So this is our final day’s driving. After such an exciting adventure and two or three days of the best driving many of us have ever experienced, today could be something of an anticlimax. But it was not to be.
Breakfast was a muted affair not just because the food on offer was particularly unappealing, but because most people hit the road early to take it easy on the last 300 kms to the finish.
We had been warned to take it easy because it is too tempting to relax and think that it’s all over; just one more day and we are done.
But we have learned on previous rallies that serious mishaps can happen so close to the finish, so we wanted to go carefully.
We headed out of town driving south through rather scrappy suburbs until we got into the hills and reacquainted ourselves with the conical hills of the Karst valleys, very reminiscent of previous days. The sky was rather overcast which helped to keep the temperature down and we cruised along enjoying the rural life of North Vietnam.
It’s Sunday, but that did not save the children from school, or indeed any slow down in daily village life. Chickens, pigs, and dogs crossed our path in fear of their lives and motorcycles chanced their arm in getting by us.
The fields are fertile here so the colours were all shades of green and we meandered along a watercourse that explained the vibrancy of the vegetation.
Then the traffic started to get denser and we were faced with an oncoming stream of container lorries, trucks and buses, all travelling at the speed of light.
We were approaching Dong Dang (don’t you love the names of these places?) which is on the border with China and we passed within 120 meters of the frontier in the town centre.
In the middle of town, chaos was complete, with a queue of cars, trucks and buses waiting to cross into China. Only the police’s intervention allowed us through and then we faced what was perhaps the scariest stretch of road on the whole rally. We were on AH1, the main route to Hanoi and in front of us, leaving the border, was a bumper to bumper line of vehicles and precious little space in between. Facing us was a stream of traffic, sometimes three abreast coming at us at full tilt.
This was not a drive for the squeamish but thankfully it did not last for long. As we got away from the border the traffic eased and the countryside was actually very pretty, so we cruised along until instructed to turn left and head off back into the hills.
The A279 road will always be remembered for saving us from the mayhem of the AH1 and it was a delight to motor along again on quiet roads through fertile valleys.
The sky was overcast so today will not be the best photo day but that will be compensated by our jubilation photoshoot at the end.
We passed a mountain being demolished on a mega scale to provide material for a new super highway, but otherwise this was an uneventful drive. Thank goodness.
Our arrival at Halong Bay was emotional, mostly relief that we had all made it unscathed, both us and the cars. But joy too that we had successfully made it through to the finish.
It has been massive achievement to get through such a demanding itinerary and team hugs were the order of the day. Oh, and a nice glass of wine too, even if we did look at the wine list and say “How much?”!
We organised a group photo shoot on the quayside and the exaltation was clear to see on everyone’s faces.
This is the last driving post and we hope that you have enjoyed reading it. We hope too that it has given you a small taste of our journey from Vietnam to Myanmar, and back!
A couple of words of thanks:
This Rally was conceived by Robin and Charlotte, Andy and Neil. From all the feedback it has been a great success, so that’s a relief.
The ‘on the ground’ execution was run by Bruno’s ‘Destination Rally’ organisation supported by teams in each country who have done an outstanding job.
So, as participants, we thank them for all the hard work that has made this journey so memorable.
Jan & John
Wonderful photos and descriptions of your epic adventure – thank you so much for sharing them with us. We wish you a very safe journey home and hope to see some of you in the not too distant future. …….Where to next?!
Love Jan & John xx
Gosh where to next, there’s a question! I think a quiet sit down with a cup of tea is the first item on the agenda. But then the plotting will, of course, begin again!
Well done to everybody on completing this epic drive – and thank you for letting us share it through these reports. We look forward to the personal stories in due course.
Stuart & Angie
Thank you for following us!
I shall miss my daily travels with you all. It’s been Such fun and I wish I’d been there too to see all these Incredible places.
Well done to all the cars and their drivers
Thank you for letting us in on all the fun and adventure.
Wow! What an incredible journey. Many congratulations to you all. Thank you so much for all the daily posts….the fantastic photos made us a little envious!! Lots of love from the very different mountains of Zermatt ex team leaders better half! Xx
WOW!!! Well done to all – cars, drivers, navigators, back-up crews, doctors, (dentists: Trish remembers the journey on ripio from Chile to Argentina very well!!), Bruno and Zani, and the ground crews that smoothed local bureaucracy wherever you went. And of course to you all who shared the daily blogs and photo obligations. We have so much enjoyed every km of reading about the epic journey and every photo which just made us even more envious day-by-day. I was privileged enough to have 2 blogs daily, as I was on Tony and Special K’s daily issue. (And, by the way, Tony, your new go-faster, slim-line, body styling – and I’m not talking about “Herman” – will soon see you comfortably in speedos. You clearly enjoyed your daily fasting routine!!)
Fantastic epic journey, which appears to have lived up to the normal epic Global Rallies standard.
Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Johnny and Trish (La Gira Andina 2012 Datsun 240Z).
I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed following the daily blog. Have looked forward each day to the reports. Congratulations to all involved with putting such an epic rally
Thank you for following Desmond!