Shawn goes: And so it begins..

So here’s the thing.

I like the great outdoors and I like exploring. In tiny little regulated Singapore, there isn’t much to do.

Colin Pangolin’s answer to a question on Quora pretty much sums it up:

Hordes of Singaporeans travel out of the country every school holiday season in December and they do so pretty much every year. That says a lot about how much Singapore has to offer viz-a-viz the world at large.

Nevertheless, there are many beautiful, albeit mostly artificial, parks for nice walks and hikings. However, because of the hot climate, it is not a favourite past time amongst most Singaporeans. Most Singaporeans just visit malls to shop and eat. Pretty boring for some but that’s generally how life is here.

Bored or otherwise, nowhere is ever as comfortable as home.

Singapore may be home and it may even be comfortable and safe but there isn’t much of an adventure to be had here.

I’ve always dreamed of doing my own road trip up North (Malaysia) but I can’t afford to buy a car in Singapore, especially since that really expensive car will be spending most of its new life overseas. I could get a red plate car but honestly it probably isn’t worth the hassle either. I’ll have to do more research on that. Bikes are also probably not worth the hassle either since you can’t really carry much and it could be quite dangerous if you’re alone.

I could rent or buy a car from Malaysia and drive it on up but honestly that just leaves too many loose ends for me to handle right now. Did I get a lemon? Did I get swindled? Am I even allowed to drive a foreign vehicle through yet another foreign border?

It probably started back when I was younger, when my family would take road trips across the causeway to Malaysia. Long drives, especially along the Eastern coastal route were a special favourite. When my physically distant first cousin and her family would tag along or plan a trip and invite us along, it would be even more special.

That feeling languished as the trips rapidly dwindled to zero and my cousin and her family grew more and more distant.

Many years later, when that Top Gear Vietnam Special episode appeared, my spirits were revived and having got myself a bike license only a few months prior, the wanderlust was rekindled.

Something about the nakedness of riding a bike makes you feel connected to your surroundings somehow. It could be an epic adventure on the road to freedom, on the cheap.

There was just one problem. I couldn’t sell anyone on my idea of adventure. Either they wanted a proper plan or they simply didn’t have the time or the interest.

8 years later, I’ve finally had enough waiting for someone to get it on the plan.

2016 was an interesting year for me with a lot of time spent overseas. Still, it wasn’t the adventure that I craved. My Maldives trip in April was an exploratory fishing expedition (that sounds much better than “I tried fishing with inexperienced guides”). It wasn’t really an adventure as our host shuttled us around from place to place and activity to activity. The island beach bbqs that we had planned never came to fruition.

Then there was the Bali work trip where thanks to some thoughtful planning by the guy who hired me, we had about half a day to muck around on rented motorbikes. This was the most free I’ve ever been so far and only further spurred me on to this solo travel thing.

Finally, there was the family trip to Melbourne where my parents decided to bring us all to Melbourne. I’m 29. This is Singapore. Don’t ask too many questions.

My year-younger brother was not able to make it so my multi-year-younger sister was the only sibling to tag along. We stayed in an AirBNB house and rented our own car and on one of the days, we made the long drive to see the Twelve Apostles. Because women’s watches and various other time keeping apparatus tend to break down in shopping centres, even if we were only at the shopping centre to have lunch, we reached those limestone pillars quite late and had to drive back in the dark.

Although we had taken the Great Ocean Road in, unbeknownst to us, our plan to take the Beech Forest Trail back home wasn’t a particularly good idea in the dark. It wasn’t exactly dangerous if you knew what you were doing but we were trying to make up for lost time because we had to wake up early the next day and we still had not eaten dinner! Despite not being able to admire the view, it was still an exciting drive and my little sister even threw up due to the twisting and winding jungle trail.

Two months or so later, back in the “office”, I met this young guy called Jerald Thio. This young “kid” was already an up and comer in our little industry but when I found out that he had already done so much travelling, I was awed. A mutual friend and colleague related to me the story of how Jerald had purchased a motorbike, travelled the country, then sold it off to another traveller for a slight profit. This guy, who had not even enlisted himself for NS yet was already more travelled than I. Perhaps crucially, was this realisation that he had already lived part of my dream.

So why this blog?

I love to document things. I like to keep information at hand. It’s not like a touchy feely sort of journal entry in a diary but I do like to have a record of my thoughts.

So finally, here I am. I’m ready to go, even if it means going it alone.

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