Nr 12 in the newspaper
Rally daily update 4th and 5th week
   
  Back to the 3th week
 

Mail from a new friend in Tehran --- Also more photo's

  Day 25: Montezuma's revenge in Wildflower Hall
  Breaking news!
  Day 26: Ten teams take a break
  Day 27: 11 teams are now in Anandan resort.
  PhotoUpdate
  Day 28: Ananda - Corbet National Park
  Day 29: Team 12 is back in the rally - for 2.5 kms!
  Impressions from India photo update
  Day 30,31,32,33: Team 12 arrives in Kathmandu, Nepal!
  Day 34: Update Kathmandu
  We are in Nepal Photo update
  Day 35: Team 12 has steady run on day 35 of the Rally
  Day 36: A short message from Siliguri, India
  Breaking news!
  Breaking news: Team 12 reaches the finish!
  Final results
  Final photoupdate!!!!
  Official results final leg and overall in PDF format
  Some reflections on the last few days of the rally
   
 
Breaking news

hemaTeam 12 arrives back at Schiphol airport after a 12 hour flight
from Calcutta

Their first action:

A HEMA sausage with mustard.
Something we have dreamt about for weeks!

Mick & Anty

"Benz no12 being loaded for transport to Indian border where it will be transferred to a special car trailer."
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Some reflections: Day 36-39 – Border Nepal/ India to Bhutan

As promised a few more reflections on the last few days of the rally.
When leaving Kathmandu on day 35, we knew that we were going to do an alternative route because of the floods three months ago. It took away some bridges on our original route from Nepal to India to Bhutan.

So on day 35 we went to a border town between Nepal and India, but stayed the evening in a hotel on the Nepal side of the border. The plan was to leave early (5.15 AM) so that we could cross both borders as soon as they were open.

As the route to Siliguri in India was 630 km on bad roads the organisers assured us that they had made special arrangements with the border authorities so that we could cross much quicker then our previous crossings with Indian borders. We got up at 4 AM, had not much of a breakfast on not much of a hotel and were very surprised when we got to the border at 5.30 AM, to find that very little had been arranged. As with previous border crossings it was everyone for themselves, with the organisers in front to get away early. To make a long story short, we got away from the border at aprox. 8.45 AM! With 630 km to go. Well they said the road would be bad, but it was an understatement. As we said before, it is difficult to describe something that is more of a goat track with trucks, buses, cars, TukTuk’s, cows, monkeys etc. It was a scene of a Fellini movie, but then a very long movie.

As this day was not an official rally day, we had teamed up with the MK2 Jaguars of Vermeulen and Ton and Monique Goedmakers. We each took turns to drive in front, to avoid the oncoming lorries and show the way through the potholes, rock tracks etc. On the road map this looked like a serious regional road. After about an hour, we hit a solid traffic jam where we saw some of our other competitors. When I asked an Indian motorist what was the cause he said in his Indian/ English accent: “Car accident sir, one man dead!” Together with some other cars we drove a bit past the stationary lorries to the front and Anty went to have a look at the scene. There was lorry parked across the road blocking all the traffic and behind the lorry was a man lying in the middle of the road, apparently dead, but nobody was doing anything..

Then one of our other competitors found a small track in the field next to the road and started to drive into this field hoping he would be able to drive around the blocked road. Shortly after that another 10 rally cars (including us) followed him through the rice paddies not really knowing where it would end. It was an interesting detour and eventually we found the road back and continued our journey.
After three hours driving we had done not more then 80km! It was depressing as there was no plan B to stop somewhere or have a break. We just had to plough on. It got dark and we still had 300 km to go. Other than stopping for fuel we just continued, sometimes meeting other competitors but not a sign of the organisers. Driving India by day is really bad, but at night its horrible. When the roads disappear and the air is so full of smog it looks like a heavy fog, you start wondering why you are doing this.
The Benz jumped from pothole to pothole and often the bottom hit the ground very hard. There was a lot of damage with the other cars, but the Benz stayed in good shape. We arrived in Shiligura, 20 hours after we left the hotel in the morning. Only to learn that we had to leave early again for what was decribed as another difficult day to the border of Bhutan.
We also learned that during the 630 km ordeal, one Jaguar XK150 had caught fire and burned to the ground, the other XK150 had another crash and bend its front fender against a wall. The Benz of Theo van der Laan broke its final drive and the list of casualties continued.

Day 36 was initially a reasonable route through some beautiful tea plantations, but including some very tricky potholes in the road, hidden in the shade of the trees. Leading contender Jaap and Hansje van den Broek in their tried and tested DS Citroen, hit their last pothole which broke the rear suspension of the DS for good. They came to the border of Bhutan with the car on the back of a trailer. End of the rally for them. A rally which they looked like they had almost won..

