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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by s4dreamer, Sep 24, 2019.
27 February 2019, United States Embassy, Singapore.
We joined the snaking queue of 25 interviewees who, to my surprise, were being interviewed openly at counters 4 to 6, much like a bank queue. 3 interviewing officers seated behind glass barriers were heard through mics amplifying their voices.
A well-dressed lady was pressed which airport in California would she be landing in and had to be specific. “There is no California airport,” said the officer. “San Francisco,” she corrected herself. “Your case will be pending,” said the officer.
"Do you have supporting materials of your previous travel through Iran? "Do you have any other family members in the United States?" A tattooed guy was asked, and told, “As you have no new supporting materials since your previous rejected application, I’m afraid we cannot approve your visa.” The embassy officer had a crew cut and military bearing, a straight back and looked strict. Perhaps he was a CIA officer, like in the movies.
Another applicant, a mum from China who was travelling to visit, was conversing in Chinese with a third embassy officer wearing rimmed glasses. He looked most relaxed, like he belonged in a hostel perusing The Washington Post than visa applicants’ supporting documents. I had hoped he would interview Debbie and me.
People’s hopes and dreams of travel to the United States were being approved efficiently or crushed professionally and politely before us, and within half an hour, our turn was up, to Mr CIA Officer’s counter.
“What is your purpose of travel to the United States?” asked Mr CIA.
“We are travelling to Denver to buy 2 motorcycles to travel the world for a few years,” I mustered.
“Years?” Brows raised, MR CIA scrutinised us.
“6 continents, and we are returning to the United States to discharge the Carnet De Passage at the end,” I offered, hoping to score a multiple-entry visa, although plans were flexible.
“What do you mean? 4 to 6 years? So you are buying a motorcycle in Denver?”
“2 motorcycles,” I corrected.
“And you are travelling to?” I knew we had Mr Strict Officer’s attention now. We were two shabbily dressed chaps in dry-fit sports T shirts and old pants who did not fit in the queue of young men with pressed long sleeved shirts and ladies in dresses and handbags slung off a shoulder, but we had broken the morning's routine.
“We are riding to Argentina first,” I offered. “Then we may ride to Alaska,” Debbie interjected. “Then we are going to Europe and Africa, and Asia and Australia,” I continued.
“But you do not need a visa,” he questioned.
“We are flying in on 1 way tickets,” I responded.
“Have you applied for visas for South America? How are you bringing the motorcycles back to the United States? It is expensive?” I knew we were being probed on our story, and I could answer confidently. We had read too many ride reports on ADV forum.
“We don’t need visas for South America. Except the African countries. Air freight. Maybe 3 thousands dollars. Per vehicle, depending on distance.” I searched for answers, and found them.
“What is your income?” I was hoping to avoid this question as our declared income as freelance English tutors was not high. Trying to side-step the question, we presented our savings bonds and explained we were funding our trip with rent from our 3 bedroom public housing flat and savings, and had a flat to return to at the end. Mr Strict Officer nodded.
“And bank statements?” asked Mr Strict Officer, and we complied. He looked between us and a laptop screen and moments passed. We had showed our hand and had no more supporting materials to prove we were not going to be illegal job seekers in the United States. It had took us 10 years of working and saving to get to this point. It was done now. The queue was probably listening to the other stories unfolding before them and more moments passed. I was beginning to be concerned. Debbie whispered, suggesting to show our travel blogs.
“Ok, your visa is approved. You can collect it in a week.” And just like that, we were done.
The border dance with immigration and customs had begun, and we were gently eased into the rhythm with a 10-year multiple entry visa.
Congratulations on successful Visa experience.
When do you plan to arrive Denver ?
Add the Tent Space List to your contact info file should you need advice, help or place to stay during your travels.
By the Way, Advrider inmate Jamie Z who keeps the List current lives in Denver.
Good contact for local info and help finding moto's.
I'm on the List, stop by when you get to California.
Yeah, what @holckster said. Tent Space'ers are usually an extremely useful/valuable resource not to be ignored. (we're on the list too...about 45 minutes from downtown Denver)
Along with a copy of Jamies way for cheap travel in the USof A
Brilliant plan, what could go wrong? How you meet the challenges presented will determine the success of your trip as well as how much fun you manage to have.
Thank you! We are arriving late October and will hang around Denver till early November, with some flights to meet some of the Adv heroes who inspired our trip preparations over the past years. We're hoping to meet Striking Viking too, so we do want to go to California. Maybe we'll get to meet you too! By chance we got in touch with Jamie for the past year, and I realized he keeps the Tent Space List and coincidentally lives in Denver where our friend who we have never met is helping us receive parts at the moment. What a small world!
