Transdniestria’s Most Wanted (Part Two)

Chisinau Travel Blog

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I had read reports and I had a sleepless night worrying that my bribe of Diet Coke might not be acceptable to the guards on the Transdniestrian border, but all this fretting was for nought.  I filled in the Immigration Card while on the bus, had my passport taken off me at the border, then returned and then after entering the border station and explaining that I was there as a tourist, having my passport checked again, I was waved through. 


Corruption?  Bribes?  Not that I could see… or at least not yet.


As I was on a tight schedule (I had a wine tour booked for 1pm in Chisinau), we arrived and I did my best impression of walking but with all the ice on the ground along with my sneakers, meant I was more like Torvilla and Dean.


We stumbled and slid our way to some of the sites taking photos of statues and signs and then we crossed the road.


The Policemen had been taking an interest in us, and approached us talking to us in Russian.  Derek, who spoke Russian, talked with the policeman, and me not understanding stood there acting all very innocent.  Eventually we had to follow the officer to his commander where we had to sit through a lecture on something (once again not knowing Russian meant I could feign quite convincing, ignorance) and he wrote out a piece of paper.


Apparently we were in a lot of trouble as we were jay walking.  Yes, that’s right, I had broken the law in Transdniestria and was given a ticket.  In the end Derek paid the commander with some Ukraine Hryvnia and sure enough our troubles were over.  I’m sure they preferred dealing with him more because if they had of dealt with me I would have done the whole nice smile and nod routine, and shown my empty wallet.  (Earlier that morning I had emptied out my wallet in case someone wanted to rifle through it for bribes).


The adventure with the Policemen had cost us a lot of time, especially as I had to be back for my deadline.  But there was still one very important piece of business I had to do – change some money.


As I mentioned I had an empty wallet with hardly any Moldavian Leu in it, apart from the bus fare back to Chisinau, so when we were in the currency exchange I had to find all the cash I had stuffed into secret areas on my person.  I felt very spy like, without the gadgets, or the nice outfits or the fancy car.


Then it was time for me to head back and catch the bus to Chisinau, making sure all the while not to jay walk or take photos in public so we wouldn’t get stopped again for another random infringement. 


Saying my goodbye to Derek, we parted company.  Strangely the bus back cost 3MDL more (making it just over €2 for this two hour journey), and I know he wanted more.   Poor driver, I showed him my wallet – there was no money in there.  He grumpily told me to go and sit and we took off.


The ride back meant a stop at the border.  This time they took my departure card from my passport, then after driving two metres, my passport got collected by another guard before being returned.  Having driven another few metres, they checked all of the buses passports again, and then we could drive on back into Moldova.  It must have been cold outside because the guards who came onto the bus had ice frozen onto their jackets.


The minibus, which would have suited a pygmy better than someone with my legs, meant I couldn’t get comfortable, which probably worked in my favour because I got to stay alert and had to repeat to the driver to drop me off by MallDova Shopping Centre. 


Running in the ice and snow, I made it back to the hostel at 1.06pm.  Panting I asked where my tour driver was, only to be told that “Sorry, no tour today”.


Hmmm, I just spent the morning rushing around catching local buses, sitting on a marschrute for two hours each way, going through two separate border crossings hoping to use my Diet Coke cans as a bribe, only to get stopped and fined for ‘jay walking’ in a country that isn’t internationally recognised and now you’re telling me “No tour today”.


Still there are worst things I’ve heard people say to me today …. “Now open up and show me your wallet”.


Spassiba for the memories

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photo by: Biedjee