1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

A Professor of hitchhiking – “the world is kind, people are compassionate and hospitable everywhere” May 13, 2009

 (image by me)

I always felt that the drive to travel has something to do with the seeking of Truth (see my earlier post about it here). The phenomenon of hitchhiking seems to be the extreme expression of this kind.  Hitchhikings one of the most fascinated forms of travelling, and it reminds me of wise men wandering  in the past.

Hitchhiking s popular in many countries. It is a favorite pastime in Europe and a common way of travel for many people in Asia and Africa. A few decades ago, it was also popular in North America. But only in Russia it became a competitive sport, a science, an art, and a way of life for many people (very typical for a Russian mindset to lay a profound theoretical base under any practical thing )…

The Academy of Free Travel was founded in 1995 in Russia by Anton Krotov,who has covered about 400,000 km hitchhiking in Eurasia and Africa, and published 17 books about free travel. Krotov is well-known in Russia for his hitchhiking to unusual destinations like Magadan, Afganistan, Iran and China… The Academy of Free Travel  is however one of many hitchhiking clubs in Russia.

Here are some Academy guidelines, which I found very interesting and wise.:

“We do not do any fund raising. All our expeditions are financed by participants, who rely on hospitality and friendliness of local people. We know that the success of a trip depends not on the amount of money available, but on your preparedness and attitude.

Normally we don’t use hotels, commercial campgrounds, airlines, and travel agencies, and don’t try to arrange our own transportation. But anyone who is going in the same direction and agrees to give us a lift is welcome to do so. We usually spend nights outdoors or in the homes of people willing to invite us.

Hitchhiking trips tend to be many times cheaper than regular ones. But saving money is not our goal. We don’t mind spending if we wish to do so, and never mind losing money:the world is plentiful, and we’ll always find what we need on the road. We try to avoid touristic areas. Instead, we live, eat, travel, and communicate with local people, trying to experience their life as it is, not as it can be seen through specially arranged tours or politically correct guidebooks.

In our trips we found that the world is kind, that people are compassionate and hospitable everywhere, that our planet is open for everyone and belongs to us all. Life is wonderful; coming back from remote lands, we better understand people around us and try to be worthy of being a part of humanity.

Our methods of travel are not a secret – we spend a lot of time and effort distributing information about hitchhiking techniques, ways of getting visas to other countries (the most difficult part of any long trip if you have a Russian passport), obtaining food, shelter and money.

Encyclopedia of Free Travel contains more than 500 articles by many authors, covering all regions and cities of Russia and many other countries. All that information is also available online from our site avp.travel.ru.  All our unique information about geography, places of interest, and travel comes from our own experience. With this information everyone can get to any city in Russia with little or no money. We also have contact info for tourist clubs, ferry and boat schedules, climate and road conditions updates, and are always happy to share this knowledge (contact info here). The only book by A. Krotov in English is here.”

But that is only a general overview. I was impressed by the Anton Krotov’s interview  where he appeared to me to be like a Sufi-wanderer (I wonder if he himself is aware of that?) – but that comes in the next post tomorrow.




35 Responses to “A Professor of hitchhiking – “the world is kind, people are compassionate and hospitable everywhere””

  1. David Rheins Says:

    great read. thanks for sharing.

  2. Al Says:

    Interesting post.

  3. axinia Says:

    What is the most valuable for me in this deaclaration – in post marked green- is that this “Life is wonderful” statement has been gained from life expeirences that are far from our common understanding of a comfortable, enjoyable life…

    I assume that the free travelers have much more impressive and dramatic expeirences than any of us, and still – after all that their belive is the good in life and human beings has grown even bigger and not otherwise.

  4. swaps Says:

    the most difficult part of any long trip if you have a Russian passport)

    Is it?? But not surprising. I heard if one has traveled to Israel, it is difficult to get a visa to other middle eastern countries.

  5. Rambler Says:

    This really fascinates me, I would like to do this once in my lifetime

    • axinia Says:

      hi rambler,
      just go for it! apparently it is not difficult in Asia and Africa, can be difficult in the West…but these Russian guys, they have written many good books with detailed instuctions, so you can learn a bit in advance…
      I think it is a really great experience, although I know I will not go for it myself 🙂

  6. The world is kind, that people are compassionate and hospitable everywhere, that our planet is open for everyone and belongs to us all.

    I don’t know whether to laugh my heart out 😆 or cry 😥 Dream on, Professor Krotov! Continue to live in your make-believe bubble, keep inflating the bubble bigger and bigger till it bursts, sending you on a spaceward journey where you will probably meet those little green men from Mars, or the big purple men from Planet Krypton, or the huge orange women from Planet Vesnon – all of them would have only one thing to tell you: that you are from a planet where the supposedly “most advanced” or “most evolved” creatures put the “most primitive” ones to shame with their behaviour.

