Road to Saigon 2018
4 February - 2 March 2018
FEBRUARY 9, 2018
George Town to Trang
As we expected it was a difficult moment when the alarm went off this morning. We had to leave the luxury of this fine old hotel and point ourselves once more up the road, this time to the Kingdom of Thailand.
The journey to the Land of Smiles was not going to be a straightforward one for the Road to Saigon though as a full day was planned with two morning tests thereby leaving the afternoon free to negotiate the border and enjoy some time by the pool.
The first section, the Fields of Athenrice test - first run in 2015, was a 7km slalom through acres of working paddyfields on a raised causeway. Sharp turns and narrow bridges took the cars from dyke to sluice and back again with ignominious and presumably malodorous drops into an irrigation canal for anyone who got their entry or exit wrong.
The Orange Shirts Brigade, which forms part of John Spiller’s New Model Marshalling Army, were once again out in force and did another excellent job in keeping the many scooter mounted rally fans at a safe distance.
Another short sharp blast followed hard on the heels of the paddy fields at the Unimap circuit before the run to the buffet lunch, at the newly opened but now critically acclaimed, Bistro 315.
Our galloping gourmets, Graham Wild and Dr Geoff Watson, had raced ahead from breakfast and set up a camp kitchen in a disused conference centre. With a little bit of initiative, some basic tools and a handful of well chosen, locally sourced ingredients, they knocked up a fine meal. A delectable three bean salad, a commendable potato salad, a selection of cold meats, fruit, tea and coffee, chilled drinks and, at the specific behest of the noted gastronome, Fred Gallagher, a choice of pot noodles. The bar has been set high, and tomorrow we’re looking forward to afternoon tea with scones, jam and clotted cream.
Full of beans, so to speak, the rally then headed up to the remote border post at Khuan Don where they were welcomed by the efficient Malaysian border staff and very quickly were sent on their way to Thailand, where the Customs and Immigration officers posed with every car for the seemingly compulsory selfie.
The night halt in the Rua Rusada Hotel in Trang came some 169km later and as we’d gained an extra hour thanks to a time zone change there was plenty of time to enjoy the facilities and maybe a cool beer.
The sweep crews tell us that no one required roadside repair today but as they were packing away their spanners we learned that Mark Buchanan’s Mustang is now on its third Monit trip meter. Two failed today, one before the border and one just after it.
Additionally it’s been noted that maybe David Gainer has been running his tyres in the wrong direction. Could this explain the erratic run up and down the leaderboard?
As for the results. There has been yet another swap around. Graham and Marina Goodwin still lead the Vintageant class with Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson moving to second, Manuel and Irene Dubs slip to third.
Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt still head the Classics category but today they share the top spot with David Gainer and Kerry Finn. Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson are in third with David and Susan Danglard’s Porsche holding on to fourth place.
Today, we said goodbye to Kik, one of our Malaysian agents but his colleague KeeYen stays with us along with Chariya, and will doubtless continue the great work we’ve so far enjoyed.