Road to Saigon 2018

4 February - 2 March 2018


FEBRUARY 14, 2018

Kanchanaburi to Nakhon Sawan


The road out of town today was lined with an eclectic mix of garden centres, infantry regiments and rock art sellers. There are also lots of signs warning us of elephants along the road but there were no actual sightings of them anywhere in the Chaloem National Park.

For the first part of the morning we ran along the River Kwai itself but soon climbed away from it and quickly reached the dizzy heights of 370m. Not since the Cameron Highlands have we been this high, and the cooling effect of even this modest altitude was welcomed by all.

There was also a choice to be made this morning, crews could either take a rickety old vehicle ferry to the Time Control in the Azimuth restaurant at Mae Lamun or make a 27km detour around Srinagaram Lake and have more of a chance of seeing those elusive elephants. The split was roughly 50% and nobody seemed to regret their choice. Those on the car ferry arrived as if onboard an oversized Gloriana, gliding through a tropical mist, whilst those who’d taken the road spoke of stunning views and an incredible landscape.

The refreshments at the Azimuth were very good and set the crews up nicely for the first Regularity at Srinagarindra which wound up the side of a mountain and topped out at 800m. From here the roads became more twisty, and many crews found this a challenging section as there was not an inch of straight road for almost 99km, but the Phutoei National Park was indeed very beautiful as well as interesting.

All along the route, the fields were full of workers picking pineapples, pak choi and cutting cane and we passed many lorries laden with produce from this industrial scale agriculture.

The lunch Time Control was at Wat Tham Kao Wong where we saw Bistro 315 in action once again serving teas, coffee, cold drinks and snacks before the crews set off to drive through yet more pineapple fields to the highlight of the day, the Agrimaize Test. Almost 4.5km of roughly made tracks; through, across and between, a soon to be harvested cane crop, had been closed for us by another crack team of marshals and policemen with miles of warning tape and two way radios at their disposal.

To say that the crews enjoyed themselves would be an understatement  but they weren’t the only ones grinning. Hundreds of estate workers took the opportunity to down tools for a while and cheer the mad motorists on their way.

The leader boards tonight are as they were before the rest day; Graham and Marina Goodwin at the top of the Vintageants with Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson in second place and Manuel and Irene Dubs in third.

Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt hold their lead in the Classics. Amin Hwaidak and Jens Jarzombek in the Mustang drop a few places allowing Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson to move up to second with David Gainer and Kerry Finn's Datsun 240z in third.

Tonight we’re in the Chic Hotel in Nakhon Sawan, the ‘Heavenly City’ on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.

Syd Stelvio



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