Author: Brandon  |  Category: Trips

Travel Log Romania Part 10

Day 9 and 10 – June 5th and 6th 2009 – Travel to Chisinau


I have always been a little leery for traveling to Chisinau. It was part of the old Soviet Union and people think a little differently there. In fact, as a missionary I spent a little time in jail. Communism played a very significant role in the way these people think and act. It is going to be very hard for them to open their minds to western thinking.

The train-ride is very unique. They come into your cabin about 15 to twenty times throughout the 13 hour ride to Moldova. Checking your passports, asking what you are doing, asking how much money you have, or asking if they can have your money. It never ends, so sleeping is a little difficult. Immediately after getting on the train, our cabin supervisor came in saying I had to pay for the bags. She went off on how much it would cost. Then she stepped inside our cabin and said, “We might be able to work something out though.” For the steep bribe of 2 dollars and 60 cents our bags were now safe.

The best part of the ride is at the Moldova/Romania border. At some point the Moldovans decided they didn’t want any unwanted visitors in their country. It an incredibly bright effort to accomplish this goal, they changed the width of their train tracks in the entire country. All of their tracks are a few inches shorter than bordering countries. With this being the case, the train is lifted up in the air for about 3 to 4 hours at the border town of Ungheni while they go through the deliberately slow process of changing the wheels. I say slow, because I watch them take about 42 smoke breaks and even one lunch break in-between. I think they just leave us hanging up there for an hour just to stare at us. It is an interesting process to say the least.

The mission president always used to hate going across the border. We would sit in our car for hours while they searched it, then go outside while they searched us. I assume a lot of trafficking goes on in 3rd world countries. One time a loving mother of a missionary had sent a white cake mix to her little boy in Moldova. President would have us take all the packages across the border to the missionaries at Christmas time. We never opened the packages, but the guards at the border sure did. With the little knowledge we had of the contents that lied with in, I was rather shocked to be hustled into the border station by 4 guards. The package was sitting on a table inside the station with the contents lying beside it. In order to save space the mother decided to pack the cake mix without the cake box. The bag of the white looking substance was in the hands of one of the guards. It took a couple hours of convincing, but I was finally able to explain that it wasn’t drugs. It was an experience I won’t forget. LABEL your packages when sending them to foreign countries, and if possible provide tastes samples!

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