Visiting Transnistria – The Last Outpost Of The Soviet Union

We were planning our exit from Ukraine. My visa was expiring soon, and we’d already rode the train across the country from Kyiv. Sitting black sea port city of Odessa, we plotted our possible next moves on a Google Map. The plan was to spend a month in Istanbul, but we weren’t in a rush to get there.

“Well, we could go to Moldova. I don’t really know anything about it.”

“We don’t need visas there. We can catch a bus from Odessa, and people speak Russian.”

Moldova it is then.

“Oh, and there’s this disputed region in Moldova, on the border with Ukraine called Transnistria, it’s a partially recognised state. They call it the last outpost of the Soviet Union, they’ve got their own currency, and the flag still has the soviet hammer and sickle emblem.”

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Inside Kyiv’s Psychedelic Deepdream Apartment Building

“So you want me to ride public transport an hour out of the city with you?”

“Yes.”

“To an address that you’re not sure is correct, in the dangerous part of town?”

“Uh, huh.”

“To see something that may not even exist anymore?”

“Yep.”

“On St. Valentine’s Day!?”

“Well…”

I was placing a fairly large bet on my proposed Valentine’s Day itinerary, but of all the things I wanted to see during my month in Kyiv, Ukraine, the psychedelic 13th floor apartment that may or may not exist, in Troeshina (the dodgy part of town), landed squarely at #2, right after a tour to Chernobyl. After all, my decided travel theme for the year was something along the line of “places people don’t really go”.

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This Is Ukraine’s Bizarro New Year-Christmas Mash-up

With the holidays here, I’ve been learning a lot about Ukrainian end of year traditions. Growing up in Australia, I just assumed that Christmas was kind of the same in most places around the world. Even as I sit writing this in a cafe in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a crazy frog remix of We Wish You A Merry Christmas plays a little too loudly in the background.

I was wrong. Ukrainians celebrate what looks to me like a mash-up of what I know as Christmas and New Year, rolled into one holiday that feels equally familiar and bizarre at the same time. Christmas was banned in Russia in 1917, but many of the traditions you might know as “Christmas” stuck around through the USSR, they just seem a little odd.

Most of this also applies to Russia, and other former Soviet countries, but since it was told to me by a Ukrainian, I’m going to stick with referring to Ukraine for the rest of this post.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far about Ukrainian Christmas.

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How To Explore Ba Ho Waterfalls in Nha Trang

On a quick trip to beachside city of Nha Trang on the South Central Coast on Vietnam, I spotted some photos of people exploring Ba Ho waterfall on Instagram, and decided to check it out. The falls are just a 45 minute motorbike ride north of Nha Trang, and a great way to get out of the city for an afternoon.

Want to check our Ba Ho waterfall yourself? Here’s what you need to do.

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