Land of the urban spaceman

“I’m the urban spaceman baby, here comes the twist:
I don’t exist”.

The lady at the post office looked at me as if I’d gone mad when I tried to send a letter abroad today. She had to even look up the price in her big book. Evidently not many people send mail to countries further away than Ukraine and Romania from Moldova.

Today was mostly spent doing admin, or, more specifically, ranting at (in turn) Windows 8.1 RT, my photo editing app, and my website host. I was trying to upload some pictures to somewhere else on the blog, but firstly I had problems with Windows auto-rotating the images so if I took an image with my camera held not in standard landscape, Windows automatically rotates the image to Portrait view. However, as the original image isn’t rotated, when I upload said picture to WordPress, it’s in Landscape view not Portrait view, but I can’t change the rotation because according to Windows, it’s already rotated.
Then, I remembered the problem I have with images uploaded via WordPress; research last time I had issues suggests that my website host has issues with the way WordPress uploads images, and won’t allow images where one dimension is over 2000 pixels to be uploaded. This means I then had to edit every one of the pictures I wanted to upload, to get it below that magic number.
And I’m not used to this photo editing app yet!

As you can tell from that above wall of text, today was not an interesting day In truth I barely did anything travel-related until about 4pm; it was the archetypal ‘day of rest’. However, then I caught a bus to Tiraspol, in the Republic of Transnistria.
I will blog about Transnistria in a separate entry in the ‘country’ blog, suffice to say that it doesn’t exist. It’s a breakaway part of Moldova on (mostly) the Eastern side of the Dniester River that’s been trying for independence since about 1991, but no-one recognises it as a state. It has its own police, money, postal service, etc, and to all intents and purposes operates as a separate state, but legally belongs to Moldova. The impression I get is that neither side of the Dniester River want it to remain part of Moldova, but can’t do anything about it.

I’m staying here with an ethnic Russian couchsurfing host, who (amongst other things) wants me to go to her son’s after-school class tomorrow to talk English with them, in presumably the same way as I did in Chisinau on Saturday. Apparently she gets many requests for couchsurfing from people who want to come to Transnistria (for reasons she can’t understand) but as yet no-one natively English.
She does say though to avoid Odessa – The apartment is exactly 100km from Odessa, the people around here know it well, go there often, and have relatives there, and are currently advising even each other not to try at the moment. So, back to Chisinau I will go before heading to Kiev then. My mother will be pleased…

Finding her apartment was a bit of a hassle; while I knew roughly where it was, the numbering system of the tenement blocks themselves seem to make no sense, plus at some points the paths disappear (it’s right on the edge of the city) so sometimes you think you’ve gone the wrong way. Just for the record, there is no Google Streetview In Tiraspol.

The journey in was quite rough. It’s not very far from Chisinau to Tiraspol but the roads heading out the city are pretty dire. Either that or the minibus I was on had virtually no suspension; I was being bounced around all over the place. In addition, the stereo was blaring out some kind of Russian-language electro-dance music.

The border crossing was pretty painless, although apparently incorrect. When the bus stopped, a border buard came on and checked everybody’s passport. When he noted I was British, he indicated I ought to get off and go to a roadside booth to be ‘stamped’ in (there are no stamps, which is a shame, but my passport details are recorded). After doing this, I then got back on the bus.
Apparently, what’s also supposed to happen is that they give me a piece of paper to fill in with my registration contact details, which I then have to give to the local police station in order to register me as being in the country (if I stay more than 24 hours). They never gave me this paper. Olga said though that hopefully it won’t be too much of an issue.

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