OK, so I got your attention 😉

It’s Sunday morning on the 19th of April and today is Easter day in Ukraine and other Orthodox Christian countries. I left Chisinau on the 19.55 Chisinau-Moscow train and I’m about two hours from arriving at Kiev. The journey has been pretty standard. The conductor calls me ‘Hey! English’ every time he wants my attention, the border guards (stern looking military women again) finger my passport angrily until they realize I’m not gonna offer a bribe and then give me the ‘angry sigh’ and ‘disappointed look’ that Ukrainians do so well. Everything else just wobbles and creeks. Even by Russian standards – this train is a wobbler.

So anyway, I have until my battery expires to write about Moldova but before I started this I had to decide, am I gonna rant about the political troubles in Moldova? The answer is – no, it’s a big topic so I’ll tackle the political situation on its own later.

Monday (they day after I last wrote) wasn’t very exciting but I managed to explore Chisinau in the Sun, watch life unfold in the busy street markets (where you can buy everything – eggs, sunglasses, kittens, washing machines etc etc) and then met up with Cristina for a drink in the evening. I met Cristina when I was in Chisinau two years ago and thanks to Facebook keeping in touch isn’t a problem. However, I had a few problems trying to meet her because I was 5 minutes late so I arrived, waiving my arms and smiling like an idiot from the other side of the road only to realize that the girl I’m harassing isn’t Cristina! Whoops. Then I was saluted and then told off by a Policeman for sitting on the Stefan Cel Mare statue (maybe he was saluting Stefan I dunno) and then, after I found her we found refreshments in a nice French brasserie.

The rest of the week, until Friday followed a pretty similar pattern only some days I met Oxana, on Tuesday I visited Martin Wyss from the IOM mission in Chisinau, Wednesday an opposition activist from the Our Moldova party and Thursday Alexandrina from Couch-Surfing. Yes, I know they are all girls but this is purely coincidental – honestly.

How do you like Moldova?

It’s the first question that rolls of most peoples lips and thankfully, I can answer in all honesty – I really like it. Once you’ve adjusted to the state of the infrastructure it’s easy to be charmed by the Moldovans. Firstly, unlike the UK – everything happens in front of your face (OK not everything) but a lot. People are expressive, friendly and often loud and you’ll see levels of poverty (unrivaled elsewhere in Europe) fighting for space with the men in leather, the Vogue-like girls, Police in Ladas and the well-connected in BMWs.

In addition to my previous list.You’ll also find:
> People eating bananas the wrong way! This doesn’t make any sense to me but people in these parts have turned the banana world on its head. They hold the long stem and peel it from the bottom-up! It’s just not right.
> SIM cards that cost 3 Euros and last all week (see the helpful girls in the Moldcell shop on Stefan Cel Mare if you need one)
> Cash Machines where you can withdraw 20 Lei (1 Euro and 30 cents)
> Men drinking beer like water at any time of the day
> Amazingly overpriced restaurants (Chisinau is more expensive than Koszeg)
> 3 Million mini-buses to take you anywhere in the city. (once on board, pay your 3 lei to the driver by handing money to the person in front of you and then wait for your change to arrive the same way)
> Stray, but harmless (because they’re mostly sleeping) dogs
> Plastic flowers
> People everywhere who speak English (at least enough to help which they’re happy to do)
> Ambition – its everywhere in Moldova
> wherever you are – a sea of multi-coloured head-scarves. No self respecting communist grandma would leave home without a head scarf, blue and white dress and woolen tights and the Moldovan babushkas do it in style and their head scarves almost warrant sunglasses.

What you wont find:
> Fences, gates or roofs painted any colour except green and blue. Now, I dunno why but, variety of colour is NOT the spice of life when it comes to Moldovan fences. It’s a kinda unofficial national colour which has nothing to do with the flag. You paint your fence and gate – you do it green and blue, it’s not open for debate,
> Kids without a hat. Moldovan kids (actually, looking out of the window this might hold for Ukraine too) are all wrapped up in thick coats and topped with thick woolly hats. Everywhere you go you’ll see little round faces peering from a ball of protective layers. It’s amusing because a) it’s insanely hot here this week and b) because I asked and everyone agrees that mothers here are a little over-protective. A bus load of kids arrived next to us on Friday and they all waddled of like Moldovan penguins.
> Free and fair elections but, like I said, we’ll deal with that later…


PS, I don’t know why Moldova compels me to write lists, I feel like the guy from Hi Fidelity
PPS, It’s not actually Saturday evening – now it’s Monday and, after two nights and two days on a train – I’m still not home! I’m stuck in a hostel in Budapest.

Posted from: www.bearder.com