Sunday, 15 July 2007

Day 53 - Edinet (Moldova)

Blimey, another post! Anybody would think I have nothing better to do with my time, well here that is the case.

The less said about Friday the better. I had a downer, the first of the trip and as I was getting ready to leave I was overcome by apathy and went back to bed and didnt get up until 13:00. I slept through to 11:30 and then on and off, so I probably needed it.

I felt better in mind and body yesterday and saw not a single signpost heading out on Vinnytsia but my compass seemed to think I was on the right road, until it unexpectedly turned east. I was on the only other road going south but it joined my intended route, but I just has to go a little further than intended. The weather was good and it wasnt too hilly and I made good progress. There was only one town that had the slightest chance of a hotel, but as soon as I got there I realised there was no chance at all. On my 1:1,000,000 it shows as a number of road meeting in the centre, but that is never the case and I was soon on the wrong road out and returning. The second attempt was also wrong but I kept going as the only other likely road was gravel, again it just made it longer. I was going to have to camp wild, but I needed water first and I filled up from a well (Photo). I was hot and thirsty and the wonderful clear, cool water that came up reminded what a precious and life saving commodity water is that we all take so much for granted being on tap at home. I felt a bit guilty filtering the water that is drinking water to the locals, but felt better one a guy from the house next door came and gave me a hand. I was now carrying 4.5 litres of water a 1 litre of fruit juice. A few kilometres further on I found a small gap through the trees that led to the edge of wheat field and enough room to put up a tent. As I set up the tent the wind dropped and it was a wonderful evening. Its amazing how clean you can make yourself feel by "showering" with about 1 pint of water. As it got dark the sky was totally clear and the stars were amazing. Dawn was clear and lovely and warm and it nights like that, that can make wild camping so rewarding.

Before I leave Ukraine I have to say that the first impressions I had of the women were slightly wrong. What I said really only applies to the women out in the country where life is a little tougher, the women in the cities are very good looking and well presented, not that I noticed! Most people in the cities made me feel a real scruff, but some might argue that that is not difficult.

After about 30k today the road dropped sharply into a valley, quite a shock to see after there has been so little change in scenery over the last week. The border town was like no other I had seen in Ukraine and there was a real buzz about the place. It felt a bit like a seaside resort, but without the sea and, well, anything nice really! I could see the border control, but just couldnt get to it and it took me about 10 minutes to find the way through. I was sent through with the people on foot and as most were waved through I got the full treatment that took about 20 minutes, then it was a walk across a bridge to the Moldovan control. Here I got the same treatment, only more of it. There were a constant flow of people on foot and I was the only one stopped. I was there over one hour as my passport was handed around to all and sundry and I wondered just how many times they could marvel at the blank pages. I got a bit confused by the proceeding especially as through the whole thing the only word I could understand were John and near London. Still I was soon on first name terms with the guard, Alexandus. The flow of people continued and somebody walked off with my passport, so I made myself at home in the office and they didnt seem bothered. I kept asking if there was a problem and they always said no. Alexandus shoke my hand, still in a sweaty mit. I could tell he regretted it by the way he held his hand up whilst looking for something to wipe it on whilst all I could do was laugh. My passport returned and they brought a girl who could speak English. I again asked what the problem was and she said there was none, its just they dont see many passports other than Ukrainian or Moldovan. So was it that it was just fascinating to them, or did they not know what to do with it. At last I was allowed to go. The whole time I was there only one lorry crossed the bridge all the other when Moldovans on foot returning with goods bought in the Ukrainian town across the river. I changed my Ukrainian Hrynvia for Moldovan Lei and what lovely little notes thay are too, just like monopoly money. The temperature was now in the 30s as I climed out of the valley. I had a stretch of main road which I was dreading as it looked like a motorway on the map. It was great, like one of the smaller tarmaced Ukrainian roads, but with little traffic, about one vehicle every 5 minutes. I was aiming for Balti, but I saw a signpost saying 80k and it was already 3pm, so I went off in a different direction to Edinet as it was only 28k and it paid off as it has a hotel. Place names on signposts now match those on the map and it is so much easier.

Tomorrow I will set off for the capital, which should take a couple of days to get to all being well.

I have at last been able to add some photos, starting with a few more of Hungary.

Pete, glad to hear you are still alive and reading this drivle, now get back to work!


brianc said...

"I was aiming for Balti...."
Wouldn't it have been easier to cycle to Birmingham?

Caff said...

Just told my friend you've made it to Moldova. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head - "Wow, that was quick, how did he do that?!" I reminded her that Moldova was a country to the south of the Ukraine. "Oh Moldova, I thought you said Mongolia!!!!!!" :-)

S said...

Glad to see some windows and doors appearing in your pictures - I was beginning to think I was looking at the wrong blog

Caff said...

The capital of Moldova - Chisinau/Kishinev. There seem to be lots of blue churches with blue sky in Moldova!

After you have left Chisinau, if it rains too much you could always head south for cover in Kagul!