Journey through Moldova - I

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Referred to "Moldova" in this country, I am afraid that most people's first reaction is "heard." This small country in Eastern Europe presence in the world is very low indeed. On the population of Moldova only a few more than three million, while land area equivalent to the Netherlands, there are 16 million. On the economy, Moldova ranked last in Europe, GDP per capita is less than $ 2,000, is China's third than Ukraine, Kosovo is even lower. On the history and culture, it seems to be no significant historical events occurred. Why should I go in this country? To attract my "Transnistria Republic."

Moldova was once part of the Soviet Union, now sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, two Eastern European countries, the country as individuals born in the Soviet Union in 1991, its predecessor was the "Moldavian Soviet Socialist Autonomous Republic" of the Soviet Union Russian abbreviation Moldavia (Moldavia). After months of careful planning, in March 2016, I finally came to Moldova personally. Why do I call this behavior journey through it? On the one hand because I travel from west to east, from south to north through the most about this country, on the other hand is as if I had time and space through the general returned to the Soviet era, as well as the history of Moldavia.


"Transnistria Republic" is one of the few countries not generally recognized in Europe, it is also considered pro-Russian separatists. The country is located in the eastern part of Moldova, Transnistria zone, most of the territory is located in Transnistria, so called "Transnistria", "outside of the Dniester River." Transnistria's independence from the Soviet Union Moldova's civil war, the cause is due to the Transnistria Slavs dissatisfaction Moldovan authorities tried to incorporate Romania and cancellation of official status of the Russian language. Russia sent a peacekeeping force to interfere civil war, and the garrison has become a patron of Transnistria, a de facto government of Moldova has never ruled Transnistria.

Transnistria Republic on many occasions asked to join the Russian Federation, but did not receive a positive response in Russia. Status of this country have not been recognized by any major country, including Russia. Similarly in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Karabakh three countries, together with Transnistria, the four pro-Russian separatists since 2007 mutual recognition and establishment of diplomatic relations (recently seemed also added " Donetsk people's Republic " and " Luhansk people's Republic ").

I've always been such a national convergence zone has a very strong interest, plus it is a part of the Soviet Union, I deepened my desire. Many countries joined the Soviet Union and its satellites are the downfall of the night, as if frozen in time that era, cause for regret. Personally visit these sites, brought me more shocked beyond words (see my Bulgarian Exploration and Kosovo a day exploring ).

Moldova History

Moldova and Romania deep ties, because most of the residents of Moldova are the Romance languages ​​Romanians. Moldova historical region contains the Carpathians to the Prut river between the western half and the Prut River to the eastern half of the Dniester River, which is also called the Eastern Bessarabia ( Bessarabia) . Today, the Republic of Moldova is located in Bessarabia, in Romania's western half is also called Moldova region (Romania by the Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania Transco composition).

Romanian constitution

In the fifteenth century, Stefan III unified from the Carpathians to the Dniester Moldovan principality, and successfully resisted the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. But then the Ottoman Empire was occupied by Moldova, and ruled for two hundred years. Early nineteenth century Russo-Turkish war , the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and ceded Bessarabia to the Russian Empire. The early twentieth century, Bessarabia briefly independent, but then re-occupied by the Soviet Union. The southern half of the Soviet Bessarabia was ceded to Ukraine, the northern half of the establishment of the "Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic", which is the predecessor of today's Republic of Moldova.


The old capital of Moldova - Iasi

My journey began in Moldova through the trip from Cluj - Napoca to Iasi overnight train, both locations in Romania. Since Basel Feike Lu straight day - Napoca, I chose to fly to Cluj - Napoca, in some local exploring, then take a train to the capital in the history of Moldavia Iasi. Incidentally, Cluj - Napoca (Cluj-Napoca), Transco was the capital of Transylvania (Transylvania) in the past but also a large number of German-speaking inhabitants, called German Klausenburg. Cluj The word comes from the Latin clausus, and Klause homologous, meaning both "canyon", Cluj - Napoca is located gorge. And Napoca is a few decades ago to emphasize the historical identity of the Romanians, with Dacia language name. Transylvania can be split into Latin trans "outer" and silva "forest", meaning the place across the forest.

I advance on the Romanian railway site to buy Advanced single box of ticket ( ticket PDF ), as long as the price of RON 181.05, as long as the equivalent of less than 40 euros. Romanian train senior box is in very good condition, it can be locked to ensure safe, clean and comfortable bunks inside the box as well as sinks and electrical outlets. Train from Cluj departure time is 21:29 at night, to Daya Xi time is 6:49, just right for a night to sleep comfortably.

