A Foreign Affair | Ukraine women attract marriage suitors from across the world | Sunday Night
MATT DORAN: In Ukraine,
the women outnumber the men by almost two to one. And finding a husband
for these single women is a booming industry. Hello. I’m Serafina. I have 24 years. I live in Odessa. # Got me looking so crazy right now, # your love’s got me… Hello. I’m Yelena.
I’m 31 years old, and I’m from Odessa, Ukraine. The women show off
their best assets, not shy at all about
wanting to marry a foreigner. My name is Tatiana. I’m from Odessa. I am 44. I like men Australian. (LAUGHS) They’re not afraid of anything. They just want to find
good husbands who’s gonna take care of them.
That’s it. Is this, do you think, the business of love? Can we call it a business?
Business of love? No, I don’t think it’s business. I don’t think it…
have anything with business, because we just like to
see guys happy. Important, because a lot of guys
have this tomorrow and you guys are still in the city. Anna Panasenko runs the Ukrainian
office of matchmaking tour company A Foreign Affair. I love my job. Absolutely adore it. I worked as a wedding planner
before, so I did marriages. I did weddings and I saw how it’s… after it, but right now I work on
another side. You’re still a wedding planner
of sorts. Yes. I’m working… of making
couples so they will have weddings. Hello, guys. My name is Anna. I’m the manager at
the Odessa office. The Odessa tour gives you
the opportunity to meet hundreds of women. Odessa.
Odessa. Yeah, this is where I’m going.
So, that’s where you’re going? Yeah, Odessa. Yeah.
Oh, right. Nearly 15,000km away,
marine engineer Chris Challenor is planning his trip
to Ukraine, where he hopes Anna will help him
meet his future wife. I would love to find the right
person and settle down and hopefully have kids one day.
Be great. Hi, mate. Hey, P-dog! BOTH: How are you?
Good. What are you looking at? Online shopping?
Yeah. (LAUGHS) Chris appears to be
spoilt for choice. So many exotic women all desperate to make a new life in the West. So, what’s the premise?
You’ve gotta find 15? Yeah, and then apparently you meet them and go on a date
with them. Yeah, right.
Yeah. Oh, look, there’s Mrs Challenor. Look at her. Goodness me. I’ve had a few
long-term relationships which haven’t worked out. It just seems like you
go down the pub and you don’t really talk to other people,
other than your friends, you know. You don’t really go out
to meet people any more. You just do it on social media or,
you know, Tinder or all the other apps
that are out there, and that’s not really me. Like, I don’t really get into it
that much, you know, and it doesn’t work.
I’m no good on it. Let’s hope he has a great adventure
and finds his bride-to-be. (ALL CHEER) MAN: Oi, oi, oi.
(LAUGHTER) Fuckin’ nailed it. (LAUGHTER) Virtually all of Chris Challenor’s
mates are married with kids. And at 37, he wants to settle down too. Probably what I’m looking for
in a partner is someone to be with, someone to… to, you know, share my life with
and all the ups and downs and, you know, just to have
a partner in crime. At the moment,
Chris’ closest companion is six-month-old puppy Ruby. Yeah, this is the girl in my life,
and the boat. She’s my other girl in my life, but I would love to find someone to spend a few more hours of the day
with. So, second choice…
Ekaterina. Meanwhile, lawyer Rob Kilgannon is also perusing the many prospects. It’s looking good, isn’t it?
I think it’s sensational. I can’t wait. The Ukrainian women I went to
university with reminded me of the blonde chick out of ABBA. They all looked like that.
Olive skin, blonde hair. They were all lovely. She’s a nurse. Rob has been single
for the past two years after the end of a tempestuous
25-year relationship with a fiery Spanish woman. I like clever and funny women, but a short temper –
I can’t deal with that. They need to be, I think,
even-tempered and a little tolerant. His sole passion of late
has been motorbikes. If I meet a girl who says
she doesn’t like motorbikes, I think, “Next.” This is my first road bike. This is the bike I had when
I first started out on the road. What do men want? ANNA: The men? Um, men want, probably, happiness and stability. They want to be stable
with their wives. They want to have beautiful wives
at home, a house where they want to come
back. How many relationships do you think
A Foreign Affair has helped create? We have thousands of marriages, thousands of couples. And we’ll work on it,
and we’ll have more. (LAUGHS) Which brings us to Odessa, capital of the Ukraine, matchmaking capital of the world. Here he is. Matt. Nice to see you.