We'll try out the Tent Space and see how it goes.
The planning which was essential to making preparations is now complete, and the plan has been discarded as we are responding to unexpected events already happening. Stay tuned
Downsize our space. Upsize our lives.
15 March 2019, Singapore
"We are all accumulating mountains of things," commented Mark A. Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. I concur with his statement. More often than not, many of us would just pick up that cheap $2 USB cable or that $3 pair of socks without stopping to ponder how many of those items we already have in our abodes.
"Oh my gosh! I didn't know I have that!" A familiar remark that resonates with many of us while doing our customary spring cleaning just before Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving and other festive seasons.
Kelvin and I had to do more than that. We have to do a massive reduction of stuff as we have rented out our entire matrimonial home (a 4-room HDB public housing flat) and moved into a small room elsewhere that is probably half the size of a typical common room. The flat rental was done in advance to allow ample lead time for any contingencies that may crop up. Our space has been downsized at a moment's notice given the fast take-up of our flat.
Just when you think that new room is small, hold your horses! Our space will be downsized further in 7 months' time. We will only have the space of two motorcycles to transport whatever worldly possessions that we need. We will be travelling the world in 7 months' time which is in October 2019.
Do I feel unhappy with less possessions? It is a resounding no. On the contrary, I no longer feel laden. I feel that my life has been upgraded with an increased capacity to load up with experiences that I will gather on this upcoming world tour that do not clamour for space and last for a lifetime.
I will strive to be a hoarder of life's experiences, but a minimalist for space and stuff.
6 weeks out... and this happened to me! - Debbie
This reminds me of Ewan McGregor who fractured his ankle 6 weeks before Long Way Down. Debbie also did a Lasik surgery 2 years prior to this trip, just like Ewan. But the similarities end here. We have no support van; we're just like all the inmates on this forum - kelvin
19 September 2019, Singapore
I just received the radiology/X-ray report and discovered that I have a tailbone fracture just a month out from my trip. It is caused by my carelessness of not putting the side stand properly and the entire bike fell on top of me. I landed on my buttock on the hard ground at the Jurong Point Shopping Centre car park 2 weeks ago.
When something like this happens, it is all too easy to panic as our minds are too overwhelmed by the life situation and it is difficult to cognitively calm ourselves down and act rationally.
I chose to calm down while being confined to the ground and being unable to get up at that moment as I was pinned down by the bike. Swiftly, there was a kind & strong man who lifted the bike off me. Then, he proceeded to lift me up and place me on a chair that belonged to the car wash shop nearby.
The employee at the car wash shop fretted over my well being as well as the man who assisted me. At that moment, I felt so lucky to be surrounded by helpful people.
After a while, I was able to get back on my feet and walk normally again. Then, I proceeded to go up to the condominium that is located above the shopping centre to give tuition.
Throughout the rest of the day, I tried to focus on what I was supposed to do, and was able to carry on working as per normal and help with my students' impending national exams.
It is often far too easy to fall prey to our storytelling minds. Of course, I am not saying that we should ignore our pain. In fact, we should embrace them and know that they are there and seek medical intervention when needed. However, we should not allow our minds to continue to ruminate on all the possible scenarios and cloud our judgement.
Most certainly, I did seek medical attention and was told that the bone will heal on its own in 2-4 weeks' time. I have to ensure that I don't fall again and take Arcoxia for the next 2 weeks. Fingers crossed! Lol!
How did we save up for a planned 4 to 6 years World Tour?
I know you're a little curious about how we funded our trip, and some of you might be planning your own. So we'll let you in on our secret. Our trip is fully self-funded through good old fashioned hard work and a little financial planning. 10 years ago in 2009, I started out as a secondary school English teacher and Debbie worked in the IT sector as an accounts manager. To increase income, we gave English tuition on the side before we finally both became self-employed English tutors.
For the past 10 years, Debbie and I worked 7 to 12 hours daily, travelling around Singapore on our motorcycles to students' homes. We were paid by the tuition hours. During slight lulls in November and December, we had a couple off days for the year as students graduated or went on holidays. We used those days to learn bike maintenance at a friend's motorcycle repair shop to save on bike maintenance costs for the trip. We also made cross border day trips to Malaysia to shop for half a years' worth of supplies to save money. A typical evening or night's off during a regular week was dinner at the food court and seldom a restaurant meal. We planned our lives around our work to maximise savings.