Then to Iasi, I went to the bus station next to the train station and asked to go to the Moldovan capital Chisinau car. Timetable is not very useful, basic or ask to be on the spot to confirm the departure time. Migrants may be power driven, may also be due to leave the communist-era system of basic education, general English proficiency young Eastern European countries is also good, even if it is less developed, no foreigner place. Confirmed the departure of a group of minibus after 9:30, I teach the Iasi. Minibus conditions in general, inexpensive, as long as 35 Romanian lei, the equivalent of seven euros, although you can also hear a counter-offer.

Moldova Iasi is the cultural and religious center, there are many Orthodox churches. Despite being more than seven in the morning, every church, there are many devout believers, most of the elderly. There are many church door selling candles and some branches of vendors, go to church almost every people will buy it, probably the local religious customs. Iasi not only has a long history of many churches from the war, there are many new churches, more modern interior.

Iasi Church

The largest center of Iasi, the most beautiful building is a palace, was the "People's Cultural Palace Iasi."

People's Cultural Palace Iasi

Iasi There are many communist imprint from red scarf on Pepsi ads can be seen.

Iasi red scarf

Entering "Transnistria Republic"

Moldovan capital Chisinau Iasi to two hundred kilometers, taking into account the infrastructure, backward Eastern European countries, is estimated to fifty-six hours to get to. Surprisingly, after only three and a half hours less bumpy ride, I went to Chisinau. Chisinau after, I bought a local phone card for Internet access, the clerk comes to Transnistria before you buy can also be used, in fact, not the line. 4G unlimited traffic card price 30 days as long as 50 Moldovan, almost as long as 2 euros. I found the phone traffic communist countries of Eastern Europe before the price is very cheap, including Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and the former Yugoslavia to join the country. These countries may be left over from a huge infrastructure, but per capita income is very low, so in order to have cheap communication. On the other hand should thank Huawei, many operators of the communications infrastructure in these countries have used Huawei equipment, but also cheap quality assurance.

Near the bus station just had something to eat, and at the station near the bazaar around the shop, I got on a minibus to Transnistria capital Tiraspol. The minibus cheaper, as long as 36.5 Moldovan, which is less than 2 euros. We drove one hour later, we went to the Dniester River "border checkpoints," this is not a border checkpoint, but checkpoint Transnistria unilaterally established. That is, since Moldova does not recognize Transnistria independence, no freedom of movement in "the territory of Moldova" set limits. The other side of the Dniester River consider themselves an independent country, so of course you want to set up a border. This side of the border there, while there is no border situation like Serbia and Kosovo ( Kosovo Travels ).

Transnistria border checkpoint

Checkpoint police car owner came to check identity documents, because I was the only foreigner, it was brought to the checkpoint hut registration status. When asked about the registration on me to do, and the residence address, and then gave me a printed "immigration card." It is said that immigrants do not lose the card, otherwise it will exit in big trouble.

Transnistria immigration card

Is 70 km from Chisinau, on the road spent a total of half an hour, I finally arrived at the legendary Tiraspol. Tiraspol bus station in front of the train station, in fact, no specific bus station, just a few stops only. I saw to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Yalta, Kiev, Odessa stop sign, showing a much closer Transnistria with Russia, Ukraine ties than with Moldova, Romania ties.

Tiraspol Train Station

The typical architectural style of the Soviet Union Station. While read Cyrillic Romanian гара (gara), the other side says Russian вокзал (vokzal).

Tiraspol train schedules

Inside the train station hanging year timetable (possibly the Soviet era), who here is a transportation hub, with several classes to Moscow by train, as well as to the Crimean capital of Simferopol, the Bulgarian coastal city every day Varna, and even as far as the Arctic Circle to the city of Murmansk. After the fall of the Soviet Union allies, the gradual decline of passenger rail, bus became the main alternative modes of transportation. Today, only two lines have been Tiraspol, Chisinau to Moscow is one, one is Chisinau to Odessa.

