Odessa Warnings and Dangers

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Most Recent Warnings and Dangers in Odessa

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    0dessa-X (?)

    by arturowan Updated Jan 17, 2014

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    Ukraine is notorious (to some) as 'the Thailand of Europe'...
    In other words - a short haul alternative for the sex tourist - & the capitol of this traderoute is Port 0dessa...
    This port city is also the pivot of the white slave trade in Europe, where up to 10 000 girls per year are estimated to be exported on the ferry to Turkey, then sold on to brothel keepers...
    Many of those who end up in this chain of exploitation, originate from Moldova, via its unrecognised 'capitol', Tiraspol - centre of the diputed Trans-Dnistr region, officially the poorest place in all Europe, & only 2 hours by public transport, from 0dessa...
    If you believe the propaganda, all 0dessa girls are nympho's & available for as little as a shandy - 'peeva-es-leemonom' - if you ever need to order 1 - but, if you have to be gullible to believe such stuff...
    Age of consent is 14 - younger are said to be available for those willing to pay & the authorities turn a blind eye, so investigative reporters have exposed...
    The record reflects that these things do happen, but I would like to make a blatant point about all the sordid accusations made about 0dessa - whatever does, or does not go on behind closed doors in this sleepless city - it is not blatant & it does go on behind closed doors...
    0dessa is NOT 'the poor man's Bangkok' - notorious for its street selling of seedy, sexy clubs in the face of any tourist who knows where to look - London has its Soho; Hamburg has its Reeperbahn, but 0dessa?
    I have walked all its main streets & many of its secretive side alleys, peered into many secluded courtyards; sometimes collecting drinking water, sometimes shopping, sometimes sightseeing, sometimes just curious, sometimes because I was completely lost - what did I see to raise an eyebrow, shock, or arouse?
    'Nichto' ( = NOWT! )
    But for the occasional washing-line hung out between balconies with thongs, there is really nothing on show to provoke!
    0nly fly-posted adverts for premises offering the visitor a sexy massage, lapdance, or cabaret, but these are invites for those interested in such - NOT blatant incularisation of the passerby...
    If those things are your wish to receive in 0dessa, then it is there below the surface, & as 'the Duck' in Alice in Wonderland observed; when he looked for worms, he tended to find worms...
    I am not obtuse to think that as with the crime in 0dessa, because I have not witnessed it, first hand myself, it does not exist - nasty stuff does occur in this desperate metropolis, like it does in all urban concentrations of humanity...
    But, whatever does go down in this paradoxical place of extremes, it does so discreetly - & that is some 'paradoks' for a city, typically as indiscreet as 0dessa...

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    Days void of course...

    by arturowan Written Jan 9, 2014

    Ukraine is a 24/7 culture, with trams, trolleybuses, & minibuses ('marshroutki') running from the early hours until midnight, most days of the week, & if you're prepared to pay, then there is no time when a taxi service is not available...
    However, there are days when the country's public transport is pushed to the limits of capacity, & coach & budget train seats will have been booked up days in advance...
    August 24th is the Ukrainian day of independence - a comparatively recent festival, which nonetheless draws crowds to the capitol, during what is already the country's busiest month for tourism...
    My first trip to Ukraine was in August & I was due to return to Kiev from 0dessa on the 24th, not having realised the significance of this date being 'Dyen nezalezhnosti Ukraini'...
    When I tried to book a train ticket about a week in advance, all the cheap berths had already been taken - there were still seats left on the overnight coaches, but had I left it until the day of travel to reserve a ticket, I'm sure it would have been too late...
    The other peak travel date in the Ukrainian festival calendar, is Christmas, which might sound obvious, but because Ukraine is an 0rthodox country, so still using the Julian calendar, this falls a full fortnight later than the western celebration...
    I.e; when other Christian countries are celebrating 12th night, it's Ukrainian/Russian 0rthodox, Christmas Eve...
    Because of the out-of-sequence calendar, there is also 0ld New Year, which folk celebrate on 14th January, though official Ukrainian New Year falls in line with the west, & is the only day of the year when the nations public transport, & most other services, grind to a halt...

