Wednesday, March 26, 2008

finally, new battery

KKH - Gilgit

N 35deg 55.372'
E074deg 18.851'

we have struggle thro the wait for solving Hope Too's problem.

since we enter pakistan, i have series of bomb, in the toilet for about 10 days. charcoal pills don't work. i guess it must be india, where one month of pure vegetables and suddenly, our stomach is input with meat. only water was being released and i cannot afford to let any gas out with my pants on. u know wat i meant! my tummy is back to working condition now.

we kept hanging at islambad's supermarket because there is internet access, KFC, bookshops... we were there to do our iran visa. we met a chinese at the iran embassy. he was travelling on bicycle for 11 years and had visited 90 countries! yes! he do the chinese proud and glory! he is 40years old now.

we left islambad for KKH by taking the murree and musaffarabad road. it was a mountainous road where the kismir azad mountain is just on our right side. Hope Too finally go on strike. it stopped working no matter what and how much i raise it's pay or try to negotiate with. it was then towed to the village of pagwadi where the mechnic of desiel engine was. they got no idea of how my motorbike works. just playing a guessing game that this and that was faulty. all our belongings were in their workshop and it was getting late. my life is in their hand. they could do anything to me since Hope Too is not working and our luaggage are all over.

Sam went to the nearby toilet of Mr Muna's home. she was captured by the ladies there to be their guest as i was struggling below at the workshop to figure out why Hope Too is not working.
after changing my rectifyer, starter relay switch and fuel pump, they found out that the battary is faulty. late at night, one of them took a bus to the nearest town, rawalpini, about 2hours away to source a new battary for me.
i intend to change a new battery b4 the trip but i was advised by the x-owner that he just installed a new one! well, thats the game i have to play. i hope that it is only the battary fault, and not about coil and other engine parts!

Mr Muna requested us to stay at their house. at this point of time, we were force to trust them as we have no where to go.

the guest room was beautiful. after some introduction about the family back ground, we stayed on till my bike is settled. we were served with food and drinks and bedding. they are so nice and sincer people that we have ever met. we wanted to get a cup of tea and pay for it but the payment was refused! they are paying for my food,tea, and everything u can think of! they are treating me as a guest instead of a customer or a visitor!

people here treat us like a human. it's a very conservative society here. i was introduced to everyone in the village. it was not like what we see on TV!!!!

Mr Muna said: 'i will be responsible for the safety and will help u solve your problems till the end. you can stay here as long as you want. '
they are truely helping me out, discussing about my problems everynight. keeping us company, afraid that we will be lonely. when comes to money matter, some also step in to help. some said: 'if you do not have enough $, i can help u!

mr muna, shazard, adnan and sohoil (2 little boys), umer, paki, khan, anser, adnan, liaqat, zafar, babas, navee and many many nice people! Narzi, yasmine, sune, mdm tanzeem, masala and all the ladies in the house, thank you!

on the day of leaving, Sam hugged every ladies in the house to say goodbye. everyone, including me drop our tears. they were really nice and it's hard to part after 2 weeks of stay.

it's fate. i really met the nicest people in this world. not long after my stay, we recived news about the bomb at Islamabad, supermarket, where we frequent hang around.

thanks god.

now we are at the 8th wonder of the world: karakurum highway (KKH), gilgit. the roads are tough. we can only travel 200km maximum per day, about 7-8hours, then i will recive a super back ache!
the KKH is about 1000km up to the China/pakistan border. then we have to come down the same way because the alternative route is not safe as advice by the locals due to political reasons. we do not know what will happen next or when the next rock will fall on us. the mountain are changing every seconds. studies and research of this range is that the mountain is moving up north 5cm annually. the meeting point of 2 big asian earth plate is meeting here and it is constantly moving. snowing at part of the highway.

we r fine now. our pakistani visa expires on 15 april. we have to do a 'time extension' on our visa to get to iran safely and on time.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

sucide bomb at Lahore.

4th march, we rode to the passport office to collect our passport for visa extension.along an usual road, there was a massive jam, which there is no cause to it. after collection, we try to get to canel road, near the mall intersection, was closed. along canel road, it was very quiet where all the traffic was being diverted.
5th march, we got up early to set off to islamabad. we recived a SMS from Sam Leong that sucide bomb has occur at the mall road yesterday. goshg..... we are close! thanks Sam Leong, giving us accurate news.
Islamabad was a quiet city thou it is the capital of pakistan. here.. we are listening to news about that Mas S. that escaped from the prison in singapore.

we plan to go up karakurum on coming sunday.

don't worry folks, we are still alive.

Monday, March 3, 2008


at last. at last.
border at india side was much straight forward. it's more systematic than the nepal-india border. maybe it's managed by the singhs. going to pakistan also easy. the immigration office is very high tech. the officers are VERY friend. they do no harm and do not have any intention on us. along the way to find lodging, we met passerby, taxi driver, road user, policemen. they came out and help us without asking for anything in return. at first the taxi driver came to help us, we thought that he want to bring us to a hotel and get commission but he showed us the way and said bye bye. some bikers also brought and escort us along the road. one man on a tuktuk jumped out of his seat at the traffic light, walked towards me and gave me a handshake saying: welcome to Pakistan. one businessman just came out of his car and help us to talk to the locals and when we are done, he gave us a handshake and went off.
the policemen gave us a road direction written on arabic.

