Our Belarus Trip (1 of 2)

We recently took a trip to Minsk, Belarus. One of the first things you need to do upon arrival is to register at the OGIM – Отдел по гражданству и миграции within 5 business days. If you stay in a hotel, they’ll do it for you automatically. However, since we were invited by friends, they have to take us to the Citizenship and Migration Department, fill out the form, pay 90,000 BLR (US$6)/person, and spend half a day there to do it. Don’t lose your migration card, you’ll need it to leave the country.

Citizenship and Migration Department

Citizenship and Migration Department

One of the first places we visited was the Zhdanovichi flea-market, which has several acres of both covered and outdoor stores selling everything from clothing, shoes, electronics, building materials, restaurants, and even sub-machine guns!

Fruit market within Zhdanovichi

Fruit market within Zhdanovichi

There are many Vietnamese restaurants in the market, over 20 of them called Сайгон (Saigon), possibly because they were a franchise, but with different layouts. The menus, however, offer essentially the same things, at identical or almost the same prices. One look may give you “sticker shock”, as a bowl of pho (beef noodles) costs about 55,000 Belarusian Rubles (BLR). But don’t worry, as the exchange rate is about US$1 = 15,000 BLR. So it costs only US$3.67, and you become a “millionaire” if you have as little as US$67!

One of over 20 Saigon Restaurants.

One of over 20 Saigon Restaurants.

Menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes

Menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes

One of the best deals in Minsk is a metro ride. A single ride costs only 4,500 BLR i.e. US$0.30! In comparison, a one-way subway ride in Toronto costs C$3 or about US$2.40, 8 times as much! Unlike Toronto or Hong Kong, subway stations have few advertisments.

"Moscow" metro station.

“Moscow” metro station.

Our favorite supermarket is корона (Crown), near a State University and where many foreigners, including students, have lunch and do their grocery shopping. Most prices are very reasonable, except when you buy imported brands.

Korona, or Crown Supermarket.

Korona, or Crown Supermarket.

July 3 is Belarus’ Independence Day, celebrated by fireworks at 10 pm. This shot was taken from our apartment.

Independence Day fireworks.

Independence Day fireworks.

(To be continued)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s