    That you are from a planet which is like an open zoo for those little/big bright coloured men/women who tell their children: “That is how primitive, barbaric and sadistic our planet was about ten million centuries ago”. The little bright coloured children would ask their parents: “So, in ten million centuries from now, will these lowly clothed-apes become as civilised as us?” Their parents would reply: “Never! These creatures don’t have it in their pea-brains to ever behave as civilised as even our trockleroaches (the equivalent of Earth’s cockroaches), nothwithstanding their grand self-praise about their own nauseating behaviour. Most probably, they will end up smashing their beautiful blue planet (and its lovely four-legged/winged inhabitants) to smithereens. We shall come back to see the grand spectacle of these lowly clothed-apes annihilating themselves”.

    • axinia Says:

      Dear Raj,
      I feel sorry for you that you are not able to make positive expeirneces in life and always see the black side of life. That is the reson why you will never understand people with a different experience – we can only comprehen what we can correspond with our life experiences, that is the law of life.
      What these guys (free traveller) do is in fact rather corrageous, because they go with almost nothing (oft very littel or no money) in the big wide world, on the road and just appeal to the Good in the human nature. They are not beggars, they can have a nice and rather wealthy life otherwise, but they do it in roder to get the EXPERINCE, to LEARN.

      Why don’t you try hitchhiking out? 🙂 On the other hand, if you will, you are most luckily to be robbed, agressed, may be even killed – because that is what you think people are like. WIth such attitute only such thinga will happen to you, sorry to say so.

      I belive we ahve to respect other people’s experiences, especially if they are done in such a hard way which we ourselves will not venture to undertake, right?

      • No need to feel sorry for me, Axinia. When did I ever say I did not respect either Professor Krotov or his experiences or his books 😕 I only differed with his conclusion about the world.

        Even without hitchhiking, I have experienced kindness from people, complete strangers, in unexpected situations and I’m extremely grateful for that, but that doesn’t alter my view of the world.

        On the other hand, if you will, you are most luckily to be robbed, agressed, may be even killed

        May be even killed…certainly possible, not that it worries me in the least…after all, there is only one life to live, and death hangs like the sword of Damocles over our heads every second of our lives…it makes no difference to me whether I die at six or sixty…

        If I get killed, it will certainly be in line with my expectations about the world…on the other hand, if someone like Professor Krotov meets that fate, that is when his make-believe bubble will burst 😐

        • axinia Says:

          Raj, I am so glad to read that you did have some positive experience with humans, what a relief for me!
          I wonder only why doesn`t it alter your attitude to the world?? Are you the one who prefers to learn form the media and not from your personal expeirences?

          • I wonder only why doesn`t it alter your attitude to the world?? Are you the one who prefers to learn form the media and not from your personal expeirences?

            My personal experiences? Why should I learn only from my personal experiences, Axinia? I do not exist only in the form of my body, my body is just like the clothes I wear – why should I learn only from the stains on my clothes or the perfumes that are sprayed on it, Axinia?

            At a deeper level, I’m connected to every living being (it may not include animals and plants for some, but it does for me) in this world, aren’t I, Axinia, according to your beloved spirituality? So what’s the use of spirituality when I cannot learn from every living being that I’m a part of, and instead, just try to learn from the stains and fragrances on my clothes? My spirituality is not like the spirituality of the ostrich (yes, I do believe that animals are spiritual creatures as well, something that you may not agree with) – which buries its head in the sand and keeps existing in a make-believe bubble that the world has gone silent and calm just because its head is buried in the sand.

            • Correction: World should rather be universe, for I’m pretty sure that we are not alone in the universe.

            • axinia Says:

              Raj, I like you saying “At a deeper level, I’m connected to every living being ” – that is a deep thought and is indeed spiritual.
              However for me, iit may seem to maximalistic, but I can only speak from MY PERSONAL experiencess, and not from the colelctive. I do not know how to percept the experiences of others, do you know it???

              • Yes I do, to a certain extent at least. It’s nothing special to me, most higher animals have it and clothed-apes-with-opposable-thumbs are supposed to have it to a greater degree. This video explains it better than I can:

      • Axinia, don’t you think you are seeing only the positive side of this world and not seeing the negative side of it?

        Destination Infinity

        • axinia Says:

          DI, good question 🙂
          I SEE WHAT I SEE.

          • Would like to complete the above:

            “I see what I see,
            If you want to be happy, BE” : )

            What I am trying to say is that happiness is a state of mind and cannot be ‘given’; it ought to be ‘looked for’.

            • axinia Says:

              you know…I do not know how to obtain happiness, really. I am a happy person but I nave no idea how I came to taht state. I guess it was a long way of many lifes…

          • And do the things that you cannot see just cease to exist, Axinia 😕

            • axinia Says:

              Raj, there are many things that exsit in this world, but if I never experienced them how can I say I know them.

              Say, you have never been to Russia. You may read book, watch videos, ask people about the country, but you will never KNOW it until you go there and get the full range of Russian life experiences. Don’t you agree?

