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This very much reminds me of the time when I tried to get a work-permit for Poland back when it was still firmly communist. The never ending back-and-forth, fear of reprisals from higher up for misplaced chalkmarks or stamps and so on was quite similar. I eventually did get it (I still have it), one of very few westerners that ever did.

The most heard question was why on earth I would be trying to get into the Eastblock when everybody else was trying to get out.

And now you have to tell us the story!

I'll think about that. It involves two hitchhikers, tulips, an ancient Citroen DS and a very large pile of paperwork.

If you share it, I'll also throw in my story of entering (and leaving) an autonomous breakaway region in Moldova (Eastern Europe) under the guise of a footballer (soccer player) trying out for the local team.

So... now that he has, will you share your story too? :D

Sure, I just wrote it up (partially) as a reply to another post:

> Entering Moldova is easy if you're a US citizen; the visa is granted upon entry, with no fee.

> Entering Transnistria is trickier...

> You need to fill out a customs form, either at the "border" (a buffer zone which includes Russian "peacekeepers") or in advance if you know someone who has a stack of empty forms.

> Then you'll submit the customs form to the guards at the border and be subjected to questioning and possibly a bribe demand. If you do everything right, you'll be allowed to enter. A portion of the customs form will be teared off, stamped, and given to you to hold.

> (In my case, I was traveling with someone affiliated with the local football (soccer) team. He convinced the border guards that I'm an American player being tried out for the local team, which got us through the border with relative ease. It helped that I was wearing aforementioned Adidas track pants and have the physical build of a football player. It did not help that I was not told about this plan ahead of time, but thankfully they only questioned him and not me.)

> The clock is now ticking, because this stamp is only good for 24 hours. If you intend to stay overnight (>24 hrs), you need to find the "Ministry of Interior" and go through another round of questioning and paperwork (and again, possible bribe demands) before receiving a multi-day stamp. Oh, and this "Ministry of Interior" is actually just a police booth somewhere deep inside in Tiraspol (the capitol), next to several abandoned factories, crumbling homes, and roaming chickens. Good luck finding it.

> Getting out is just as, uh, fun.

Are you sure that's not the plot to one of the unfinished Douglas Adams novels?

Unless he was following me around I don't think so. Though I do admit to being a huge fan and reading the guide multiple times around that time.

That was a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!

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