How are you, Chris? Good to see you. That’s good.
You’re looking fresh. Yeah, yeah. It wasn’t too bad.
It’s good. ‘Over the next ten days,
Chris and Rob…’ Here we have your… your brother-in-arms. Rob. Good to see you, mate.
G’day, Rob. How are you? Really well. Really well.
Welcome to Odessa, Ukraine. Thank you. ‘…will meet dozens of women
in this Black Sea resort town ‘in their search for a partner.’ Give me a bit of a snapshot of
your romantic life back at home. Trainwreck.
(LAUGHS) Is that a bit harsh? No, no. That’s how it is. What are you hoping for? Mate, love.
Yeah? Honestly and truly,
I’m hoping to find love. Let’s go, fellas. (JAUNTY MUSIC) Ahead, a dizzying calendar
of social events – dances, dates and cultural tours. (AMERICAN ACCENT) I am Joe Gregory.
I’m gonna be your tour leader. But it all begins with
a briefing for these unlucky-in-love tourists. We’re not gonna feed you
at the social. You have just four hours,
and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to waste half an hour
just sitting and eating when you have 300 ladies around you. ROB: There’s just a room full of
guys from some sort of desperate to hopeful. Where did you come in on that scale,
from desperate to hopeful? Well, not at the desperate end,
for sure. (LAUGHS) Not even at the hopeful end.
Just, um… I came from a cynical perspective,
really. (SEAGULLS CAW) On the very first night,
one of the big social events for our tourists, a dance. About to go on a date with about 200 women. I’m feeling really upbeat and just looking forward
to the adventure. Oh, nervous and excited. Don’t really know what to expect, but should be fun anyway. ANNA: A lot of guys from the tour
that you saw maybe didn’t date ladies for years. And when they come in here,
of course, it’s something different for them to go in the social and they will
see about 250, 300 ladies there. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) How do you like Odessa? Oh, I love it. It’s good.
It’s beautiful. There are interpreters to help
bridge the language gap. Maybe we can dance later.
Yeah, I like dancing. Yeah, yeah. As for the age gap, well, tonight at least, no-one seems to mind. You’re 18. You’re not worried
about the fact that there are some men here that are almost
three times your age? (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) You know, uh, for love, any age is worth it. you know, and you go and talk
to them and, you know, the translator takes down
their number. And then if you want to go on a date
with them, then, you know, you… they get in contact
with them. I was just taking selfies
with the girls, and that way I could remember them
that way. It was really kind of intense, and there’s no down time. There’s no, sort of, you know, regathering with your boys
back in the corner and, um, you know, that sort of
“schooner in between”… (LAUGHS)
..situation. It was just full on the whole time. (JAUNTY MUSIC) So, and what are your plans
for the future? Do you plan to find somebody, like your second half? That would be nice. At the end of the night, Rob has met a lovely lady named Tatiana. And I could tell you guys really hit it off.
It was great. The music started. She came across
and said, “You wanna go outside?” And we just stood against the front
of a truck for an hour, talking. It was great. Oh, one of her jobs, she… Is there a taxi involved? Yes.
Ah, great! I got that. I got that. (LAUGHS)
Said “taxi” a couple of times. Happy days, right?
Yeah, she… We’re almost talking
the same language. Chris has made an even bigger
impression on the women of Odessa, according to his translator. I am exhausted, because all the
girls (LAUGHS) just like this, “Can I speak with this guy? “Can I speak to this guy?”
He couldn’t… Really?