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    0dessa - 1 big hooky street?

    by arturowan Updated Dec 11, 2013

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    Del & Rodney - 0dessa stylee!
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    A FIRST time visitor to 0dessa might receive the impression when walking on & off the beaten track, that the city is 1 continuous 'hooky street'!
    Street sellers are literally all over the place, even in winter, & very little that the extreme elements throws at them, deters their touting their wares of dubious provenance...
    Dodgy DVD's are sold from tabletops on almost every main street, but counterfeit goods of all description, abound, for those who delight in consuming the cheap & tacky...
    Sundays are the main days to go out to experience this city transformed into 1 great bazaar; tableclothes laid out across pavements are strewn with dusty tat that makes your typical car boot sale look like Antiques Roadshow...
    Rusty, obsolete spare parts fors cars & pushbikes, are up for sale for pocket money for these desperate 'babooshki', who outnumber the local Del & Rodney's about 10 to 1
    Some of the old ladies are flogging stuff so ancient, they might fare better with a dead horse...
    & while mentioning dead animals, more enterprising 'babooshki' fancy themselves as greengrocers, or butchers, whether they are actively selling a bagful of apples, or an entire, butchered pig, including the head...
    Unlicensed meat sellers abound in 0dessa in all seasons, even high summer, when unrefridgerated 'myaso' is buzzed in rag covered buckets by stench-drunken flies...
    The trade has caused enough concern for it to have become a issue the Militia are tackling in an attempt to rid meat from the street...
    A news item devoted to which in February 2011, took a sample of meat available to a laboratory, where it was tested for contagion & found to contain enough pathogens to fell an infantry - & this when the outside temperatures were dropping below -10
    The vendors to be wary of are those, often seated on stools, on the actual sidewalks, but conditions in the (in)famous Privoz Rinok did not appear much more hygienic to this traveller...
    So, to state the obvious, "don't be a plonker Rodney" - that pensioner who smiles like your granny trying to sell you a bucket of meat, could kill you...

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    Cuddly Critters...

    by arturowan Updated Nov 13, 2013

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    Soviet era photo-journalism for TIME
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    In the tourist centre of 0dessa, mainly on Deribasovskaya 0olitsa, & the junction with the city gardens, opposite Sadovaya Square, are to be found men accompanied by cuddly critters, or occasional snakes...
    The idea is that for a sum of cash, the man takes your polaroid photo, accompanied by the photogenic critter...
    The transaction benefits the street entrepeneur, but consideration needs to be given to the plight of the critter, whose furry charm makes the creature so photogenic...
    First of all, these creatures are non-native to Ukraine, so will have arrived through some torturous journey, during which many fellow, entrapped critters, will have perished from stress, hyperthermia, dehydration, etc...
    Secondly, being non-native to Ukraine's extremes of climate, these critters, or cold-blooded reptiles, are either unsuited to the stiflingly humid summer temperatures, or otherwise, the wintertime drops to below -10
    Thirdly, the passivity of these critters is unnatural, & locals told me that the animals are kept drugged; (with what I don't know, but I cannot help but suspect vodka, though maybe that's just my cynicism!)
    Whatever, these chinchillas, possoms, snakes, & whatever else you might find to pose with in this busy area of 0dessa, are part of a world trade that exploits animals at the end of a chain, having killed many others in the process - so don't support it.

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    Catacomb city...