as soon as we saw KFC, we rush in without checking into the hotel. we are craving for meat and fried chicken for long long time! the KFC engaged the mute and deaf to work at the front counter, which was really nice. i parked Hope Too outside KFC and went in to eat peacefully with this man shown on picture. he is the security guard, holding a pistol. the KFC is pretty small, about 2 times of a 7-11 and yet, security is up to standard.

these policemen sincerly helped us. they held high tech equipments. unlike other police officer we met at other countries, they really really on the ball.

generally, quite safe today, at Lahore. we need to get a longer visa as we were issued only 15days visa from the Paki embassy in singapore.

now our location:

N 31deg 34.551'

E074deg 20.035'

Sunday, March 2, 2008

at amritsar

so many things to see at amritsar. esp the show time at the Wagar boder. the border security forces of india are train to hate the forces at Pakistan. it's so happening that it was like a both side of stadium, both countries cheering for each other. the guards will perform high kicks and amazing stunt to out run each the guard from the other side.

other than this, the golden temple was amaing. it was truely an eye opener for us and to see how unite the sikh community is. we were very touched by them.

not forgetting how india gain it's independance, many innercent people were killed in this garden by the british. we watched the show 'Ghandi' and understood more about the effort put into independance. we really hope that the faith of india will carry on, as 50 years back, how they gain independance and carry on.

Fund Raising

dear friends,

we been to the golden temple. hereby we seek your help in buying our Sikh pendend. i cleanse it with the water in the golden temple. we are letting it off at SGD$100.00.
please leave me a message and i will get the pendent to sent to you.
thank you.

u can help us, else don't disturb us.

India so far, we been to 3 states. best is punjab and rajastan.

You can help us or else don’t disturb us.

It’s always the case where after a long and tiring ride, where we are hungry for food and lodging, we will search for a guest house for Hope Too and a cheap one. I will leave Sam and Hope Too outside while I enter to the reception to enquire about the room rates and parking facility. I have to make it quick because we are tired and Sam is outside, looking after the bike and have to endure the crowd. Those that will approach us to introduce a place for stay are commission earners and we will end up paying almost double. Others that approached will try to feel and touch Hope Too and try to ask about its’ capabilities. We are very tired and always, no one cares about how we feel. Lost in a foreign land, hungry and tired, the crowd still tries to disturb us. It can be very irritating, especially when the town is jammed, we have to squeeze through every road user and wait patiently behind the long queue while Hope Too will switch on its’ hair dryer.

Case 1:

It’s at Allahabad, 2nd day of Chinese New Year where we first taste the feel of the real Indian highway from Varanasi, about 150km away. We reached the town in about 2 and half hours and start to ask the local about the name of the guest house we intend to stay. Every instruction from the local leads us deeper into the town and of course, the jam and crowd gets heavier. At last I gave up the intended lodging and try one that has a gate parking by the main street. It’s really a busy street and the ‘magnet’ is very strong in Allahabad. Sam went up to enquire about the room rates while I try to manage the crowd. Sam did not see the room that they quoted because it is not safe for her to follow the man into the room alone. While I was parking my bike into the garage, the crowd was so packed that I’m shouting for Sam to help me steer Hope Too. It was a hard time. It became peaceful when the gate shuts down and we are in the compound. Being set at 300IRP for a double room, we were pretty satisfied but once we entered the room, it was the WORST that we ever stayed in India. It’s their business style. When we are lost and tired, business man will try to make this opportunity to earn more from our weakness. I read the ‘Room Rates’ board after bathing, knowing that we are staying at a 100IRP standard room! The worker’s domarity is much better and cleaner than what we are staying at. Well, it’s part of the game.

We are careless, it’s our fault.

Case 2:
Reaching Kanpur from Allahabad, 200km away, we get to know a place to stay through some research from internet. We reached Kanpur quite early, about 11am. It took us one hour to get to the Alibaba guest house and parking facility was not secured. We have to search of an alterntive one. After another one hour or so of struggle in the town, we managed to get the cheapest available. It was SHIV DAYAL THE HOTEL. 111A/4, G.T. Road, Ashok Nagar, Kanpur (Near Gumti No.5 Gurudwara) Ph.: 0512-2541980, 2541357. Fax: +91-512-2552335. Email:
Mr Dharmendra Kackar was at the desk when we enquire about the rates. He gave me a sheet of Fact & Tariff Sheet and I chose the cheapest Deluxe Room, double occupancy, it states 700. We were brought to room number 204. We wanted to pay for the room first but he will say ‘it’s okie, pay when you check out’. Every time I walked pass the reception, they are real friendly, greeted me, crack jokes and refuse to get payment from me. Hope Too was much secured as she was privately being sent to the rear gate where the key to the gate is only held by the reception.

When we checked out on 10 February 2008 0900hrs, Mr Dharmendra was out of the town and Mr S.N. Chaturvedi was taking care of the payment. He claimed that we are staying in an Executive Room and it was 1200. I refreshed him that when we checked in yesterday, we requested a 700 room from Mr Dharmendra. Chaturvedi said ’yes, 700 per person, with luxury tax and service charges, it is 1380, that come out to be about 700 per person. Also it’s impossible for you to stay in the deluxe room because it is full yesterday!’ He kept repeating and repeating the same sentence while I tried to explain how Dharmendra agree on the 700 room rate. Chaturvedi voice turns louder into an aggressive tone. I was surrounded by his staff. At this point of time, I was in their hand. