A breakaway, ex-Soviet region that issues its own passports and isn’t recognized by the rest of the world? That’s only half the appeal of visiting this nation in limbo.

Small men in big hats boarded our bus to ask for passports. Our guide hissed out a warning: “No photos! No photos!” We were about to cross a border that isn’t a border, into a country that isn’t one. As the guards finally waved us through, our guide smiled with relief. “Welcome to Transnistria,” she said in Russian-accented English, “A place that does not eeeeks-zeeest.”

Unrecognized by the international community, Transnistria, aka the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, is a skinny Rhode Island-sized breakaway enclave from Moldova that borders Ukraine. Ethnically Russian, it is enthusiastically Soviet in spirit, circa 1957, where Lenin statues and propaganda posters punctuate streets lined with decrepit state apartment complexes.

It prints its own money and issues passports—neither of which are accepted anywhere outside its borders. There’s limited internet, few places accept credit cards, and the ATMs are “connected to what, who knows?”

So what’s a traveler to do in this state-sized, retro-communist theme park?