Everything You Know is Wrong

Thus far on this trip everything we’d been led to believe has been wrong. 
  1. Border crossings are a reason for officials to extort bribes, needlessly hassle you and try and make you cry. 
    • False: Border guards are as afraid of paperwork as you are. Our Ukrainian-Russian crossing was telling. After helping us hand write the customs form, another agent had to line by line enter our information into the computer - information that the immigration officers had themselves just entered. You see what we mean.
  2. Romania is full of people impersonating police that will pull you over and steal all your stuff.
    • False: We found Romania full of security guards, but they are all clearly identifiable with their cute buzz cuts, Cadillac Escalades and flak jackets. Kind of rent-a-cop on steroids. Not that we ever understood what they really do, but they never showed the slightest interest in us.
  3. The police in <choose your country> target foreign vehicles, pull you over and fine you on the spot for imaginary infractions. 
    • False: The police seemed to stop vehicles at random. Being the only UK registered vehicle we saw for days, the fact we weren’t pulled over was kind of disappointing.
  4. In Kazakhstan your tires will be torn to shreds within 50 km of the border.
    • False: The fastest and easiest driving we had on the trip outside of Czech was our journey from Troisk to Astana.
  5. In <choose your country> it is a really unsafe to leave your vehicle unattended for any length of time. 
    • False: So far so good. The biggest theft we heard about was The Fast and the Furry's loss of camera and video equipment in Prague. Perhaps the Discovery Channel logo on top of their vehicle tipped the thieves off.
  6. There is no gas anywhere and you have to carry gallons, sorry, litres, of your own. 
    • False: Aside from one moment of panic in Kazakhstan we found gas every 30 or 40 kilometers along the main roads.
  7. Russia is very dangerous and everyone is a <choose from the following>: terrorist, mafiosi, drug dealer, communist. 
    • False: We found Russia to be full of people trying to get on in life, shopping in huge WalMart-like stores, drinking Coca-Cola and driving Ford motorcars.
  8. People like Americans in this part of the world. 
    • True: We found nothing but warmth and hospitality everywhere we went.
  9. It is unsafe to drive at night under any circumstances. 
    • False: The police are out there looking for drunken drivers, there are fewer trucks to get in your way and the only thing to watch out for are potholes.
  10. Europe has only one song.
    • True: The beat gets faster the further east you get, but it’s really the same tune.