So I’m in this nightclub ‘BoozeTime’ in the Moldovan capital Chisinau. I see this girl on the dance floor but wasn’t sure if I should go up and dance with her so I didn’t. Later on I see her sitting by herself for the past 15 minutes and I’m thinking ‘You know what. A good looking girl like that should not be sitting by herself’ so I went over and had a chat with her.
We start chatting and she speaks really good English. She’s a uni student from Chisinau but just got back home after a year in America studying. So we get along pretty good, a few jokes here and a few jokes there and we are both laughing. She’s at a table, which I’m now sitting at and we’ve talked for about 15 minutes, when 3 local guys come up and say. “If you are going to talk to the girls here you don’t do it on this table.”
The guys waited for the girl to leave briefly to get her friend. “F**k off somewhere else!” was how the opening lines finished from these wanna-be tough guys. I respond calmly, "Okay that’s fine but
just give me two minutes until she gets back, she's left her handbag on the chair."
“NO! GO! NOW!" as they try to create presence with there shoulders back.
“Are you serious why are you being like that? She will be back soon and I will go.”
I had given her my details prior to this as she was going on holidays to Bulgaria the next day and I was planning on staying maybe a bit longer in Moldova for other reasons you’ll find out soon enough. She was either the hottest or 2nd hottest (her friend was hot too) in the club. It was Salsa night so she comes back in that sexy red dress of hers and I say to the 3 guys, “Okay she's back so I'll go.”
I walk up to the girl and yell in her ear to drain out the music so she can hear me. "Look these guys have got offended with me being here so I am going to leave here but not the club! (She roles her eyes) I will be on the dance floor somewhere so later on if you want to dance with me or have a
chat then you are more than welcome!”
Two minutes later she’s dancing with me. I introduce her to Corey the Canadian and a 42 year old former Mathematics uni professor from the hostel that I convinced to come out with me.
We dance later on too but as the night wore on I decided its time to leave. I notice that Corey and the other guy are not in the club anymore. So I walk over to the girl to say that I am leaving have a nice holiday and stuff.
So the 3 wanna-be tough guys see me say goodbye and come over. I present my hand to shake as a goodbye gesture. They don't do it and grab my arm instead. They did this the first time too but this time push me towards the exit.
Now there is no way I am going to leave this place on my own so as we get close to the security guard. I halt and say "Hey problem you speak English?" “Nyet!" ‘Shit’ I thought. I am pleading my innocence and the security guards sense what is happening. So they tell me to go inside. I
take this time to have a water to relax and take stock of the situation. I take my credit card and bank card into my back pocket and 100 euro goes down in my underwear. I turn around and there is Corey and the 42 year old former Uni professor of mathematics. Saying, “Don’t worry we’ve got your back who’s doing this too you?” The professor, “Look I won’t be able to do much in a fight but I’ve got presence I can put my chest out.” He was a solid guy. The girl apparently ran outside and yelled at them for having a cigarette. "Quick your friend needs help!" So they ran up the stairs to find me.
By this stage the ‘tuff’ guys are telling bullshit stories to the security guards to try and persuade them to let me go out the back with them. Stuff like “The girl is saying that she is in love with him and they’ve only just met.” (Translated by Corey.) Untrue and was said so the guards could go yeah this guys another one of those Europeans who come and steal ‘our’ girls.
I can see where the
guys are coming from, there are foreigners who come here to try and get the easy root and just go from girl to girl until one works out. I spoke to one girl all night and this is the treatment I got.
I arrived in Moldova on the week leading to Independence Day which meant many people plying their trade in foreign lands come back to meet up with their families. Wages here are the poorest in Europe, in 2010, the average monthly salary in the private sector was 3144 lei (equivalent of 253.5 U.S. dollars), up by 8.4% against 2009. And the wage is even less with government jobs.
But things are improving slowly here with the massive shopping centre named superbly as Mall Dova. With the EU expanding Moldova is now a border country to the EU, which is providing new opportunities for people but also disadvantages too.
Travel to Romania is more difficult for locals. Whereas before Romania was accepted into the EU, travel to Romania was easy. Now Romanians have to try and keep Moldovans out so they don’t move illegally into EU Europe. This means for holidays most Moldovans only go
to Ukraine or Russia.
It is also a country with a reputation where young women in an attempt for quick money provide a service with their bodies once smuggled into Europe. Actually the week after I was here Ukraine was caught out with a big bust of human trafficking.
English is surprisingly excellent here and when speaking to some during the day they were really friendly. The guys couldn’t speak English well as well as the older generation and because of that maybe they keep a closed mindset on some tourists. The older ladies still have that old mentality and would tell how beautiful their niece or daughter was.
The first old lady I spoke to said that I should call her daughter up at “6pm today” so I can go out with her than drew a picture of a gymnast on a piece of paper. Haha it is very hard to take that serious from an old chubby lady.
One 19 year old girl said that she wants to marry someone rich and have 10 babies. So that was me out on two counts!! She had chest hair in the middle of her outstanding cleavage.
So I was out on 3 counts.
