Diseases in Ukraine
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Here is some data about the number of sick people in Ukraine (it must be outdated already):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!Related to:
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
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…Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
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.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
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.
Watch Out for Police Wanting Bribes!
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.
Hitching a ride...
Some1 new to this site, mentioned their plans for travel, including into Ukraine, by budget means, even hitchhiking...
Hitchhiking has drawn a unanimous response from VT advisors, as no longer a valid way to tour anywhere, let alone Ukraine...
Having been there 4 times now, & being with locals, been obliged to travel as they do; (i.e; 'when in Rome', except this was 0dessa & Kiev) then I can make these observations...
It needs to be made apparent that the system of hitching a ride in Ukraine is quite different to UK, where thumbing a lift is a rare sight these days, & usually means there is no transaction expected...
Most importantly to understand about Ukraine, there's no such thing as a 'free ride' - the hitcher is expected to contribute about half the fuel cost of the journey - the decision of total charge being that of the driver...
So, for a foreigner to try to travel this way is inadvisable, because even if they understand Russian numbers to understand the charge, being a westerner will trigger what seems to be an automatic response that non-Ukrainians can afford to pay double, or more...
If this is the result, then it will be no more of a cost-saving than using a licensed cab, whose rates are very cheap, compared to western prices...
It needs to be understood about Ukraine, that almost every man with a car, regards himself as a 'taksi-eest' - so if you do want to travel by taxi, be sure it has a state licence plate attached, & sign on the roof, because some 'entrepeneurs' are cashing-in on tourists, & charging as much for short regional journeys, as the fare between capitols, not to mention such ploys as locking their luggage in the boot, then leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere...
Public transport within Ukraine is still kept in check, as in Soviet times, so just why the folk I met there were so insistent to take a 'taksee', meaning hitching, still confounds me...
Unless you're a great enthusiast for travelling in Zhiguli's, & collating how each 1 differs with its owner's choice of interior decoration, there is really no cause to ride this way...
Buses are modern & efficient, & though many of the trams & trolleybuses have seen better days, they are reliable for getting from A>B at a bargain fare...
The fact about hitching in Ukraine that needs to be stated is that the country is in trouble with the UN for its epidemic rate of missing people - when I was there, the bulletins on tv about them a were daily part of the schedule...
Abducting a person isn't an easy task, unless of course, you have a car, & your victim is eager to hitch - then the person becomes trapped in a cell over which the abductor is in control...
I believe it's no coincidence that the population of missing people in Ukraine, is directly attributable to the national disregard for personal safety, which means enthusiasm for hitching, so if there's 1 thing about the culture there to avoid, it's riding with strangers...Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
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.....Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
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 !!!Related to:
- Road Trip
So many of the female population of Ukraine are advertising online on the internet, seeking a foreign 'moosh' (husband) & in general, Russian-speaking girls are less than complimentary about their menfolk - so what is the truth - are they really the mommy's boys they are reputed to be?
Having spent some time in the Ukrainian/Russian city, 0dessa, & having met a broad range of folk in differing circumstances, I would have to conclude that as with everything else in this bi-polar place of contradictions - yes...& NO!
As with every other aspect of this idionsyncratic city, 0dessa's menfolk are either above reasonable criticism by any girl who is not 'fafa-ee-feefa' (slang for a spoilt perfectionist) or otherwise, they truly are as dire as is told...
Ukraine is something of a 'little Italy' - a matriachal bastion, where boys especially are spoilt rotten by doting aunts, grannies , & mothers, & never come close to reaching any meaningful adulthood. Middle-aged 'shlyondree' (slang for wannabe playboys) will stay up into the early hours, then return from their vodka binges & be cooked a full dinner by a mother who is quite content with such behaviour as long as her precious son never leaves the nest...
This was the case with a family who invited me back to 0dessa, not having warned me beforehand that their home had been taken over by their son's exploitative drinking associates, who also ended a nights partying by 'crashing' on their home for food & somewhere to sleep...
0n the day I returned to 0dessa, December 2009, I spent it sharing a room with an inanimate bundle of blankets, 'alfonsing' on the sofa...
0nly a turtle-head (I use the term ambiguously) emerged, until dusk, whereupon this guest ceased sucking his thumb long enough to insult me, & demand from a female visitor that he be given a painkiller for his 'koomareet' (narcotic hangover)...
This 'moodoshlyop' (Russian slang for an overgrown baby) turned out to be from Kiev & he actually transpired to be all of 36
God save us...
Such pathetic examples of manhood are all too typical of Ukrainian's in trousers, so is it any wonder that any self-respecting female should aspire elsewhere for a man?
That considered, there are many well-educated, hard-working, courteous & mature males in the city, & many of them speak English, for their own aspirations to leave their hometown for better prospects...
The irony of this is that thay tend to be the single males - & they explain to me that it is impossible to find a match in Ukraine because the potential ones are too preoccupied with what is available online from abroad....
This surely tells the real truth about the 'dyevooshkee' advertising themselves on the internet, because if they bothered to look in their own neighbourhood, there are plenty of acceptable men available, but they are those regarded as being 'syeriy' (literally - grey, but slangwise = boring) by the local Ukrainian females, who, in my experience, are themselves immature & club-centric...
All they want to do in life is go to nightclubs & the beach, though they complain bitterly if their menfolk are equally unsubstantial in their interests...
They are also quite spoilt, out of proportion to their apparently impoverished backgrounds, & really only judge a man by the size of his wallet, so they need to stop complaining & learn a universal truth - 'like attracts like' ('podobniy preevleekaet podobniy')...Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Study Abroad
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?Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
- Historical Travel
Standing out in a crowd...