    by arturowan Updated Nov 1, 2013

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    0dessa is a city built upon limestone, within which are an estimated 2,500km of passageways...
    (Just to put this into context, this distance is roughly equivalent to that which I need to cover, to reach the resort from UK!)
    Although some of these catacombs are natural fissures in the bedrock, most of them were carved out by hand, because 0dessa itself, in term of its original buildings, is a limestone city...
    The quantity of limestone quarried from beneath its streets, is also a reason given for this major metropolis never having its own metro, because too many holes now exist, to support further tunneling...
    After the miners moved out, smugglers are said to've moved back into the tunnels, creating further routes in order to trade in people, (& to this day, 0dessa is a human trafficking capitol, though now via the port, rather than the literal underground...)
    1 of the conspicuous differences I noticed on my fourth visit to 0dessa, January 2011 - were the apparent absence of street folk in this city of an estimated 10 000 homeless...
    0nly a year had passed since I last empathised with them on the tundra-esque streets, yet, despite another 5 weeks spent in the same area of the city in similar degrees of cold, I did not witness nearly so many of these, out-of-time from a Peter Bueghel painting, 0dessites - so begging the obvious ? - what has become of them?
    It is something of a sinister mystery, considering Ukraine's chronic record of missing folk, not to mention its dark history, even in recent decades, of politically purposeful famines & mass disappearances...
    Perhaps these desperate looking street people, who were such a feature of the metropolis, only a year previously, had succumbed to the overnight cold of -10 'gradoosy' - & lower in 2011
    0r, perhaps they were sheltering beneath this city that is in such a precarious state of subsidence, partly because of the eccentric network of catacombs over which it is built...
    During the Patriotic War, (as WWII is usually remembered here), the Soviet partisans kept up their resistance to the Nazis, by going underground & regrouping beneath the city, for 13 months...
    Despite the combined enemies of winter, malnutrition, & contagion, to contend with, not to mention Nazi poison-smoke attacks, the partisans were able to put up enough resistance to the invaders, to prevent 0dessa ever becoming considered truly captured by the enemy...
    To this day, partisan weapon stashes are still recovered from the tunnels, & occasionally corpses, preserved in a state of mummification, in the caves' still air...
    In a latterday tragedy, a subterannean New Year's party celebrating 2005 cost the life of a teenage girl, who became detached from her friends, to wander lost, until dieing of dehydration - the militia were searching for her body for 2 years...
    It is known that these subterranean caverns are still exploited by those who find themselves otherwise shelterless, such as criminals on the run, or, in this paradoxical place of former Soviet idealism, where 'the welfare state' - so often assumed to be a Marxist idea, never truly existed outside the theory textbooks, the destitute & mentally ill...
    1 unforgettable character, who chose to beg outside the courtyard entrance where I was living, bore an uncanny resemblance to Kostoyed, the Klaus Kinski character in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO - complete with bulging, bloodshot eyes, flowing hair, & Bolshevik 'zheenyel' (greatcoat)...
    It occurred to me then, that a wannabe Goth/horror filmmaker, on a budget, could come to 0dessa & assemble the entire cast from the folk on the streets, for so many looked like extras from THE NAME OF THE ROSE!
    Does a population of society's rejects exist in a twilit world beneath the city's streets, like in the fantasy series, BEAUTY & THE BEAST?
    Probably not, but at any 1 time, there are groups of local tunnellers, competitively exploring the old tunnels, & occasionally opening up yet another undiscovered aspect of the labyrinth...
    0ccasionally, these locals who literally know the city, inside-out, co-operate in order to rescue somebody who has gotten lost below ground...
    Tourism underground is not officially sanctioned throughout the network of catacombs, though there is 1 entry point, especially lit up for visitors...
    However, 'extreme tourists' do visit 0dessa, just for the sake of the challenge of taking the test of its hidden secret, that is its other street plan, underground...

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    Driving...& parking

    by arturowan Updated Nov 1, 2013

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    Ukraine has a Third World level of road casualties, due in no small part to the national preference for vodka...
    As with everything in 0dessa, a city of extremes, drivers either pussyfoot over the cobblestoned, tram-lined, potholed streets, or they crack on as if on a rally stage...
    Not only those in the black, with smoked glass, German limo's, disregard red lights & pedestrian crossings - the worst offenders for this being the few 2-wheeled road users, who mount kerbs on their scooters to take short cuts through the traffic...
    Ukraine is very much a country where the man is expected to be behind the wheel, & few single girls can afford a car - a Russian-speaking idiom is that; "to give a woman a car, is like handing a grenade to a monkey!"
    The irony of this, is that considering the dreadful carnage on Ukrainian roads, of battlefield proportions, as with warfare, those responsible for the casualties are 99% male...
    Something in common with my own country is that the greatest nuisance & danger to the pedestrian is caused by inconsiderate parking, despite the high kerbs that characterise old 0dessa...
    The vehicle of choice to 0dessa's 'nouveau riche', is the 4WD - but even motorists without off-road wheels & tyres, somehow still manage to mount the curbs & so turn otherwise generous pavements into places where the walker is dodging in & out of bumpers...
    A crackdown has been launched by the local 'Darozhna-Transportnoy Processhyestviy' - road traffic police, to deter this activity, by imposing 1700 Grivna 'stayanka shtraf' (parking penalty fines) on offenders...
    Quite a deterrent, considering this is greater than the value of the old Zhiguli's, causing much of the problem...