The last 30 km to the border of Bhutan was not a B road, not a C road, it was really a big pothole road.. I cannot believe 40+ year old cars were asked to drive this track, if even the organisers 4x4 vehicles were struggling to get past the big holes that totally blocked the small roads. Anty described it as a “buggle piste” with skiing. They were not potholes but small swimming pools.
This was a rally day so we had to get to the border in time. We did manage to do this and when we got to the border in Bhutan. The crossing was surprisingly easy and the welcome by the local people and schoolchildren was amazing and very warm. We have been in Bhutan ever since that day with two more rally days before we got to the finish in Bhutan, the capital of Bhutan and it is a different and very pleasant country. On the rally side the roads are good, narrow and well maintained with some beautiful scenery. Very green with often good views of the Himalaya. The country is clean, the people are bright, helpful and all speak good English. Most kids speak good English as well. The hotels are very simple but clean all things we had not seen in India, Pakistan and Kathmandu.

The two night stops were pleasant and the rally days were what we would imagine the whole rally should have had more of. The last evening we had a circuit test before we went to the hotel at a local driving school test site. Very technical test with a route that you received about 10 minutes before your start. With good teamwork we did well. The next morning we had to do it again but then another configuration. By then we started to realize that we were leading the last leg of the rally and that we had a good chance for second place overall. It looked like our strategy of slowing down some two weeks before, was paying off. Some faster cars were starting to break (Citroen DS - Van de Broek), or were delayed by problems and our Benz was running better then ever. The gearbox still in good shape oil consumption limited and all other systems were working well. Only the protective undertray needed regular attention (from Anty) On circuits and good special stages the cars drives and handles like a go-kart which is great for such a big car.

I think the car has impressed a few people and we think a lot of credit goes to Geert Jansen and his crew in Ulft who have prepared this car. The Vredestijn (Mercedes Vito tyres) never gave up and are still in reasonable shape. If you had seen the rocks, potholes and gravel track they had to endure you cannot believe we never had a puncture. Before the start of the rally we took the gamble and left one of the two spare wheels we had prepared at home. It saved weight but during the rally I worried a lot about it.

After the test on the final day there was one more timed section, up to a mountain road up to 3000 meters. The final test for us and the Benz before the descent in Thimphu. Just before reaching the summit, we were moving aside for an oncoming 4x4 jeep and when I looked in the Jeep I was surprised to see the face of Anty’s wife Sonja through the screen of the Jeep. We knew Sonja and Grace were in Bhutan already but we we would see them at the finish. They did not know we were there as they were on the way to visit a local monastry. So this was a chance of meeting ahead of schedule and a great surprise for all four of us. They turned around and joined us and the rest of the rally for lunch on top of the mountain. It was almost like the finish of the rally. After that we drove in convoy to Thimphu where we had a great finish and welcome in the local fairground, with speeches of the minister of internal affairs, the Dutch consul in Delhi etc.

It was emotional for all of us after such a hard rally. Last night there was the prize giving ceremony where it was confirmed that we won the last section of the rally and were 2nd overall after the Vermeulen team. They deserved to win but we got very close to them in points in the end. The hotel we are in is brand new and very high standard and a good place from which to get some rest and enjoy Thimphu.
However after the finish, we still had to drive two and a half days to Calcutta to drop off the cars and take the flight to Amsterdam. Some of us really did not feel like that at all and we made some enquiries about getting the cars transported to Calcutta (by truck see pictures).
And so we have done. The 6 cars were picked up on Sunday and are on the way to Calcutta. We have had an extra day in Thimphu and will drive (with  chauffeur driven 4x4) to the Indian border tomorrow. Then we take a flight to Calcutta from a local Indian airport to join the others who left by car this morning.
Grace and Sonja have been with us until this afternoon. They are on their way back via Bangkok. If all the connections work we should be back at Schiphol on Thursday afternoon. The car should be back in 5 weeks time. It has been a very hard rally, much harder then we and many of the other competitors had expected. We have been through many interesting places but the pace of the rally and the long driving days have given all of us too little time to enjoy this great route we took. However, it has been an experience that we will never forget and there have been many good moments as well. We have made some friends, but also found some strange fellow competitors. Anty is a great team mate, navigator, mechanic and if there is another adventure he should be part of it. Never panicking, even when we were just pushed off the road by a bus or if we hit a pothole we both did not see. We have prepared well for this rally and it has paid off. The car was a great choice, Geert Jansen and team did a great job.

Lets not forget all the people that helped us en route. Peter van den Heuvel, Kwamedia, website design and maintenance. Peter; “the Google map of the rally route on the boot of the car was the hit of the rally!” Claire Dubbelman at H&C, who made sure that my scribblings were checked, edited and put on the site. Claire was sometimes woken up at 3 in the morning when my sms messages started to come through on her mobile. Marco at Health Plus who gave us good advice and vitamins and this Carbo bars that we ate on these marathon runs in the desert. Jeroen & Niels at FitPro in Laren. My back is in better shape then when I started the rally.. Huub Dubbelman at Mercedes NL for arranging support for us in various places. Advantage, for the stickering of the car. It really came out well in the pictures. Rover textiles, that provided our crisp team clothes that were the envy of some other teams. Majoor in Laren who fitted the Tracker and provided us with some amazing Google Earth pictures of the car at location.

Grace & Sonja and Joe-Jay, Joris, Carlot, Charlie, and Mickey who must have sometimes worried about the trials and tribulations of their men and dads.

The organisation was adequate but with very selective communication before and during the rally. I have said enough about it and if you read some of the mail reports of other competitors I think we have been mild. The only response was a silly incorrect story about quarrelling competitors on the official website and to disconnect the link to our own site from the official site. It says it all about what sort of people we were dealing with. Despite that our web audience grew with many competitors families following our progress and complimenting us by mail about the stories. Thank you all for your mails. It really helped to know you kept an eye on us when we were in the wilderness.
Tonight at dinner with Ton and Monique Goedmakers and Willem and Ellen Vermeulen we asked ourselves the question:

Would we have gone if we had known what we know now?

The resounding answer around the table was “No”, at least not with a 40 year old Classic car.

Good night

Mick & Anty (Anty is vast asleep)

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Final results

It's official!

finishTeam 12 wins the final leg of the Himalaya Trial and has finished in 2nd place overall! in one of the toughest classic endurance rallies of recent times.
Tonight the official prize giving tomorrow full report on the last few days of the rally.

We have decided not to drive to Calcutta tomorrow as originally planned, together with 7 other competitors. Thanks to the help of Global Peter Smith, we have loaded the red Lady on a truck for shipping to Calcutta Harbor. It will give us one or two extra days in Thimpu, some well deserved rest and time to reflect on "an experience of a life time".

Mick & Anty

PS: we wil send some more Anty pictures from the last week.
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Breaking news: Team 12 reaches the finish!

Team 12 reaches the finish of the Himalaya Trail in Thimpu at 16.30 local time.

More news and results tomorrow but it looks like we have won the final leg of the rally and that we have a top three place overall.

 

Mick & Anty (by text message)
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Breaking news!

Team 12 crosses the border with Bhutan.

After another hard day rallying team 12 entered Bhutan at approx 16.00. There was a fantastic welcome with hundreds of school children chanting welcome and waving flags.

We were then all collected by different hosts who took us in special buses to individual guest houses.

Ours is very basic with only cold water and one towel per room but they promised to bring another one. The poeple of Gelephu are very polite and speak good English.

Like Nepal we entered a different world and we are almost at the finish.

Yesterday and today have proven very hard on the competitors and particularly their cars.

We heared  that 1 jag XK150 has caught fire yesterday. The Mercedes of Theo van der Laan broke his rear suspension yesterday and is out. The MK2 Jag of Vermeulen and Goedmakers broke their exhausts.

This afternoon, the leading DS of Jaap and Hansje van den Broek was stranded with a broken suspension. They have managed to fix it tonight.

Tomorrow one more serious rally day and then on to the finish in Timpu.

The Benz has a hard time but is still in a good shape. Hopefully we have internet tomorrow so I can report on the last days of the rally.

Tonight we have a dinner in the open air with our Bhutany hosts.

Good night!

Mick & Anty (by text message)

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Day 36: A short message from Siliguri, India

Team 12 arrives in Siliguri after record breaking 20(!) hours journey covering just 630 kms.

It was worse than we expected but we made it through without too much damage.

The protective undertray of the Benz has been remodeled several times today, but the car is still in good shape.

A number of other competitors hit mechanical problems and not all cars have arrived yet.

The roads were so bad Anty and I decided that there is no way of explaining it to you what it is like.

In addition we have seen 600 kms of smog. India is so poluted.

We have another early start tomorrow for our journey to Bhutan, so we will give more details later.

Good night,

Mick & Anty (by text message)

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Day 35: Team 12 has steady run on day 35 of the Rally

With a major change to the original route for the next two days, today brought us to the border town of Birgunj.

