Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Little Miss Moi has left the building

But unlike Elvis, I'm still alive.

I've just gone to a new home.

You know what they say, a change is as good as a holiday. And while I've got no gripes with blogger, I just wanted to try something new. Sorry, these clothes were getting a bit old.

Visit me at

once again, that's

For all of my bluddies out there, if you still love me, please update your links.

See you soon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I'm so stupid when it comes to northern hemisphere seasons that, when I learned the names of the months and seasons in my Russian lesson, my teacher also had to tell me which months belonged to which season.

"Yeez, Leetle Meez Mva, vesna eez spring, eend ze months are March, April, May. Repeat after mee, spring eez... March, April, May."

But, now that I'm here and have lived through a cold Christmas and New Year, and am living through a summery May, I'm getting the gist of the seasons.

So I was more than a little suprised when I logged onto one of my daily newspaper reads, and saw the headline, 'First snow brings winter delight'.

"What?" I thought. "It's summer, how dumb ARE they?" (yes. I really did think that, when I should have been thinking, "Oh, this El Nino palaver, turning the seasons upside down." Either way, it was a stupid train of thought).

Then I remembered it's winter in Australia. Well, in some parts. I've never personally lived through a proper winter until this past year's in Kyiv. To prove point: I just checked

The current temperature in Kyiv, Ukraine: 24 degrees
The current temperature in Brisbane, Australia: 23 degrees
This crappy post about the weather: Pricelessly crap

Monday, May 21, 2007

Seven random things about Little Miss Moi

enidd tagged me to write about seven random things. Thanks enidd. It's not often I'm tagged and it makes me feel loved.

Racking through my rather random brain, it was hard to come up with anything that seemed worthwhile. But I came up with some boring randomnesses and this is what I got...

1. When I was six, I fell off my bike and hit my head. The result was a black eye that was closed for a week. I think my parents were embarrassed to take me out in public (in case someone thought they did it to me).

2. I'm not a huge fan of the beach. While I don't mind a dip in the ocean, I hate sitting on the beach getting burnt. And sand is overrated. But I swear, I really am a true blue aussie.

3. I took my first overseas trip in utero. My parents went on a holiday to Germany when mum was six months pregnant with me. At least I had a first class position all the way.

4. I finished school, and started university, when I was 16. This is simply a result of the differences in the state education systems in Australia, not because I'm a brainbox. Sorry.

5. Continuing on the non-brainbox theme, I have two degrees. One is a Bachelor of Business in Communication. The other is a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies. Now here's the dumb thing - both are underpinned by the exact same communication theories. So I needed to do two degrees to learn the same thing twice.

6. I have flat feet and bad knees. I use this as a legitimate excuse to avoid high hells, I mean, heels. At all costs.

7. I am one of five children. My anguished mental state is a result of the fact that I was the youngest for six years, before my little brother came along. After that, I was abruptly thrust into middle-child-dom.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Not a true Aussie? And the tale of the too-small skirts

Some of my readers have accused me of being a whimpy Aussie because I can't use a barbie and I don't like it hot!

Well, poo to them.

I never said I didn't like the hot weather. You see, it's all to do with the food in Ukraine.

Since I've lived in Ukraine, I've put on about 5 kilos, or perhaps a little more. The result is, I'm weighing the most I have in my life.

Another result is, all the lovely everyday summer clothes I brought with me from Australia no longer fit me. The only clothes that (just) fit me are the heavy winter skirts and shirts I bought when I first came to Kyiv.

And before you say anything, I don't want to go out shopping for clothes that fit. Firstly, because I actually really want to be (and hopefully am in the very slow process of) losing weight.

Secondly, clothes in the shops here are rather arbitrarily priced, which means that most things that are about double the price you'd pay back home. Weird, isn't it? Cheap food, expensive clothes. Doesn't really make sense to me.

But really and truly, give me hot weather any day over snow and slush. There's nothing better than sweating, and walking around in just a skirt and shirt with sandals. No coat required.

