What a day. We had to get up very early as 10 hours of driving were planned. Bruno had suggested that we travel through the Cardamom mountains to Battambang instead of going via Phnom Penh where the traffic is dreadful. The latter is not a good idea for classic cars as they overheat.
The road to the Cardamon mountains was built by the Chinese to get to the hydroelectric projects that they have built here. These projects are controversial as they change the landscape and the flow in the river system. The first part was a narrow concrete road and then bright red dirt of good quality. However, after lunch the road deteriorated badly. There were potholes, animals, and small wooden bridges with holes in. Our local team had driven through in the last few days to fill in some of the holes with planks of wood. The driving was very difficult but we all made it through. The Healey has a damaged spring and and Andy got a stone trapped in his wheel and brake system. It sang a lovely song as he drove along. It was removed at a petrol station at the end.
We are certainly the first classic car rally to have driven the route. I think that others may wait for repairs to the 25km of very poor road. The drive was most rewarding. The roads were quiet and there were few settlements. There was virgin jungle and, in places, rubber plantations, tea bushes and pineapple plants. The scenery was glorious.
Lunch was organised by Claire, our local agent, at an eco-homestay, where back packers were staying.. The plates were made of leaves moulded into shape, all re-usable and biodegradable.
After a stretch of good new but quiet road and a busy main road section we arrived in Battambang. The cars are parked in a garage with hoses, airlines and a lift so they will be less red when we leave. The team will have cleaned them for us overnight!
We are staying in a French villa of 1933 vintage in many ways. We have a gloriously large room with a balcony. We were woken by a cockerel at 5.30am.