The day started with a steady run out of Kathmandu, until we hit a major traffic jam on a major mountain road out side

town. The whole rally got stuck so the organisers moved the time schedules by one hour. A sensible move. Then on to our first special stage, which was a 40 km run over a narrow mountain pass with many rough patches. The required average speed for Trial class was between 40 and 45 km per hour. A speed more suited for 4x4 cars then for 40 year old classics.

We managed to get through without loosing too much time to our nearest competitors. The route however is magnificent, going as high as 2500 km and ending at the top with a magnificent view of the Himalaya in full sunshine.

The connecting sections before and after lunch were tight on time with heavy penalties if you were late. So, full throttle all the way on very tight and twisty roads, where you never know what is around the corner.

We all arrived at this very basic but clean border town hotel at about 17.00 and spontaniously joined the other competitors with a beer in the car park. It is clear we are all very nervous about the day tomorrow. First a 05.30 border crossing, and then a 630 km route through rural India. It is going to take at least 14 hours of which some in darkness.

We have agreed to team up with 3-4 other cars and we will stay together for the day. Anty and I will be glad when the day is over. Early night as we get up at 04.00.

Grace & Sonja are leaving tonight for their trip to Bangkok - Bhutan tonight, and we will see them in Thimpu on Saturday afternoon.

Good night,

Mick & Anty (fast a sleep)

by sms

 

PS. More pictures on the way when we have internet connection.

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Day 34: Update Kathmandu

At the recommendation of Grace we, with Willem & Ellen Vermeulen, took a 30 minute cab ride to the Dutch build “Summit Hotel". We had a wonderful dinner in this very nice restaurant. A very good, fresh and modern atmosphere with many Dutch people on hiking and climbing expeditions.

If you are in Katmandu, its worth making a visit or even stay there!

We also learned today that after 5 legs in the rally and despite missing two days in leg 5, team 12 is still in 3rd place overall behind the DS of van den Broek and the MK2 of the Vermeulens.

We will try and hold on to this place, but not at any cost.

Mick & Anty

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Team 12 arrives at Kathmandu, Nepal!

It is sometimes hard to believe, but we have been driving through Nepal for the last 3 days. When we started in Maastricht 30 days ago it seemed such an unreal target. Now we are here. This afternoon we drove into a very busy Kathmandu to the Hyatt Hotel and our rest place for tommorow.
We lost contact when we crossed the border from India to Nepal on day 30.
We left Nainital (India) in the morning and drove through nice green country side to a very narrow bridge crossing a river. Just on the other side was very small hut with the India border authorities. The 26 cars went through the lengthly process of filling in the ledgers with all the car and driver details. It took a long time but we have learned to be patient after a few weeks of travel.

Then came the change.
We drove the short track to the Nepalese border office where at first they checked and stamped our passports. Outside the little passport office was a group of schoolchildren and members of the Nepalese tourist association giving us a big welcome.
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The border officials helped us with filling in the passport forms and we were through in 5! minutes. Then to the customs where the car papers and carnets were stamped. The forms that we needed to fill in, we could fill in ourselves rather then the Indian variation where one person was entering all the details of all cars by hand. Common sense and we were through in 10 minutes.
Our trip continued to Bardia National Park at a reasonable rally pace. Immediately the countryside became green and friendly and the villages we drove trough were poor but clean with people in colourful dresses. Like in India there are many, many children. The people are open and friendly and even the road manners are (slightly) better then India.
One reason is that there are very few cars. A lot of busses and many bikes, mopeds and motorbikes.

nepa4The rally organisers had a small sting in the tail at the end of the day when at the entry of the Bardia National Park we had to do a real river crossing with an official start before the river crossing and a finsih on the other side (if you made it to the other side). It was fun as everybody was watching how others were going. The Volvo of Ronald Hof went in at full speed but the engine died just before the (a cheval) finish. Very spectacular Ronald.

No 12 checked the scene then took the plunge and resurfaced on the other side. We switched the engine off restarted and sprinted the the finish. At night we found that we set the third best time after the DS of Jaap v/d Broek and the Cayenne (out of competition) of Martin Aaldering. However, many cars drowned before they resurfaced, but none with any lasting damage. All of them were towed on shore by the rally organisers. It made some good pictures.
 
Then another 9 km into the Park/ Jungle to our camp.  A collection of mud huts with each two beds and a sort of shower and one small light bulb and many "creepy crawlies" around. Dinner was in an open clearing where the locals had put on a big music and dance show for us. Great athmosphere! Nice food and again very nice people. We learned that this area, two years ago, had lost all its tourism through the politcal troubles that Nepal has known recently. We were the first tourists for a long time and obviously very welcome. The night in the hut was special, but we slept well.

