Friday, August 15, 2003
The Drunken Boxers
Not everybody we meet on the road is happy to see us. When this is the case, the most we can hope for is that the person will be indifferent to our presence. Sometimes however this is not the case. Three times over this trip we have had to result to physical force to protect ourselves or our property. All three times have been with drunks.
Before starting the trip, we certainly had to prepare ourselves for this eventuality due to some of the types of regions that we are going through.
Though not shying away from this fact, it is not a thought that is relished due to the fact that we have not been in such a position for many a year.
The first opportunity to destroy this record of good behavior came unfortunately in a town called Oos-tatar about 500km east of Yakutsk in the Russian far east. Woken from my sleep two dark figures framed the doorway of my room. Smelling of liquor the two had obviously been drinking - a fact that became more apparent when one of the men stumbled over and grabbed my arm roughly, whilst spaying me with seemingly aggressive Russian verbiage.
Not understanding a single thing that was being said I feigned still being asleep and tried to ignore them. Undeterred, our inebriated friend continued to tug at my arm whilst becoming noticeably more aggressive. Obviously the situation could not be ignored and the two were helped out of the room before I could return to slumber.
Similarly in Mongolia, where in Soctovo a car full of very drunk youths pulled up to the restaurant we were eating at and invited themselves to our table. Becoming increasingly belligerent, they followed us out to our bikes where the largest of the group - a stocky, tattooed young man - started becoming physical. Again he had to be dissuaded from doing so which was a point that took a little while through his drunken haze .
Similarly, the third incident happened at a gas station on the return to Ulaan Baatar also in Mongolia. An even larger and formative man, who was no less drunk than the previous, took it upon himself to move Matts' bike so he could fill up their truck before Matt had the chance to do the same. When we objected to this, fearing damage to our bikes, the situation turned very violent very fast and also lasted longer than before and it was a while before it was safe to remove ourselves from the situation.
Thankfully we have only encountered drunk individuals who have taken it upon themselves to form a physical connection with us. I am grateful that this in turn has made the situation easier to deal with once raised to that level.
We have not yet encountered that other breed that has mal attend on their mind without the help of alcohol - something that to me is infinitely more dangerous.
To try to put this in context however it must be stressed that these incidents are in a very small minority to the large amounts of interactions that have over the course of the trip and not only could, but does happen through out the would when careful or not. Also a number of episodes are diffused without becoming confrontational in such a unrefined way.
But it is a part of the trip and these are things that we must be prepared for whilst at the same time hoping that if such an incident would arise it ends safely
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