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097: to Nis. 2012/8/6

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[Last glimpse of Pristina = photo album]

I am glad I didn’t waste another day in Priština.

I set the alarm at 7am but woke up shortly after 6.  Instead of staying further in bed I got up anyway, checked my laundry (still wet), brushed up, ate the yogurt, washed the fruit, and, seeing the hostel owner was still asleep, I set out at around 6.40 to the bus station.

Since I made up my mind to catch the bus either at 2.15pm (to Niš bus station) or at 11am (passing outside Nis center), I thought I have to set out early if I want to see Gračanica Monastery.

Gracanica, as LP put it, is indeed an oasis of Serbs in Kosovo – many of the signs are in Cyrillic.  The monastery itself was… let’s say, not very impressive.  I am glad I spent yesterday on Prizren and don’t have to spend another day in Pristina just because of this monastery.  On the way back the bus passed me by before I could reach the bus stop, and the bus stopped as I waved.  The bus was so full that I had to stand on a lower staircase.

While the walk from the bus station to the hostel takes at least 40 minutes, I returned to the hostel by 8.40.  I told the owner and his staff I would check out today, and the Indian owner, who has the tendency to remain silent for five seconds, then jib/ bob his head a bit as if showing disapproval (while actually not), seemed to become slower and slower to respond to whatever I said.  In any case, I told them I would like to have their driver take me to the right place to wait for the bus, since it’s not inside the bus station, and I want to be safe.

I then headed for Macedonia Consulate, which is at the end of this street.  Actually this street has also Hungary and Slovakia Embassies.  On the way I saw a dead cat, which was quite a shock.  The Mr Whoever spraying water in the consulate garden listened to my request told me that they are here to serve Macedonian citizens and can’t provide any “documents” to me, even though I just want to ask for a printout of Macedonia’s newly implemented (temporary) no-visa-needed regime for Taiwanese citizens, just to be safe – I am suspecting that there’s a chance that many Macedonian customs official won’t know this new policy and probably do something stupid to me.  Well, this gentleman insisted that this is something “very simple,” and the several Taiwanese that came to him for the same thing I asked left and never returned, so he thought they entered Macedonia without problem.  To shut him up before he started the third or fifth time of “I can’t provide documents…” crap, I snapped (while remaining very polite) that, had those Taiwanese been turned away, they would head instead to other countries instead of coming ALL the way back to this consulate to complain.

I went to the pizzeria where I asked for direction on the very first day.  The owner still remembered me! and shook my hand to greet me.  Well, in Kosovo and Serbia don’t expect pizzas with proper paprika and lots of vegis or seafood; basically it’s mushrooms, cheese and sausage types of things.  But with such limitations the food here is good enough, and the price and the service are both agreeable.  In fact, although there was no other people in the restaurant at the time, the owner urged me to sit inside instead of outside and turned on air conditioner (with really cool air, people) just for me.  And the waiter smiled at me several times and told me “enjoy!” This is Mullini Restaurant & Pizzeria, the address = Rr.Te Stadioni I Qytetit Lindje.

I returned to the hostel at 1.35pm, thinking I had plenty of time.  The hostel owner spoke in an almost slow motion way, and it was not until I sat for a while did he tell me that the driver can NOT take take me to catch the bus, because “there is a death in [the driver’s] family.” I hurried him to call a taxi for me, but he was VE-RY SLOW.  That was pretty unfathomable.  And in fact he didn’t call a taxi – he called that driver yet again, which was useless.  And then it was only after several minutes did he tell me that actually I had to go to that Adio Tour Agency to buy the ticket instead of buying the ticket on the bus.

WTF!

Finally another staff member returned by car with the young girl I saw the first day, and this guy could drive me to the bus.  The girl didn’t start to walk downstairs to open the reception for my luggage until I ASKED, and when I told her to please hurry to get her colleague to give me a lift, she trotted away SLOWLY on her very high heels.

Maybe “hurry” has a different meaning in these people’s dictionary.

Well, at least I wasn’t late for the bus.  In fact, I stood on the side of the highway under blazing sun for quite some time.  A taxi driver on the other side of the road came to ask whether I need a taxi, and when I told him I was waiting for the bus to Niš, he told me “15 minutes,” meaning 2.15pm.

The bus was in fact 25 minutes LATE, and it looked like a nightmare: it’s old, and air-conditioning-FREE; there’re no windows except for one opening on the ceiling, and the winds blowing into the car are absolutely HOT.  Considering the temperature running to at least 37 or 38 degrees, it was practically an oven.

I planned to sleep during the ride, but it was virtually impossible.  On the other hand, while the ride was uncomfortable, I was able to stand it.

As I got off the bus I asked the very nice bus driver how to get to the train station.  My idea was to double-check the schedule and maybe simply buy the ticket.  The driver didn’t understand much English, so an older passenger helped translate.  As it turned out, we did pass the train station earlier, and since the bus on the way back set off in 10 minutes, he told me (through the passenger) to put the luggage back on the bus, since he’d give me a lift to there.

The train station looked bad enough, and no-one spoke English.  They showed me that the only train sets off at something like 2am, and while I pressed and asked if there’s another one at 12.38 at noon, they simply said no and tried to whisk me away.

I then tried to find the bus to Cele Kula (Skull Tower), since that’s where my hostess lives.

Again no-one spoke English on the bus.  Neither my Taiwan nor Hungarian SIM cards get any signals here, so I tried to ask a fellow passenger to use her phone, but of course she didn’t understand and simply dismissed me with a numb face.  As I got off the bus I tried to ask for a taxi driver’s help.  He was nice enough and tried to find the address for me; he also said that while he can’t call her, his phone has credits to SMS her.  Eventually I walked further and asked for some resident’s help, and finally I was able to call my CS hostess.

In the CS messages she told me she would be packing today for her upcoming trip to Skopje, and as it turned out she hadn’t accomplished much due to the hot weather and some headache.  She said some Couchsurfer had stayed with her for three weeks(!) and just left at 5pm, and during the entire stay she “couldn’t do anything.” My guess is that she was actually rather tired when I arrived and wasn’t much in the mood of hosting.  I tried to engage in some chatting, but the result was… close to null.

I went to buy a couple of simple things in the nearby supermarket, and then after some more time on computer or something I don’t know exactly, she went out to do her shopping.

I was tired.  And my mood wasn’t good.

I thought to myself: why did I go through all this discomfort of such traveling? And I hate the weather.  And oh, earlier I called the Italian guy who’s to host me in Sofia, and as it turned out, his spoken English was… poor, so poor that for the first three minutes I not only couldn’t understand him but also wasn’t sure whether it was him or someone else who picked up the phone – I asked whether he was so-and-so, and I couldn’t understand his answer.

And of course no-one I wanted to talk to was online.  Except that I was wrong:

Some days ago Balázs told me he doesn’t have a microphone.  Well, now somehow he installed Skype on another computer and CALLED me.  Talking to him is like talking to a close family member, and that was such a relief, joy and comfort.

I later asked The hostess Maria for a pillow.  (There was no blanket in sight, but the weather was hot enough anyway.)  I tried again to make some talks by asking when she wanted to visit China (since it’s written in her CS profile), and later she asked me whether I’m from China.  Oh.

At least the snack I bought (some chestnut cream waffle ssticks) turned out to be pretty good.

8/6記帳:
公車:0.5*2 + 7 = 8歐
水+:1.4?歐
中餐:5歐

飲料:60RSD
Nis市公車:45RSD
超市:309RSD
總計:14.4EUR+ 414RSD= 706TWD

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