Road to Saigon 2018

4 February - 2 March 2018


FEBRUARY 16, 2018

Mae Sot to Mae Hong Son

Checkpoint Charlies

Today we shot northwards on remote but remarkably well maintained roads hugging the Myanmar border through heavily wooded Karen hill-tribe country and along the wide and shallow Moei River. This area has had a troubled history and in this first section alone we counted eight checkpoints and miles of permanent refugee camps over which a pall of smoke and mist hung in the air.

Buddhist monks and ornate temples were our travelling companions today and, at the first Time Control in Ban Mae Salit Luang after a twisty 114 km, one of the monks was kind enough to pose with Graham and Marina Goodwin’s Bentley. For a man of few possessions he displayed remarkably good taste.

Shortly after leaving this coffee halt Andy Inskip and Tony Jones were once again hard at it working on David Danglard’s clutch which is still giving him some problems. Whilst the two sweeps worked on the car David reflected on his current third place in this only his second rally and he says that he’s still feeling is way in.

The second Time Control was also the lunch venue at the cafe in Mae Sariang where we dined on a superb buffet of noodles, chicken and rice. Seating was either by the cool blue pool or under a thatched shady roof. David and Jo Roberts were a little late to the table though having had an issue with their alternator wiring, which was quickly diagnosed and expertly repaired by Bob Harrod.

The sport for the day came soon after lunch, the Thai Brake Test, which was short and to the point. A few tight turns, a narrow bridge, a climb and a descent all packed into four kilometres. David Danglard managed a small pirouette whilst Heather ‘heavy right foot’ Worth locked her wheels momentarily, threatening to send the Amazon into a ditch, only to release the pedal in the nick of time and make the turn with pride intact.

Graham Goodwin was also seen wrestling with his steering wheel on a sweeping bend. Hunkered down in the cockpit of the Bentley, his forearms were tensed, there was sweat on his brow and he was definitely on opposite lock.

The run to the Passage Control in Khun Yuam and then on the night halt mirrored that of the morning. Excellent tarmac, lots of checkpoints and plenty local culture to look at along the roadside.

After their steering problems yesterday David and Karen Ayre had a little more drama today as they ran out of fuel some 26km from the hotel but Manuel Dubs sportingly donated 10 litres of petrol from his Rockne to get Borghese’s chariot to the finish line.

Mae Hong Son is the most northerly point of the rally and is known locally as ‘Misty Town’. The hotel this evening, The Imperial, pulled out all of the stops even to the extent of serving freshly cooked French Fries along with the usual rice and noodles.

Syd Stelvio



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