. Later, he gets a lift in a minivan that he fears could end in catastrophe.
Aleksey escapes an encounter with some of Chelyabinsk’s street thugs and decides to spend the night at a bus station – just in case. Continuing his journey, he comes across a sight that gives him second thoughts about carrying on with his trip.
Now in the final stretch, Aleksey gets a lift in a truck, only to discover he’s joined the circus. On finally reaching Khabarovsk, he calls his bride-to-be. Marina asks him to meet her at a restaurant, where there is a very big surprise in store for the prospective groom.
After a long delay, the police finally release Aleksey in the middle of the night and, finding no other options, he is forced to sleep on the side of the road. After progressing only 335 kilometers the first day, the intrepid hitchhiker is determined to do better on the second.
From Nizhny Novgorod, Aleksey manages to catch a ride to Cheboksary, where he decides to splurge on a motel after two days with almost no sleep. Meanwhile, back in Khabarovsk, Marina has lunch with a girlfriend, who raises doubts about her prospective husband.
While checking out Omsk, Aleksey drops and breaks his phone, cutting off his lifeline to Marina. An odd couple then gives him a ride, along with a serious sermon on sin, just before he encounters a ‘Lady of the Night’ outside Novosibirsk.
Aleksey enjoys a long ride through beautiful countryside with a friendly truck driver, and the pair makes some interesting stops along the way. However, shortly after being dropped off, he attracts the attention of three burly guys who look to be spoiling for trouble.
After a good night’s sleep, Aleksey treats himself to lunch at a cafe. Despite the respite, the trip appears to be taking its toll. While visiting Kazan, he is confronted by a couple of hostile construction workers. Moreover, Marina hasn’t answered his calls all day. Could Aleksey be making his epic trip for nothing?
Aleksey hopes to cover the 500km to Krasnoyarsk by nightfall. His trip soon becomes an odyssey, however, as pitfalls and windfalls await along his way. Meanwhile, Marina sends him a text warning something has happened that could ruin their wedding plans.
In Chita, Aleksey visits Russia’s biggest Buddhist temple, where a monk makes a prediction about his future marriage. The next day, he encounters a mysterious traveler who puts his journey in a whole new perspective.
After a harrowing ride along winding mountain roads overlooking Lake Baikal, Aleksey finally manages to ditch his drunken hosts. He then finds a safer ride to a village where he spends a warm evening among old friends singing hitchhiking songs.