From Melbourne to Minsk

After Lithuania, I went to Belarus, one of the last surviving communist countries.  It’s a dictatorship where the KGB is still active and spies on people.


Minsk was almost totally destroyed during the war and had to be completely rebuilt.  25% of Belarus’ population died in the war.

When I arrived at the bus station in Minsk.  I went to use an ATM but it was all in Russian (or Belarussian, I can’t tell the difference).  I hit what I hoped was the cancel button and the machine returned my card.  Another menu came up on the screen.  It was all in Russian except for a button labelled FAQ.
I pressed that and two of the strangest messages I’ve ever seen appeared.
Why did my monkey was delivered badly dead?
Why did my cat was delivered badly dead?
I have no idea why these were chosen as questions likely to be FREQUENTLY asked of a Belarussian ATM.  And why were the questions in English?  Do foreigners come to Belarus to order monkeys?  If I ordered a monkey and it was dead on arrival, I’d be pretty annoyed.  I’d be even more annoyed if it was badly dead.

Someone translated the Russian answer for me and it says something like “It wasn’t fed.”


Belarussian currency isn’t the easiest to deal with.  There are no coins and notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 50000 and 100000.  $1 US is about 2500 roubles.  You want to make sure you give people the right note.


There isn’t a lot to see in Minsk apart from some war memorials and museums.  They don’t get many tourists, but it’s an interesting country to visit because of its unusual political situation.

Have fun,

Minsk Trivia:
In 1960 Lee Harvey Oswald defected from the US marines.  He went to live in Minsk and married a local woman.  A couple of years later he returned to the USA and shot President Kennedy.

Minsk also gets a couple of mentions in episodes of Seinfeld.

Well you made a long journey from Milan to Minsk.
Rochelle Rochelle.
You never stopped hoping.  Now you’re in the pink.
Rochelle Rochelle.
When the nay sayers nay you pick up your pace.
So nothing’s going to stop me so get out of my face.
I’m having adventures all over the place.
Rochelle ROCHELLE!

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One comment on “From Melbourne to Minsk
  1. Boris says:

    I’m glad to see you got through your Belarus experience. I had no idea it was still a communist country. Or that it trafficked in monkeys.

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