The Car and the Rally:
Car running very well. She likes the heat and the dust.... and we had a lot of both today.
Today was a long one; almost 450 km. Every transit section (those sections where you have a limited time to reach the next check-in point (called Time Controls in rally language) are getting shorter. It is a major effort to make the time controls without incurring a penalty. While each leg was difficult today, we did not incur any penalties for lateness.
There was only one Regularity Stage today. It was very difficult as the course went up and down over several steep hills at a distance of about 7.5 km. We arrived 2 seconds early which was a relatively good time compared to the field.
The result: We moved up from 8th place to 7th.
Casualty report: Austin Healy was involved in a small accident; still running. A Peugeot had an engine seizure and it is off to Kuala Lumpur for repairs.....or more likely, a new engine.
Entertainment report: The BBC is doing a documentary on this rally. As part of the production, they are having celebrities drive four cars from Ching Mai to the finish. The BBC producer and her crew have joined us to better understand the rally before the celebrities arrive in a week's time.
Part of the joy in doing these rallies is the people you meet. Lots of "middle aged" folks from England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Most are from the merchant class (as opposed to the professional class). Many have sold their companies; own a valuable patent or operate a cash flowing business. All of their stories are interesting and some are phenomenal. They are well travelled and many well-read. Although they love auto sports, they are also serious boaters, golfers and fishermen/fisher ladies.
To inject a small political comment, most are baffled by Trump's election and America's lack of leadership on global issues. I should add that they are equally confused by the UK's vote on Brexit.
Today I tried to understand the economics of the palm oil business. A large bunch of palm fruit is cut from the tree at great effort. Workers use a scythe attached to a long bamboo stick to cut down the fruit; it is difficult and very dirty work. The fruit is sold by the kilo and a large bunch can bring about $2. Many landowners (who are not professional plantation owners) harvest the fruit on their property for additional income. We stopped for a coffee break deep in the forest. They lady who owned and operated the coffee shop had several types of fruit trees, including palm, behind her shop and she cultivated these trees for additional income.
Pagodas and shrines are everywhere; all draped with beautiful garlands of flowers.
We saw no strange animals today, but several competitors reported citing wild boars. One additional animal report. Malaysia seemed overrun by cats; Thailand appears to be overrun by dogs. I don't know the significance of this, but it seems accurate.