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'In the West sometimes they think that Siberia is snow and nothing else. But there is such life and energy here!'

The man who walked all the way across Russia

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04 May 2016


A native of St Petersburg, he says he has always felt the urge to walk. Picture: Pikabu

Sergey Shcheulin, 24, hiked across seven time zones from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, shunning all offers of lifts in cars or trucks on the way.

Almost unnoticed at the start of his epic journey, he gradually won attention from people he met on the road, who gave him food, money and clothing, and belatedly became a social media star, and the nickname Russia's Forrest Gump, by the time he approached Vladivostok. 

A native of St Petersburg, he says he has always felt the urge to walk, first around his own city, and then further afield, to Crimea, and Sochi. 'Then I wanted to try longer distances. So I decided to go to Vladivostok,' he explained.

He made the entire crossing - 6,155 miles - on foot without a map, a cell phone or satellite navigation. 'I have no relatives in Vladivostok. I decided to just walk to the city out of pure curiosity,' he said. 

'So a year and a half ago, I suddenly decided - why not go to Vladivostok?  And I went. I plan to stay here for a while, to meet people, see the sights.'

Preliminary map

Sergey with his staffs in Vladivostok

He made the entire crossing - 6,155 miles - on foot without a map, so we can draw only the approximate route. Pictures: Pikabu, The Siberian Times

The son of a mathematics and physics professor, he explained that he had not inherited his father's intellectual gifts, and found it hard to get a job in St Petersburg, so instead took up walking. 

On his way, he crossed the Ural Mountains, and Siberia, visiting such cities as Omsk, Novosibirsk, and Irkutsk. To earn money to survive, he briefly took jobs as a labourer or watchman, and then moved on again.

'I found jobs at some construction site or as temporary labourer. Recently I passed through the Amur Region. I lived in Zavitinsk for some time, in a church. I liked it very much. But decided to go further. I did not linger for long anywhere.'

According to him, people rarely paid attention to him during his journey. It was when he reached the Jewish Autonomous Region, on the eastern flank of Siberia, that he suddenly found he had admirers.  

Sergey poses with people

Sergey poses with people

It was when he reached the Jewish Autonomous Region, on the eastern flank of Siberia, that he suddenly found he had admirers. Pictures: Vkontakte

'People paid almost no attention to me most of the way,' he said. 'They took me as an ordinary person. Very rarely, someone saw me as an unusual traveller and shared food or money. 

'Really compassionate citizens appeared in the Jewish Autonomous Region. Truck drivers often stopped and offered me a lift. I refused. You see, I love to go on foot. After a conversation truck drivers often shared with me food, gave money.

'And the inhabitants of various settlements came up to me, asking where I'm from and where I'm going. As a result, they, too, gave me some food, money, clothing.'

He slept near the road, in forests, under bridges, and sometimes at police stations. 'Most often, of course, I had spend the nights on the roadside or under a bridge somewhere. 

'A couple of times slept in doorways, but I prefer not to do so, as me myself have negative attitude towards homeless people. Sometimes there are good people who allowed me into their house. 

Sergey prepares for the road

Sergey poses with a family

Sergey poses with people

'Most often, of course, I had spend the nights on the roadside or under a bridge somewhere.' Pictures: Vkontakte

'Occasionally, I tried to get a job, especially to wait until the heavy frosts end. Sometimes I had to spend the night at the police station. By the way, the police usually quickly figure out my identity. I give the phone number of my relatives. 

'Police calls up with them, and all issues are resolved, they confirmed I was walking across Russia. The police often offer spend the night at the police station, as in the winter the nights are very cold. Of course, I agreed' - even if this sometimes meant sleeping in the cells. 

In Amur region he became lost around Dalnerechensk, taking the wrong turn at a crossroads, and the social media buzzed with efforts to find him. Residents also 'patrolled the roads' by car to make sure he was in the right direction as he headed east. 

He arrived in Vladivostok, Russia's Pacific capital, on 2 May. The day before, Orthodox Easter Sunday, he was invited to a tourist camp on the coast. He took a banya and plunged into the bracing Sea of Japan. 'The water is very good in your sea, warmer than in the icy river where I swam last time,' he said. 

Sergey in Vladivostok

Sergey in Sedanka

He arrived in Vladivostok, Russia's Pacific capital, on 2 May, the day before he plunged into the bracing Sea of Japan. Pictures: veSent TiVi, Vkontakte

He has become something of a celebrity in the city. 'We met Sergey as he was walking along Pogranichnaya Street,' said one social media account. He walked along the city sidewalks the same way that he walked on the taiga road - pushing with two improvised staffs, and all hung with knapsacks. 

'He told us: 'I'll go to the city centre, take a walk, look around.' We asked: 'Where will you sleep, what will you eat?' - and he assured us that he did not worry about it.'

On Tsesarevich Embankment, people came to talk to him about his trip and to offer some help. He was invited to spend a night on the steamer Neptunia moored nearby. 

But having reached his destination, he intends to keep walking - east. Next stop is the port of Nakhodka some 215 km away. And then? Perhaps Kamchatka or Sakhalin or even North Korea. He will stay for a few days in Vladivostok, walks some more, and then decide. 

Comments (6)

Congratulations to this great young man. He certainly achieved what so many people including myself only.dream of doing. So very nice to hear that he was treated with such kindness along his journey. He is a hero in my books and I wish him the very best.
Samuel Ryan, Whitbourne, NL Canada.
06/04/2019 00:47
Great admiration and congratulations fort his young man crossing The Russian Federation through Siberia . I am happy to hear about the kindness of its people and also of the police. who helped him to realise his dream without
the modern gadgets?. I hope to cycle Moscou -Vladivostok next year at the age of 79. That's my dream if hope,training and health support me one more year at least. Sergey is a an example for me and all my respect goes to him.
Roland Hurtecant, Bellem/Belgium
24/09/2017 02:33
Yeah it sounds Amazing, I really would like to go to Russia & do something like that. Its a fascinating place, Especially being in some cabin with an open fire in winter...but I'd rather travel with a companion
Leon Gustave Stuart, New Zealand
01/10/2016 17:41
This was a wonderful glimpse into what the Russian people are like. It was good to read how warm-hearted they were to this young man. I thought he might get robbed during such a long journey - and him being all alone!- but no one tried to harm him. Instead, they tried to help him. What surprised me the most was that the police were friendly!!!! I was not expecting that at all. Thank you for such a positive story.
Marilyn Sloper, Royalston, Massachusetts, USA
07/05/2016 10:21
Yes, I agree with Simon and ...........May you "Walk On" for many years to come! Thank you to everyone who showed kindness along Sergey"s journey.
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
04/05/2016 18:02
Congratulations to the young man. His achievement is even more remarkable, if as he says, he has funded his expedition through his own resources and initiative.
Simon Robinson, Blackburn, England
04/05/2016 15:30

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