Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tortured Soul

Ok, putting aside the Ukrainian women for a minute, I must say that the Ukraine is still a great country. Highly recommended for travelling around. Kiev and Lviv are both very beautiful cities and it's great to walk around and look at all the buildings (uh, yeah, I'm looking at the buildings). Peter the great (who single-handedly created the magnificent St. Petersburg) also had a hand in construction here too, so the city centers are much more St. Petersburg style than Soviet block. Clean, efficient and well decorated, right down to the metro again. A nice change from the Caucasus.
For some reason (having to do with the recent pro-West alignment in the government) prices have skyrocketed across the country in the last year. There are hardly any foreign tourists here too so competition is still not driving down accomodation prices any either. Grrr... We came without a guidebook or plan, which has detracted from the experience as I'm sure there are things in the country and lots of general background and history that we are missing out on. There is still no tourist office, only 2-3 hostels in a city and no english bookstores so we just make do any way we can. Fortunately, it seems that many of the younger generation speak some english so we have been able to get some aid. Our biggest help came from the missionaries. We looked them up on the internet, invaded the mission office and pleaded insanity until they helped us out. Actually, there was little they could do but it did get us oriented.
As to the women, well, lets just say that the population is young and the sex ratio has finally swung over to more females than males. I've heard it said that Kiev holds the world record for highest heels, shortest skirts and lowest necklines. Uh, yeah, I'm not going to argue that claim because you'd have to cheat and look at a nudist colony to see more skin showing under everyday conditions. I suppose it's not really a surprise when half of the female population are selling themselves as brides while the other half sells for much shorter commitments. Oddly enough, the guys here totally don't look at them, the girls aren't aggressively coming on to anyone and nobody makes any eye contact and it seems like they are all stuck doing the model walk (perfect for it as they are super tall and thin) focused on nothing at all. I don't know how the guys manage here because I'm barely alive. I have discoved the most cruel form of punishment and torture a man can endure. If you don't believe me, YOU come to the Ukraine with your mother and sisters, no money and a coldsore on your lips and see how you feel. If my Russian bride doesn't pan out, I know where I'm coming back to get a new one........We've moved quickly through the country, a painful necessity, but then if we'd actually gone down to the beaches on the coast I'm sure I'd commit suicide. In any case, it's the first time the girls have had to tell me to keep going as our walking tours have become more of a walk to the square and people watch rather than go anywhere. Much more interesting pasttime, haha. People don't actually talk to you much but then they are really friendly and helpful (generally, especially if you avoid the scary, old Soviet ladies) once you start talking to them.
I really hate having to leave places I like so much when I want to stay longer. But then I have to remember how lucky I am to have gotten the chance to see them at all in the first place.
On a darker side of the coin, I have to relate a very different experience that happened to me today. We were walking around Lviv sightseeing when a rather rude and impatient driver (common here) wanted to run me down while I was crossing the street and trying to take a picture at the same time. No big deal, we had the green walking light anyway. He honked and I yelled at him, as is the norm. Then a quick shouting match with a few gestures, etc. Ok, sure, I don't like drivers anymore as most I've dealt with lately have been taxi ones anyway. No big deal, that sort of stuff happens all the time. Not quite. 15 minutes later, the driver and his friend (who had been parked ahead and waiting) ran up from behind and jumped me in front of all the vendors while I was heading down the stairs for the underground walkway. The girls had run off ahead (I was taking photos) so missed it all. No clean shots on me but it was more to prove a point I guess and then they took off. The guys were older, looked like ex-thugs, probably mafia connections so I didn't continue the contest. What a bunch of cheapshot babies with tender egos.
I suppose there are a few points to that story.
1. It means that that kind of stuff is still alive and kicking (literally) over here.
2. I need some backup (Jesse, where are you?)
3. After attacking people, yelling and trying to pick fights with taxi drivers for over a year in Asia, it took less than a week in Europe to get into one, clearly indicating to me which is the more civilized and safer place.
4. Uh, and I'll have to watch it in the future. That could have been a lot worse and I have to remind myself that I am now in a different culture and part of the world.
5. And you guys have to remember that the rumours of which countries are safe and which aren't can be (and often are) totally wrong.
PS. That totally doesn't change my opinion of the Ukraine and I still like it.


At 8:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man I wish I was there for that one bro! You gotta hold yourself back or bite your tongue in those situations for now on Ammon; people are crazy these days. Still, I would've loved to lay a beating on those fags with ya.


At 12:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you need a strong ukrainian body guard with ya (me)


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