We hadn’t seen another Mongol Rally vehicle since the Czech Out party just across the border of the Czech Republic. Since we had spent an extra day there to go on a Segway Tour in Prague, we were sure that most people were at least a day ahead of us.
A Meet Up in Kiev, We're Not Last!
Take a couple of route changes, some long days of driving in bad weather, rough roads and some detours to visit friends, and we were positive that everyone else was half way to Mongolia while we had barely scratched the surface of our route.
Welcome To Kiev
We were in Kiev for two nights to sort out the details of getting our car ownership papers sent to us from England. They had arrived the day earlier at Danny’s (our English contact who bought the car for us through AllWays Rentals in New Zealand – Long Story)
We were originally going to have it FedExed to our hotel in Kiev but Danny told us that the fastest delivery would be 5 days. That was way too long for us to wait around, so we had him scan a copy of our papers and send the documents through email.
The Russian Border
When we woke up the next morning we were packing our car to move apartments to a fabulous flat provided by roomorama. If only we had our act together enough the day before we could have had this dream pad for our entire stay in Kiev.
It was a massive and elegant 2 bedroom apartment with kitchen, living room, gorgeous bathroom and laundry. I would have loved to stay there for a week.
Lucky we did move though because we found a note on our car from the team Busted Compass.
Note from Busted Compass: “Guys you are a sight for sore Irish eyes. We are staying beside O’Briens.”
We made plans through facebook to meet up at the pub that night and that is when we found out that we aren’t alone at the back of the pack. As a matter a fact, we’re doing quite well.
There were five teams meeting up in Kiev.
Busted Compass, Anthony’s Adventure, Teams Otschir, The Social Media Syndicate (that’s us) and the Fighting Trousers. What are the odds that everyone would find each other in the middle of the Ukraine.
Poor team Busted Compass had been in Kiev for a few days and had a few more to go while they waited for a part to come for their ambulance. Adventurous Andrew had some motorbike problems so he hitched a ride with his fellow countrymen and the 3 of them had a grand old time partying like the Irish do in Kiev.
It was fantastic to talk about the triumphs, trials and tribulations of the rally. Many teams are having problems and it was here that we learned that foregoing the ambulance was probably a good idea. People driving them have had nothing but troubles.
Other teams have had break downs and many have taken wrong turns. We found out that people are still stuck in Belgium and Germany, Czech Republic and Romania.
One team was in a head on collision with a driver driving down the wrong way on a one-way street and totally wrote their car off. Luckily they were ok and no serious injuries.
We also found out that other teams are going fast and strong and are already entering Mongolia and Kazakhstan. So we are holding steady at somewhere in the middle of the pack.
It is comforting to see other people that are travelling the same route as you and taking part in the same adventure.
We learned that we aren’t losers, (or at least the only losers)
Remember when I told you about our 6-hour Odessa Hotel Odyssey? Other teams too have taken hours to find hotels. Some have given up trying when entering a city and ended up staying in a 5 star hotel just to get it over with. Everyone seems to be having the same frustrations too.
As exciting as this adventure is, it is a very long time in the car each day. When we asked one team if they were having fun, they had the same reaction that we always do. Take a deep breath and think about it…. “It’s been a challenge.”
Everyone has taken hours at border crossings, having difficulty finding campsites, taking wrong turns onto challenging roads, had car problems, have had to pay bribes and have had speeding tickets.
One team told us that the Ukrainian police told them that they went from 60 km to 144 km in just a few seconds. Not bad for a 1.4 litre loaded down Nissan Micra. So yes, corruption is a problem too.
We’re all not as far along as we’d like to be, but we all agree equally that we wouldn’t change a thing. This is a very cool journey not only to experience, but to write about. We all have had the same question directed at us as well…
“Why are you doing the Mongol Rally?”
“Because we can! And because it is an awesome adventure to see 1/3 of the world in one long shot!