According to the official information the health rate of the Ukrainian population leaves much to be desired.
To my deepest regret, there are lots of diseases.
We do not feel them in our everyday life except the flu, of course. But we should be vigilant and have to observe safety precautions.
Here is some data about the number of sick people in Ukraine (it must be outdated already):
- 680,000 patients with tuberculosis;
- 550,000 HIV-infected persons;
- 740,000 people with oncological diseases;
- 720,000 people with alcoholism,
which causes great concern of the government and all progressive people of Ukraine.
The population decreases steadily every year.
Hopefully these appauling facts will not deter you, fellow travelers, and you will gladly explore this country in a safe environment.
Have a safe and healthy stay in Ukraine!
According to the Ukrainian State Road Service about 85% of Ukrainian roads do not meet the requirements of security standards and are in need of repair that will cost a pretty penny...
For example, the current repair of one kilimeter of an automobile road of the second class requires about 1.5 million UAH and its overhaul requires more than ten million UAH.
The construction of a new road would require about six million US dollars for one kilometer (?!).
It’s hard to name the total sum necessary for bringing our roads in due order…
A lot of towns and cities suffer from a big amount of harmful substances in the atmosphere, land and water.
Kryvyi Rih is the number one most polluted city in Ukraine where each resident has 634 kg of harmful substances in the atmosphere a year.
Here is a short of list of other cities with very bad ecological situation:
- Mariupol Donetsk region;
- Burshtyn Ivano-Frankivsk region;
- Kurakhovo Donetsk region.
You have to be prepared to confront with the corrupt policemen. They will all try to get some "tips" from you. I didn't need a visa and they knew it, but they asked me to give them some money for some insensible reasons. I read about this before, so I was prepared. This could happen at border crossings or even on the street. Typically, they would say "a little problem", implying this could be sorted out if you "cooperate". Well, that's almost all they can say in English. One police officer got really desperate at one point and he even wrote "10 euro" on a piece of paper when he was convinced that I genuinely did not have a clue how I could possibly cooperate.
I found that often, the police in Ukraine try to get bribes from people, especially foreigners that they know have money. We noticed that the people in our group who obviously did not look like Ukrainians (such as one Korean guy) were constantly getting harrassed by the police, even though they had done nothing wrong. The police will try to make them think they have broken a law, and then try to bribe them.
1. If you are not white (obviously look foreign to a Ukrainian), keep a low profile, especially in public places like train stations, etc.
2. Avoid speaking in English or any other language besides Russian or Ukrainian in public places (or whisper quietly). The police key in on this to identify foreigners.
If you're going to Crimea to spand your vacation, please don't forget a big insuaranse pocket, as drivers there are really crazy!
They drive fast without rules, and they bring 20 people when bus is for only 13 !!!
The main problem with Ukraine or indeed Russia is that they lack proper toilets and then toilet paper. I have been to a few place that charge you for using the establishments loo, and a friend of mine had a decent jacket ruined by the bleach that was used to wipe/clean the loo walls with.. and for a few UAH more you can use the 'bar of soap' or extra sheets of paper.. My advice to all travellers is.. Head for McDonalds they have nice clean toilets and they don't charge.....
Speeding and risky overtakings are quite common on Ukrainian roads. Often it happends that a car or a truck is coming towards you (on your lane) flashing the headlights. Better slow down and get off the road if possible.
Each region of Ukraine charges a certain amount of money for using their very BAD roads. For instance, in 1999 we had to pay 25 dollars to cross Odessa region. In 2001 we were supposed to pay 10 dollars to cross Kharkiv region. Why supposed? Because one can give only 5 dollars to a customs officer, he puts the money into his pocket and lets you go!!! If you don't accept his suggestion to give him 5 dollars, he does not let you go, and you pay 10 dollars officially in the cash office. Is not it weird?
On the whole, the situation with the traffic police in Ukraine has changed a lot for the better since 1999. In 1999 the local traffic police could not spare themselves a pleasure of fining you. They deliberately created different situations to make you violate the traffic rules! Imagine a highway outside towns and villages - just an empty road passing along fields or forests. The traffic police placed a sign of speed limitation up to 20 km per hour, and hid in the bushes. It seemed very tiresome to drag at such a low speed. You exceeded the speed, they suddenly appeared from the bushes to fine you. Thus being in the same area we were fined 3 times! Now, in 2001 I saw very few policemen on the road. The local goverment forbade them to stop cars, and they are no longer on the roads.
The weak standard of living, the number important of only women and the big proportion of pretty women in Ukraine, one brought little of the societies scrupulous to imagine a flourishing trade.
These societies sell the young and pretty woman coordinates, and when you bought an option on about twenty these ladies, propose you a cruise or a stay in the country. The tourist candidate to the marriage sees himself surrounded therefore during his stay by charming creatures who are all very attentive with him.
The most often, this kind of trade is only a simple, banal and sad swindle, porch of the procuring. The journey is invoiced ten times its cost, and the presented damsels, all very young, don't have really desire to get married. on the other hand, their worries are to make the men spend a maximum of royalties in hope to find a wife.
