In an interview to Sputnik Vietnam, Elena Mikhailovna revealed that despite serious health problems she prefers to see the world than sit at home.
"My very first trip abroad happened when I was 40 years old. I went to Poland. Then I was in Prague and in Germany. But for the past five years, I've been going to Karlovy Vary: the treatment is very good there. Then I was in Germany again, and after that I went to Turkey," Granny Lena said.
According to the Russian babushka, the idea of active traveling was suggested by her friends, when she was already 83.
"They've asked me: 'Why are you sitting at home?' Well, I thought I won't even be let into a foreign country at my age… But my friends sent me to the travel agency anyway. So I went, and they quickly made me a passport. Then I took my first voyage to Karlovy Vary."
Now, Granny Lena travels abroad twice a year. "The girls are jealous!" she said playfully.
After her trip to Vietnam, the pensioner was amazed by the country and the people: "I was in Mũi Né. The nature is so beautiful there, the fruit is so tasty and the people are kind and very sociable. Though at the hotel, where I stayed, none of the staff spoke Russian, I somehow managed to get everything done."
Elena Mikhailovna also said how much she enjoyed swimming in the sea and the local cuisine. "There is a lot of fish there. Together with my fellow travelers, we went to a restaurant. One moment we were shown live fish, and the next they've already cooked it for us. The taste is quite different from the frozen one," she said.
Besides her native language, the elderly lady knows only Uzbek. How did the granny manage to overcome the language barrier? She was lucky to meet another Russian tourist, Ekaterina from Moscow, who was ready to help.
"Once I went to try Vietnamese soup for lunch… and there was so much pepper in it! Katya was sitting at the next table, went to the waiter and asked him to bring a portion without pepper. Since that moment she took care of me: we went together to eat and to swim. She knows English and helped me to communicate. It turns out that the many Vietnamese understand English!"
The rest of the time, Granny Lena managed to enjoy her trip all by herself: "I went to the mall and to the pharmacy myself — employees are good at Russian there. And in general, as I've already noted, people are very helpful there. I even rode a motorbike there! Its owner kindly gave me a lift from the pharmacy to the hotel. He was so delighted when he found out where I was from and how old I was!"
As for the Vietnamese climate, which is quite unusual for the Russians, Elena Mikhailovna was ready for the heat.
"I'm okay in a tropical climate well, as I lived in a hot weather in Tashkent. So it seems usual. The heat is better than the cold for me, even though I live in Siberia."
The pensioner travels light, with just a single backpack. But for a lady of such an age, traveling around the world is hard work
"Since my childhood I was working hard, and survived through the cold and hungry years of war. Maybe, that made me stronger. Sometimes I wonder myself how I manage to do this. Probably, God gave me the strength for all the years I've already lived!" the grandmother told Sputnik.
Granny Lena's relatives are relaxed about her active hobby.
"They are happy for me! Initially, however, my daughter was a little afraid. I have bad sight, almost blind, but I guess God sends me kind and helpful people."
The latest country the grandmother visited was Israel, which made a great impression on her.
"I've never thought that I would visit this country. I have no words — so many places I have visited!"
Elena Mikhailovna bathed in the Jordan and the Dead Sea and made a little pilgrimage to Jesus Christ's tomb. She even rode a camel there. "A video was even filmed with me. I'll be sure to go to my friend's, who has the Internet, so I'll watch it," she said.
The woman had also some time for a health checkup there: "I've been to an eye clinic there. Doctors examined me, gave me recommendations and made new glasses. Unfortunately, it was too late for operation," she explained.
The retiree-traveler from Siberia is only too happy to share her new experiences.
"I want to say to everyone of my age: do not be afraid to travel. It is necessary and useful to see the world!"
Granny Lena is not going to stop. She is now in the middle of planning her latest trip to Spain or Italy, of course, if the health and finances allow.