Day 31
: Bardia Park- Pokhara

Firstly, out of the park the way we came, through the river, but a bit more careful and then the long road to Pokhara.
A beautifull journey with enough time in the rally schedule to enjoy the green fields and rice paddies. There was a short stage en route where we lost some time, simply because we drove carefully through some bits of missing roads. The Benz is in good shape but we need to be careful with our badly dented undertray. We stayed at the Fish Tail Lodge in Pokhara. A lodge at the border of a Lake that we could only reach with a small man-managed raft.
It is the first time we saw some "other western" tourists in this lodge. For the past few weeks we have been off the beaten track where no foreign tourists come. It was a nice place with a nice dinner.
The next morning when we walked from our lodge to breakfast the sun came out and we were surprised by a beautiful view of the Himalaya (Anty picture) very impressive and so close. We were told we had a direct view of Anapurna but it is difficult to say where, when you are looking at this massive mountain range.

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Day 32: Pokhara- Kathmandu

From the flat & green land in Pokhara to mountains of Kathmandu. Another long but really beautifull tour with a lunch stop of the main road up a smalll track where we ended on a platteau with another great view of the Himalaya. Then on to Kathmandu. In a sense Kathmandu is not what we had imagined. Coming out of the beatifull mountain range suddenly into the very messy, busy and poluted town was a shock. We imagined to arrive in a trackers village with a lot of climbing actvities but not such thing. The Hyatt Hotel however is a quiet haven and a good place for the rest day.Because of our rest days in Ananda we do not really figure in the overall standings of this forth leg but we are enjoying the scenery and pace a lot more. We sometimes have to pinch ourselves to realize that we have come all this way by car!

The Benz behaves great. We are a bit more carefull with the gearbox and Anty has spend this morning remodeling the undertray of the car. Then only oil check / engine gearbox, water check and fresh fuel. The next two days are going to be challenging again as the organisers are forced to re-route the rally because of the floods of a few months ago. However they are trying their best to save us driving at night in India which is really a very dangerous exercise.

We''ll try and keep in touch but please keep an eye on the site of the organisers.


Mick & Anty

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Team 12 is back in the rally- for 2.5 kms!

Yesterday/ this morning we were in Corbett National Park and stayed in a sort of lodge hotel with our own cabins. Basic, a bit damp but relatively clean. It smelled of moth balls though. Outside we used the Deet liberally as it was a typical place for muskitos. As reported the "wild eleven" arrived at around 14.00 after a very pleasant 6 hour run from Ananda. The rest of the rally started to trickle in from 16.00 onwards until after dark. The trip from Agra had been a other all day hard charging affair for them. The first 80 kilometers  the roads were so bad that all the cars were shaken to bits. The rest of the route the pollution was thick and they never saw the sunshine.
Also the stories about Delhi were horrendous so none of the 11 teams that stayed in Ananda have any regrets about skipping the loop Delhi-Agra-Corbet. As you can imagine, the atmosphere was bit strange between those who stayed behind and those that continued.
However the reaction, or non-reaction of rally organizer Bart Rietbergen was probably the most strange of all. There was no welcome, or questions how we were. He totally ignored the subject. Some of us that stayed behind in Ananda, were very ill. Some were in bed and did not eat for two days. Some cars were in a bad state but the service crew had moved on so we had to fix it ourselves. Never in these days have there been any calls from Bart Rietbergen or his closest staff to ask how things were. (some text messages were send from the rally doctor)
11 of Bart's  26 customers stayed behind in Ananda, yet he did not care what happened to us or even made an effort to provide us with some route guidance to Corbett. Some of these 11 teams have been on Barts events many times and are thoroughly fed up with his planning of these route in this rally and particularly his complete ignorance! to the many complaints he has had. Up until now most rally days have been far too long. The daily distances and type of roads  in relation to the times allowed for them have been completely miscalculated. This means that we often end the day driving in the dark. This is lethal in India and Bart know this from previous experience. The speed/pace of the rally ,both for Trial and Club class is far to high for the circumstances.
"Bart , you and I are in the service business, I would listen to my customers  if I were you and make adjustment to the route and speed. This rally is for us, not for Bart Rietbergen who rides the route in a 4x4 Nissan. All 11 teams are still waiting for your response show us you care!
Last night at his usual dinner speech Bart never mentioned welcomed us  back or said anything at all about what happened the days before. The other teams took  our absence very well but are now dead tired. We feel pretty refreshed and have seen some routes in India that we have not seen in the rally route. Also we had time to stop and look around. Something we have not had since Maastricht. During the rally every time we get to a decent road the rally route takes us off-road  or to some horrible unappeasable tracks. Quite frankly If we  had wanted to do a Dakar type rally we would have chosen a 4x4 like the organization wisely have done. Bart please read your original brochure about this rally. We did in Anandan.. and the reality is a bit different.
Don't get me wrong. The basic organization of the rally is sound. There are hardly any mistakes in the route book, the hotels are generally very good. The lunch breaks are well done sometime in difficult circumstances and the organization team are very nice. Its the route and speed requirements that  are completely out of since. There has been not much time to take in what we were seeing.