Home was a public housing 4 room (3 bedroom) HDB flat with HDB loan bought 6 years before trip departure and we rented out the 2 common bedrooms in the last 4 years for SGD $500 each, sacrificing privacy for rental income and generating SGD $1000 monthly (USD $730). A partition wall separated the hall, providing a little privacy from the tenants but restricting space.
Chinese New Year gathering in 2019
On 15 Feb 2019, we engaged contractors to knock down the partition wall and prepared to rent out our entire home. We will be renting a room for ourselves somewhere else for the last 7 months or so in Singapore. Living with strangers and sometimes being accommodating with communal living raised more than SGD $50k over the years. The home rental will help fund part of our trip along the way.
Our wedding solemnization in October 2013 was at the Singapore Flyer with 23 family members and close friends, followed by a simple wedding lunch. We did not host a banquet dinner like most Chinese do to cut costs. There was 1 rented wedding gown and suit and a studio photoshoot.
Our home was simply furnished with IKEA furniture and the cheapest electrical appliances we could find, including display sets. There were neither interior designers, nor any custom built furniture except the kitchen. Besides her piano and our possessions, Debbie eventually sold her wedding ring in December 2018, since it would either attract attention on the trip, become prone to theft in the hotel room or be left behind in Singapore in someone else's cupboard for years.
We rode our Yamaha 2004 FZ6-S motorcycles for 11 years, bought second hand. We did not change new motorcycles, and we did not go on holidays in the last 6 years after our honeymoon trip, except for the odd motorcycle trip to Malaysia or two. Not going for holidays was only partially about saving money. The truth was that we were target-fixated on the big trip and did not think we would enjoy a holiday anyway, since any holiday was "not the big trip" and eats into funds we were saving for the trip we wanted to make.
There are different ways to fund a trip. Some travellers sell their homes and all their possessions, returning home when funds run out and they start from scratch again. Others work along the way while travelling, and yet others fund their trip with other passive income sources like pensions or investments. For the average Singaporean household with a HDB flat or a car, or both, or the hardworking Joe moonlighting a 2nd job on the weekends, the financial challenge of raising enough funds for a world tour is not insurmountable. Given enough years, most people in developed countries can raise enough because of currency strength and job or business opportunities. Many people have travelled the world on USD $10k to 15k per year per person and upwards, inclusive of air or sea freight of motorcycles and air tickets. Round the world trips have lasted anywhere from a year or two to 15 to 20 years or more. There is a budget and duration for everyone depending on comfort level.
The biggest obstacles to planning for and going for a big trip are not always financial. It's the attachment to family members left behind, having elderly parents to care for, health reasons, life choices like children to take care of and worry about restarting their jobs, career or business after trip completion that hold many back from going on a multi-year trip. Not everyone is interested in a trip that lasts for years, just as we are not interested in climbing Everest because we're not climbers. For those who are interested in travel stories or yearn for the open roads, we'll update this blog to share our travel stories along the way. If raising money is the last obstacle in your preparation for a big trip, I hope you might find a useful tip or two in this update. As one world traveller RTWPaul said, "If it's in you, you'll find a way".
WOW. What a story. Start slowly, plan your plan, enjoy the scenery.... can't wait for more!!
The plan has been discarded. The scenery and people and food I am looking forward to
14 October 2019, 1 week to Departure.
Some 5 months back, I wrote an email in 15minutes, deciding to try my luck at seeking some sponsorships for apparel and motorcycle equipment. I did not believe anyone would sponsor us, and since I did not had anything to lose but my time, I edited the 1st and 4th paragraphs of the original email to make it relevant to the 30 companies I sent the email out to, outlining our plans and our preparation work. I did not expect any replies, so I was surprised when the first proposal was agreed to within 45 minutes by a friend who was the boss of Motovation Accessory Singapore. I mean, we hardly talked to each other over the past decade of showing up at the same local bike group meetups, so i hardly knew him, right? Our FB page, 2 Moto Hobos was only 5 months old, with a couple hundred followers, less than some of our secondary school students Insta following, and our Insta Page was almost non existent. And then the 2nd company responded.
So we picked up 4 pairs of Resurgence jeans with D3O armor, courtesy of Ban Hock Hin Motorsports, the local Yamaha Authorised Dealer and distributor for Resurgence jeans.
And then JR Pte Ltd sponsored us 2 Dainese Riding jackets and a pair of gloves
Our boss friend's stuff arrived in Denver where we would fly to in a week's time.
In it contained Puig Engine Guards for the 2 Cb500x we would be purchasing, 2 Puig windscreens, and 2 sets of Puig Handguards. We would fly the Tsubaki Racing Chain ourselves. Alvin's company is the distributor for these products.
And then Chong Aik International Pte Ltd gave us Cardo Freecom4+ comms sets for voice activated communications up to 1.2km
And even threw in a generous discount for our 2 Shoei helmets. We had been long time Shoei customers for 10 years, and Chong Aik has been the local Shoei distributor far longer.
The first Singaporean couple (and only one till date at the point of writing) Goh Mia Chun and Samantha Pan who successfully travelled around the world helped us with Power of Attorney services for our HDB flat for rental supervision. He had also assisted us in preparing for our trip with advice. We are carrying his Tree Works Safety equipment online store sticker on our windscreens. So those of you tree house owners and tree works and gardening enthusiasts do take note of www.TreeStore.io
Friends like Chris Chen lent us motorcycles as we sold our 15 year old motorcycles in prepation for departure
And a friend who we have never met, Ismail Jasman also lent us a motorcycle.
This was the mechanic friend who taught us how to perform basic maintenance over the past 5 years, from the time when he was still an employee at a shop, and he believed in us from 5 years ago. He is now the boss of Panjang Garage, a motorcycle repair shop.
The journalist Zaihan Mohamed Yusof for the local newspapers, The Straits Times, interviewed us.
We are very grateful for the support we have received. Some friends said we should beware of Americans who might cut us up with a chainsaw, that Mexican cartels are dangerous, that black Africans are scary and would not help us. They said the world was a dangerous place. They asked us how was such a trip possible, and some wondered if we were only going away for a month or two. Others felt we were fortunate to have a chance to do this trip, which we agree. A few asked how did we get so much sponsorships and a newspaper article when we had not went anywhere. I joke with them that I am good at bragging and shooting my mouth off.
Now we have a flight to catch in a week.
I have wondered for a long time how it would feel like, to be at this point. 12 years to be precise, since reading Angola, It's not like they said, and Striking Viking's ride report. I have read more reports than I can remember. I have performed basic bike maintenance works in my dreams, learnt cooking and talked endlessly with Debbie about the trip plans. Now there is a sense of calm. We bid our time. Its drawing near. Just a little more.
On social media we will influence people to believe that people are inherently compassionate, and inspire them to live their dreams and their lives to the fullest, regardless of what their life situations are. This is the age of Instagram. But I will always remember the adv forum ride reports which kept the dream alive. I will try to seek out the Adv heroes on this forum.
17 October 2019. Just a few days to departure.
The local newspapers featured us, with a blurb on the front page. It could be that the culture of long term travel is slowly picking up in Singapore, but over where we come from, few have ventured far and long like the many ADV riders on this forum.
21 October 2019, 1 Day before Departure
I awoke this morning believing I had nothing planned, just a day for family and to do nothing. I was wrong. In the final hours before departure, a hastily put together meeting was cobbled together with the help of a stranger turned friend who reached out to us on our FB page after our story went public on the national newspapers. He had backpacked with Dr William Wan, the General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) through the Trans Siberian Highway, and they were both avid boy Scouts. A quick meetup was setup within hours and we announced the partnership with SKM, a national organization promoting kindness in Singapore. We planned to cross share content to promote kindness in Singapore and SKM offered to help us organise speaking engagements and provide manpower to organise talks to promote the said cause, while I suggested we could offer content or programs for SKM's events if they needed speakers. Dr Wan also gave us 2 books he wrote and autographed, 'Through the Valley: The Art of Living and Leaving Well' and 'My Best with Honour'. The meetup was set up rather hastily, and I turned up rather shabbily dressed for the occasion as I had been out of the house when it was scheduled
The same morning, we had also received an Instagram message from Zaihan Mohamed Yusof, the journalist. He had put up our story again, this time on The New Paper, a freely circulated national newspaper distributed in the morning to commuters at various train stations islandwide. Our friends wondered how we received so much coverage when we had not left for our trip. The feeling was mutual. Over the past weekend, we also showed up at an event, 'Pure and Crafted Festival 2019" organised by BMW Motorrad Singapore in the city centre, Suntec City Shopping Mall, where we fielded questions to a small audience of about 25 people on how to prepare for an overland journey.
A 15 hours flight lies ahead of us tomorrow from Singapore to San Francisco, with a 9 hour transit, followed by a 2 hour flight to Denver, where we will meet an American friend whom we have never met, and who had offered to help host us and assist in setting up our rides. We are 2 lucky inmates indeed! There is just one small challenge. It has started snowing early in Denver
Click below for the full article link.
Best wishes to you both, there are plenty of us here that are willing to help you out. Make sure you check the tent space thread. Safe journey!!
We have it saved on google maps. Thank you for your well wishes.