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    Counterfeit City...

    by arturowan Written Feb 13, 2013

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    It's no coincidence that Ilya Ilf & Yevgeni Petrov should've decided to set their satirical script for The Twelve Chairs, in 0dessa...
    0stap Bender, the plots anti-hero protagonist, is a confidence trickster-cum-counterfeiter, & the fact that he comes from 0dessa, tells its own truth beyond the fiction...
    0dessites are very proud to be associated with 'The Great Combinator', as 0stap Bender refers to himself, & his double-dealings, despite his life spent on a tight rope of bending the law to his own ends...
    0dessa has a reputation today as a place where you can pick up a bargain, but this is only true of hand made arts & crafts - anything genuine thats been imported, is not cheaper in Ukraine...
    So, if something with a western brand name on the label, is ridicuously cheap, then be certain, it's not the real thing, but a counterfeit...
    Both people who invited me to 0dessa, coincidentally gave me timepieces as presents, & both these gifts illustrate the quality of 0dessa's thriving counterfeit markets...
    The 'CITIZEN' watch I was given, clearly had written on the label; 'solar-powered', as all genuine CITIZEN timepieces now are, but this counterfeit, despite the label, came with a battery!
    The KADIO clock I was given, that bore some passing resemblance to the logo of CASIO, but came with no other word on the box, in Japanese, Russian, or English, so it was next to impossible to set-up...
    After many attempts of fiddling with the buttons, I at last managed to crack the combination to programme the time on it, after which the clock was reliable for about a month, then it got damp & never worked again...
    So, remember, if something looks too good to be true, then it usually is, & these 'bargains' that 0dessa is so famous for, are no better than throwaway tat...
    Just remember the name, 0stap Bender!

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    Gormless Groups 0f Men...

    by arturowan Written Feb 11, 2013

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    Soviet period photo, but some things never change!
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    A downside of 0dessa, which it probably shares in common, with many a former Soviet resort, is its population of gormless men, who organise in groups at street corners, which they seem to regard as 'theirs'...
    To be fair to the place, you might say the same thing about any inner city in my own country, but usually when the temperature drops, it's enough to persuade these losers to find somewhere indoors to enjoy each others' gormless company, & some alcohol...
    However, in 0dessa, during my previous 2 visits, wind chill factor was below -10, with 6" of ice underfoot, yet even after dark when I was obliged to venture home in such a snowstorm at 04:00(!) - I was astounded to find that still it was not enough to shift some of the posse of gormless & co...
    The shops being open 24hours, in order to sell vodka, results in them guarding their chosen corner, stood with their matching expressions; part xenophobia, part confusion, as if to ask, "What's that 'nyeroosskeey' doing on OUR 'ooleetsa'?"
    So, be warned, these men with zero initiative or imagination, are an indelible feature of the city, whatever time of year, though in the summer it's definitely worst, as all the tourists are such a challenge to their world view, which extends about as far as 0dessa city limits...
    If any of them had a brain that functioned beyond vodka, beer, & bigotry, they might pose a threat, but they're not an actual danger, as such, despite the scare stories you might hear from locals, although it might be a different story if you're a different colour to them...
    15 weeks accumulated in 0dessa, & I've never had a confrontation with a local, but it's just an annoyance, that every time I wished to go out, it was with the forethought that somewhere along the way would be a posse of gormless & co...

