This was meant to be a straightforward day, but unfortunately we made it rather more complicated and ended up arriving in Vientiane at 6.45 p.m. just in time to have a quick shower, do the postcards and join a group downstairs in the bar for drinks to celebrate the birthdays of 2 of our party and go out for dinner at a French restaurant. The food was excellent and it made a change to eat a meal with no rice.
The cause of the delay was setting off along the pretty mountainous road from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, enjoying the driving and the pretty villages along the way and discovering that we have rather less petrol than we had calculated. The fuel gauge does not work on the car and so we rely on calculations and an estimated mpg. Due to the desire to keep out weight down until we can repair the rear suspension bushes, we have not been filling the tank up to full and have not had a base reading for 1300 miles. Anyway I am making excuses .. The net result is that we had to fill up with some 30 litres of fuel at a roadside shop with 2 glass jar fuel fillers fitted to the top of 45 gallon oil drums with no labels. The lady told Charlotte that one of them was 'normal' and so we set to putting it in the tank. We even checked with the guide who passed in his car that we were doing the right thing. However, I had disobeyed all the rules of filling up in funny places and had not smelled the fuel. 3 miles down the road we conked out because we had put 30 litre of diesel in the tank. It took nearly 3 hours to emplty and clean the entire fuel and carburation system. A self-inflicted waste of time and we arrived in Vientiane feeling like prize idiots. Also we felt very guilty as Paul and Nikki stayed to work on the car with us and Ian and Glynis stayed for most of the time and helped get fresh fuel, so it was not only us who were late arriving. Surprisingly we are the 3rd car to have made this mistake on the rally. You always hear about it and wonder how anyone can be so stupid. Well, we have joined the club. I jokingly rebuffed comments from the rest of the rally by saying that we decided to test drive a diesel Aston Martin and it was complete rubbish!
Smart hotel - almost completely empty and the staff are very friendly and want to take a photo of the cars before we set off at 6.30 in the morning.