From Baltic to the Black Sea #15

Last 4 hours in the Ukraine
14 September 1999

Dear All,

In one hour’s time, I will set off for Kyiv’s airport to return to London. I have a great time here. Yesterday, I had a hair cut – not the Ukrainian Cossack hair style – those of you familiar with Ukraine knows what it looks like – certainly not that one. Had ice cream. Again.

Met Igor Potapov’s friend Oleksiy Levenets – thanks, Igor, for arranging that. I had dinner with Oleksiy, his wife and a Scottish farmer-entrepreneur (+ his Ukrainian wife, I think) who have been in Ukraine for 7 years, i.e., shortly after independence. Yes, I kept meeting foreigners who marry Ukrainian women – Ukrainian girls are beautiful.

Guess where we had dinner? A Thai restaurant! And as a true blooded Southeast Asian, I dare say that the food was really authentic – my tom yam soup and seafood fried rice were fabulous. Of course, the price was 5 to 10 times that of a normal meal in Ukraine.

Next to our table happened to be Mr Marchuk, presidential candidate. Ukraine is in presidential election fever now, and discussions with various Ukrainians on this trip, as well as the free Kyiv Post gave me some insight into Ukrainian politics. We had a serious discussion about whether to ask Mr Marchuk to take a photo for us (NOT with us). We ended up asking the waitress instead. Didn’t want to affect Mr Marchuk’s morale now that his ratings are behind the incumbent, Mr Kuchma, as well as an extremist anything-goes iron lady who wants merger with Russia.

Got up early this morning and went to the Monument for Ukrainian-Russian Unification – built during the Soviet era to commemorate the incorporation of Ukraine into the Russian Empire. I wonder what will happen to this monument, or God forbid, will it ever be relevant.

My journey to Ukraine has come to an end and it’s time to return to the hotel to get ready for departure.


Wee Cheng

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