Published: August 3rd 2006June 30th 2006
The empty streets of Tiraspol.
Day 50, 20th July.
Sângera - Benderi (TRANSDNIESTRA) - Tiraspol - Stepova (UKRAINE)
Andrew swam across the lake early to wish us well on our way, and we carried on east along the road in hot weather again. The roads were different than we were used to. Virtually empty of people, no horses and carts, no workers in the fields. Just before Benderi the landscape became wild and completely unused; then, a checkpoint with a Russian tank guarding it, we were waved through. Then the border control of the self-proclaimed Trandniestran Moldovan Republic.
It was a time-capsule of the Soviet Union, hammer and sickle emblems on the guards caps and also on the coins we found out later. There were a collection of little huts, and in one we were ‘sold’ transit visas for $5 each! After that, we carried on downhill into the ‘USSR’!
There were CCCP signs around the place, a Lenin’s head on a roadside marker, loads of military movement, and people who didn’t wave back at you - they only stared. Across the Dniestra river, we changed $5 each in Tiraspol and had something to eat and drink during the heat of the
These signs are not leftovers from Soviet times - they're NEW !
day. A nearby park was strange, inasmuch as it had loads of old fairground rides that still worked. We carried on along straight, dead, roads to the Ukrainian border, there wasn’t much else we wanted to see, and besides, Scott was ill again!
At the border, we spent our last cash on food and drink from the kiosk and went to the ‘ITEM OF THE BORDER CONTROL’ as it was put in English. After a lot of bureaucracy we were told that Rory’s Ukrainian visa was out of date! And it was true, there had been a kind of mistake and Rory’s visa was only valid until 10th July! The prospect now for Rory was that he’d have to return to Chisinau to get another Ukrainian visa, this could take more than a week, he was gutted! The Trandniestrian guard was sympathetic and after a while decided to let us through the border to see what the Ukrainians would say? We cycled across the small bridge into Ukraine and the border officials waved us into a hut where our passports were scrutinized by a young official who was over-friendly and could speak good English. By some miracle or whatever*,
Capital of Transdniestra. Us guys next to the city sign.
our passports were stamped, and we were all allowed through as the sun was low on the horizon. After picking up water from a house in a village we set out to free-camp. Rory found a place in a forest infested by mosquitoes, we pitched in the dark, ate, and crashed out for the night.
*By some miracle - Psychology actually. We reckoned if we handed our passports over in a pile, 3 British passports on top, 1 American passport at the bottom with Rory’s passport on top of that one. Then when the guard came to the 3rd British passport (Rory’s) noticing that an exciting American one was last, he’d quickly stamp Rory’s thus missing the error on the visa. Apparently, it worked. The big worry now is what will happen when Rory leaves Ukraine?
Total Miles: 2422.25 Todays Miles: 65.86 Average speed: 11.3 Time on bike: 5:47
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