Too bad I only have one skirt that fits at the moment.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Feeling hot hot hot

I logged onto to the weather website Wunderground today.

This is what it said the weather would be in Kyiv:

Temperature in the thirties? With continuously sunny weather? I don't believe it.

Well, sometimes Wunderground gets it wrong, so I decided to check with the source of all things true and solemn -
BBC Weather.

Holy freakin' shite! 34 degrees? In Kyiv? Where, only three months ago, it was minus 18?

I really don't get the weather in this part of the world. But I think it's time to buy a fan.

All of a sudden, this doesn't look like a bad prospect:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Welcome to Crimea!

Where the hell is Crimea?

I like to explain it as: Crimea is the peninsula that dangles off the bottom of Ukraine. Take a look at a map of Crimea here. It dips quite nicely into the lovely Black Sea, across which, if you squint your eyes, you imagine you can see Turkey.

Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine. This didn't really mean much to me. There are certain other things that define its difference to Ukraine more pointedly, to me, anyway...

Firstly, the Crimean Peninsula was historically occupied by Greeks, Genoans and Crimean Tatars, to name a few. As a result, there are some amazing ruins and architectural sights around the place.

The Crimean Tatars
took over rule of Crimea from the Mongols (yes, Genghis's troupe really did get this far!) and ruled for around 300 years. They are a turkic speaking people, and indeed the name Crimea is derived from a turkic word,
qimirm (imagine the 'i's without dots).

After Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great, Crimean Tatars were persecuted and so fled the region, mostly to Turkey. Those who stayed were deported en masse by Stalin after World War II: on 18 May 1944, all the Crimean Tatars in Crimea were sent to other regions in the Soviet Union - mostly Uzbekistan. The area was resettled by Russians.

It was only in the late 1990s the Ukrainian Government started issuing Ukrainian passports to the Crimean Tatars to allow them to return to their traditional homeland. Crimean Tatars have a distinct language, culture (there is even a 'Crimea' TV channel, which plays talent shows etc), cuisine (although influenced heavily by Uzbek and Turkish) and religion (Crimean Tatars are mostly Muslim).

The second reason Crimea feels so totally different is because of it's long history as part of Russia. Catherine the Great annexed Crimea for the Russian Empire in the 18th century.

Crimea was where the Russian Empire's, then the Soviet's, navy fleet was moored. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia negotiated a long term lease of the mooring areas in Sevastopol from the Ukrainian government. There are lots and lots and lots of military people walking around town, and Russian flags all over the place.

Because of this, and a myriad of other reasons, I'm sure, Crimea feels totally Russian.

So, for me, learning Russian in a town where all the signs are Ukrainian, Crimea felt like a lingo utopia (is that a lootopia?). Little things started to fall into place - I learned how everyday places like Produkti and Rinok are spelt, I could understand some of the signs, and I didn't get confused by the occasional person answering me back in Ukie.

My visit to Crimea took me to a number of different places:

  • Sevastopol. Was a closed city until 1996 or thereabouts (so if you have an old Atlas, you'll be looking and looking for it). Very beautiful city. Where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is moored
  • Khersones. About 5 kms from Sevastopol. A 1,500 acre site containing ruins of the Greek colony of Chersones, which was founded in the 6th century BC
  • Bakhchisarai. Where the family who ruled Crimea lived. I think. Amazingly cute little palace there, as well as an Orthodox cave monastery, and some troglodyte caves
  • Balaklava, where the British Army fought the Russian Army during the Crimean War. (Yes, that's what balaclavas are named after...) Where the valley of the Charge of the Light Brigade is located
  • Alupka. A lovely sea-side village with a park and a Khan's palace
  • Yalta. Former Soviet resort town, which the guide books claim is a but yukky, but I thought it was nice. So there you go.
Well, this post is a bit of a link-fest, so I'd better give you some photos to reward you for your patience.

