Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: MS Erchova, You 89 years old, and You’re still flying around the world. Where did You get so much energy?
Elena Erkhova: I would say that the energy from the process. When I ride I feel good. I rest and get acquainted with different people.
— You grew up in the Soviet Union. You always traveled so much or only started in retirement?
— When I was 43, that is, in 1971, I first went abroad, in Poland. Two years later I again went abroad, in Germany and in Prague. Then for several years I unfortunately had to stop the trip because I had to work a lot and bought an apartment. My friends then often asked, what about the next trip, but I, unfortunately, for a long time could not on this occasion to say anything.
— What life was like in the Soviet Union?
— For me it is very heavy. My mother died when I was three years old. The father left me and moved to some other city. My grandfather was the only one I have left. There was nothing when I was little, sometimes had to eat grass. Unfortunately, I never learned how to read and write. But then I have always had a job, and I worked very much at the milk plant, for example. And some to earn money taking pictures, it was my hobby.
— Despite Your love of travel, do You feel affection for the Motherland?
Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, where I live, in fact, is not my homeland. I am originally from Orenburg, a city in the Urals. In Krasnoyarsk live quite difficult. Imagine: at the beginning of the year it was -45°C. the Winter is very cold and summer is too short. In Thailand in this sense, I much nicer. There I do not need to take your meds.
— In Krasnoyarsk. passes the TRANS-Siberian railway. It is very convenient if You like to travel to Asian countries.
— Ah, I, in General, almost don’t take the train, I only fly airplanes. Of course, by train direct connections from Krasnoyarsk to China, but I know how much time it will take? On the plane much faster. But I must say that at that time I went to Poland by train, it was also very interesting. There is much around to see, unlike aircraft, there is, of course, you can see only clouds.
— You are not tiring long flights?
With flights I have no problems, so I don’t care. When I flew to Thailand, my plane was such a convenient place that I just leaned back in his chair and rested the whole way.
— I think Thailand is one of Your favorite countries.
— It’s all Nikolai Baskov, famous actor and singer. He was in awe of my travels and therefore, the program “Fashion verdict” on channel one gave me a trip to Thailand. Such a great guy! And what was this trip! Magnificent sea, where I pretty much bathed. And what a hotel!
— Where do You like in Asia or in Europe?
Oh, I have to say that Europe suits me best. Mainly, the Czech Republic, I was there six times, once in Prague, five times in Karlovy vary. Czech spas are simply lovely. It is best to relax. In Thailand just as wonderful as in Turkey, Vietnam and Israel. But in Europe the best food. In Thailand, the food I did not come, all those hot spices and lots of pepper. But the climate is better than in Europe.
— You often meet other people during Your trips?
— Yes, when I travel I always meet the best people. In Karlovy vary, for example, I made friends with a couple — Maria and Vladimir, both Russian — Germans, have been living in the Czech Republic. It was such nice people, they gave me a bag and gave your phone number. I would have gladly called, but in Krasnoyarsk someone on the bus stole my purse, and it was a phone number.
— You speak foreign languages?
— No, in the Czech Republic, for example, a lot of Russian, and in hotels, too, all speak in Russian. In Thailand and Vietnam was, of course, more complicated. But there were people speaking in my native language. Russian speakers everywhere enough, you can count on it.
— You seem like a very cheerful person for Your age. It travels keep You young?
— Of course! Exactly! I feel great both physically and mentally. Especially important is the contact with new people and respect that it feels.
— In Russia, retirement is not too clear. How do You afford to travel?
Yes, Yes, everyone says, “How this old woman could afford such travel?” But I grew up an orphan. When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, many died or suffered from hunger. When you experience this, learn not only to be content with little, but to save money. My pension is 24 thousand rubles per month (380 Euro). Half of it every month I was immediately put off. Hoard, hoard, hoard! And I eat little. To travel is more important than eating! Only three small meals a day. And some of the money I make in the summer: bouquets of flowers and sell in the small market in front of mine.
— But then You do not limit yourself?
In travel, I also eat not more than at home, but the living conditions should be at least acceptable. I always stay in hotels. In Karlovy vary I’m a regular at, I always stop in the same hotel. But the best was in Thailand, because the Basque gave me a room in a five star hotel. It was great!
You independently plan your trip?
— Completely! No one helps me, I’ll book and pay for all the tickets.
— Does your grandson have created a Facebook page and Instagram.
— It all started when I was in Vietnam, met a couple from Moscow. Wife, Helen Papin, was in awe of the fact that such a lady like me, travels a lot alone and posted pictures of me. Pictures have become very popular. And then they talked about me on TV. And they then called me and sent on a journey to Israel. Since then, my travels can be tracked online.
— Your page is signed by a huge number of people. Do you feel like a star?
At least, in Krasnoyarsk, many people recognize me on the street or when you go to the store shopping. Vacationers in Karlovy vary too, I know someone is calling me. In fact, many consider me a superstar. I am often photographed in Thailand, for example, I was taking pictures of tourists from Brazil, Israel, Canada. All were interesting and surprising, as people in old age can, without fear, so much to travel.
— What guidance would You give to people Your age?
— If they have a little bit of money, he will spend it on travel. In Russian language there is a saying: “to the grave the money will not take.” Instead of sitting at home, it is necessary to go abroad to learn something new is much better.
— Soon You will be 90 years old. Surely You have some special wish.
Yes, April 5, my birthday. Of course, most of all, I want to go somewhere. In the Czech Republic or in Asia. But I have heard a lot about the Dominican Republic. There’s probably a great.