Road to Saigon 2018

4 February - 2 March 2018


MARCH 1, 2018

Nha Trang to Mui Ne

Coastal Command

Nah Trang is a busy Asian city and, like the rest of them, it was full of scooters, buses and bicycles this morning as we left the sanctuary of the Intercontinental Hotel to continue on our Road to Saigon. Demanding as this sort of driving is though, it is invariably good natured and for every close pass or badly indicated lane change there’s a smile, a nod and a cheery acknowledgment.

We had a few kilometres of urban sprawl to get through this morning before we could enjoy the first Regularity at Cam Thin Tai but, in the event it was well worth it. This 11km section went pretty much up the side of a hill on a concrete and tarmac surface with plenty of tight bends, steep corners and lots of reassuring armco. Over the top though it was a different story and the long shallow downhill, set at a modest 30kph, turned out to be the most challenging Regularity of the rally. The metalled road quickly turned into a dirt track, rutted and rain damaged, which saw one or two crews bouncing out of their seats and failing entirely to keep the car pointing in the right sort of direction. Much to the amusement of the handful of villagers who’d turned out to watch the cars pass by.

Once the entire rally had cleared this section it was a time to head to the other highlight of the day, lunch on a floating restaurant at Bich Teo. One or two of our number were unavoidably delayed on the way though. Held up at a level crossing by the Doi Moi Express train which came trundling along, bang on time, between Nha Trang and Saigon.

Once they’d reached the seaside, the entire rally was ferried from the beach to the restaurant by a fleet of motor launches and proceeded to tuck into plates of fresh seafood and, when we say fresh, we mean very fresh. Divers with masks and snorkels jumped into huge netted enclosures behind the kitchen to pluck the hapless creatures from the clear warm water and deliver them to their fate.

Having eaten their fill of crab, lobster and shellfish the crews then boarded the waiting launches and stormed back onto the beaches and jumped into their cars to continue the spectacular coastal drive past vineyards and salt pans with workers in the latter, raking, shoveling and carrying the precious white mineral.

This afternoon's drive was a spectacular one on good tarmac and remarkably empty roads and for most crews it was fairly straightforward. Charles Stuart-Menteth and John Carter though almost lost wheel from the rear of their MG. Chris Elkins and Gavin Bull, fresh from their morning control, stopped to assist and the little white roadster made it into the night halt safe and sound.

The final Passage Control of the day was at Com Nieu Nui Tau, following which the rally set off through some impressive roadside sand dunes before pulling into the luxurious beachside night Halt in Mui Ne.

With one day to go Graham and Marina Goodwin still hold onto top spot in the Vintageant category with Andrew Webster and Ian Robertson in second. The Classics category also remains unchanged, Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt are still leading from Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson. David Gainer and Kerry Finn are still third.

Tomorrow, the last day, sees us drive into Saigon, triumphant.

Syd Stelvio



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