In case you missed our first post, I’m Chase; I have spent the past three winters working at the Hotel Alyeska and snowboarding all the time. This summer my girlfriend Charla and I are driving a 1.1-liter Fiat Panda from England to Mongolia to raise money for charity in the Mongol Rally. Alyeska Resort has been awesomely generous to help support this trip to raise money for the Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Last week was our first week of the Rally, and we had made it through England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
If we thought that Romania was difficult, we were in for a shock when we left the country! Due to a fluke of geography, we found ourselves in Moldova for two kilometers. Yes, two kilometers is practically nothing, but the Moldovans think it’s a big deal: we had to go through customs and immigration to enter the country and to exit the country, which took over two hours. From Moldova we entered Ukraine, which is apparently the land of the bribe. We were expecting to have problems with corrupt officials on our drive, but we were surprised when it started in Europe. However, after some back room threats and some cash changing hands, we were on our way!
Once we got into Ukraine, we absolutely fell in love with the country. The people are nice, the food was delicious, and our only complaint was that while we were in Kiev I couldn’t find any restaurant that served chicken kiev. (Another Rally team also passed through Kiev, and they were quick to tell me that they ate chicken kiev twice, so I guess it was just my fault!) While we were in Ukraine we did find that the roads were absolutely atrocious. My personal favorite was a road that was the only link between the city of Odessa and southwest Ukraine, so you’d think it would be a major route; however, the road was so bad that there was a trail that had developed because people would rather drive in the dirt beside the road than deal with the potholes in the road. In addition, beyond that, there was a second trail that had developed because people would rather drive in the dirt beside the trail than deal with the mud-puddles in the trail or the potholes in the road!
From Ukraine we passed into Russia, where I am currently writing to you from Bakobka, just outside of Moscow. This is where things are going to start getting interesting. The Russian language is nothing like English, and even though we’re traveling with a book called Teach Yourself Complete Russian we haven’t opened it yet. Also, they say the roads connecting Moscow to Europe are fine, but everything east of Moscow should be an adventure. Search YouTube for “Russian dashcam” and you’ll get an idea of what we’re up against.
Check back here next week to make sure that we aren’t in any footage that makes it onto YouTube. In the meantime, check us out at <www.TeamTurnagain.weebly.com> or at <www.facebook.com/TeamTurnagain>