Yeah. (LAUGHS) Every girl says that he is
the best guy of this party. (LAUGHS)
Really? Yeah, the most handsome. Where you been in the world? WOMAN: I have been approximately
to 13 countries. Yeah, 13, and never Australia? Never Australia.
You should get there. It’s good. Of course.
It’s great. I’m sure you will be my guide there.
Yeah, no problem. Among those taken by Chris
is part-time model Yelena. They arrange to meet up
at the beach. So, what are you doing for work? I’m working now as outsourcing
translator for an Italian company, and I’m also freelance journalist. ‘She was actually a really nice
girl. She… Well travelled,’ ‘quite intelligent,
very well educated,’ and I thought, “Yeah, let’s go out
and, you know, meet up again “and find a bit more out about her.” So, you want a family? Yeah, of course I want a family.
Yeah? Do you?
Yeah, definitely. It’s like house here… Ukrainian woman,
I would like to have children, and I think I’m
family-oriented person, and I’m sure I will be able to have beautiful children as well.
(LAUGHS) Yeah, I’m sure you will too.
Because I’m Ukrainian, you know. Usually, all Ukrainian women
are gifted. (LAID-BACK GUITAR MUSIC) What was the chat like and what was the date like?
Oh, easy. Fluent and, you know, no problem. She was easy to talk to. She was outgoing. Yeah, we had experienced
a few things similar, travel and, you know,
we had a few similar interests. So, yeah, the date was really good. (CHILDREN CHATTER)
Ooh. While Chris is enjoying his time
with Yelena,… (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) ..Rob has set sail with Tatiana… (LAUGHS)
Look at the hair. …and translator Anna. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
(LAUGHS) This is port. Port tack. That’s starboard tack. This… You’ll love this.
This is called a sheet. Yeah.
Sheet? A sheet. What was the experience like
with Tatiana? Great. Great. She’s a really, really cool chick. And did she enjoy the sailing?
She did. She did. Oh, but nice houses on the coast,
yeah? You people… Yeah, yeah.
Uh-huh. Rob – he’s really nice and romantic
man, as I was saying. Really honest, really open, really easy-going. He’s open to everything. The good thing about Rob –
that he, uh… ..he doesn’t have a plan, “OK, I will meet the one here, “and then in a week I will
marry her and everything.” He just takes it how it comes. Here’s to you.
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) Cheers. We do this one.
Oh. Yeah. Mm. Odessa, Ukraine, fabled for the most beautiful women
on the planet. Let’s be honest. There’s no shortage of absolutely
stunning women here. Yeah, clearly, Matt,
you’re not blind. Can you believe the
concentration of… ..of beauty here in this country? It is something that strikes you
as you’re walking along the street, yes. Why do you think it is? Oh, I don’t know. Genetics. I can’t say. But it’s one of these things like… Let’s not unpack how Santa
got the bicycle into the house. Let’s just enjoy the bicycle. What is it about Ukraine that is producing such
beautiful women? Like, where did the genetics…?
What’s going on? First of all, yes, it’s genetics, and secondly because we go to gym, healthy food. Everything we’re doing just to be beautiful. And there are just not enough men
in this country. Ukraine has one of
the largest gender imbalances anywhere in the world, due in part to a shorter
male life expectancy, better pay abroad and the impact of
constant military conflict. All these girls are
very intelligent, and they’ve, like, all got
some degree of some sort, whether it’s law or medicine…
I was talking to an engineer. They can all speak two or three
languages at least, and they’re… a lot of them
are quite well travelled as well. With only a limited time
to find his ideal partner, Chris is moving quickly. (SIGHS)
That’s good. After one beach date with
31-year-old Yelena Bilican, he’s decided he’s ready to meet Mum. (JAUNTY MUSIC) Hey, Yelena. How are you?
I’m wonderful. Nice to see you again.
Nice to see you. This is Matt.
Hello. How are you? Hello. Mwah. Lovely to meet you.
I’m wonderful. Fantastic. Thank you. Such a wonderful day
for all of us. I’ve brought some gifts.
I’d like to meet your mother. Oh, wonderful.
You made great choice. Are you ready to meet my mum?
