Saturday, May 28, 2011



I'm spending a week wandering around the city of Odessa. After that, I'll probably head down to Sevastopol, Ukraine. I'm not sure when yet though I should probably start sending out CS invitations and stuff. After that, probably Istanbul. I've heard that although Georgia is indeed cheap, it is dull dull dull (also mentioned by Kenmal from Turkey who is staying at the same hostel).


I've been wandering around Odessa with this song (start at :26) stuck in my head. Now, you can have it stuck in yours.

From a distance - it was closed by the time I made it over there - I got to see a stage where they were having a dancing contest for kids.


I'm putting this in here partially for my notes and partially in case someone else wants to go sailing - for free. From what I've learned from Adam (owner of the hostel) it is not all that difficult to get aboard with zero experience. They look for those people - because they don't have to pay them. You stand watches and stuff. I can do that.

So the reason they hire crews is to move around the yachts and such for the various races that the rich participate in.

Antigua sailing week, starts in the last week in April. The month before that, you need to be in Antibes in France where they only have one hotel and apparently it's horrible and expensive. The yachts and such stack up there and then all sail across the Atlantic. Two-thirds of the are going to Antigua. That is the beginning of the Caribbean season.

Buy yachting magazines. They have information on when the races are on. Crewing companies who advertise in them though usually want experience.

You can also deal with 'Bare Boat Chartering'. Basically, this is where a bunch of people (or one guy) rents out a boat with no crew and sails it around. The job of people looking for work with this is to go get it from whatever harbor it was left and bring it back to where it should be, etc. For this, Adam advises to head to Turkey, Greece, etc - every major marina - where they rent boats.

In September, boats in California (San Diego or LA) are headed to Mexico and (via stops) eventually for Costa Rica or the Panama Canal.


I've been told it's as useless as tits on men outside of the Ukraine. Get that shit changed to Euros before leaving. Please, God, let me get it changed before leaving!


The BBQ. Here a typical American BBQ's hot dogs. [Thanks to Christopher B for finding this traditional picture.]


Weird throat spray with honey in, 20 HUA

Olympus camera I didn't buy, 1000 HUA

Samsung 5x zoom, 2gig memory card, case, 800 HUA which I did buy because my piece of shit has finally given up the ghost after consuming some batteries really amazingly fast and I'd feel like an absolute twat doing all of the traveling I'm doing without having a camera. It's not a beautiful thing but it is light, uses a LI battery and such. I'm hoping the 220v power doesn't fuck me later, but I suspect it will.

Juice box to celebrate spending 800 HUA on a camera, 4.5 HUA.


[Disclaimer - these are all paraphrases and the best I could do from my notes. I really could use a film crew following me around.]

India is between it's traditional culture and westernization. It has rapidly become westernized due to getting a lot richer as of late. Also, TV and the internet give easy access to how things are done in different countries. In addition, Indians living in America come back to India and tell people there what is going on in America. The generational gap may be one of the biggest things pushing the new change. People are beginning to question why they should continue to do things as they have in India.

Twenty five years ago (or so) - the father and mother had the children get married when they were under ten. Until the kids grew up to approximately age 21, they stayed at their own homes though they would be permitted communication and such. When the kids became 21 or so, they would then live together.

Twenty years ago (or so) - Arranged marriage, the couple got married at age 21 and saw each other for the first time on the night of the wedding.

Year 2000's or so - the mother and father choose the spouse, asking the kids if they liked each other first but no pre-marital sex.

Today - if the couple is certain they will marry they can have pre-marital sex. If they decide to break it off early however, it could get messy.

Because you have no history in an arranged marriage, you have a lot of discovery to make. Everything is 'new and shiny', so to speak.

Something that can be a real problem is if one of the people in an arranged marriage has a 'true love' outside of it. This happens a lot.

Dowries are optional today.

Daksh has a very organized mind - it was interesting to speak with him.


You always hear about the birds and the bees but when I've seen birds having sex it is usually the hopping 'frolicking' sort. Today (before I'd replaced my camera) I saw something different. One bird was standing on the wings of another and pretty much pinning it to the ground while going at it. I'm sure in bird speech he was saying something along the lines of "Take it bitch!" or "Take it you dirty bird!". I'd never seen that before in my life. When he was done and hopped off the other bird nearly get stepped on while recovering. My comment was "I thought that bird was going to get fucked...Again..."


One of the options you can take during couch surfing is to just sign up to 'meet up for a drink' - it could be tea, coffee, a dozen shots of vodka, whatever.

So I had sent out some invites for getting together for a drink. One girl said that she had a bad experience with couch surfing and didn't even want to get together for a drink. I'm thinking that's a profile she should delete.

