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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

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This recommendation is not for everyone. If you like things comfortable, legal and safe, this is not for you. But if you're looking for adventure, read on.

I grew up in Iasi, and I can tell you my experiences of trying to penetrate the communist wasteland with an american friend on a trip back home. Iasi was a burgeoning industrial center of the communist era. The communist ideal revolved around self sufficiency, so everything (except for oil and the like) that needed to be used in Iasi was made in Iasi. The city's outskirts are dominated by an immense industrial zone, in which more than 90 percent of the factories have become abandoned. When the communist regime fell, these factories closed one by one, succumbing to foreign competition and internal political chaos. What is left are hundreds of factories, buildings, warehouses and fields which are completely abandoned, overrun with shrubbery, begging for exploration. I went to Romania to find this atmosphere the same way you would go to Japan to find the blossoming cherry hills. It is unique, amazing and wild, and will not last long. With the European Union's accelerating economic involvement in Romania and the increasing price of land in the city, the industrial wasteland will soon be cleaned up and taken under control by the overzealous and bored Romanian policemen.

You can get there by asking which way is the "zona industriala". If you are in "Podu Ros" walk towards "Tesatura" , away from downtown. As you walk you will pass the electrical power plant. You can also take tram number 1 from Podu Ros and get off at the very end (make sure it's NOT going towards Copou). At the end of the tram line, walk around, because you have entered the largest communist wasteland around Iasi. There are other abandoned factories, but this is the largest concentration. Another extremely large abandoned factory is C.U.G., and used to produce large industrial equipment. It is at the end of bus lines 9 and 41, next to "Frumoasa". If you take the train to come into Iasi, you'll probably go by this factory for a very long time. C.U.G. is not completely abandoned, so you should be careful, but it also probably has the most impressive warehouses and heavy machinery. Try to imagine how 30 years ago these places were the workplaces of most of the inhabitants of Iasi. Many people moved from the countryside to the city to work in these factories.

Be careful. In Iasi, the police are rather unpredictable. Someone may try to arrest you or fine you for putting your feet up on a bench in a park. If you get caught doing anything, be curteous, friendly, extremely apologetic etc. You might want to carry a hundred dollars on you just in case. It might help. If you're going to go exploring abandoned factories, you always run the risk of being caught by a leftover security guard. You never know. Be quiet, be subtle, bring a camera, don't carry weapons and don't threaten anybody. A girl might help. Do not ask for permission to visit any place, you won't be let in and you'll increase vigilence. Unless you're prepared to pay, it's unlikely that a security guard would break the rules to allow you to do something which you might find fun. If you want to go in a factory or building, walk around it first to see if there are any security guards; if there are, you're better off going to another factory.

Also beware of the dogs. In Iasi, dogs run wild and in these abandoned regions they are out of control. It is not uncommon to see 10 or more dogs together in packs. Do not bother them. If they bother you, be aggressive.DO NOT RUN away from dogs (although you should by any means run away from security guards). You can carry a stick around if you're really afraid of dogs.

Be careful where you step.In some places there are water tunnels with murky waters which are more than 2 meters deep (couldn't find a bigger stick to check), which are populated by turtles and frogs. It is common for local kids to catch frogs in these basins. You probably could go scuba diving them if you were really really really insane. Because these are industrial waters, it would be best not to touch them. Also be careful of broken floors. It goes without saying that buildings which have been abandoned can't be as easily trusted as maintained ones. tread carefully. bring a flashlight, water and food. You'll most likely want to spend the entire day exploring, so you'll be far away from convenience stores.

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