Sunday, 21 November 2010

Mui Ne to SAIGON !!

Breakfast on the beach, a fitting way to start our last day of driving. Great though it is, it still doesnt take the edge off of this being quite a sad day...

We'll miss everything about this trip, even the really rubbish stuff like cleaning the air filters in a bucket of fuel at the side of a dirt road. I cant help but think that its probably the start of many more adventures - I have more adventures planned, this time winged, they're lurking at the side lines and will no doubt make an appearance in due course..

I can't help but think that driving a fuel injected car running on perfectly clean, high quality fuel and driving on smooth tarmac roads filled with reasonably polite drivers just isnt going to cut it.... Once home, I may need to head over to Wales in a 912 every so often to give me a taste of the way it was.... :)

So, for the very last time I check the oil and re-fit the rotor arm to the distributor. We make our way out of Mui Ne and back to Highway 1. Destination Saigon.

Our guide explained previously that driving a filthy dirty car in Saigon is frowned upon, so the plan is to set aside a little time enroute to get it cleaned up. The roads are good, the rain has stopped and its getting much hotter and increasingly humid.

Its a pretty easy drive, nothing much to report. About 100km from town we pull over to get the car cleaned - The guys do a perfect job, the car is washed and leathered dry for about £2.

Into the outskirts of town and the world famous Saigon traffic is building, thousands of scooters everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Vietnam is famous for people carrying crazy things on the back of a scooter - Over the years I've seen some contenders. 7 people, two other scooters , 8 pigs. But today I spot a potential winner, an 8ft statue, you have to see the picture to believe it!

Fortunately, the trip has been one long lesson on dealing with crazy driving - Right from Calais, in one way or another, things have been changing ever so slightly towards the Asian way. Despite the "Welcome to Asia" sign on the bridge spanning the Bospherus river in Istanbul, Asia starts in some tiny sense when England ends...

Its hot in town, we're stationary in traffic for quite a while - I decide to leave the auxillary oil cooler fans on permanently. If they fail it doesnt really matter, they only need to last another 2 hours.

We're being met at the Rex Hotel in Saigon by my expat mate Tim 'beer for breakfast' Plunkett and his lovely wife Loulou. They've been working with the hotel marketing department to celebrate our arrival - Neither of us expected such a fantastic reception from the Rex hotel..

At 4pm we pull up outside the Rex - Exactly sixty days and 18,000km after leaving the UK.

Theres a small crowd outside the lobby door, surely not for us? As we learnt later, the management team have pulled out all the stops to ensure we have a reception to remember. Tim and Louise rush over to the car to greet us, we're presented with bouquets of orchids by the hotel staff - A large custom made banner welcoming us hangs over the main hotel entrance, the hotel management and press flood over for pictures. An awesome reception!

After press photos we head straight to the world famous 5th floor rooftop bar for drinks. During the Vietnam war the American Information Service made its base at the hotel, which soon became the favorite haunt of U.S. officers and the scene of daily press briefings to foreign correspondents, or “five o’clock follies”, as they were called. What better place to end our epic trip.

After a press briefing with the Saigon Times newspaper and one other, we feel its only right to take full advantage of the free bar thats been laid on for us all! Here we learn that on top of everything, the Rex management have also gifted us 4 free nights accommodation in one of their new 5-star suites. Outstanding.

The rest of the evening is spent it and around the bars of Saigon....Catching up with our old friends and sampling the very last batch of beers of the world... !

London to Saigon

Distance covered: 18,000km
Time away: 60 days
Longest drive in one day: 940km
Fuel used: 2,000 Litres (Approx)
Spare fan belts used: 0
Spare tyres used: 0 ! (I hate to think how much we were slowed down by the weight of three spare steel wheels with tyres..)
Countries visited: 17
Hospital stays: 1
Blood tests: 2
Hangovers: 22 (soon to be 23)
Oil changes: 3
Gearbox oil used: None

What went wrong with the car...

1x Parking light bulb
1x Headlight switch burnt out
Distributor points closed up several times
Thats it. Seriously!

Well thats about it from me - Please keep an eye on Classic & Sportscar magazine for a future article on our exploits.

I've enjoyed tapping out this blurb, if you've enjoyed it and you're yet to donate some of that hard earned cash to MAG, please do so. Please! Its a great cause. Thanks :)

Max & Becky

PS - If anyone wants to reach us, my email is:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Max, Hi Rebecca
    This is Ngo Nhat Quang, I am reading your bog. I know that my english have not enough to understand what you wrote, I look up a dictionary while reading your blog. I like your trip. I hope that I will be read about re-export your car at Hochiminh city port. It is glad to meet and know and co-operation with you. If you have facebook, pls add me my facebook: Goodluck to you and your family. your friend.