Situated between Ukraine and Moldova, Transnistria is considered to be a part of Moldova, however it is an unrecognised state. It has a President, a population of 1/2 million and a military with 18 tanks and a dozen or so helicopters, it feels like a real country!
I could have chosen the easy route from Ukraine to Moldova, ride south to Odessa, hang a right and arrive. A friend said I must visit Transnistria, so… half way to Odessa I turn off the main road and for about 50 miles (80 km) I ride through wilderness, along a road that competes with any road that wants the accolade of ‘worst road in the world’. A few other cars, all driving so slowly to avoid the potholes, no sign of life anywhere. I opened the throttle and flew over all the potholes. And in the middle of nowhere there was a border post. It looked like any other border post in the world, but this isn’t a country I thought! Border guards with guns, passport control, customs…
The man on passport control was unfriendly, but that’s not uncommon. Everything was going well until he asked for my insurance Green Card, I wanted to say “your not a real country, how can I have a Green Card!” As my good friend Garth says, whatever happens at a border ‘they are right and we are wrong’. So I smiled a lot. The guard used google translate to tell me I couldn’t enter!
I got my wallet out and used Garth’s wise words, “can I give you a gift”? He stared as I got a Ukrainian note out. I offered him what amounted to 3 Euros. He said 2 (he had an amazing comprehension of the English language all of a sudden), so I pulled another note out and he stamped my passport!
I was then directed to another guard where more cash left my wallet!
I rode away smiling, I really do enjoy these situations. After maybe 20 minutes I had crossed Transnistria and found myself at the Moldovan border. They smiled knew I had no insurance and wished me a good time in their country.
Taking the more challenging option in life can be so rewarding.