Yeah. Let’s go.
(LAUGHS) Let’s do it. To make the awkwardness even more pronounced, Chris has reluctantly agreed to let
me tag along as the third wheel. Oh, here. Oh, hello. Hello.
Hello. Nice to meet you.
So… How are you?
Mum, Chris. Mama. Thank you for welcoming us
into your home. Thank you.
(LAUGHTER) He’s done well. Flowers. (WOMEN SPEAK UKRAINIAN) Chocolates. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
He was very nervous. He didn’t know what to buy,
but he’s… (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) It’s her favourite flowers, guys, so you did a really good job.
Oh, well done. (LAUGHTER)
Thank you. Thank you. Mwah. (LAUGHS) He’s nailed the favourite flowers.
There you go. (LAUGHTER) ‘There’s a quick tour
of the apartment ‘before we sit down
to a lavish feast ‘prepared by Yelena and her mum,
Nadia.’ My mother is very happy and proud
to meet you, Chris and you, Matt, and she’s very happy to cook
for you for this wonderful lunch. But first of all,
it’s traditional welcome drink, vodka, you know. (LAUGHS) Yes.
(LAUGHS) Yeah, without vodka, we never start a family dinner.
I joke. (LAUGHS) I like this rule. It’s a start.
It’s like a welcome drink, like benvenuta – like in Italy,
limoncello. In Ukraine, it’s vodka.
Really? Before eating, you shall start with some small, small, small shot
of vodka like this. That is not a small shot of vodka.
(LAUGHS) That is a very liberal shot
of vodka. All down in one go, or, I mean…? You can do like a…
how much strong you are, you know. However you feel?
(LAUGHS) Shall we do this?
Thank you very much. No problems.
Thank you. Alright. Well…
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) Thank you very much.
Chin, chin. To Ukraine. To Ukraine. Welcome to Ukraine.
Welcome to house. (MEN GASP) Mm-hm.
Ooh. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
Oh. That’ll wake you up. How was it?
It was outstanding, but, I mean… Thank you. I think.
(LAUGHTER) How did you like it, guys? It was good.
Yeah? Really? Yeah, it was…
First time trying vodka? Not first time trying vodka.
(LAUGHS) That’s not how I start a lunch. (LAUGHTER) Wow, that is a perfect precursor
to some borscht. This looks delicious. ‘After the brief exchange
of pleasantries, ‘it’s down to business and
some tough questions from Mum.’ (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) And so question from fantastic
mother to fantastic Chris. (LAUGHTER)
Oh. She’s asking, OK, what can
you tell about your life, what are you doing for a job and if you are ready for children. (LAUGHS)
Just simple questions. Yeah, simple questions.
I love the third one. Just, you know, “Tell me a bit
about yourself “and, you know, and when are
the children coming,” with great impatience.
(LAUGHS) Well, you sound a lot like
my mother, ’cause my mother is pressuring me
into, you know, settling down and having kids
and all the rest of it. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
Do you like children? Love ’em, yeah.
Children are great, yeah. Love my nieces and nephews. Mm-hm.
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) My mum was hoping that
you’ll be great father. Yeah, I’m hoping too.
I think I will be. Mm-hm. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) My mother expects very beautiful
children. (LAUGHTER) Just how beautiful? Well, Yelena’s modelling spreads may
give a hint of the possibilities. So, here is popular
Ukrainian magazine. It was three years ago. You look sensational. Different, yeah? (LAUGHS) Very different, yeah.
That’s good. Common question I was
asking the girls was, “why is it so hard for you
girls to find love here?” And they just say,
“Look, there’s no guys here.” And the guys that are here
are just not, you know, the type of guys
that they really want. They say that the Ukrainian guys
are… they don’t treat them very well,
apparently. To come here has actually made our
whole trip, to be honest, for me. Anyway, I probably speak for you
as well, but it’s fantastic.
Thank you very much. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) Chris,… very good. (LAUGHTER) And then with lunch over, Yelena’s mum, Nadia,
a former gymnast, shows just how flexible
a mother-in-law she could be. (LAUGHTER) Very good.
