The Adventures of a Rovernut
Text by Angel Rivero| Photos by Kiefer Carrascal
There’s something quite extraordinary about being a Rovernut – yes, it’s Rover + Nut, implying “nuts over Land Rovers”, or possibly even alluding to “Land Rover grease monkeys” with Nut, as in “nuts and bolts”. Whichever way you look at it, one thing is for sure – the passion for these awesome vehicles serves as the glue, which binds these enthusiasts in camaraderie and the ceaseless itch for adventure.
Such are the ties and LR enthusiasm of these motor-heads, that what once started as a casual invite by a group of Filipino Rovernuts, to come congregate and drive in the Philippines for some off-road fun, eventually spun-off into an annual event, eagerly hosted by a neighboring country each time, and since then, dubbed the yearly “Land Rover Festival”, for and by the Rovernuts.
Yes, the first two Land Rover Festivals of this kind were held in the Philippines in 2011 & 2013! The latter saw an army of Land Rovers cruise right through Crow Valley in Capas, Tarlac towards Mount Pinatubo, and farther across the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, towards the Pacific Ocean in Baler, Aurora. Over 20 Land Rover enthusiasts came from Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Bahru & Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand to participate in the event. In 2014, the Rovernuts Festival was hosted in Malaysia for the first time as the Malaysians were yearning to boast of the size of the Land Rover following in their country. More than 28 Land Rovers from all across Asia joined the festival, whose main feature was the 300km trip from Kuala Lumpur to the tea plantations up in Cameron Highlands.
To date, the latest Rovernuts saga was the 2015 Land Rover Festival celebrated in Thailand last 13-16 November. There, Rovernuts from Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia ,and Malaysia took their Defenders over to congregate for an epic adventure that would last for four days. A total of around 500 enthusiasts with their families and friends came over to participate in about 92 Defenders from different decades. It was quite like an immersive museum, a crowd-sourced, land-travel experience, and a cultural exchange all at the same time.
The kick-off of this massive expedition took place at the Vananava Jungle Water Park in Hua Hin Thailand. Here, the former Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Khun Suwat Liptapanlop gave his welcome remarks and expressed both his gratitude for the visitors who came, and his eagerness for the driving exploits that were to come. After a tour and photo ops at the water park, the convoy then proceeded to the historical Ratchapak King’s Memorial Park – a park made in honor of the Kings of Siam, from the Sukhothai to the Rattanakosin era. The park featured the statues of seven kings, with each tower standing at a height of about 13.9 meters. This entire park is built on 222 Rai of Royal Thai Army land, and it overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. Finally, the train of Defenders settled at the Thanatthicburi Lake Resort & Spa, where an amazing welcome party was hosted at the Land Tanaosri Ranch. It was a fiesta of Rover Culture, epic Rover stories, and plain ol’ Rover Love.
The following day, the squadron of Defenders traveled to Kanchanaburi – a town in the western part of Thailand. There, they paid a visit to the iconic black iron bridge over the River Kwai, historically purchased from Java by the Japanese, as part of the Death Railway linking Thailand to Burma. Naturally, the visitors continued to explore the rest of Death Railway, and stopped for lunch at a raft restaurant on the River Kwai. A scenic river cruise was part of the agenda. At the end of the day, participants checked in to the Felix River Kwai Resort, but didn’t call it a night without first congregating for their annual RoverNuts meeting. Meetings like these are held with a Rovernuts rep from each participating country to talk about the following years’ Land Rover Festivals, and any additional activities that are tailored for the Rovernuts family.
The next day, the Rovernuts convoy drove towards Ban Kaeng Pralam, another nature-filled, scenic point in Kanchanaburi. They then made their way to Muang Sing Historical Park, a park in Sai Yok District that preserves the remains of two Khmer Temples dating back to the 13th & 14th centuries. Here, they were assisted by a professional tourist guide who provided interesting commentary along the way. Later that evening, the group assembled at the Aekpailin River Kwai Hotel, still in Kanchanburi, where the farewell party of the 2015 Land Rover Festival Thailand was to be held.
And since an extraordinary bunch deserved nothing less than an extraordinary finale, the Rovernuts farewell party was celebrated ala-Loi Krathong on the River Kwai! Loi Krathong is a festival wherein people gather around lakes, rivers, and canals in order to pay their respects to the goddess of water. They do this beautifully, by releasing pretty, lotus-shaped rafts decorated with candles and incense and flowers to float over the bodies of water! This is usually performed on the night of the 13th lunar month (usually in November) when the full moon lights up the sky.After simple gifts and respective thanks were given to all, the metaphoric “torch” was then passed on to Indonesia, now officially the next host for the 2016 Land Rover Festival, to be held in none other than breathtaking Bali!
Truly, the possibilities are limitless. With a passion for adventure, good friends, and these formidable beasts we like to call “Land Rovers”, what voyages on roads least traveled can’t be pursued?
*The Rovernuts would like to thank the ASEAN Economic Council, all Singgah, and of course, the ‘Land Are Friends’ group, for organizing this wonderful Land Rover Festival 2015 in Thailand