A rainy day at Sevastopol

Soldiers admiring the ruins at Khersones

Babushka and dyevushka selling Khan's clothes at Bakhchisarai

Daisies in the park at Alupka

Old Soviet sanatoriums from the boat to Yalta

Alupka and the Khan's palace from the boat to Yalta

Monday, May 14, 2007

Barbeque nation

From A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

It would be useful - I wasn't quite sure in what way, but I was sure none the less - to learn to fend for myself in the wilderness. When guys in camouflage pants and hunting hats sat around in the Four Aces Diner talking about fearsome things done out of doors I would no longer have to feel like such a cupcake. I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, [wo]manly sniff, 'Yeah, I've shit in the woods.'

It's time I learned to fend for myself. It's time I learned to barbeque in the woods.

In Australia, a barbeque, or 'barbie', usually comes with a gas bottle and a nice wooden stand. They even have wheels, and look a variation on the theme of this:

See? This one even comes from Australia - 'Down under'.

And heaven forbid, they are so easy to use that in many a household, women commandeer the humble charcoal-maker that worldwide is the domain of men. (I'll just point out, women are less inclined to create charcoal on a barbie).

Now, I've also previously mentioned the drought in Australia. As a result, it's been illegal to light a fire in the bush, for, like, ever. The Aussie bush is predominantly eucalypt, thus there's quite a bit of oil hiding in the leaves. One carelessly lit fire on a breezy day can potentially burn half of Sydney.

But I digress. So...

Imagine how excited I was when enidd suggested that we all go for a barbie in the woods (ohh err I've never been to the woods before, only the bush!), get the man to light some sticks, and we all sit around and eat shashlyk, or potentially, Stalin.

Now. Who is we all? Let's just say, it was a real blarty (blog party).

The blarty consisted of enidd and the man, sarahemily and HDF, Olechko, Mr Olechko and bubba, and of course, Little Miss Moi and her beloved Mr Moi. Not to mention, the late afternoon cameo from Olga, the very brave dogwalker of Stalin and Fluffy.

Unfortunately, enidd got sick and decided not to come. Boo hoo. At the same time the man broke us the news, the rain started to bucket, and for an instant, it was really quite conceivable that our blarty was going farty.

However, with true pommy weather optimism, the man found a patch of blue sky and convinced us that this was the sign we were all waiting for - the weather would be fine. So we piled into the cars and took off to the island.

The island is Trukhaniv Island, and is a huge, empty, grassy and treesy island in the middle of the Dnipro River. It's covered in dirt tracks and full of big fat ditches, which are especially fun to drive someone else's car on. :o)

There's not really much to say about the BBQ itself, except that we drank lots of fizz (Cricova - a newly found Methode Champanoise Moldovan bubbly) and got a bit pizzed. We also drank beer (the Olechkos gave us a Ukrainain and European beer tour without leaving our seats) and red wine. We ate lots of meat from sarahemily's shashlyk, and endured a few rain showers (perhaps by then, I was too tipsy to care).

Australians, despite our tough talk, are really a bit ninny when it comes to being outdoors (OK, well, just me). Australians like to picnic on the beach - where they arrive first thing in the morning to nab a picnic table and camp out for the rest of the day. Said picnic table is usually within safe walking distance of a dunny block. So my biggest worry was where we were going to go to the toilet.

But. I have conquered all. Now I can say we shit in the woods. (OK we didn't really, but it sounds better than saying, 'I did a girly wee behind a tree trunk and even had to take a roll of loo paper and a can of air freshener').

And now it's time to call a halt to a long and rambling post.

Here are some photos to wake you up and help you envisage what a tough bird I've become. Enjoy!

Setting up camp in the woods - see the mole hills (I thought they were ant hills)

Boys being boys: admiring their collective handiwork (oh how Soviet!)

One of the highlights of the day was being able to enjoy the wildlife

More wildlife.. . Oh! no it's not, it's someone with her head bent in shame after going to the loo in the woods

HERE'S more wildlife. I was afraid they might bite

Not a pretty sight for vegetarians. Of which I am not one...

Beautiful bread from the French bakery owned by Russians

Gathering more sticks for the fire...