It was really good. (LAUGHTER)
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) You will never forget it, I’m sure.
No, I’ll never forget that. Here’s to you.
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) We do this one. Oh. Meanwhile, fellow Aussie Rob
Kilgannon is making inroads himself. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
(CHUCKLES) And he’s feeling a lot less cynical
than when he arrived. ‘I had thought, in the beginning,
that perhaps 10% were there ‘in this pursuit of a…’ ..a genuine long-term connection
and commitment. And I’ve moved that 10%
to maybe 60%. Rob got on well with Tatiana but has found an even deeper
connection with Ludmilla,… Watch she doesn’t spit on you.
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) ..who he warmed to
during a visit to the zoo. You in front of me?
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) He smells like old goat.
(LAUGHS) Yes, he does. He smells awful.
(BOTH LAUGH) Now he’s invited Ludmilla
to an intimate dinner with the ever-present translator. I, um, got those flowers for you. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
Thank you. Spasybi?
Spasybi. There’s a lot of spasybi going on. Spasybi. (LAUGHS) Tell me about Ludmilla. What is it that you like about her? She’s really quite bright, and she’s funny, and she’s reserved
and even-tempered. She, without sort of
going forward too far… She’s been married twice, but she’s married twice
to the same person. So there’s a real optimism in her.
There’s a real… ..sort of… a real hopeful way
forward, I think. That’s a massive statement
about that. And I just… Wow. A big wow. Yeah, no problem.
I’ll put you in my suitcase. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) MATT DORAN: It’s been a hectic week
for our foreign tourists looking for love in Ukraine. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) Oh!
(GASPS) Don’t fall over, OK?
(LAUGHS) You OK?
(WOMEN SPEAK UKRAINIAN) And things are only getting busier
and more bizarre. Tonight, speed-dating. Fly away… (QUACKS, LAUGHS) What do you look for in a man? I have a cat. (LAUGHTER) Just have a look at this. This is what the guys
are walking into. A nightclub full of hundreds
of beautiful and single women all vying for the hearts of
just a few dozen foreign men. They are being received
like rock stars, but they’d better be on their game, because this really is
speed-dating on steroids. Have you been to Australia? I’ve never been. No?
No. You wanna go one day, maybe?
Of course. WOMAN: Dear gentlemen, your date is finished. Please go to the next table. Have a good time. It was quite funny. We’re
speed-dating from table to table. I’m getting a bent neck looking back
at the speed-date I had beforehand. You’d have to question the motive of some of the blokes
and the women here tonight. (PEOPLE CHATTER, CHEER) But it’s clear to me that there are many here
truly looking for a genuine, loving relationship. Four years ago, my husband died,
and it was a big accident, (SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY) I’m sorry.
No, but life – long life ahead, I hope. And I have son. He is 10 years old, and he said,
“Mummy, you can be married again.” So, ask her what does
she wanna do tomorrow? What sort of date does
she wanna go on? Meanwhile, Chris is immersed in a ‘deep and meaningful’
with Natalia, and, yes, their translator. Can you ask Natalia what she thinks
of my Australian friend Chris? Is he a nice human? Um… (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) Yes, she likes him a lot because he’s a kind person and has a wonderful smile. Oh, wow.
Oh, you devil. Thank you very much. (ALL LAUGH)
No, that’s not a proposition. There’s a lot of beautiful women and a lot of single, beautiful
women, you know? All the young guys at home would be
just laughing to come here. You sort of encountered
a little bit more attention here than
you would back home – is that how you felt?
Definitely, mate. Yeah, yeah. (LAUGHS)
I struggle to turn a head back home. (BOTH LAUGH) ROB: It’s almost not real, to be
honest. You know, you don’t think that this sort of stuff happens,
but it does happen, yeah. For some of the women, it’s about finding
a rich foreigner… (PEOPLE SHOUT) ..and even fighting for him. No, no! (WOMEN SHOUT) For a few of the men, the motives are also questionable. You watch from a distance
and you might think, “Oh, this is sleazy guys going in “and trying to pick up
foreign women.” Mm-hm.
Does it feel like that ever to you here on the ground? No, never. Why?
Never. When I see the guys coming over,
they have hope, each and every. Yeah, that’s good. Oh, good. What I’m still trying to
wrap my head around is whether you see any issue with wealthy foreigners coming in and saying to these women who are on 300 or 400 or 500
a month, “Hey, here I am.
Here’s a better life.” Does that sit OK with you? Yes. For somebody,
maybe somebody’s looking for that. But Ukrainian women,
we are very respectful to ourself, and even if we have 200 a month, we’re not looking for more. You cannot buy love, ever. And for us, it’s better to stay
in Ukraine, to have 200 a month, than to live with somebody
that we don’t love. And certainly the intentions
of many of the men on this tour are genuine. What did they say to you? They think I’m an idiot. Blokes like 67-year-old
Californian Stephen Gales have had a bumpy ride and want to settle down. In November, I’m gonna be 68. Yeah?
Yeah, right here. Right here. (LAUGHS) So I think I have 20 years left
on the planet. I don’t… I can’t find anybody, so before I get really wrinkled, I wanna find somebody
that I can spend time with. I’m lonely, and I wanna travel and do fun
things. When I go surfing, I always go by myself. When get in the car,
and there’s nobody to talk to. When I come back home,
nothing going on. I’d like to find a wife. It’s a pretty brave thing for
a bloke to stump up and go, “Hey, I’m lonely. I would like to
go and find a life partner.” I mean, does it feel like
a brave decision to you, to do a trip like this? Yeah. That or stay home
and just be lonely. So go here and see what there is. That’s what all the guys
are here for. They’re all looking for love. But, of course, everyone has a different view
of just what love is. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) It’s very important for her man
to be positive, easy-going. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) It’s very important for her not to
be bored with the person. (LAUGHS)
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) She doesn’t like boring life.
She’s very spontaneous. (LAUGHS) Alright, you ready?
Cheers. Texan Robert Staats and Nonna bonded over a mutual interest
in all things Italian. Well, we were… ..having dinner, and I describe going to Florence
as one of the few places I’d been and described an experience I had, seeing Michelangelo’s David. And Nonna said,
“Oh, I would love to go.” And I don’t remember whose idea
it was, but we kind of said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” There is an age difference.
I do worry about that. I’m 61, and Nonna is, well, uh…
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) …younger.
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) 38. OK. So, yeah, that is a concern. And we’ll talk about that, but she likes me, and, oh, my
goodness, she’s a wonderful woman. I just kind of nod. I’m gonna nod. (SPEAKS FRENCH) Oui.
Yeah, oui, oui. That’s the one. Yes. Is oui, right?
(SPEAKS FRENCH) What was the other one
you were saying? Our Australian tourist
Rob Kilgannon is pretty happy
with his partner too. (BOTH LAUGH) The dinner date with Ludmilla
had him hungry for more. You want dessert? What do you want? Your checklist was, you know, intelligence, good sense of humour
and sort of level-headed. Yes.
That’s three ticks. Yes. Well, and pretty, sort of…
We get that one as well for free. Yeah, she’s stunning.
She’s stunning. The light really suits your
features. You’re quite beautiful. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
(SPEAKS UKRAINIAN) What discussions have you had
with her, if any, about whether this could be
a real thing? Very preliminary conversation about
maybe a trip down to Australia to see what we’re all about
down there. Chivalrous. Chivalrous. ‘Maybe later this year.
Maybe early next year.’ Chivalrous and quick, right? (BOTH LAUGH) For Chris Challenor, he’s met dozens of
beautiful women here in Ukraine, had dated Yelena, even went home to meet Mum. (SPEAKS UKRAINIAN)
(LAUGHS) The world’s a big and a small place
at the same time, you know, and if you struggle to find love
at home, why not find it abroad? You know, and all you really
need to do is… ..is go out and explore
everything you can, and you may just fall in love.