It has been said that when a woman goes shopping for clothes, she looks for something that nobody else but her will be seen in - when a man goes to the clothes store, he does the opposite, & tries to pick what will blend in with everybody else...
Ukraine is a country where the streets would seem to demonstrate this observation, like no other place I've ever visited!
& at no time of year is it more observable, than during wintertime...
While the 'zhenshcheeni' tend to follow a pattern of knee boots & hooded fur coats, no 2 of them ever seem to look quite the same, yet the 'mooshcheeni' are a different story, indeed!
In fact, on my first 2 visits to Ukraine in winter, I actually became rather paranoid about the situation, which seems silly now, but all the men looked so alike, it was like a country of clones!
Ukrainian men do tend to look quite similar anyway, with the gene pool having been isolated behind the 'iron curtain', & in their identical winter clothes of black boots or shoes & wooly hats or caps, with the darkest hues of indigo grey trousers & coats, I kept thinking I was being passed by the same man on the streets!
It did not do anything for my confidence that on arrival in Kiev, a group of 'takseeistsa', prowling the bus station for foreign coaches, picked on me to chase around the building, hoping they could convince me that there were no seats remaining on the last coach to 0dessa...
Running with a rucksack & hand luggage is not funny - I think if it happened today, I'd suffer a heart attack...
However, I have now learnt to be savvy about what to wear in Ukraine in wintertime, & by observation of those around me, I know that dark clothes means DARK - i.e; not navy blue for a coat, which I believed to be 'dark', from experience in England...
Wearing that coat, with its red, western logo, in Ukraine, made me stand out like a sore thumb, which is not something I recommend, as travelling by public transport in a land with an awkward language, is stressful enough, without everybody pointing out 'the American'...
0f course, you might not care to comply with local, seasonal fashion, & regard this uniformity as a throwback to Soviet-times, which it is...
But then again, if you want to feel like a part of the place, & not a tourist to be preyed upon, wearing local 'camouflage' makes sense...
I think of myself as alike a Red Underwing moth, which has dark grey/brown wings which hide it hermetic against the background, during the day, but when it opens them up, you see the brightest flash of crimsom...
So my advice to any male traveller in Ukraine, out-of-season, is to dress down, wearing only black or sombre shades, then you'll be accepted on the streets, & can go where you please, without attracting comment or curiosity of scammers...
(Incidentally, the famous furry headwear, known as 'ooshanka', which literally means 'earflaps', are worn by some Ukrainian men, but you will more likely identify yourself as a tourist, by parading around in 1)Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Business Travel
Mushrooming is a national pastime in Ukraine, & the wild crop a seasonal staple food in both countryside & cities...
'hreebee', as the fungi are called in Ukrainian ('greebee' in Russian) are so much a part of the culture, that in 1999 , 5 favourite species of mushrooms appeared on a souvenir sheet of postage stamps, designed by Kateryna Shtanko...
However, since the Chyornobyl disaster, this tradition is 1 that might be seriously detrimental to health, because radio-active elements seem to concentrate in the underground rhizomes...
Although the area worst affected is that around Kiev, the general warning is that no wild mushroom in the country, should be considered edible...
0f course, Ukraine being Ukraine, such advice is not necessarilly abided by, by the locals, especially as mushrooms provide free food, & going into the woods, in order to pick them, is part of national tradition...
Nevertheless, the garlands of dried mushrooms, sold by vendors at markets & roadside stops, are better off avoided, & even in restaurants, unless they are guaranteed grown indoors, they should not be ordered...Related to:
- Food and Dining
0n the border...
My first visit to Kiev was in 2005 - the year after Ruslana won the Eurovision Song Contest for 'the new Ukraine' - which the progressive government at the time used as a convenient excuse to abandon the still Soviet immigration requirements & allow EU passport holders to enter without a visa...
I was warned by locals to expect an interrogation & belongings search at the border, but instead received the warm, welcoming smile of a woman passport inspector (not unlike those in the photo's!)
...who let me through after 1 simple ?
("What purpose your visit?")
When I returned in 2007 - my entry & exit was just as smooth, so I was not expecting any obstacles when I repeated the journey in 2009
Despite the defeat of Victor Yushenko in the intervening election, the new P.M. - Yulia Timoshenko, had been elected as a progressive (& her son-in-law is a fellow Englishman) so I was stunned by the relapse to Cold War border paranoia that had been resurrected...
Ironically, my entry was not hindered, but for being given unduly suspicious stares by the passport inspector...
As it was 5 weeks before my return, I thought it unlikely he'd be on duty on my return, or that he'd remember me if he was - but not only was he on guard at midnight when I reached the border, he was obviously awaiting me, with a colleague, both of whom had in the meantime devised the daft theory that I was travelling on a fake passport (despite having 4 existing official 'vkhod' - IN & 'vikhod' - OUT stamps from previous border crossings).
I had to endure 20 minutes of ?'s in Russian to ascertain whether I was British, even though I can only speak English fluently - all the while having my passport held to my face, & having to position my head in different positions, with a torch shone in my eyes...
This paranoia aroused some humour amongst Ukrainain passengers, that a westerner might choose to be an 'illegal immigrant' in Ukraine!
In 2011 my treatment was not so 'Soviet', but again, on both border crossings, I was treated with suspicion in regard to my EU passport, despite the fact that this is all their embassy requires tourists to identify themselves with, to officials...
But, tourism seems still not understood in Ukraine & those in uniform retain the attitude that anybody entering is either a spy or smuggler!
Despite which, for all their suspicious ?'s, out of 8 opportunities to examine my luggage, not once have those in uniform, bothered to look at it - Ukrainian logic confounds me...Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Study Abroad
Scammers and marriage business
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.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Women's Travel
Guard your Valuables!
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".Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
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
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