... while the girls sip on pink Moldovan fizz

And the boys misplace their beer bottles

When the fire looks like this, it's 1) time to put it out and 2) time to go home

But not before we get a lesson in what do to with bio-degradable goods...

Friday, May 11, 2007

They said there were steppes out here somewhere...

But all I could see what flat land, as far as they eye can see...

With the occasional dug up paddock (yes, folks, that's the technical name)...

And every now and then, a few pretty poplars and other trees (oak? willow? If it's not a eucalypt, I can't vouch for it) on the horizon...

A canola field here and there. We were assured they weren't GM crops...

More canola fields, and very dark and dreary skies...

There were even a few lurkers on the side of the road. After all, if you ask a Ukrainian where the toilet is, their response is, "Everywhere!"

Still no damn steppes! After ten hours of driving, I thought I would have seen one or two...

But mostly just saw abandonned buildings and factories...

And lots of flat land...

I'm steppe-ing into the twilight zone...

Tune in tomorrow to see where Little Miss Moi ended up after this long day on the road that was supposed to have steppes, but only had flat land.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Diary of a lazy moi

Well, the fact I have a cleaner seemed to cause quite a flutter. So here's a whole post dedicated to justifying my laziness.

Why do I have a cleaner in Kyiv when I live in a flat the size of my bedroom in Sydney, and I'm cozily unoccupied in the employment department?

It's because I'm a lazy twat. Oh, that's not it! It's because blogging has become a full time job. Nope, that's not it either. Even though, it practically has (reading blogs, not writing).

To be honest, I have a cleaner because it's so darn cheap. Hands up (Robin excluded) who wouldn't get a cleaner when she only costs $20? And not only that, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm contributing to the scourge of the underpaid working class helping someone earn money in a country where a lot of people live below the poverty line.

And everyday life here is plain exhausting. Every three or four days, I do the following:

- Go to a money changer to... get some money changed
- Hike between three different and widely dispersed shops and an open-air market, just to get all the groceries I need
- Carry it all home in a backpack and numerous shopping bags that bang against my legs
- Walk up four flights of stairs because the lift is making really scary noises again
- Head out again to pay some bill or another (I miss internet banking)
- Visit the babushka in the kiosk up the street because I've inevitably forgotten something.

That, my friends, pretty much takes up the whole day. By the end of this little routine, there's been that much physical exertion and contact with grumpy service people, the last thing I want to think about is cleaning the bathroom. My cleaner is my sanity preservation.

And while I've wasted a whole post on justifying why I have a cleaner, I still haven't convinced myself that I'm not a lazy twat...

(At least I don't have a nanny, a driver, a housekeeper and a cook. People here do. All up, salaries for those staff combined would cost the humble expat about $20,000 a year).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Late, and unofficial, Fun Monday

While you all wait on tenterhooks to find out where I've been for the past week, I thought I'd show you some photos my darling mother recently sent me.

Also, I have a twinge of Fun Monday envy. If I took a photo out my front door, you'd just see another boring, steel-reinforced door in a dreary foyer. So, I'm stealing my mother's glory.

As Willowtree mentioned in his photographic odyssey, parts of Australia are in the grip of drought. This is nothing new, as it seems for the past ten years or so, one state or another has been dry as a bone.

Growing up in lush, sub-tropical Queensland (and it's more tropical than sub, I'll tell ya), I remember the time about five years ago when the Premier ordered the drinking water dams be opened and water be released, as the dams had reached their capacity.

Criticised at the time for letting water go when parts of Australia were really darn thirsty, I remember him saying, "We have enough water here to last us another five years."

Five years down the track, and Brisbane hasn't seen a significant rainfall since... well, since then. Water is now the Premier's number one priority.

So without any further ago, here are photos of my parents lush, sub-tropical front yard...

When people say Australia is running out of water... they're really not joking.

(And as I write this, my cleaner is cleaning the kitchen with the water constantly running. At least it's not drinking water.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Where do YOU think Little Miss Moi is?

I'll be back soon! Like, in two days :o(