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Into Moldova

Wednesday, September 12th 2007

At the town of Bendery, just before the border with Moldova, two young Transdnistrians had got on the bus and sat next to me and Carlos. We spoke to them in a strange mixture of English and French, not finding much common language in either but still having a friendly conversation. When we got into Chişinău they showed us to a currency exchange booth so we could get some Moldovan Lei, and called a taxi for us to get to a hostel. A short drive through the dark and potholed streets of the city took us to a place near the centre.

That night a huge thunderstorm rocked the city. I lay awake listening to the rain lashing down, and got up late the next day as a result. Having gone for a short walk through the city centre in the dark when I arrived, I set out for a longer explore, through the city centre parks and past the plain-looking cathedral. Carlos had gone to find a different place to stay, not being much impressed with the hostel, but I soon bumped into him in town. We were both taking a photo of the presidential palace on the main street when a young police officer came up and asked us what we were doing.

One of the consequences of travelling through Transdnistria was that I had no Moldovan entry stamp in my passport, so technically I was illegally in the country. The police officer introduced himself by name and asked to see our passports. I thought this could be a problem, but fortunately, his phone rang before he could look through them. He gave us a quick salute and strode off.

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