In order to put people at their ease, I like to have a neutral meeting site and let them choose where we are going. Unless I am feeling in some sort of danger going to where they want, I'm good with where ever. Outdoor cafes on main streets to me seem safest.

I'd sent out about a dozen or more invites and got two people writing back interested to meet. I'd detailed the first meeting in the previous blog, the second was with Julia and Vlad.

BTW - I would suggest writing people for getting together for a drink as a 'low risk' way to get acquainted with couch surfing.


[Note all quotes are paraphrased. I attempted to pull what I could out of my increasingly beer soaked notes. I have also put a J: for Julia quotes and a V: for Vlad. If they both said it or if I'm not sure who said it, no letter appears. Things surrounded by brackets are from me.]

J: The best thing in Odessa is the (sense of) humor and attitude toward life.
V: The best thing in Odessa is the mix of cultures - Greek, Italian, Bulgarian, Polish, Jewish, Russian, etc.

They do Bruderschaft (Brotherhood) here as well.

In April, only in Odessa they have an April Fool's day celebration. This is even a holiday from work.

Almost all of the bureaucratic structures are corrupt. This is because they have uncertain futures so they're getting what they can now.

In Odessa, every family has Jewish roots. Much of the humor are anecdotes where in Jewish people are the brunt of the joke.

J: Old people love Russia for the stability it gave. Their futures were assured. Plus, the propaganda helped. Morality was higher - they didn't think about their own money - they thought about their country. People who didn't were ostracized. They had children's organizations called "The Pioneers" which taught kids to respect old people, etc. Nowadays, it is more anarchy.

(Under communism) people's lives weren't as good but their security was better.

[Where is Ukraine going?] Every election brings a new government. Nobody is talking to the people. The government is doing what they want.

The European Union has too many bail outs.

Ukraine should go it's own way while being a good neighbor with the countries in the region.

In western Ukraine, more people speak English. They work in the European Union as there is no work in western Ukraine.

[A weird custom in the Ukraine] After a party, when everyone gets ready to go home, you must 'na-ken-yah' [spelled phonetically as my keyboard rebels against Cyrillic]. This is a last drink - regardless of your condition. You must drink one last drink to respect the owner. It's vodka. It doesn't matter if you are on the verge of throwing up - you have to have this last drink before going.

Getting drunk is a sign of weakness.

As of last year, drinking in public places is forbidden [by law].

Hitchhiking within the city usually costs money - about what a taxi does. Hitchhiking between cities normally does not. This is seen by people as a legitimate way to make some extra cash.

V: Saying "the Ukraine" does not mean a 'suburb of Russia'.

Odessa was the southern capital of the Russian Empire.

Due to the USSR, people here want to speak and write in Russian.

Kiev is more than 1000 years old - although [due to being bombed all to shit] the buildings are new.

Georgia may have the best wine in the world.

Moscow is (or was recently) the most expensive city in the world mostly due to the prices of real estate. Also, the food and such is expensive. In Odessa, a one room flat is about $300 per month. In Moscow, $1000 per month.

People in Moscow are cold and uncommunicative. Nobody seems to be from there. Everyone goes there just to earn money. The people are self centered. Other cities [in Russia] are different than this - like St. Petersburg.

Three to four times a year, Odessa has some sort of festival involving knights.

Visit Balaclava in Sevastopol. It has an 'English seashore' and was built during the Crimean war.

To get from Odessa to Simferopol (the capital of the Crimea) you have to take a night train (8 hours, 100 HUA). From there, you take a bus to Sevastopol (2 hours, 25 HUA).

Always bargain in the bazaar.

[Julia and Vlad were one of those fun young couples that has a lot of energy. If you wanted to go walk around the city and have them explain everything to you, I'm sure they'd totally be up for it. They were also OK with sitting around and talking once they figured out I was a crippled bitch. They know a lot of stuff about their city and as a bonus (to me) they had useful information on Turkey as well. It was a pleasure to hang out with them!]


(This information came from Julia and Vlad who had spent several months in Istanbul).

Beware of restaurant scams in Istanbul - they do 'bait and switch' scams. It is very common and a meal can end up costing quite a bit. Like a hundred euros. Eat at the small and shitty looking places and on the streets.

Visit the eastern side of Istanbul - it is a lot cheaper (inc restaurants and hostels). Take the ferry there - it goes every twenty minutes and is less than a dollar.

The buses in Turkey sound magnificent - take them instead of trains. They have good roads and a good bus infrastructure.

In Turkey, you bargain everywhere - even restaurants.


  1. Y'know, having seen the things you like to photograph, and having read the things you like to blog about... I'm not at all surprised there's no film crew following you around...

  2. You don't think 'Butt boxes of Europe' would make an interesting 3 part TV mini-series?



{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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