The Road to Mandalay

February 1 to February 24, 2015

Day 8 - Trang to Khao Lak

It surely doesn’t get much better than this. Here we all are, relaxing in a hotel that specialises in honeymoons, with palm trees that hang over a long bay of white sand, with a bright blue sea gently rolling in as the sun begins to set.   It’s rather similar to Hemingway’s that faces the Indian Ocean on the north Kenyan coast, where our first Classic Safari finished after driving from Cape Town.

Some of us walked up the beach with an invigorating sea breeze over  the sand, a 10 minute stroll under the palm trees,  to a terrace where our dinner was served on candlelit tables facing the sea. Tonight’s menu consisted of rock lobster, mussels, tenderloin steak, sweet and sour pork, various fishy stuff like squid, corn on the cob, plus a vast table of salads – eat as much as you like. Judging by the way some were piling up their plates today’s action resulted in a strong appetite.

We drove a long day that saw two Regularity tests – for some, tackling an average-speed test with a secret finishing point was a new experience – plus one closed-road Test-section, another hillclimb which corkscrewed up the side of a mountain with thick green vegetation of banana trees on each side. All this shook up the leaderboard.

The Vintageant brigade as a whole all did well today, and performed better on the Regularities than those in the Classic division.  Leader Bill Shields in the hot Chevy started off badly, collecting penalties for an early arrival over his rivals and then compounded it by getting a line penalty on the Test section for over-shooting the finish line, but on the last regularity of the day had got the hang of things to only drop one second. Keith and Nora Ashworth in their Buick dropped three on this test, and only two on the first regularity, Martin Egli also did well in his Lagonda, dropping one second on the first regularity and two on the second.  One crew got a “spot on” result with no loss of penalties – a stunning result for someone new to the regularity game: Anton Gonnissen and Inge Willman in the big Bentley Eight got a zero on the second regularity, clearly a crew to watch.

Caroline Greenhalgh and Tania Slow, holding 7th place overall in the Vintageants, hit trouble on the run into the hotel at the end of the afternoon, their big Alvis tourer making some odd noises from a tired axle, and was receiving attention from Owen and Jamie Turner when we came upon them.

In the Classics, Peter and Zoe Lovett had a good day, dropping one second on the first regularity, setting second best time on the Test-section of 2:50, and dropped two seconds on the final regularity, good enough to lift them up into second spot overall  - Grant Tromans and Simon Russell  took a maximum penalty of 30 seconds on the first regularity, overshot the line on the Test so scored 3:42, and pulled things together by the final regularity to drop five seconds, but having an off-day when the Porsche behind you is having a good day makes the scrap at the top tighter. The experience of Sandra Merryweather showed today, as Paul  put the Mercedes through the day’s competition to emerge with seven seconds out on the first regularity, just two on the last, and a Test time of 3:12. Ludovic Bois and Julia Calman in their Volvo also had a good day, two seconds down on the first regularity, just one second down on the second, matching the effort of Zoe Lovett.  The Sultan, HRH Idris Shah, continues to stroke along the green XK Jaguar and dropped just five seconds on the first regularity of the day.  Patrick Sommer in the VW Karman Ghia, new the regularity game, turned in a drop of just seven seconds on the first regularity, and five on the last one.  Garrick Staples with John Layzell clearly hates regularity, their Beetle took a maximum 30 seconds on the first, and 27 seconds on the last.

We have a day off tomorrow – Monday - and this could not be a more restful spot for a rest-day.

Syd Stelvio



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