Welcome to Ukraine

Aug. 2, 2011 (day 76) Ukraine

From the very beginning, Ukraine differed from what we had seen before. Bumpy roads, multi–wired telephone lines on wooden poles, small wooden houses and plenty of simple bars serving cheap alcohol, were the main landmarks. People look different too. Young men are almost uniformly dressed in sportswear, while women usually have high heels and skirts. Elders tend to use more traditional clothes. The low price and high availability of alcohol reflects in a high number of drunk people, usually males.

The animal number one is cow, and also cow herding seems to be the most popular activity. Egalitarian, it is being shared by both genders and a wide range of ages. Cows walk along every road, appear suddenly from ditches or bushes, cross rivers and generally seem to be omnipresent. However, this business seems to be underdeveloped, as we have seen no herder with more than three or maybe four cows. Usually there are two.

Our way led through Uzhanskiy National Park, which forms a huge area of protected environment with Bieszczady in Poland and Poloniny in Slovakia. Following the Uzh river, we stopped for a dinner just before the village of Stavne. A wooden shelter appeared exactly when it started raining. Such weather was nothing unusual for us, as during the last two weeks we had had only one or two days without rainfall. The nearby ford did not allow us to get bored, and we watched people, cows and even a truck making their way across the river in such a traditional way. The water was falling from the sky, and the time was passing, while we ate and read books. Eventually, we decided not to wait until the night, dressed up and left to find a better place for the night.

While we were passing through Stavne, the rain stopped, and the daylight started to fade away. Making use of the last moments before the night, the village people appeared on the road, watching two unusual travellers passing by. We found a campsite with another wooden shelter just after the village, near the river and a bridge, exactly as marked on numerous roadside maps of the national park. Having eaten already, we just picked up the tent and fell asleep.

"Where is your big bag?", I heard Kasia asking me in the morning. "At my side" I mumbled. "It's missing!", was the reply which woke me up instantly.

Actually, it was missing. The worse was that the handlebar bag was not present too. That meant camera and GPS. I jumped out from the tent and looked around. Instantly, I spotted the big red bag at the shelter's table. It was there with all the contents inside, but the small, much more important bag was gone.

I quickly summed it up: the camera with two lenses and all memory cards, GPS, journey diary, the wallet I had put there because of the rain, accompanied by the bag itself, map case and a simple MP3 player. Also, my waterproof pants, which I had left on the top of the baggage, were missing. In terms of money, this bag was worth roughly a half of the value of my entire equipment. The sentimental value of the diary cannot be measured, but fortunately the majority of important thoughts and memories had been transferred to the blog. Photos are still present on the hard drive, except for few ones from the last two days, which I have not copied. The wallet contained only hryvnas I had changed after crossing the border.

Nothing critical for the journey itself has been stolen. The bike is there, passport, cards and documents too. The biggest blow will affect the blog — without photos it's going to lose much value. And picturesque parts of Carpathian are on my way, before I get a chance to find any replacement of the lost camera.

The analysis of what happened took us several hours. It cannot nullify the facts, but may help others protecting their goods.

First, biggest and stupid mistake on my side was to put the valuable bag outside of the inner tent. I had been keeping it inside when travelling alone, but later I was putting all the baggage outside the sleeping area. The tent is two–person and that means it offers space exactly for two people. Any baggage inside is a source of discomfort, but the comfort resulted to be very pricey this time. Also, seems that my security rules were loosened somehow by long, totally unproblematic travel so far. Although the bag was hidden behind other ones, the thief pulled out the two pieces of baggage under the edge of the outer tent, without opening the zip, which we could have heard. Low cut grass definitely helped him.

Second, we picked the most obvious place to camp, just after parading across the entire village. It was evening, so we couldn't go too far. If anyone planned to rob us, it was a piece of cake to find us afterwards.

We also camped close to a mountain river, which provided for noisy background and the thief could be less careful. Also, the big bag I found under a roof, suggests that we were robbed during a night rain. The noise being made by drops falling on the tent could even make it possible, for a brave burglar, to open the zips and access the inner tent, without waking us up.

Wasted and sad, we slowly followed our way. It was hardly possible to smile to the people, even to the children cheering and waving at us. We felt quite paranoid, somehow suspecting all village boys to be involved.

In Uzhok, an uniformed man appeared. I decided to give a try, and asked if he was a policeman. He was not, but together with few other people he tried hard to call the police. (Apparently, the mobile network range is limited there, as four or five people tried just to dial a number for a few minutes.) When they eventually had succeeded, a plainclothed officer appeared just after some fifteen minutes, simply walking in from nowhere. Awesome result for a remote village.

The officer was very kind and smart. We shared all the facts and thoughts with him. Admitting that thievery is quite common there, he told us that even armed robberies had happened to tourists in last years, but assured that perpetrators were caught and goods returned to the rightful owners. Good! We exchanged numbers, and he asked me to call him later for any news. Of course, I don't believe such a chance, but one should never give up.