Day 29 - Corbett-Nainital
tijgerThe day started differently as at 6 am the competitors had a choice to joining a short morning safari in the Corbett park to spot a (the) tiger. The chances of seeing a tiger were slim  however we were told. I decided that I would give the tiger a miss, but Anty got up early and joined the Safari group armed with loaded camera. Anty reports it was cold but he came back  with a picture of a real tiger!

The start of the short 140 km rally route was planned for 12.00 with special stage in the Park after about 15 km. Our start time was 12.25, as one of the last teams this time. It changes every day so that sometimes you start first sometime in the middle and sometime last. This time the start order was in reverse order of the first name of the navigator. After our great journey yesterday some of the  other 11 teams decided also today to skip the official route and take the shortcut through the valley to the next hotel. We clocked out at 12.25, turned right into the game park where because of some local festival the traffic was completely mad, with cars, mopeds, scooters all going our direction to some event in the park. Then after 2.5 km on this road the traffic stopped completely. I got out of the car to look what happened and found that many miles up the road an accident had happened. The traffic behind us was still piling up into this small game park road. It was mayhem! Terra van het Hof in het Peugeot 404 and us were quite at the end of the queue and we decided  to try and reverse in the mess behind us. Anty guided us out and so within half an hour we were back where we started at the Corbett hotel. There was no point in continuing the route so we looked at the map at the shorter alternative route to Nainital. Again it was a beautiful run through a green valley, crossing a river (partly through it) and then up a steep mountain road which was in very good  condition. Terra followed us up in het 404 and then half way up the pass we encountered the group that had decided to skip the rally day and take the short route. Sjors van der Heiden, Volvo, the Bentley, BMW, Wolsley,Vera and Herman with their Volvo. After a short stop to explained what happened we travelled further together.
What a beautiful scenery it already  feels a bit like Nepal. Almost at the top of the climb we came through a village where there was a  village party going on. Many people on horseback and very colorful  women and children . We stopped and had some very nice encounters with the locals who wanted to know all about our rally and purpose of our rally. Then down the hill to Nainital where we stay in a nice hotel with view on the valley and lake. We hear a steam train in the distance. What will happen to the rally results today will be interesting because I believe many other will have been stuck in the traffic jam in the park.
We'll find out tonight at dinner.
However the last few days have been much better for our overall experience and enjoyment of this trip. We intend to keep it this way. There is no price money involved in this rally. Our price is seeing Sonja and Grace in Bhutan! Tomorrow Nepal. A long driving day on bad roads. At night we staying at a camp site so I guess there will be no news until the day after tomorrow.

To be continued.

Mick & Anty

PS: We must have stayed at least in 25 different hotel rooms by now.
Sometime after dinner when we go back to our room we take the lift to the floor and room of the hotel where we stayed the night before... a senior moment.

Breaking news:
Tonight at dinner we learned that the accident in the park was between the XK Jaguar of the Peters family and a tractor loaded with children. There is damage to the car but no injuries to the Peters and or the children. They have just returned to the hotel and joined us for dinner. Martin and Jose  Aaldering with the Cayenne stayed behind to help with the formalities. Great  job you two..

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Day 28: Ananda - Corbet National Park

At 07.30 this morning the 11 teams that stayed behind in Ananada left in two groups for the 230 km drive to the Corbet National Park, where we arrived at 13.45. Well in time for lunch.

The route was plotted by our own navigators and for the first time showed us some half decent roads with terrable traffic conditions. The scenery was green with sugar cane fields and fairly clean villages.

Our group was made up of 3 mk2, 1 xk jaguar and our benz. The other group included the Bentley, BMW, 2x Volvo and the Wolsley and Cayenne.

Yesterday was almost the first time in the rally that we had time to enjoy the surroundings.

It is now 16.30 and the other rally competitors have not arrived from Agra which means that it will be dark when they get here. The 11 from Ananda all agree so far that the rally route and the pace have been crazy, if not irresponsible.

