Kublai Kooks - Mongol Rally 2017
Day 11 - July 26, 2017 - Part 1
Warsaw, Poland or Minsk, Belarus to Ukraine
Countries: 15 KMs/Miles: 4919/3057
Breakdowns: 6 Time @ Borders: 13h 30m
The Fab Four, in typical Kook fashion, opened their eyes that morning feeling well rested looking forward to a seven hour drive and their first real, no EU, border crossing between Poland and Ukraine border. Then they woke up. Bloody Hell! Learning from their mistakes is not one of this crew's strong suits. The worst of the bunch may have been Josh but at least he gets to stay in Warsaw for a few days of R&R before hooking back up with the team in Moldova. Now the Throw-Up Three, a hellish day awaited.
Joel, drawing the short straw, took the drivers seat, Geej riding nav, and John curled up in the fetal position in the back. The grey drizzly morning perfectly matched their moods. No time to see the sites or take some pics, they'll have to just settle for a postcard or just straight up lying about really being there. In remanence of two days prior, Joel settled in to his routine of just trying to stay awake. Dangerous? Maybe. But no more dangerous than the other drivers this two lane highway using the middle section as a free for all passing lane.
Hours passed like minutes and after seeing construction of a super highway for the last two days (every stretch of it being built at the exact same time for some reason) they finally hit the one completed section. This brought them to the nice town of Chelm, near the Ukraine border. No need to wake up John, he didn't sleep at all. It's not easy for a 6'1 Scotsman to sleep in the back of a tiny Skoda that crashing around. Just enough time to walk around and stretch their legs.
For these three, it was their first checked border on this trip. EU was easy, just fly on through but now the waiting game. Make sure you're in the right line. Have your docs ready. Hide Davo. The Polish side wasn't too bad. A car line, a minor check going through your car. Most countries are happy to let you leave.
The Ukrainian side was a little more confusing. A definite language barrier. This part of the Kooks team didn't know about the Google translator app yet and certainly didn't think about downloading any offline translators in the state they were in in the morning. John only got yelled at once. You just got to stand your ground when there's a group of people trying fighting to try talk to the unhappy person through this little window at passport control. All in all it was a two hour process. Relatively painless with a few lessons learned. And probably a better than the people pushing their car through or the guy guzzling beers as he is being looked over. Welcome to Ukraine!
And let the weirdness begin. It was apparent straight off the hop that this country would be the first true test for the team and for the cars. The roads were atrocious. Small fires burning everywhere. The mist added to the creepiness. The houses were tiny. The ambulances needed a ambulance. A collective shiver ran down their spines. Buckle up, the roller coaster ride is about to begin! And off they rumbled...
Mike and Andy, the Kooks teammates that had a Belarus visa, started their day with a nice breakfast and lovely six hour drive that turned into 20. Dreary and pissing rain, this was their first time in the Eastern Block and it seemed quite fitting. Row block building lined with propaganda type billboards. Maybe this was all in their heads but another day of arriving to a city you want to see but arriving so late that all you can do is sleep and having to leave so early that all you want to do it hate it may have been a factor in their reasoning. Then you remember why you're doing this. And that people out there are having a much harder go than you. And that they need help pulling though. And that you can do something to help. Cancer sucks. That's a fact. If you agree, please donate here: https://support.firstdescents.org/team/100469
Adventures helping adventures.
This trusting twosome headed towards the Ukraine border under the careful direction of their devout leader MapsMe. A useful app that you can download offline to get the most direct route to your destination. The unfortunate thing is that is may also send you through a nuclear exclusion zone. Of course that's your fastest route. There's no cars, because you can't get in.! It is the fastest way to get to the border. But once there, you're screwed. Well YACKS, they fellas let you down again. Time to double back and try this again.
This border was a bit better than the last. A little more prepared and savvy, Andy and Mike had started to perfect their talk tracks. Bring a route map, show the route. Big strong army men love an adventure like this. Once the first crew of unmotivated border patrol was replaced by a bus load of fresh new ones, they had their in. And it may have actually worked. They loved it. The whole team has been doing this for a bit and forgets that others find it a kick. Nice. Good work gents. Celebrate with a turtle burger?
Although this border leg was a bit shorter than the last, they didn't get into their locked up hotel until 2am. And didn't get much help from the miserable c who worked there but luckily managed to find someone from the neighbouring hotel who was still up. All in all, it was a long day for them but they had a warm dry bed and couldn't be happier to crawl into it to pass out...yet they wondered - where the f**k are those other guys?1 Are they alive? End transmission.