Official website: www.londoncapetownrally.com

Another day, another ferry.

This time Sagaga in Egypt to Duba in Saudi Arabia. We were all on the ferry by 1am and I was asleep when it left, which I'm told was about 4am. The ferry was a catamaran and had 2 car decks. The rally filled one deck and the other was empty as far as I could see. We had a lounge for rally crews with airline type chairs (which didn't recline). I slept reasonably well.

Day 10: Safaga (Egypt) to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)

10-01-2012

Upon waking in the morning, the girls on the rally all put on their burka type robes but with black head scarves rather than the full face bit (right). The girl drivers had to swap places with some of the rally officials who will do the driving for them while in Saudi Arabia.

It was 11:15am before we got away from the port after doing immigration, customs and carnet. Customs was relaxed and the threatened search for alcohol didn't happen. We then started the drive to Yanbu where we will spend the night.

There is no competition in Saudi, so it is all transport and I'm writing this in the car as it's 118 km to the next call in the route chart.

First impressions of Saudi: it is very bleak and desolate. More so than Egypt. They do have better roads and infrastructure. Clearly a rich country. The highways we are travelling on are 2 lanes each way separated by 30 metres of gravel in the form of a dip. Speed limit is 120 which is as fast as the Datsun is comfortable at. We can talk by yelling at each other at that speed. Any faster and we need the headsets on.


Coming up to a checkpoint

a decorated highway roundabout

We are not really happy with yesterday's scores. Cars that didn't make it thru the first stage and cut and run, skipping controls, got the same penalty as us who completed the section,  got the redirection and reported on time to the next control.

What the organisers have done is dropped all penalties for thetwo transport sections after the sand and they put a maximum on the last stage of 10 minutes. The effect of this is those who were ahead of us and who didn't complete the section or report to the next two controls, got the same penalty as us. So instead of us gaining those places we lost 4 places from the Porsches and two of the big 4WDs who didn't get bogged.

This is the second time this has happened. In Greece, cars got stuck in mud and they limited time loss there as well. They are definitely making up rules as they go. There will always be winners and losers when this sort of thing happens, but at the moment luck (or maybe the organisers) seems to favour others.

Saw camel and goats on the edge of the road today. Unfortunately we are generally past them before I can get a camera going.

Car still going well. Tyres lasting OK.

Staying at the Tulip Inn in Yanbu. We have an apartment tonight but there is a Mosque next door. There was a call to prayer a little while ago and I just hope there isn't one at midnight or 4 in the morning!!

The apartment has Kitchen, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge room and they are all big rooms. No alcohol tonight .

Day 11 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia was interesting (I am writing this on the ferry to Safaga  in Sudan, Sudan). There are virtually no women to be seen. Men are generally friendly wanting to shake hands and ask about the car, but language is a problem.



l
eft: me with a  fan

right: Mark with the Saudi Arabian owner of an SS Commodore!!!

 

There are lots of young boys in groups, generally driving utes whose behaviour is crazy.

They want to meet you, shake hands, and race you in their utes. They hang out of open doors, drive through red lights and would be arrested in 5 minutes in Australia. And they look about 15 years old to me.

 



The was also some pilfering of things in cars last night. Some people lost badges, we lost the little Australian flags, one car lost their Yellow Brick tracker. That's a bad thing to steal, it reports back where it is.




right: Amazingly, Mark was able to get a Bundaberg ginger beer at a roadside sotp in Saudi Arabia


It's actually the morning of the 12th. Our guess is the ferry will get in at say 11 to 12 and if immigration/customs takes the usual 4 hours it may be 4 pm before we start the 700 Km drive to Gederaf. So midnight at best to Gederaf and we have a 7:30 am start the next day.

left: our latest (and hopefully our last) ferry on the event, from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Sudan.

 We have a cabin in the ferry and it's the worst accommodation we have had so far.

No hot water, no towels, last cleaned the day it was built.

We slept in our sleeping bags rather than use the bedding. Mark has just told me that the toilet doesn't flush. Can't wait to get out of here.

Next: Onto Sudan