Kublai Kooks - Mogol Rally 2017
Day 13 - July 28, 2017
Kiev, Ukraine to Chisinau, Moldova
Countries: 16 KMs/Miles: 5833/3625
Breakdowns: 6 Time @ Borders: 16h 35m
Ah, the Kooks woke up, fresh as daisies. Great sleep. Clean. Hour shower power really settles everyone down. All were ready to hit another country. No need to pick up Josh as due to train, plane, or hangover issues, he would meet them in Romania. The team consensus was to skip Transfagarasan road and Dracula's tower. The crew wants to do everything but just can't. Even within a country its a 500k detour. Kooks of the round table have spoken. Go see some random shit it Kiev and head to Moldova. Rock in there early have a few pints. Its Friday night yo!
Pouring rain, Kiev was difficult to drive through. The fellas were becoming pros at aggressive driving. Convoying two cars is hard trying not to run yellow lights if your the lead car and trying to anticipate the lead car's next move if your following. Walkie talkies were a good move but remembering to turn them off at night is key, they drain the batteries quick. The mates hit their only Kiev site a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Complete with outdoor and indoor sections. The devout pilgrimaging, begging, and praying. It was chaotic and fun. Not really knowing what was going on by the craziness and differentness was exciting.
Then back to it. Nobody was looking forward to this stretch. The highways were treacherous. Beyond the potholes, it looked like a giant earthquake had come through and created waves in the road. These things haven't been fixed since the Cold War. WTF. Barrelling down at 100km, the Kook Kars basically hit turbulence. It was a roller coaster ride. You have to have god set of stones and some foresight. To handle this. Drive on the shoulder, less divets. And when the rains came. The massive wheel wells created perfect conditions for hydroplaning. Maybe the Ukraine government has giant stake in a shock absorber company or something. And it's not that cars are going slow on these highways either. One can only image how awful it would be in the winter.
"Shit, did we recheck if we needed Moldavian visas?" It wasn't on any of their visa lists. The never ending search for wifi was on. Finally satisfied that they didn't, the Kooks hastily made way to the Ukraine/Moldovian border. The rain had stopped and finally there was rolling hills. A nice change of scenery from the flatness of the rest of their trip so far. Chisinau was close enough to taste the Friday night beers that awaited them. Then out the window they saw a witch floating beside a corn field. Don't make eye contact. Good bye you big weird country.
They rocked up to the border playing Moldovian trivia. All six lost this game. Riding in blind. Standard Kook procedure. Ukraine side went pretty much at planned. Get out of my country etc. Then shit hit the fan. Mikey and John usually have to do the brunt of the talking at the beginning as the cars are registered in their names. The border guard now said we do need visas. A little confused as to why (all should be exempt) and the language being an issue, the two haggled down to 10 Euro or 10US depending on what money people had. Ya, a little fishy. All decided to pay and get out of there. But then she wanted 70Euro per car as a declaration tax. Dodgy as shit. Arguing back and forth that they shouldn't have to pay this, they shouldn't even have to get visas for Moldova. She also keeps saying that this is not Moldova, this is Transnistia. WTF is Tranistria?
The boys were completely bewildered. It wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last. None had heard of this "country". With a little help from a nice bus driver, they found out that Tranistria was a separatist state of sorts. Thoughts of trying find away to drive around this place were thwarted by their tiredness. They ended up paying the "declaration" charge. Now dark, they got to the next check point. Things didn't get better. Exit tax.
Now they wanted 60 Euro per car the leave this non-country. No way anyone was up for paying this. The declaration document they were given for the car said Republic of Tranistria, Moldova. The Kooks argument was that they shouldn't have to pay an exit fee as they aren't leaving Moldova, you're not even a real country! Border patrol didn't like this and the stare down was on. A bit more arguing and thinking about how to skirt this issue ensued. In the end, Kooks finally wore them down and were allowed to exit. They were finally in Moldova! Only an hour away from a cold one. Just over the bridge then a straight shot the Chisinau.
What's this booth. A toll? Bridge tax? Wait a second, this looks official. As the guard waved them by, they are told that this is the Moldovian boarder. What? "But we're already in Moldo...." What is going on?!. They would have to do more research before crossing countries. A lot more. Andy took the responsibility. It would be on him now if the teams get screwed at a border from here on in. And the fellas would let him know it! The real Moldova border patrol was actually nice and helpful and made it an easy process. A small 4 Euro fee for each car, and entry/exit slip for each passport in lieu of a stamp. Finally again! But another team unexpected team expense.
Now getting late, unless there was a hostel bar, they would be going dry tonight. The roads were in tip top shape (though anything would be better than Ukraine.) As they entered the city, they noticed lanes free of lines and big wide roundabouts. Modern and well put together, this place appealed to them. Damn, once again, they forgot to book a room in advance. Hostel after hostel they checked were full. A couple of wild goose chases later they decided to get real hotel and get a decent sleep. With rain pouring down, Millie started clunking and coughing. Her temperature gauges had gone haywire. She had a fever. A good night sleep was in order for her too. The team found a decent hotel; a couple of beds and a floor would do them fine. After midnight again, and with plans for an early rise, they went to bed. Maybe tomorrow they could see the city. Maybe. End transmission.