Photos from Kiev: Soviet Tetris and Rain in the Sculpture Park.

It might surprise you to discover, but I am not Turkish. Nor am I on the hunt for a wife. But make no mistake, there are people of this ilk and their combination is one regarded with suspicion in certain Ukranian couchsurfing circles, or so I’ve been told.

RAIN.

RAIN.

I ate yet another kebab (that sumptuous European delicacy) while Sacha explained sheepishly why she hadn’t agreed to host me. It wasn’t that surprising, in a country known for its export of prostitutes, that couchsurfers might take precautions – especially when dealing with strange men from the Pacific Ocean. There were certainly worse reasons for getting turned down.

We soon worked past this misunderstanding – helped in no small part by Sacha’s shy affinity for weed. I finally clicked at what she was hinting at and all was well, just another successful foray into international relations for the Earth’s finest erb.

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We toked on the edge of the river and wandered its edge in the dark. Sacha told me stories of her travels – brief respites from corruption and the confines of a communist history: Goa, raving in the sea and free; and another time, Stockholm, to visit a friend. She told me of the sadness she feels because, despite her love of the country, she knows it will not change and so wants to leave. That classic internal struggle: familiarity and freedom; hope and the fear of a failed attempt.

The next morning Sacha took me round her office, where she works as a graphic designer. Her workmates didn’t speak English but their beards, five-panels and fixed gear bikes confirmed my suspicions that hipsterism knows no boundaries.  After waving an irreverent “dobre den” to her boss we went to the games room and I was introduced to Katryana, the two-foot tall office bong. We tried her out, played Spacies on the bean bags for a bit and then her boss left, so we did too.

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It turned out our shared interests went beyond pot and Sacha was soon pointing out examples of Soviet brutalism and abandoned buildings as we explored Ukraine’s largest city by foot.

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Soviet Tetris

Our walk culminated in Kiev’s sculpture park. This recent development has been a real coup for the culturally appreciative and, despite it only being mid afternoon, crowds of young people were already gathering to drink and welcome the weekend.

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Sacha was knackered from our walk and headed off home, gifting me the small pipe we had been hiting clandestinely throughout the walk – which I promptly burnt my lip on.

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