Other wound of this trade type, of the young women, who act in organized strips, via agencies, or to their own account, and that achieve real swindles to the marriage: soliciting money for the passport, the visa, the tickets of planes, and other services.
Protect your passport, cash, travelers cheques, airline tickets, visas: A money belt and/or under the shirt, round-the-waist or round-the-neck passport wallet will protect these from pickpockets. Carry lots of cash from your own country, such as American dollars or British pounds. Americans: Carry One-dollar denomination bills for "tips" or to bargain with street vendors. Travelers cheques were only exchanged at banks in my experience. None of the shops would accept them, only cash. Keep your cash and travelers cheques in 2 or 3 different places under your clothing. If one stash is stolen, you still have a back-up stash. Good idea to pin your day bag/belly bag/waist bag to your shirt or trousers. Theives will not be able to "lift" it. Keep an eye on the gypsy children and mothers who will run up to you asking for money. They are skilled at picking your pocket. Don't let them touch you or brush against you. Put your hand up and say, emphatically, "No".
That tells all. Legally not a single drop of alcohol is allowed within 6-8 hours BEFORE you going to drive. No exceptions. Things can turn very ugly if caught by GAI (they are like State Troopers or CHP/NHP in the States).
With satisfaction I did notice, Ukrainian waiters in restaurants won't even offer the driver any drink, unless explicitly asked (I, of course, did not ask).
Please, not even a beer. Thanks.
I read Jonathan Dimbleby's RUSSIA - in which he admits to taking on the task of exploring this vast nation, not knowing the Cyrillic alphabet...
Arriving in a country with a different alphabet can be a very daunting experience - even the most everyday, recognisable things in life, like street kiosks & cafes, can appear alien when the signage & advertising doesn't even look like what you're accustomed to reading...
My first experience of Ukraine had been prepared for by at least learning the Cyrillic alphabet, but on arrival, I still felt like I'd landed on another planet...
Streetsigns were few & far between, & trying to find my way around the old streets of Kiev & 0dessa, I had to keep peering up to the second floor level of buildings on street corners, where the street names were HAND painted...
Not only was the aged white paint difficult to decipher by day, after dark in these unlit cities, it was almost impossible...
My next frustration with Cyrillic was to come in the supermarkets, where very few products have clearly printed identification...
Ukrainian groceries are packaged in elaborately lettered wrappers, & Cyrillic italics are on another level of decipherment, to the standard text...
Most annoyingly, some italic letters, resemble other printed letters, e.g; the Cyrillic aspirated 'h' = x - but when in italic, has an extra line through it, so appearing to the untrained eye, to instead be the Russian letter for 'zh' (it looks something like a snowflake...)
By the time of my fourth visit to Ukraine, I thought I'd gotten the Cyrillic issue sorted, & by now the 0dessa council had seen fit to place more clearly black lettered, printed yellow streetsigns, around the city...
But now, & it's enough to make any1 paranoid, the authorities had another trick in store...
At the border crossing, the previous customs form, printed in miniscule, bi-lingual Russian & English on a piece of white paper the size of a passport, had been replaced with an A4 form on mottled paper, covered in tiny Ukrainian Cyrillic ITALICS (& NO English!)
Not only can I not read Ukrainian, but italics on bluish tinged artpaper - just who thinks up these tests of patience & intellect?
For people not used to bribing government officials I will recommend to take a train to Ukraine.
It all starts just on the Polish and Ukrainian boarder. When you enter Ukraine it’s a sin not to put 10 (what ever you call there money “Hryvna” I think) in one of the passports you give to any person that asks for passports, especially the guy that sits in a little office. You (the driver and all passengers) need to exit the car, walk up to him and hand him all passports at once with 10 or even better 20 “Hryvna” in one of the passports.
If you don’t do this you will waste at least 5 more hours on the boarder, filling up some garbage papers and bull … with not nice guys in strange hats. Same thing you should do on the way back. The money in not the issue because 10 “Hryvnas” is about $3.
Where I was, east of Ukraine I’ll not recommend to bring any US dollars. Its extra hassle and confusion for you witch you don’t need.
When you go there by car you need to remember to have in your car: Red triangle, spear tire, fire extinguish, first aide kit (don’t forget to put the condoms there...I’m serious…), sticker that symbols your country on the back of the car (example for Germans D for Polish PL), some papers that sometimes they give you on the boarder and sometimes they don’t. But no matter what you have or don’t have they will always find out something that you have to pay for. Don’t expect that whey you pay a fine they will give you any ticket. Just pay and go. Always try to pay less than what they are asking for.
Good luck, you'll need it :)
Alcoholism seems to be a bit of a problem in Ukraine especially in the smaller towns and villages and tends to affect the men more but women are slowly starting to drink more.
Alcohol, especially Vodka (Horilka) is extremely cheap in Ukraine and at the street vendors a bottle of larger (Pivo) is cheaper than a bottle of mineral water so it is the complete oposite of most of the countries in Western Europe.
This was one of the few hotels my colleague and I could find free rooms. We were visiting the day...more
Super Hotel, just perfekt. Best location, at the end of Franko park 5-700 m south of city center.more
My American friend Jack stayed at this new hotel for several days and he was kind enough to take me...more
More Regions in Ukraine