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The Mongol Rally Guys

06 Aug, 2009

Ukrainian Border Ordeal: Part Three

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

So, keep in mind this is all in sweltering heat–not even the commander’s office had air conditioning. We hadn’t eaten much more than some granola bars and dried fruit over the past twenty hours. Neither of us had gotten more than a couple hours of fitful sleep in the car. We were low on water. We were dirty from road dust. We just wanted to get through this stupid checkpoint and make it to Odessa before nightfall to check in to our hotel.

Seeing that the commander was adamant about me not dropping the car off in Mongolia for whatever reason, I changed my story a bit and told him that dropping the car off was optional and that if he didn’t want me to drop it off then I would drive it back to the UK after the race and ship it back to America from there. This seemed to assuage his doubts on that particular subject a bit (although he asked me the same question a few more times just to make sure I wasn’t lying…or something).

I was called in and out of the commander’s office multiple times during a span of a few hours. Eventually we hear good news: “OK, there is no problem.” Woohoo! We can finally get out of the God-forsaken no-man’s land! I thanks the commander, his crony, and the secretary/translator and run downstairs to tell Collin, who is waiting in the car, the good news. Now to just wait for the paperwork and passports to be handed back to us.

We waited. And waited some more. And waited…waited…waited. Nothing.

We noticed people going home for the day, to be replaced with new staff. Turns out that the previous commandant had lied–he just wanted to pass the case along to the incoming officer so if anything went bad it wouldn’t be on his watch. Time to start all over again!

In order to make a long story just a bit shorter, we had to go through the same question and answer process we had just finished one more time. Or should I say, a few more times. In all we were at the Ukrainian border for over nine hours and didn’t get to leave until to commander decided we could go. We thought for sure he was toying with us, making us complete forms and then making us stand at the back of the line again and again and again while mosquitoes and flies were eating us alive. I really didn’t think they were going to let our vehicle through and started to plan alternate routes, any of which would have added at least three days of driving onto our trip. But in the end the commander called me inside yet again. He had some papers printed out next to him with certain passages highlighted. Looks like he had done his homework and finally believed us. “OK. You can go. Here.” And with that he handed us our passports and car papers.

You better believe we scrambled to get the heck out of there before they changed their mind again!

A picture of the border post where we spent almost the entire day is posted in the gallery.

4 Responses to "Ukrainian Border Ordeal: Part Three"

1 | Dennis

August 7th, 2009 at 11:12 am


Glad they let you thru…it would have been a long walk to Mongolia…..

2 | Philip Young

August 9th, 2009 at 6:50 am


Suggest you get a small book called “How To Prepare A Successful Low-Cost Rallycar” as this could have saved you nine hours of hassle at the border.

It deals with paperwork, what you need, what you dont need, how to keep the car hanging together, basics in preparation. Saves you money as well as a load of time….

Published by Veloce Motor Books. (

Cars can move across borders with a document called a carnet-de-passage, which means counterfoils are stamped, in and then out, and proves you havent left it behind, so, are not liable for inport duty. There are other ways of doing it, but, surely, a car is bound to be trouble if it rolls up without a registration number plate on the front, and the other guys with a log-book with numbers that dont match the engine number or chassis number as its a bit of this and a bit of that is a nightmare, can be avoided, the answers are all in the book, along with waterproofing, how to keep an exhaust system together, and much else.

Philip Young


3 | david paye

August 11th, 2009 at 12:13 pm


Philip is so right I did suggest that the boys when still in the land of the free that they explore the need of carnets with all the places they will go through,Scotty was sure that they will be OK, My worry was when we picked up the car from docks, for a 2002 car it looked more like an 84 model! Give it five for getting so far with so few problems as I did not think it would get as far as Germany.Going through the rally site about twentyfive cars have died a death also one near fatality with the team exiting Khazikstan by air ambulance,another team in Turkey nearly getting killed by a donkey going through the windscreen! Anyway I am reliving my youth with the help of Collin and Scott, wish I was thirtyfive years younger!

4 | Scott

August 13th, 2009 at 1:18 am


Philip: Have the book, have had no time to read it unfortunately! Thanks for the tip though.

I did check into a carnet and the only place that even looks at it is Iran, so it would have been a waste of money for me. The other countries would have no idea what it was and wouldn’t care in the slightest.

A donkey!? Wow!

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