Moldova there is little tourism, but very few people visit the Dniester River. Tiraspol I stayed at a place called Go Tiraspol Hostel where a Soviet-style community located upstairs (now renamed the Lenin Street Hostel). Go Tiraspol Hostel is a time not long opened youth hostel, in fact, more should be said that B & B, is Dmitri sideline business. In Transnistria, even if it is for any business operating hotels are very difficult. In order to avoid regulatory authorities (blackmail), Dmitri gave me another address when registration for entry, but do not know why immigration officials said address is not valid point, I had to provide a real address. Because of my "migrant card" valid for only one day, but I want to stay for two nights, Dmitri also specifically took me to the local police station to register, to extend my immigration card is valid.

After the registration finished, I went to a nearby supermarket which changed the local currency "Transnistrian ruble." Local banks do not seem to connect with the outside world, all ATM machines can only use a local bank card, so I can only take cash for euro. Transnistrian ruble is the currency in a completely controlled by the authorities, all the same price points redemption, and bid-ask spread is not small. I use 1: 12.6 exchange rate change of 20 euros.

Transnistrian ruble

Transnistrian ruble by Transnistria issue of the Central Bank of the Republic, is the only local legal tender. Moldovan can not be used in the local area, but can be exchanged. In turn, the control region of Moldova, Transnistrian ruble is waste paper, simply can not be redeemed. Transnistrian ruble the most unique place in that it has three rubles, 5 rubles, 10 rubles plastic coins, game cards like the same.

Transnistrian ruble coins

Transnistria price is very cheap, cheaper than Moldova, but mainly low-end services and products related to the labor force. Prices of local high places is not cheap, not local people generally affordable. Since the first night really do not know what to eat, so he walked into an upscale restaurant. Elegant surroundings restaurant, elegant decoration, customer looks are rich. I ordered a barbecue and Dniester style red soup, red soup taste very good, with freshly baked bread, sliced ​​garlic, can be said to be the best I have tasted drink red soup. The last price is 142 rubles, equivalent to 11.2 euros. The price is cheap for lunch the next day I was five times the price.

Tiraspol upscale dinner

After dinner I was the only one returned youth hostels, Dmitri his friend Irina also called over, second and third day of the planned itinerary. Irina is a local English teacher, Dmitri let her take me the next day to visit Tiraspol and Bender near the castle, she can be considered a low-income subsidy. The three of us chatted for a long time, they introduced me to all aspects of the Dniester River. Most Russians Dniester River want to join Russia, not because, as a resource, it is not internationally recognized small countries, their development is too limited a. Here the Russians generally have at least two passports, someone has three or even four. First Transnistria Republic passport, the passport documents only when the domestic use, there is no national recognition.

Transnistria passport

Secondly, Russia may apply for a passport in Russia, Ukraine Ukraine may apply for a passport, if the two countries have relatives, then two passports can apply. Finally, some people still apply for a passport Moldova, purely in the EU in order to facilitate travel (visa), most people do not want to apply for self-esteem Moldova passport. Dmitri had Transnistria, Russia, Moldova three passports.

Income of local civilian population is very low, basically the lowest level in Europe, probably with considerable Ukraine, in terms of monthly salary is about 100 euros. Due to low local price, according to purchasing power parity, I guess probably the equivalent of 250 euros purchasing power in Germany. Taking into account the income of local people, local imports can be said to be expensive. Russia and Ukraine similar, Transnistria's economy is controlled oligarchy "dual economic system." The so-called binary and refers to the middle class in this country no social structure, society is split to the wealthy few and the vast majority of the poor. Due to currency instability, things are a little bit expensive euro, dollar-denominated, while the local currency inflation seriously. Long-term result of the high inflation is to master a large number of assets, foreign exchange rich are getting richer, the poor hands of only the local currency has been poor. This social structure seems very unstable, we are not afraid of the poor rich rebel it? Of course afraid, so rich in basic property in Switzerland, Panama, Cyprus and obtain a passport ready Pao Lu.

By and Dmitri, Irina chat, and later observed, Transnistria also retained similar to the Soviet economic system. Former state enterprises were privatized several oligarchs, of which the most prominent is called a Sheriff ) Group, in business for supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, factories, import and export, football, almost all industries. Transnistria people to be proud to work for Sheriff. Sheriff and governments, central banks are closely related, and even can be said that corporate control of the economy of the whole country Dniester ruble is almost Sheriff Group coupon.

Transnistria Central Bank

In addition to Sheriff Group, as well as industrial plants Transnistria and Russian military bases. Dmitri special day trip back took me to the south along the Dniester River near the Ukrainian border on a Soviet-era legacy of power plants.

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