              • Then, it would be impossible to know everything since it’s impossible to experience everything, correct? So, should one just limit oneself to what one knows, instead of seeking? Then, what’s the difference between a Stone Age man who strictly lives within the limits of his knowledge and a 21st century man for whom the whole world is a global village 😕 How can we say that humans have “evolved” then, Axinia 😕 How can we be a part of the “great living spirit” (“divine spirit” according to you), that is connected to every human being (living being for me)?

                • axinia Says:

                  Raj, I am actually surprised to hear it from you…but here is my answer.

                  Yes, are all connceted! And I can not only get an information but also PERCEPT this information physically on my central nervous system any time: an information about anything and anybody. And thus I dare say I KNOW.

                  But if one can not percept it (and most of the people can not!), it remains a mental knowledge which means nothing to me.
                  The mental knowledge has brought the humanity to where it is now – as we all know where we now, facing the ecological, social and economical catasprophy aroudn the world (this is eactly what you love to point out).

                  The mental knowldedge is a dead knowldge for me.

                  • Of course, all are connected, there can be no doubt about it, and this “all” includes animals and plants as far as I’m concerned because they are also living creatures that have the “great living spirit” (“divine spirit” according to you) in them, as opposed to dead rocks which are made up only of “matter” and don’t have any “spirit” in them.

                    The mental knowledge is not a dead knowledge, Axinia, it is actually the one that “evolution” is all about. The reason why humanity has brought the Earth to a catastrophic point is not mental knowledge per se, but the lop-sided development of the human species. Animals generally have an ethical intelligence that is proportional to their level of biological intelligence (mental knowledge). Humans, on the other hand, have a biological intelligence (mental knowledge) that belongs to the 21st century, but an ethical intelligence that is still stuck in the Stone Age.

                    Where we differ seems to be this: while you seem to hope that humans take their biological intelligence back to the Stone Age (by abandoning the dead mental knowledge) to set the balance right and become “spiritual creatures” again, I hope the Stone Age ethical intelligence of humans catches up with their own 21st century biological intelligence. This would correct the imbalance and make them “spiritual creatures” again, like animals and plants but more “evolved” than animals and plants, because of their higher biological intelligence.

                    I know that both our hopes will be dashed, though 😦

  7. Axinia,

    Thanks for sharing. Your posts are always less about words and more about meaning.

    I feel hitchhiking can be a great adventure in terms of getting to absorb many cultures in a slow, sure manner. As I sense, hitchhiking looks like a ‘free-spirited’ experience.

    Wish I could go around hitchhiking in India : )

    • axinia Says:

      hi, vaibhav!
      you can definetly free travel in India – check this link, there are great hints, which amy surprise even an Indian:


      Actually I think there have been always quite a few saints/yogis/seekes travelling all around India and why do not you continue this great experience of your ancestors?

  8. […] got hooked on the topic since I learned about The Free Travel – not because I want to travel by hitchhiking but […]

  9. […] got hooked on the topic since I learned about The Free Travel – not because I want to travel by hitchhiking but […]

  10. The conclusion by these travellers that the world is filled with kind and helpful people if you are frank, honest and wise is correct. But if they had travelled to some bigger cities, they would have come to the opposite conclusion. It is their remote places experience that makes them say so, I think. Personally, I don’t like travelling much as I am lazy and never felt exiting to travel. But I admire such people who start travelling with a very less money and maybe lesser knowledge of the local languages as well! I think it is their passion, and I respect them for following their hearts.

    Destination Infinity

    • axinia Says:

      I share your admiration for such people, that is indeed very corageous and a great way to learn life and oneself.

      As for the big cities, people are less open-hearted there, but you sill can find many kind and generous people. I have given the example of Anton krotov here, but there are others.

      Another famous Russian traveller, for instance, specializes himself of hitchhiking in Europe and there also visiting big cities…I have not read his book yet but I am sure it is very intresting.

  11. Succat Says:

    Thank you, axinia . . .

    With love!


  12. Alenok Says:

    Hi Axinia. I was browsing trough you blog and found this entry, that brought many happy memories from earlier period of my life, when I used to hitchhike a lot.
    I learned two very important lessons at that time (probably many more):
    – That we can be very happy and free, even tough we have no material possessions. It’s one thing to know it in theory and another – to experience it. I had no home at that time, and virtually no money, everything I had fitted in my backpack. But I felt free and at the same time truly connected to the world around me. I felt that I could go anywhere I want, and that was a wondreful feeling.
    – That the world is exactly the way you believe it is. If you stand on the side of the road with an open hart and know that this road is full of kind people that are ready to help – you will meet these people, and soon. There are plenty of people that drive alone for a long time – they are often happy to take along someone to talk to. Not to mention former hitchhikers 🙂 We never had problems with food either – we had guitar with us and were ready to sing to those who would listen. Some train conductors paid us to have us on board.
    We have been using Anton Krotov’s book and found it very helpfull. Traveling together with the person I was deeply in love with helped a lot too 🙂

  13. The desire to travel is the desire to be free, to find freedom — that’s truth.

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