During our trip to Cluj, we ventured eastward into a more rural region of Transylvania. We drove for about 2 hours to Bistrita, and another hour into the Carpathian Mountains. We took a seated ski lift to get a better view of the mountains, and passed peasant industry underneath. A family were out collected berries, and several men were using axes to fell trees, and then harness them onto horses that dragged them down the mountain side. It was a unique and spiritual voyeurism.
One of our hosts in Cluj comes from a region north of Transylvania, close to the Hungarian and Ukranian border. He spoke of it as being the heartbeat of Romanian culture - a rural, self-sufficient idyll untouched by Collectivism or Westernization. The question - whether to visit?
Our apartment has cable and so I've been watching a lot of BBC World, and a series by Kirsty Wark called "Tales from Europe". She journeys from south to north throughout 8 ascession countries, delivering the sort of establishment pretentiousness one expects from the BBC. As an example, she sits drinking beer in Prague, likening British stag parties to swarms of locusts. Apparantly we in the west think of Eastern Europe as a barren land devoid of culture or romance, and in our masses we visit to trample through the hidden richness in a blaze of cheap beer fuelled revelry.
The hypocrite clearly misses the point - that it is precisely her presence that encourages western Europeans to venture east - and she has no moral claim to bemoan her "less civilised" compatriots. I do not need her to tell me that communism breeds a culture, as much as it abolishes rights. If we were to travel up to the land untouched by the west, then I'd be guilty of the same process of cultural collision that Wark likes to pretend she's above. So if I do go, then I promise to never complain that such regions are being lost to homogeneity. And if I don't, rest assured that there's still pockets of desperate poverty that can make us in the west feel charmed by.