Bandar Seri Begawan - The Asean-India Car Rally marked the end of an 8,000km journey across eight Asean countries with an official flag down at Guwahati, India recently.
The 31-car convoy, which included participants from Brunei Darussalam, travelled through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos PDR and Myanmar over a period of 22 days.
The Brunei delegation comprised Suhaimei Besar, Ibrahim Damit, Pg Mohidden PPT Bakar, Abu Bakar Hj Besar, Ismail Bakar, Hj Harun Hamid, Hj Saring Besar, Md Safwan Teo Abdullah, Hj Zainal Yakub and Md Mazlaini Mahadi.
Among the aims of the event were to strengthen ties between Asean and India whilst also focusing on regional connectivity and the need to improve regional trade, transport and infrastructure. It also serves to help tap the vast potentials for business, investment and tourism opportunities, as well as general goodwill.
The inaugural flag-off at Yogyakarta, Indonesia on December 24, covered a distance of 170km and ended at Surakarta. The Brunei Ambassador to Indonesia, Brigadier General (R)Dato Mahmud Saidin, attended the event and followed the convoy to Surakarta where a ceremonial tree planting event was held at Borobudur.
The second leg of the rally was initiated in Singapore on November 27 by its Foreign Minister at the famous Fl pit stop area. The Brunei High Commissioner to Singapore, Hj Abdul Ghafar Ismail also attended the flag-off to show moral support to the Brunei Team.
Upon reaching Malaysia and having its official flag-off at Putrajaya, the convoy enjoyed the first night halt at Impiana Hotel in Ipoh.
The rally participants then continued their adventurous journey to the Kingdom of Thailand along the borders of Bukit Kayu Hitam/ Sa Dao border and stayed at Hat Yai, Phuket and Bangkok for three nights.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand officiated the grand flag-off ceremony at the Dusit Palace Plaza (King Rama V Memorial Plaza). It was indeed a proud and patriotic moment as the team leader of each participating country hoisted their national flags during a photo opportunity prior to departing the country.
The convoy then proceeded to the Thai borders of Aranya Prathet and Poipet of Cambodia, famously known as the 'Las Vegas of the East' on December 3 where they were greeted by thousands of children waving both the Asean and India national flags.
After a continuous nine-day expedition across the region, the group took a two-night halt at the Hotel City Angkor in Siam Reap and enjoyed the much-needed, if not, deserving break. They took the opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site at the Bayon temple and Angkor Wat.
They made their way to the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh on December 5. The Brunei team was welcomed upon arrival by the Brunei Ambassador to Cambodia, Sheikh Fadillah. The official flag-off in Phnom Penh was officiated at the Independence Monument by Dr Sol< An, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia. The Ambassador of Brunei to Cambodia also attended the ceremony to show his support to the Brunei Team.
The 31-car rally entered Vietnam through the borders of Bavet/Moc Bai on December 6. A welcoming ceremony was held at the Monument Area (in front of People Committee of HCMC) and the group called it a night at the Rex Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City.
The next day, they indulged in an International' array of meals after having breakfast in Vietnam, lunch in Cambodia and dinner in Laos PDR. A mighty unusual experience for the ordinary traveller.
Once again, the flag-off ceremony began at the Reunifications Palace and ended at the Cua Khau Hoa Lu border in Vietnam followed by the Tropeang Sre, Cambodia border. They reached Lao PDR and arrived at the final destination late into the night.
Along the way to Savanakhet for a night halt, the convoy visited another UNESCO site at Wat Phou on December 8. After crossing the borders of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cambodia (2nd leg) and Lao PDR, the convoy reached its half way mark of approximately 4,000km on the way to the Vientiane. The Brunei team was warmly received by the Brunei Ambassador to Lao PDR, Dr Emran Bahar after arriving in Vientiane.
Prior to continuing their journey, the convoy decided to stop for a night halt at Sukothai, Thailand before travelling to Myanmar.
They group enjoyed a cultural evening in the City df Mandalay, Myanmar where the Second Secretary at the Brunei Embassy, Dyg Syamin Nabilah Daud attended the event hosted by the Chief Minister of Mandalay. They held their night halts in Hpaan, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and Ka Lay.
Making their final journey to India, they crossed the Moreh border and arrived at Kohima City marking the convoy's 21 night halt before arriving at their final destination In Guwahati on December 16.
The official flag-down ceremony, officiated by the Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi, was held at Guwahati. Thousands flocked to attend the grand event that began with a bike performance from the Assam Police Panthers. The finale was highlighted with the grand entrance of all participating rally cars that made the 8,000km journey across nine nations, proving the reliability of the Mahindra SUV 500.
The Asean-India Car rally proved to be a great success as the participants reached their final destination together and hence, strengthened the bilateral ties amongst the participating countries.
The ceremonial flag-down will be held on December 21 in New Delhi. Leaders from the Asean countries and India will be attending the event.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin