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Monday, May 23, 2011

ROMANIA LAYOVER AND OVER AND OVER...

ARRIVAL IN IASI

First thing - secure transportation. So, I went and checked on how much it would cost to go to Moldova. The good news on the pri - second class for 35 ROM and the first class is 83 ROM. It is a five hour ride. So - it's roughly either $12.50 or $30. I'm honestly undecided. I want to keep my costs down but could really use some sleep. It was close to 7 PM when I got to the train station. I was told that the train wouldn't leave till 3 AM. I freaked out a bit and told the nice lady "I'll be back." I figured I had plenty of time to go look into alternative routes - like buses and (fuck it) a taxi. So, I needed to find directions to the bus terminal. I went around asking taxi drivers what color the sky was. One guy laughed and said "It's blue, man!" I barely managed to get directions out of him before some guy hopped into the back and he took off. Never ever to be seen again. Doh. The directions were half a kilometer humping the pack. His directions were wrong. I found out from a couple of high school aged girls that the bus station I actually wanted was right across the street from the train station. Double doh. I could have farted fire. So, I went back and had a chat with the people at the bus station. It turns out they had a bus that bound exactly to where I want. Leaving tomorrow at noon. So, I headed back to the train station and tried to buy a ticket. They wouldn't sell it to me. I swear to fucking god, they wouldn't sell it to me. The third time the lady was angrily explaining in Romanian to me I said "I'm sorry, my language skills have not improved since the first time you tried to explain it in Romanian to me." I heard someone behind me snicker. Guess who became my newly drafted translator?

It turns out that the tickets are sold out of Frankfort (Germany). They close the ticket sales to the local stations 48 hours before the train comes.

What...the...fuck...

Because I could feel the anal intruder coming, I asked "How do I get on that train?"

She said I'd have to buy a ticket from the conductor.

Remember last blog when I said this was a really bad sign? Here it happens again. Basically, I'm suppose to jump on a train headed for the border. It's adventurous the same way that stepping on a rake can be. Since I've got my second wind in a restaurant with the obligatory TV chattering away like a 'Chicago Typewriter' in the background, I decided to try typing on the blog for awhile some stuff then probably get clubbed to death by the 'sleep monster' in the train station. I see some great fun in the near future. I'll have to see what this train station looks like at night, but it's looking better than Timisoara does so far...

After finding as secure (and warm) of place as I could, I let myself fitfully doze while keeping a death grip on my shit. Eventually, I managed to board the train - just barely. My sleep befuddled brain wasn't sure if it was the right one and with no ticket it made it more challenging.

And then I got a cabin. It had four bunk sleeping beds in it and was empty aside for me.

Some guy who was either drunk or tired with no uniform or tickets came calling. I couldn't verify whether he was the conductor or not. He didn't speak English or German. I showed him I had money. I let him examine that I had a passport but I didn't release it from my grasp. I know about the trick of 'give me money or I rip this up'. When I originally got on the train, my intention was to check out both the first and second class seating to see what I wanted to pay for. In my 'duh - me need sleep state' I found later that I had ended up climbing onto the first class cabins. And I think that I had accidentally negotiated a first class passage for second class price.

Hell, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Well, unless it's digital.

I was very confused if I should sleep or not. This strange guy with no uniform bugged me. I eventually gave into trying it out because it was the first horizontal surface I had encountered in a very long time. As soon as I had gotten comfortable, the door opened. It was the guy - and he had found his conductor uniform. We were already at the border. The very odd thing at the Romania border is that they take your passports. I mean like physically take them away to somewhere else. I watched and they did indeed take other peoples - not just mine. I'd have been freaking out if it was just mine. A different guy came through and asked me how much money I had. I showed him the fairly pathetic amount in the 'day wallet'. He looked completely disinterested and wandered off. My guess is that you have to declare over a certain amount. I had forgotten about the other currency that was in my special container but I think he would have been completely disinterested in my BAM (Bosnian Marks).

The customs official then pointed at my backpack and asked "Problem?" I thought about how well the pack actually seemed to be working and said "No." I didn't think his English would have let him comprehend if I mentioned I couldn't get the waist belt as tight as I'd like.

He then lifted up the seats to look under them. I really need to start doing this when I am in a train crossing a border. I'm sure if he found a dead whore and a couple keys of coke he wouldn't immediately leap to the conclusion that it had been left by a previous passenger. He might buy it if I loudly suspected Matt L but otherwise, I'd be hosed.

Anyway, he failed to find anything that distressed him so he left. The train then completely powered down which cut off the lights in my room. The only lighting is from the outside border lights. the harsh glare fills the room as we wait and my mind goes back to the movie "Top Secret".

My imagination hates me.

About a half an hour later, I had my passport cheerfully returned to me. I checked it out. My passport currently has eleven stamps. No clue what that means - some countries stamp, others didn't, some stamp one entry and one exit. Bah. Compared to someone who hasn't really traveled much, I've done a lot of traveling but compared to a lot of the people I'm meeting on the road, I've not really left the house.

Another fifteen minutes after my passport returned we were moving again. Into the Moldavian side. One border guard and one guy in camouflage came in. They asked in the "I know a couple words of English" type speeched where I was bound after this. I said "Maybe Odessa." This seemed to make them happy. They then inquired how long I would be in their country. I asked if the maximum stay was three months. They agreed it was. I told them "Less than that." I like to keep my options open. There was a bit of a pause then they shrugged and left. They seem to have been defeated by their own lack of English.

Between an hour or two at the train station and about two hours of sleep I got on the train, I was feeling fairly well rested. Or I was sleep walking.



NEXT EPISODE, CHISINAU, MOLDOVA!



COSTS

Shot of second grade whiskey, 12 ROM

Pizza - garlic, cheese, pepperoni, onions, 20 ROM



COUCH SURFING IN TRANSNISTRIA

According to my contact, the reason that there are few people willing to host in Transnistria is that you need a letter of an invitation from a foreign country to leave Transnistria. Hard to believe in this day and age. A lot of people feel put out because people apparently promise but do not deliver in these letters. Me? I'd move it.



TRAIN BATHROOMS - HOW TO USE THEM

For the ladies, they have one and only one option. It is called "Disinfect the toilet seat and perhaps add plenty of toilet paper around the rim so you don't have to touch it with your skin." I suppose they could also use the 'hold yourself over it and try to pee' option but the mechanics are mind boggling.

For men, we have two different ways to go to the bathroom.

The first is called the 'conductor lean'. Conductors are always leaning on doorways and such while the train is in motion so they are not bounced about by the constant jarring of the tracks. Well, in Central and Eastern Europe anyway. So, you lean on something and pee. That is the functional way to do it. Lean up against the wall and let it fly.

The second way I call "The Cowboy". It works just like a cowboy on a bucking bronco - see link. You stand unsupported in the middle of the bathroom and let it fly. Do your best not to touch anything - just try to keep your balance. Have a good time with it because chances are excellent there will be a lady waiting after your done. Try not to let her follow you to your cabin to kill you.

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PICTURES

{{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 |

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