Many have experience with other Classic Events or with Amsterdam - Beijing or Beijing - Paris, but they all admit that these last few weeks have been the toughest.

From now on, we plan to make adjustments to the route ourselves if the organisers are not doing it.

We are in a sort of Safari Camp in Corbet National Park with our own bungalow. Very basic and many noises of wild animals.

Anty just came back from an Elephant ride through the jungle (not for me) and he has declared our Benz a better ride.

Tomorrow morning I believe we have sort of Safari tour to see the Tigers in the forest.

Then we will restart the Rally at approximately midday.

Until tomorrow,

Mick & Anty (By text message)

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Day 27: 11 teams are now in Anandan resort.

Since yesterday morning 10 teams decided to stay in the Anandan resort and skip the loop Dehli - Agra- Corbet. We were surprised last night by the return of the Jaguar MK2, the trial class team of Gerard Mestemaker.

Gerard had left yesterday morning for Delhi and decided 60 kms before Delhi, whilst in a 60 km traffic jam, pollution and mad traffic, to turn around and return to Anandan resort. So now there are 11 cars from the 26 cars of the rally in Anandan. After 25 days of grueling routes, night time driving in ridiculous traffic, very tight time schedules, the organizers should take note of what is happening.

We have been suffering because of the high pace and bad timed distances in addition to the virus or food poisoning that has struck a lot of us in the last few days. By the way I am much better today after a very good night sleep and Anty is virtually back to normal.

Others have been hit very hard. Bentley Boy Bert Kersten's co-driver Huub has been incapable of eating and drinking for the last few days. He has had good care from Bert and the ladies in our company and he has just made an appearance at the hotel pool. So that is looking okay.

As you all know we have complained about the pace of the rally and some of the (unnecessary) routes that we had to take. On top of that, the organizers have completely miscalculated the time spend to cross the various borders. They timed it based on crossing with one car and forgot that for the bureaucrats in these countries, to process 35 cars and 70+ passports, it takes a lot more time.

Another serious problem is the traffic in India, particularly when the routes takes us off the main roads (most of the time). An average of 30 km per hour okay, whereas the rally plans to have an average of 50 km an hour. As described before, we experienced bad traffic in Istanbul, Iran, and Pakistan but here in India its 100 times worse. It is like a very bad video game!
The off road excursion of the Vermeulens the day before yesterday was a strong reminder of the risks we are taking.

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Yesterday we and Willem Vermeulen drove down to the local town and found a garage where we could check our car (gearbox) and where Willem could get his burst tyre and broken rollbar (stabilisator) fixed. The towns are a big chaos so we took one of the hotel staff to guide us to what looked like a decent garage. They helped us well and it costs nothing, but what a mess is life in rural India.

The afternoon was leisure time. I slept a few hours and Anty was at the pool. I took a massage and at night Bert Kersten (Bentley) invited us for his birthday dinner. We joined forces to give him a massage session for his birthday. I only took part some of the time as I was still feeling pretty weak, but it was a fun evening particularly when Gerard Mestemaker returned from the outskirts of Delhi and held a pretty funny speech about the day on the road that we all missed. Gerard complained about the enormous pollution in India, which in his view is a disaster in the making. If we as a world want to do something about the environment, lets please start here and forget about our own territory. Maybe Al Gore should come to Delhi to make his speeches.

Today a nice and relaxed day, in which we have had the chance to get to know some of the other rally competitors for the first time. So far the days have been so long that we only met at dinner. During our rest day we were all working on our cars or resting. It is really nice to hear why they are doing this rally, how they know their co-drivers and it is surprising how many of them have collections of classic or modern cars. The opinions about this rally vary. Some know the style of bart Rietbergen and accept it as it is others feel that he should listen to his clients (us) and make adjustments accordingly.

One thing is for sure, we will never forget these 6 weeks!

Tomorrow we leave early in two groups of 5 & 6 cars to go to Corbet where we will join the rest of the rally. The route is not charted, so the navigators in our teams and the hotel staff have been plotting a route for us. Its going to be at least 7 -8 hours drive (approx. 200 km) so we leave early. Most of us will be more rested and able to deal with the rigors of this rally.

We'll keep you posted

Mick & Anty

PS - Sonja on BNR News-radio!  Yes, when Anty is far away, Sonja not just announces her own book, but is now on live radio as a well. The subject: " the sex morals of the young people" What is next? Sonja running as prime minister in Holland?
Keep up the good work.

