So when I last left you (or, did you leave me?) I had just arrived at the Majestic Creek place with the long name. All the days are starting to merge together, but I think that was three days ago. There was not much left of the day except for some talk and a supper in the nearest town, as the golf club restaurant closed early. Supper was interesting. It involved a huge amount of meat, which we failed to finish, but scarily, it was meat that the stray dogs wouldn’t touch when offered, or thrown! Strange that. But we survived.
The day before yesterday was hard work, although I confess I didn’t do much more than drive Bert around the Special Test roads a few times, point at things that needed taping, and act in a general farang way – you know, trying to look important and acting like an obnoxious tw*t . But we had five helpers, supplied by the Club, who, once they realized what we were trying to do, organized themselves into an efficient team. One guy bashed an old car drive shaft with a pointy end into the ground with a large hammer, the next guy used a machete to cut a bamboo pole and sharpen the end so it would fit into the hole. Then he cut a slit in the top to hold the tape, which the next guy tied to two poles or the nearest tree. Which left one more guy. Oh yes, he drove the big truck with the bamboo poles. Everyone else decided they wanted to ride in Bert’s rear bed.
It took pretty much the whole day. There’s a lot of junctions in an 8.5km road, and they all had to be secured. On rally day (yesterday) the roads that bordered farms or village houses were also secured by local policemen. I think we had ten in total, which helped to add an air of authority.
Later we had dinner with the club’s owner – and a TV crew who seemed totally bemused by what was happening. A certain amount of handholding was needed, and if you’d seen the interviewer you’d know that was no hardship.
Yesterday (rally at Majestic day) started a bit chaotically. People supplied by the club to act as marshals were briefed, and assigned to specific places. But after only a couple of minutes, most of them had disappeared! I realize it must have been tough for them to see the reason why they had to stay put when the rally cars hadn’t arrived, but we needed them to do as asked, not as they saw fit. It took the arrival of a few cars before everything started to run smoothly. We also had to check all the junction taping, redoing parts and adding some where needed, before the organizer’s course opening car arrived. Multitasking was the order of the day.
We somehow managed to get six cars around the club house and in front of the restaurant, at the owner’s request, and this created a lot of media interest. The rest were parked (almost) in a straight line on the approach road to the test. I confess I like everything to be neat and tidy, so I was only half happy, but everyone else seemed to be 100% happy, so it doesn’t matter a bag of beans what I thought.
After lunch the cars went off at their usual one minute intervals to compete on the timed-to-the-second stage. Everyone loved it. By the time we reached the overnight halt in Kanchanaburi, there was a general buzz about how good the day had been. My old rally friend from Bangkok had done a great job, while I just made a nuisance of myself. Well, I guess I had a semi-important role as the liaison person between the club and the rally organizers, and in a way, with the competitors.
It was a real team effort though, and it couldn’t have been achieved without the cooperation and enthusiasm of the club’s owner and employees.
After the rally cars had left, a few beers, a nice supper and an early night would have been appreciated, but it was a three hour drive up to Kancahanaburi before I could dive into some cold beer and some food.
You may recall I wrote about Kanchanaburi last December. It’s where you can find the Death Railway and the famous Bridge over the River Kwai. This time, instead of staying in a small 2-star-ish resort (which I really enjoyed) it’s the five star Dheva Mantra Resort and Spa, which borders the River Kwai. It’s nice. Very nice. But not my style, so I won’t be sorry to leave.
Today really wasn’t a good day. I think think the organizers made a big mistake. Most of the competitors agree with me. There was a nice start in that there was enough time to get to, and visit, the Hellfire Pass Museum, but the rest of the day was a long slog on mostly rough gravel roads, on a loop which went back into Kanchanaburi.
My only task was to man a Passage Control. I assume this normally takes more than one person as many competitors asked “Oh, are you alone?” so I said no “It’s me and about a thousand flies!” Given that I was parked under an elephant warning sign, I wasn’t unhappy with just the flies. Angry elephants are scary beasts.
But the whole day seemed silly. Given the number of interesting things you can do here, compared with Khao Lak which has almost nothing, Kanchanaburi would have made a better Rest Day. To drive 350kms on punishing roads, and end up back where you started, seems a bit pointless. A few cars had to be towed back, which was a shame.
Oh well, just as I had my whole day planned for tomorrow, the rally organizers have (at 8pm) changed it all, and I’m now manning a Passage Control at 9am, and it’s nowhere near here. So, it looks like I’ll be on the road at six, and with a Special Test to cover later, I’ll be lucky to be off the road by 6pm. It’s another 500km day.
So, I’m going to leave you without photos. Maybe I’ll add some galleries tomorrow, or … soon!