While on the way to Kiev we received the email that our official V5 paperwork had arrived! This was great news as it would provide us with the proper paperwork to get the car into our remaining countries and no longer have to use the Temporary V5 that seemed to be annoying most of the border guards and holding us up longer. The timing was great since we were coming into a big city and could easily stay there for an extra day while we had the paperwork express mailed to us.
We stopped at McDonalds on our way into Kiev in order to use their free internet…and get a sundae. We were quite the site – four of us walked into McDonalds, sat down at a table, and set up our ‘Operation Kiev Lodging’ situation room. Three laptops and a couple smart phones all browsing rapidly around hostel, hotel, and apartment booking sites for Kiev. Luckily we had our OneSim world mobile cards which allowed us to make calls all over the world so we were able to call the various lodging options to find out if they had any availability for the night. Two of us searching the web, one of us on our mobile phone making calls, and one on skype. Considering it was already 5, we had to work fast. We ended up finding a place with Grata Apartments for the night, it was small – but it was available and it was better tan sleeping in the car.
Deb drove us into the city maneuvering us through Kiev rush hour in our British car beeping at others making us fit in nicely despite our stickers. We were stunned and surprised with the massive buildings and Independence Square. The city was grand and well kept. Kiev was set up a bit better for tourism than any city we had been to in Ukraine yet as they actually had English menus in some places!
We had planned to have the v5 paperwork mailed to us and wait an extra day in Kiev until it arrived. Easy and fun….wrong. We found out the fastest mailing that could happen was a week – but we knew we couldn’t wait a whole week for it. Instead we decided to get a pdf scanned copy of the paperwork sent to us and see if we could make a good enough color printed copy from the pdf scan. It was a long shot, and we were all pretty sure that the border guards would know that it was not the original…but it was our best option and would allow us to leave the next day and stay on track.
We found a high end hotel and used their business center to get our color duplex copies made and crossed our fingers it would look good enough. After a few intense moments of replacing print cartridges – we left the business center with our V5 pdf printouts. The staff at the hotel even gave us little plastic covers to put the printouts in. I thought to myself, how could any border guard refuse paperwork in plastic covers?!
We celebrated in Independence Square with a beer and then joined 3 other Mongol Rallly teams who also happened to be in Kiev for more beer and some Chicken Kiev! It was such a relief to meet up with other teams and know that we weren’t the last team and to know that other teams were going through challenges like we were. Everyone was having trouble with borders and trouble with finding accommodations. Maybe we weren’t so inept after all! The best part is that everyone seemed to be having fun on this crazy adventure – despite their mechanical issues or our paperwork woes.
The next day we sadly left Kiev only seeing a small part of it, but knowing it was a place to return to. However – we had our little V5 printouts safely in their plastic casing and were ready to head towards Russia with our convoy of Ralliers!