My flight to Krasnodar departed at 22:30 (Moscow time) but my body felt as if it was already 02:30 (Hong Kong time). I was absolutely exhausted because of the long journey and the jet lag. I fell asleep immediately when I was on board until the flight attendants started serving the drink.
“What kind of drink do you want?” An old man, who was sitting next to me, helped the translation between me and the flight attendant. When his daughter heard my cough, she spoke to me in Russian. Despite my inability to understand Russian, I nodded to pretend I understand, and then she asked the flight attendant to get me blanket.
“Do you speak English?” I asked the old man, and he replied with a strong Russian accent: “Only a little bit.” He told me about his life story and he used to work in trading during the time of Soviet Union. He looked proud of being one of a few officials who dealt with foreigners in those old days.
The flight landed at 01:30, finally. I was about to say thanks to the old man and his daughter but we were lost in the crowd. I got my baggage, walked through the gate and saw quite a few people holding a piece of paper with the name of their guests.
Anatoly. Tania. Alexey. Dmitry…
Amidst the names in my horizon, I didn’t find mine. What I got was only the contact number of someone whom I had never met before. While I intended to call, I saw a young boy holding a piece of paper with the name “AIESEC”, my host organization in Russia.
The name of this young boy was Oleg, a volunteer responsible for picking me up from the airport and driving me to the place of my host. “Do you know about the host?” I asked. He gave me an unexpected answer: “Not at all. I only have her address and it’ll be my first time to meet her too.”
I remember a Russian friend I knew from the internet once said,”In term of safety, Russia is more or less the same as other countries like China, the Netherlands or United States, but when in Russia, do expect the unexpected.”