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    Winter streets...

    by arturowan Written Jan 22, 2013

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    Go out in the dawn hour, in any street in 0dessa, & you'll find the pavements being swept by municipal workers in blue overalls & orange aprons. 0ften these sweepers are old enough to be retired & are doing this shift, stooping over with a short-handled, clutch of birch twigs, to supplement their pension. When it snows, their task turns to sweeping a path along the pavement, about a foot wide, so that almost any street remains passable, at least in single file. Due to the amount of snow that might fall during Ukrainian winter, quite a mound can build up alongside the kerbside, high enough to obstruct crossing the road, unless you do so where a passage has been cut. This is worth keeping in mind, because in my experience in 0dessa, however many times you check the road before stepping off the kerb, there always seems to be a car that appears, silently, yet speedily, just out of nowhere. Ukrainian drivers are not known for their consideration of pedestrians, & it can be quite an eye opener to be crossing the road in front of a Lada sliding at you on icy cobblestones, on full opposite lock. Worse still, when you try to make a dash for the kerb, only to be faced with a 3foot hurdle of hardpack, iced snow...

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    Why Street Games?

    by hunterV Updated Oct 1, 2011

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    De Ribas Street (called Derobassovskaya Street)

    Please avoid taking part in any street games such as lottery, "thimble", etc., no matter how harmless and attractive they might seem to you. In fact, these games might include the whole performance of many "actors" who are a part of the gang, but it is common knowledge that they are all aimed at squeezing money out of you.
    Alas, we all have to be careful about buying liquors at the street kiosks: there is a lot of fake vodka, cognac, brandy, champagne and wine.
    It’s always safer to buy them at a big supermarket or at a distillery store or a specialized wine store.
    There are also health risks like everywhere alse in Ukraine: TB (it's just your hygiene) , HIV, sex-transmitted diseases (it's your descretion).
    Take care and ~ be safe ~ !

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    Be Careful!

    by hunterV Updated Oct 1, 2011

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    City Hall, Odessa, Ukraine

    It's common knowledge that the municipal tap water is not for drinking.
    It is always better to buy and drink only mineral water in Odessa.
    It is available as still water and as gas water.
    Still water usually has light blue caps on the bottle ("Bonaqua"), whereas gas water bottles have dark blue caps...
    Besides, when traveling in overcrowded public transport watch your bags and pockets.
    Never put your wallet into the back pocket of your jeans!
    The Odessa pickpockets tend to be very inventive and skilful. Please do not be in two minds about that...

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  • Corrupt police

    by socheid Updated Aug 11, 2011

    I was stopped by the police when walking home from a bar around 2 am last night. They were trying to extort a bribe from me with a bull *** story and wanting to see my passport. They didn't speak much English and with me not speaking much Russian, with hindsight I think that helped me. One of the 2 started getting angry when I couldn't understand what he was saying. I did though understand him saying, 'monay' and pointing to where my wallet was but I still didn't hand any over. Wankers.

    I mentioned this to someone in Ukraine later in my trip and was given the following advice:-

    * Never hand over your passport to the Ukrainian police. Once they have that then they are completely in control of you

    * Always present a persona of being confident and not of being weak

    * If it comes to it, threaten to report them to the embassy of your nation

    There is a useful feature on handling corrupt police looking for bribes on the Chisinau page of VT

    http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Moldova/Municipiul_Chisinau/Chisinau-455261/Warnings_or_Dangers-Chisinau-TG-C-1.html

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    0dessa - the dark side...