PS2 - Anty gets a massage
It has taken a while, but Anty has booked a Swedish massage this afternoon. I have carefully told him that there maybe no swedish girls available, but the Indian girls here are not bad too. I may have a different navigator tomorrow.

PS3 - yes there is time for such trivia but you need to know that team 12 came third on day 25 (first of the new leg) By skipping the following three days we have no chance to make up for this before Katmandu, but we feel much better for it.

M.

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Day 26: Ten teams take a break

After breakfast this morning, 10 teams (including team nr 12) have decided to stay in the Anandan Resort hotel for the next two days. This means that all  these teams skip the loop Dehli-Agra-Corbet.

We will join the rest of the rally on Wednesday night in Corbet after which we will continue the rally. Over exhaustion, severe food poisoning (including myself since last night), and the incredibly dangerous Indian traffic has made us decide to save the car and ourselves.

We are joined by some prominent teams such as Trial Class leaders Vermeulen - Vermeulen, Gerard Mestemaker MK2, Bert Kerstens Bentley speed six, and Dingemans with his BMW 328.

More news tomorrow,

Mick & Anty

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Breaking news!

Himalaya Trial competitors split the Rally in half on day 26

As reported yesterday, 60 percent of all people in the rally are struck with a serious form of food poisening.

This morning the organisers anounced that the rally was neutralized for the leg to Dehli.

A great relieve, because it promised to be another exhausting day and traffic is lethal in India.

However, we have also decided to skip the next day of the rally. We and 9 other crews will stay two nights in this beautiful hilltop resort.

We will join the rally again in Corbet in two days time.

More news later,

Mick & Anty (by sms)

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Day 25: Montezuma's revenge in Wildflower Hall

Dear friends,

For the British under you you will understand the meaning of Montezuma's revenge.

Let me explain:
As reported we had a perfect rest day at one of the best hotels in India, maybe the world. The rooms were exceptional, the service was great and we all enjoyed the health spa facilities and... the food. This morning the rally started again at 7 am local time. We were up at 5.30 am and preparing for a full rally day. When we got to breakfast it transpired that  at least 70% of the organisers crew was ill with food poisoning and that at least 50 % of all competitors were either violently ill or felt weak. Something happened at dinner the night before, or maybe lunch time that made this happen.

Anty and myself are okay, but seeing all these very sick people around you makes you wonder when its our time. We have been faithfully taken the vitamins and stomach preparation powders that Marco from Health Plus in Laren has supplied us with and we have eaten the carbo bars that Marco gave us when we did not not trust the local food. So far so good although Anty had a short spell of problems we have not had to use the diapers that we took. But maybe our time will come..
Nevertheless the organisers pressed on with the rally and we have a had full day with three! special stages on very narrow and twisty roads. However, they were passable and because it is Sunday there was not that much traffic. The time limits for the TC's were very tight so we had to press on to get to the TC's in time. I think we did a good job overall but we won't know until tomorrow morning.

travicAfter lunch we left the mountains and on the way to Anandan the route took us through several towns and local roads. It was awful! I cannot start to describe how bad the traffic is in India. There are no rules. Cars, Busses , Trucks, Mopeds, Scooters (with whole families on them and only dad wearing a helmet) cows, goats, monkeys, donkeys. I nearly ran over a chicken and a car in front of me hit a young cow. Sometimes with nowhere to go a bus comes towards you on your lane overtaking a car and a scooter at the same time and the drivers does not blink when he comes straight at you. Half an hour like this is okay but 160 km is too much. I think we would prefer to go to Katmandu straight away and skip the Delhi loop.

Then the last few kilometres up a green mountain road towards the "Ananda Spa hotel" Like Wild Flower Hall one of the most prestigious hotels in India and perched on top of a mountain with magnificent views. Again, look it up on their web site because this is something else. Shame we got there when it got dark and we will leave at 7.30 am this morning. Another place to come back to but not the parts that we have seen between the two hotels.
India is such an incredible mess. Shame the British did not stay here.
At dinner tonight half the tables were empty and even during todays rally we saw many cars with drivers struggling to get to the finish.
Our main competitor Willem and Ellen Vermeulen had a serious off  road excursion today as their MK2 Jaguar left the road and ended in a ditch. Fortunately no personal damage and the car seems okay as well.
The Benz has worked hard today and we have a slight worry about a gearbox bearing noise. Geert Jansen talked us through the points to check  so now we have to find time and garage to check it. Tomorrow promises to be another dreadful traffic day to Delhi. Then a fairly relaxed day to Agra.

I think we finally managed to send some pictures from the previous days  which will give some illustration to our words.

Time to go to bed.

Good night!

Mick & Anty

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