After climbing to the pass, showing passports at a military checkpoint, we crossed to the Lvivskiy Oblast, and passed by Sianki. This village is visible to those who manage to get to the remote southeastern corner of Poland. While Polish infrastructure finishes long kilometres before, one can be shocked by a sight of a road and railway on the Ukrainian side. Some years ago it was used to show Poles (only those unaware of history) how well the Soviet Union is developed. Now, we had the first opportunity to see it from the other side, and the picture was not so good. The potholes in asphalt were so dense, that nobody used the road. Two dirt lanes had been formed on both sides of it, and they offered much better riding conditions, even after those countless rainy days.

After the sad experience of the last day, we tried hard to pick a campsite where no one would find us. Impossible. The omnipresent cow herders arrived in the morning and even asked politely, if the night had not been too cold.

Comments:

Jacek Brzezowski
Jacek Brzezowski
10 years, 2 months ago
Ah, kurdę, łączę się w bólu w związku ze stratami i dzięki za ostrzeżenia i przemyślenia na temat bezpieczeństwa. Wybieram się sam za jakiś czas po Polsce po raz pierwszy, więc na pewno będę miał wzmożoną czujność. Między innymi też dlatego kupiłem namiot dwuosobowy na wyprawę solo - chcę mieć wszystko poza rowerem w środku.
dudi
dudi
10 years, 2 months ago
Niefajnie, bardzo niefajnie... Ja mam aktualnie nieużywany aparat, mógłbym użyczyć ale... nie ma jak tego dostarczyć na ukrainę...:/

Teraz już wiesz, że wszystko cenniejsze chowa się do sypialni i kładzie koło głowy...
Wojtek
Wojtek
10 years, 2 months ago
Ehh...średnio przyjemne doświadczenie.
Oby nie wpłynęło zbyt negatywnie na morale.
Cetus
Cetus
10 years, 2 months ago
Ehhh, współczuję. Mam nadzieję że wszystko się odnajdzie. Blog (nawet bez zdjęć) jest rewelacyjny.

Pozdrawiam i życzę braku takich wydarzeń.
Wojtek z Przemyśla
Wojtek z Przemyśla
10 years, 2 months ago
Moi drodzy serdecznie Wam współczuję że zostaliście okradzeni , ale wierzę w Was że pomimo tego dacie radę . O kradzieży dowiedzieliśmy się z lokalnej telewizji wczoraj było o Was w aktualnościach.
Po rozmowie z Twoją Mamą mam przygotowany rozkład jazdy autobusów niestety z Przemyśla do Lwowa i tak kursuje jeden polski autobus PKS-u który z Przemyśla wyjeżdża o 9,00 , a z Lwowa do Przemyśla o 12.50 jest też kilka połączeń autobusowych obsługiwanych przez stronę ukraińską tylko te autobusy nie są pewne bo ich kursy uzależnia się od opłacalności tj. ilości chętnych do wyjazdu . Autobusy ukraińskie wyjeżdżają z Przemyśla o 12.00,13.30,15.30,17.10,19.30 do Lwowa jadą 4 godz. / uwzględnione przesunięcie czasu i odprawa graniczna/ koszt zarówno polskiego jak i ukraińskiego przejazdu to 25 zł . Połączenia z Przemyśla do W-wy PKS 6.20 przyjazd na 14.00 22.20 przyjazd na 6.30 i 22.45 i przyjazd o godz. 6.00. Niestety z PKP jest gorzej bo jest jeden pociąg który wyjeżdża z Przemyśla o 15.46 i jest w Warszawie 23.22
Pozdrawiam Was i liczę na odwiedziny - do zobaczenia w Przemyślu
hdk
hdk
10 years, 2 months ago
wyrazy współczucia z powodu straty torby ! :(
Marta
Marta
10 years, 2 months ago
Niech się ukraińcy nie dziwią, ze po takich akcja mają złą opinię. Mamy wolnego pentaxa, ale jak go ze Szwecji na Ukrainę przetransportowac???

Pozdrawiamy, Marta i Waldek
Gosia
Gosia
10 years, 2 months ago
Doskonale wiem co czujecie! W zeszłym roku też mieliśmy przykrą niespodziankę w czasie podróży do Odessy. Co prawda obudziliśmuy się z wszystkimi bagażami i cennymi rzeczami typu dokumenty i kasa, ale za to ... bez rowerów! Tak więc głowa do góry - podróż trwa, a ta "przygoda" wiele Was nauczy!

Pozdrawiam
azbest87
azbest87
10 years, 1 month ago
Ja podobnie uśpiony zostałem w Turcji- na każdym kroku pomocni ludzie uśpili moją czujność i sprytni złodziejaszkowie wyciągnęli mi portfel z sakwy na kierownicy, gdy siedziałem 3 metry dalej! Całość gotówki łącznie z dokumentami i dwom podejrzanymi typkami rozpłynęła się. Jedyne co mi zostało to paszport i trzeba było kombinować by dostać pieniądze z Polski za które mogłem wrócić do domu.
Pozdro!