    by arturowan Updated Apr 6, 2011

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    The first time I crossed the border into Ukraine I felt like I was travelling back in time - the rural scene had changed little from the rustic peasant environment depicted by Peter Brueghel. For anybody who wants to see countryside untouched by progress, where 'horsepower' is literally as well as tractor applied, then 'the new Ukraine' is as good as anywhere in eastern Europe to go...
    Russian & Slavic folk are known for their superstitious nature & it is one of the greatest paradoxes of the former Soviet Union, that when the Berlin Wall fell, the first things to be resurrected were the old beliefs. Folk flocked back to church as if 'the opiate of the proletariat' was an addiction as morbid as ever, despite 7 decades of cold turkey...
    Not only was the 'Pravoslavnauvau' (0rthodox) Church resurrected from Soviet secular excommunication, so too were the old folk beliefs that in the west had been revised into the so-called 'new age', that in truth, were anything, but new! 0dessa's local news service has featured reports made in the city during both of my last visits, revealing how demand for supply of occult practitioners has become a profitable business...
    The investiagators filmed at the premises of various of these black magi, all men, with their faces obscured by marks, so appearing like 'the phantom of the opera'. All their paying clients were women, intent on revenge on a romantic rival, who was represented by a poppet, which, depending on the occultist, was stabbed with pins, melted in a candle flame, or crushed & decapitated...
    Chilling viewing it was, & for a while afterwards I walked the streets of 0dessa feeling like Sergeant Howie in THE WICKER MAN - NOT that I believe in the efficacy of these dark artes, but it is disturbing enough to consider that those around me still do. If there was a benefit of Soviet ideology, it was the concerted attempt to educate everybody into 'scientific thinking' - obviously the words of wisdom fell upon deaf ears & Ukraine remains a culture still as submerged in old age superstitions & prejudices, as it was before the 0ctober Revolution...
    This does not bode well for Ukraine's future - even those young enough to know better, cling to ancient superstitious thinking, blaming all their problems onto neighbours or westerners - turning to anti-diluvian belief systems to exonnerate them from contributing to raise Ukraine to what a visitor expects from a modern European culture...

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    0DESSA FAULTS - MY TOP 10

    by arturowan Written Mar 29, 2011

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    However much labour on the streets, still holes!
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    0dessa - city I love to HATE & hate to LOVE - in such equal measure, that it becomes addictive after a while. Some things never improve; others just get worse... This is my ultimate 'top10' most annoying things about 0dessa - graded according to how many times out of my 4 visits each has occurred - those that recur each time being closest to the top of the list...

    1 - PAYPHONES - everywhere, but they do not work...
    2 - POWER CUTS - up to 3 a day if you're unlucky...
    3 - PARKING/TRIP HAZARDS ON PAVEMENTS - Lada's everywhere are bad enough, but plant pots put out to deter them are easier to fall over, especially in the dark...
    4 - NO CHANGE GIVEN - 0dessite seller's only accept exact change...
    5 - POTHOLES/MISSING DRAIN COVERS/CELLAR OPENINGS IN PAVEMENTS - still not fallen down any of these yet though...
    6 - LITTER, LITTER, LITTER - & it only gets worse, despite all the sweeping...
    7 - CROSSING ROADS - not easy when you're watching your feet because of missing drainage grids - & vodka & driving does not mix...
    8 - HARDWATER/LIMESCALE IN PIPES - used as an excuse to turn off hotwater in August - bad idea!
    9 - INFERIOR BUILDING STANDARDS - electrical fittings in rooms not properly secured & door locks might not be true with door jamb...
    10 - AGGRESSIVE DOGS - but pets/courtyard watchdogs, not the strays, are those to be wary of...

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    AIDS - the invisible assassin

    by arturowan Written Mar 26, 2011

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    1 feature of 0dessa, apparent on every street, on my return, January 2011 - were the government campaign posters to encourage condom use, displayed at every bus stop ('austanovka').
    The Ukrainian AIDS awareness drive reminded me of that mounted by the British government a full quarter of a century ago, during which time, the Soviet-esque authorities have reacted akin to the Chernobyl disaster, & told themselves that if you pretend a problem does not exist, it will just disappear...
    SPID (AIDS) has consequently developed into African levels of epidemia in Ukraine - & 0dessa, a port city, notorious for is prostitutes, has suffered the worst of all...
    Quite what the public information campaign is set to achieve now by advertising the use of 'preservatee' (condoms) - can only be a case of 'too little, too late'...
    Ironically, those involved in the city's sex industry, were probably more aware of the infection risk than the uninformed general populace, & so taken measures to protect themselves for years...
    This could well prove a danger to the casual sex tourist, drawn to 0dessa's seedy club scene, where reputation has it that the 'dyevooshkee' are "easy"...
    For those intent on such sexual expeditions, chosing to avoid professional sex workers in preference of picking up a stranger at a club, could indeed prove a death sentence...

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