Me and this American guy were trying to find the bus station since there are three here and that’s how we got to speaking to two 19 year olds who took us to a bar to drink (an orange juice) at 11am. They took us the wrong way so back to the main street half hour later and we ask these 3 other girls dressed to impress.
I heard this is what happens in Beirut Lebanon too. When holiday season comes the girls go all out in an attempt to find a husband. This surely is what was happening on the week I was there. These girls had high heels tight, short dresses, boobs pushed up and plenty of room for the breeze to hit the chest to keep cool. Some girls even go with the whole go-go dancers look with those underwear looking pants.
Around town most of the workers were female and the border crossing from Romania was an all girl team which puts them 2nd in my list of hottest border crossings I have been to in the world (just behind Israel, that will never
be beaten.) But as it got closer to Independence Day the more the ratio decreased with the men coming home.
Nightlife as a whole was quite good and diverse. From Salsa night to Moldovan traditional night mixed with western rock at Daja Vu. There I danced with another girl in a red dress. She had a boyfriend but it was okay for me to dance with her. (Question marks I hear)
Prior to that I went out with 4 English guys at the hostel and encouraged them to dance like locals when Moldovan music came on. So we formed a circle and jumped up and down with our hands in the air singing “La-la-la-la” to the music. It’s actually pretty good fun as long as it doesn’t look like you are taking the piss. And singing “la-la-la-la” is not the case.
My final night was at a Jazz club, which was pretty good. A free for all and the musical talent in Chisinau is quite good. Beer is cheap too with a 1 liter bottle $1 or at the supermarket a 2.5ltr bottle for $1. But I don’t think the alcohol made the nights
better. For one week there is enough to satisfy the tourist, night wise.
At the Jazz bar I was hoping for some blues to come on. If it did I would have asked them to play BB Kings Chains and Things. If they played it then I’d have sang. But the Moldovan wine made me a bit forgetful of the words after the first verse so I didn’t ask.
Moldovan wine is pretty good and there are a few wine tasting tours you can do but at 30 euro I decided I’d do my own wine tasting at different bars throughout the city. Much cheaper.
The day time however is not really much to do after 1 day. This is no destination to mesmerize. Instead for a weary tourist it was a perfect place to feel like I was at home. The Chisinau hostel was sociable so there was always someone to spend the day or night with.
One day I heard a guy talk about tennis so I said did you want to have a game. So off to a chewed up clay court and at 6-2 1-2 going with serve up in the
second set our time expired. A shame as this incredible MILF just showed up on the next court. I impressed her with a ripping forehand return that flew passed the lines knocking a bottle and the tennis coach’s sunglasses of the MILF’s son. Later we played ten pin bowling at ‘Mall Dova’.
My original plans were to spend maybe 4 days in Moldova but logistical reasons I arrived earlier to try and process a Ukraine VISA before Independence Day. After rejecting the $180 visa in Bucharest embassy. I arrive at Chisinau embassy and they say they can’t process because I need something apart from a hotel invitation.
So off I go to travel agencies to see if they can get this done for me. They say they can’t because I am not coming back to Moldova. Australians and New Zealanders seem to be the only economically stable countries left off the free visa entry for Ukraine so what was to follow was really frustrating.
I go back the next day to plead my case and they say. “Sorry we are closed today. Come back next week we are not working for the rest of the week.”
(This was said on a Tuesday) I question why this wasn’t told to me yesterday when I was here? And I got no loving from the lady at the embassy.
So in my depressed walk back to the hostel along Bucharesti Street I see up an alleyway a dentist surgery and as you do in situations like this. You notice a lump on your gum near the root canal you got done in 2007 Rio Brazil. (I know some avid readers remember that gem of a story – Well here it comes again.)
Traveling extended trips sometimes means your basic health can deteriorate and for a 3rd time in 5 Journey’s (and my 4th continental dentist visit) I required dental work. It is always nerving to go to a dentist overseas especially in a 3rd world country. But as a backpacker always striving for a good deal how could I not take up this opportunity?
I walk in and have two criteria. 1 is to see if the surgery is clean and 2 if someone in the surgery speaks English and at Fala Dental surgery I got both. A sterile smell that you want in
a surgery was there and blue bootees had to be worn on your feet. I showed my gum without an x-ray and the dentist says exactly what the problem is so I knew I was on a winner.
I make my appointment and all of a sudden I am in the country for 8 days. I walked out after the appointment and the receptionist walks in with a take away pizza so it was not all that clean but actually that was its only fault.
So to cut a long story short the root canal from Brazil got infected so that needed to be cleared before I lost the rest of my tooth. That would cost quite a bit of money at home but for me in Moldova including x-rays $300.
I paid that the day after Independence Day where I missed the big Soviet style parade with tanks and missiles, which was in the morning. I did go there in the afternoon and at night where music was being played varying from local folk, to classical, to the big finale. Zdob si Zdub a band that featured in the years Eurovision Contest. A bit
rock and punk they were pretty good.
I could have stayed till September 2 for another regions Independence Day – Transnistria. But that was another 3 days away so I headed there during one of my spare days from the dentist and Ukraine Embassy.
