For the first few days of our trip I think I was suffering from what I am calling car-ture shock. Or maybe Kai-ture shock But it seemed to lift yesterday and we had a really good day.
I really started to enjoy driving in the Ukraine, the roads could be a lot worse, and the drivers are fairly polite, and swerving around pot holes is always a fun challenge. The real problem is how quickly the roads can change, you can be driving along a section of decent dual carriage way and it will suddenly turn into a pot-holed track road, and then change back again after a few km.
Just as Kai and I were seriously discussing "wild camping", as Ed and Matt had called it, we saw a sign for a campsite and turned off. We turned out to be the only campers, but there were a few families and children relaxing by the bar and lake. I was starving, and the very friendly and accommodating staff opened the kitchen for us and made us some soupy broth and fried fish ribs. And then came the main course of sausage and fried potatoes. Jumping into the water was fantastic.
We got back on the road fairly early this morning to more beautiful weather and scenery. And then, out of the blue so to speak, we got stopped by the police. We quite quickly understood that we had been speeding at 80kph (50mph) in a 50kph (30mph) zone. We weren't quite sure what they wanted to do about it though, we tried to point out that someone had actually overtaken us as we'd been pulled over. Kai was driving and got called out of the car, and oddly went and sat in a police car. Negotiation started at 100 Euros. By the time Kai came back to the car it was down to 50 and Kai was suggesting 30. I went over with 30 Euros in our phrase book to take my turn. The inside door handle didn't work, which made me feel a bit trapped, but the young policeman told me to open it again from the outside. As he leafed through our phrase book I worried that the money would fall out prematurely, but amazingly it stayed put. We then resumed negotiations. We wrote "40" on his hand, I wrote "30" on his hand and he agreed. I handed over the money and kicked myself for not writing "20".
Not an hour later we were stopped again. I definitely wasn't speeding this time as I'd just turned out of a junction. Which turned out to be the problem, they actually had a video of me overtaking a truck as I left the junction. Now the truck had actually stopped, I thought, to allow me to overtake, which I did, there being nothing else on the road. I think the police were saying that I should have actually stopped at the junction, I assume there could be a stop sign that was hidden but the massive great fuck off lorry that I overtook. This time they asked for 400 UAH, and they accepted 200 after surprisingly finding a French Mongol Rally team who were just about to pull away. They were fined for crossing the dubious white line in the middle of the road, Which the French rallier said he did not do. Confusingly the Police man also said the speed limit is 90km/h, so I don't know how the hell they could find us an hour earlier doing 80km/h.
I have to say, the police have been pretty pleasant, not intimidating at all, though they are crooks. The price of freedom seems to be ~20EUR a pop here.
- Miles: 2k+
- Days camping in tent: 2
- Jumps in water: 11
- Mosquito bites: 21 (thankfully we brought DEET)
- Sunflowers passed: a lot