On the road to (Mandelay) no Kiev

Hi, its only me today is Saturday 17th May 2014

We are now in Kiev the capital of the Ukraine. To be honest it has been hard getting here, we left Constanta Romania early on Wednesday at 7am and drove through Romania (on the smoothest road of the trip) to the Romanian/Moldova border. That is when the fun started, we cleared customs in Romania no problem, cleared customs into Moldova no problem, then bought minimum 15 days insurance of two old dears (they charged me £10 not £100!). After that we proceeded forward taking instruction from “herindoors” (the Satnav) then came to another checkpoint. Passports and vehicle doc’s in hand cleared the Moldova side?????? By now we are a little confused as we thought we had already cleared that only 2 or 3 Km back up the road, then were told to take all doc’s etc., to kiosk number 4 where I presented the doc’s to the customs official. He stamped our passports and as I was leaving the office asked me which town or city I was heading for so I said Chisinau, he then said “but that is in Moldova”, I said “yes” and he said “you have just left Moldova and entered” wait for it – “the Ukraine” close to Odesa. “Oh shit”, I answered, “Oh shit” he said, so he walked with me over to the Moldova customs officer and he explained what had happened. She phoned someone and said it would be ok for us to go back into Moldova but we would have to be checked back in (pay again)!!! A quick U turn and back to the Moldova check point (the price tripled) and on went to the capital.

In Chisinau was a very nice hotel and restaurant called Stejavari where Emma and her team made us most welcome. The hotel allows you to camp in the grounds with free electricity for €5 per night. Anyway as I was backing into a space I caught one of the rear tyres on a sharp curbstone bang another tyre gone! Emma called someone to come out and repair it that night (they took the old tyre off the wheel and put one of our spare tyres on the wheel then refitted it on Plodd in the rain and dark total cost €20.

The next day we went for a drive to get a garage to put the correct tyre pressures as instructed by Michelin, (a lot different to what we had) also had Plodd weighed on a council weighbridge. On the way back there was a man selling dodgy diesel so we bought €100 worked out at 75p a litre and that evening we had another lovely meal in the hotel restaurant.
We had planned all along that we would stop 3 nights however for some reason between us we changed our minds and decided to leave early the next morning and try to get as far across the Ukraine as possible Another look at the maps and another change of plan. The roads in Moldova on the way in were the worst we have ever seen making the roads in Laos and Cambodia feel perfect, how Plodd has managed to handled the road surface is unbelievable it was constant potholes, uneven surface and vibrations throughout. So we presumed we had the same to come on the way out of the country, we were not disappointed the roads were knackered.
Our final decision was to book a hotel in the capital Kiev, and if we did or did not make it that far we new it was an option, we set off for the border at 6.30 am rattled on for about 1 hour then bang another back tyre gone! Nobody was about to help so we continued on the remaining 5 tyres up to the border. The first person to speak to us was, “Fat Man Do” he came on board asked to have a look around and then he saw the large bottles of water (totaling say 50 litres), first word “Is that Vodka?’ I laughed and said, “no just water” so he opened one tasted it and said OK. He then said “You cant take all this beer,” so I pointed out to him that we were Terrorists (sorry wrong word) tourists and customs coming into Moldova had seen it and had no problems with it. He then said, “you can pay or not take it” I said “well if I can’t take it I will pour it on the grass before he has it” A high ranking army officer started shouting at him to leave us alone so he told us to park up and go to the first office then go to the second office where we would have to pay $5 USA then go back to him, well the $5 turned in to $20 then another $10 we were just about to set off when he shouted that he wanted to take some pictures inside and out! He did them then the army officer approached him and spoke to him and he just waved us off.
We thought we would move forward to the Ukraine customs section, maybe 100 or 200 meters further on. No customs in sight in fact we drove many kms before stopping at another custom checkpoint but it was not the Ukraine??????? We had no idea where we were (even after consulting all the maps) but it all looked pretty official. I had read sometime before setting off on our trip about some country called Trans something or other declaring independence from somewhere, but not recognized by any other country in the world, could this be it I thought? Anyway, we paid again $10 exit charge this time then moved onto immigration where the Ass of an officer said we would have to go back to the first officer (Fat Man Do) because Lesley’s form had been filled in correctly and stamped but mine was filled correctly and stamped, but my name was missing so I would have to go back to Fat Man Do I asked if I could pay a fine, he said” $100” I said” would you please open the barrier so I could go back” which he did and I reversed 100m and stopped I then walked back to him and said “look we have only $5 left do you want it or not?” He pressed the button and opened the barrier so I could drive back through and took the $5 (what an arse he was). We then moved onto the Ukrainian side, they asked if it was Ok to have a look in Plod. Two or three officers got onboard and had a little laugh! We talked and played with the sniffer dog and they showed me their handheld rocket launcher and let us go on our way. I think we were the only people that they had had, at their border for days maybe even weeks. I suppose no body in their right mind would be crossing in to the Ukraine at this moment in time.

Lots more to tell on this part of the trip, however priority is to go for a meal and a drink in this wonderful city Kiev tonight! Lol!

Dave and Her Majesty!
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