Transneistria is an independent region within Moldova, which has its own Government, President, currency etc. It’s a slither of land in the countries north bordering Ukraine.
The region aligns itself heavily with Russia and the Soviet system. A walk around the streets and there are many Soviet symbols and a few Lenin statues. Entering can be tricky at times but when I was there it was quite easy. Transport from Chisinau is good a bus that leaves on the half hour at the least. Some guys try and take you by taxi but the buses are so frequent and cheap its better, safer too since you have to go through immigration with others.
You have to fill in paperwork and make sure you keep it for exiting the region. Registration with the government is needed if you stay longer than 10 hours. So most people do it as a day
trip to prevent the hassles. I did that with 2 other people from the hostel.
Traveling to alternative destinations to the popular tourist trail tends to invite you to meet weird tourists. Many are some great personalities who are looking for something alternative having seen the main stays of tourism. Other times there are some weird ones, ones that have just traveled too much and it has become too much of an addiction. I look at this last group and don’t want to go down that track.
Back in Chisinau there was this 40 year old German who had been to 130 countries or whatever and was trying to prop himself up as to how great he is in his quest to see every country in the world quickly. Corey the Canadian put him in his place. “Yeah but anyone can do that who lives near an embassy. Like if you lived in London you just have to ring the bell, enter and ask a question. They say go away and tick you’ve been in their country because technically that is their land.” (Not a direct quote but pretty bloody close.)
Someone asked him, “What are
you going to do once you see them all. There is nothing left?” I butted in, “Prey for more civil wars and support countries splitting.” I hate when people travel for that purpose. I sometimes wonder if that is me but I missed countries like Burundi, Lesotho, Andorra those could have been very achievable places if I were striving for that goal but that is not what I’m about. I chose continents and regions within that.
There was another guy, an America who could speak Russian because he had lived in Ukraine for 4 years. Sometimes he would speak Russian but nearly everyone couldn’t speak it so it was pointless.
But back in Transnistria a weird Finnish guy who said “hello” with a hail Hitler salute came along with me and the Aussie tennis guy. For some reason he felt he had to better me with what he did for the day. “What did you do today?” “Oh is that all… I did this…” He had a bad sense of humour too with jokes like “I like Gaddafi. He is a great man.” It was with bad English and monotone voice so who knows.
Honestly as a tourist sight Transnistria was really, really boring. Nothing is going on. The highlight is changing currency from Moldovan to Transneistrian and seeing a few Lenin statues. There is a beach on the river, which is pretty lame by world standards. Again I got told to “F*** off!” in Russian on the bridge near the beach (I was looking the other way with the other two guys. The weird Finnish guy replied back in Russian. I can’t remember what he said.)
The day is filled by just walking aimlessly until something stands out like Russian President Medvedev shaking hands with the Transnistria President on a billboard on the main street. The Suvorov statue – the founder of Tiraspol. An Afghan war memorial, the honored residents of Transnistria is also a highlight (word highlight used loosely)
I wanted to go to the football stadium because the local football team is loaded and has this amazing stadium. There is also another town called Bendery but it looked pretty much the same as Tiraspol on the bus and the major sight is the fort which is used by the military so you can’t take a photo or
be too close to it. I saw the team bus drive past; they play in the Moldovan league
The bridge from Bendery over the river is guarded by Russian soldiers and they have been around since Independence when this region and Moldova fought. The bridge is where most of the 1200 Russian soldiers in the region can be seen. Apart from that the presence is very hidden from view.
In the past and even now this presence has created problems with agreements from protocols not be held between Russia and Moldova. Moldovan government doesn’t want Russian military presences and there has a big departure of ammunition at the start of the 21st century. But Russia is still there and in 2008 NATO requested Russia to move its military muscle from the region. At least for now the tension is not as strong as previous years so is safe to visit for now. There is also another region within Moldova, which is lesser known, but with dental appointments my movements were restricted.
So in the end Moldova is not that exciting for the average tourist, it’s more a place to feel apart of because there is nothing
else to do. 3 “tuff” guys may not have wanted me to be apart of the country but everyone else was friendly, welcoming and in truth the place has grown on me since I’ve left.
It’s defiantly at a transition stage at the moment as it has become closer to the EU border increasing the influence from Europe than just Russia. So to conclude - how did the night finish with the 3 ‘tuff’ guys and the hot red dress woman?
My mates from the hostel joined me as I exited the club. The 3 ‘tuff’ guys still trying to persuade the security guards to let them go. The girl telling the security guards that I did nothing wrong and we are chauffeured to a taxi… We drive off just the 3 of us with the 3 ‘tuff’ guys looking like they wanted blood… I would never see the girl again. I would never see Ukraine either (although I was at the embassy…)
Moldova was the turning point of my erotic journey with the weather cooling down. The black shirt with grey neutral pant could not be worn. The magnificent tan unable to be used for
its purpose to impress the painfully pale Ukrainian female but would my Milan to Minsk trip conclude with yet another great cock block story? Did I give up on finding my Rochelle or Belarus and Minsk? You know me I can’t quit. Bureaucracy will never stop me!
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