The Road to Mandalay

February 1 to February 24, 2015

Day 22 - Nay Pyi Taw to Inle Lake

Sublime and ridiculous are often used at opposite ends of any given spectrum. The dictionary defines sublime as majestic, supreme or a pinnacle of achievement. Ridiculous on the other hand can be defined as an absurdity.

So, depending on your point of view and maybe the sate of your suspension, the roads out of Nay Pyi Taw this morning could be seen as sublime. They were wide - up to twelve lanes at one point, they were smooth and there was nothing else on them other than the Rally. But, for those very same reasons they could also be seen as ridiculous. Take your pick, we don’t mind but the sight of two women with rustic besoms sweeping a mile wide junction helped to make our mind up.

After some twenty kilometres though things changed quickly. We left the city boundary and found ourselves on gravel. This most certainly seemed ridiculous, in a few short kilometres here we were bumping along through thick jungle scrub over a set of rolling hills for the days sport.

Time and motion studies were the lesson of the day and the Organisers had set a short but choppy Regularity section. A Regularity, for those who don’t know, calls for the navigator to take charge of the car, albeit from the passenger seat because a precise schedule must be adhered to. The finish point is not known in advance and the arrival at said point must be done to the second. Lateness or early arrival incurs a penalty and with things so tight at the top the pressure was on Zoe Lovett and Matt Bryson to get their sums right especially with an intermediate check, a few tricky corners and some rain damage to the track thrown in for good measure.

Press on here, lift off there - control not speed is the name of the game. A big powerful car and a driver with a heavy right foot is not necessarily the best combination for this. There is no change in the Classics category as the three leading cars Crown, Lovett and Tromans all dropped a mere two seconds. Peter Lovett hangs on to his lead with two days to go. Bill Shields meanwhile increased his lead by one second over Phil Garratt in the Vintageant category.

Once this ordeal had been passed it was back to rural concrete roads which took us through even more paddy fields worked this time by men with ox carts dragging ploughs or rebuilding the low dams to retain the essential water. Myanmar, or Burma to those over twenty five, really is a beautiful place.

Our resting place tonight is on Inle Lake and most of the crews took the chance of a boat trip on long sleek vessels taking in craft stalls and the exquisite scenery as the sun dipped below the hills.

Syd Stelvio




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