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Ukraine Myths: You won’t believe these!

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Yes, I’m no longer in Ukraine, but I needed to get these little myths out in the open before I start divulging all my Bishkek related goods. This post is definitely a little slow in the making because I was trying to search for some place in town that has some sort of wireless signal, or a place where I can plug in my computer. Alas, Bishkek is a little behind, even for a third world country, because they are still on the type of connection that charges per amount of usage and bandwidth. When I asked the language school about access, they actually mentioned getting a dial-up modem! So, I’ve resorted to typing on my computer and copying information off my jump drive to save time and money.

On to the myths! I stayed in three different places in Kiev, the last one being the highest rated one on hostelworld, and the only one with an internet connection (even though it wasn’t working too well while I was there), only to find myself wishing I maybe hadn’t left the lonely private room outside of town. Here is a list of reasons why you might want to think hard before going to this hostel:

1) Privacy is basically non-existent. Generally, this is a given in hostels, but when your room has no door, is the room that you walk directly into, and the office is the kitchen connected to it, it brings the privacy level to an unknown level. The hostel is a 1 bedroom flat in an apartment building. The bedroom has 6 beds and the living room has 4 beds.
2) There are no tables or chairs ANYWHERE. This means you sit on your bed, on the floor, or just stand. When it rains outside, you will really feel it. If you mention this fact to the owner he will go on a tirade on how he backpacked forever and people don’t need chairs (all this while he is lounging on a cushy computer chair in the office (kitchen) surfing the internet).
3) Oh, yes, the hostel advertises free internet usage, but if you don’t have your own computer, you only get 20 minutes a day of usage while he is sitting right next to you reading anything you write.
4) You can’t have ANY food in the hostel. NONE. You have to eat outside in the cold or spend money at restaurants. If you have food in there, the guy will kick your ass, or curse you out.
5) There are no lockers, so you have to keep tabs on your stuff at all times.
6) The shower (singular) was actually broken. Taking a shower was very difficult.
7) The beds were just like the foamy eggshell stuff you put on top of your mattress for extra cushion… only without the mattress.
8) The stairs leading up to the apartment (hostel) were the creepiest – straight out of a horror film packed with phantom lady, half-naked old guy, and sleeping bum. And I won’t even get started on the smell.
9) Last, but not least, the owner of the hostel just might drive you INSANE. He definitely did NOT make me want to go back there. He insulted people for even wanting to come to Kiev!

Besides all of this, the one part of my stay that made me chuckle was this guy’s telling of some Ukrainian myths. Now, I would take these all with a grain of salt because I think this guy is a complete story teller, but please let me know if anyone else has heard of these myths.

1) Ukrainians believe that sitting on concrete will make you sterile. That explains why you never see them outside sitting around town drinking beers; they are always standing! This actually appeared to be true around the hostels I stayed in, but it could have just been that the concrete walls and steps were cold.
2) Every house has a money tree. If the money tree dies, the family will go broke.
3) Even in the dog heat of summer, you will never see a marshrutka (minibus) with a window open. The reason is that if the wind blows in and hits the back of your neck, at best you will get the flu, and at worst you will become paralyzed.
4) Whistling is taboo. If you whistle indoors, you will go broke. Apparently a Swiss guy went to a poker table and whistled. The Ukrainians looked at him like he was crazy and the entire table cleared out!
5) Too much water will make you fat. They supposedly believe that drinking more than one cup of water a day will result in obesity, which is the reason why you only see people drinking beers outside, even at 9 am!

Like I said, I take anything that guy says with a grain of salt, but I thought you all might be interested in these little tidbits as well. I must go now – learning Russian in Bishkek is a very time-consuming task!

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7 Responses to Ukraine Myths: You won’t believe these!

  1. Brooke April 20, 2008 at 4:53 am #

    Well you know what’s funny? I met a guy who has been living in Kazakstan for a while now and he actually knew all of these, so I guess the hostel guy wasn’t talking a bunch of trash afterall!

  2. Nick June 11, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Ukrainians believe that sitting on concrete will make you sterile

    it is not myth, it is fact but only in the winter. if you sit in the freeze day several minutes, you will understand this. however in the summer we sit on the concrete

    about money tree i’ve never hear… but whistling is really taboo. I don’t know why.

    in addition in Ukraine exists taboo that forbid to lay on the table and lay legs on the table.

  3. Nadine October 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    The only one of those I know is a huge superstition is whistling indoors. My didu is full-blooded Ukrainian, and the first time i did that in his house, he about had a stroke.
    I couldn’t understand why, but he keep say that the roof will cave in on us all… my mom said that he’s always believed this, and might be why none of us whistle in our house.

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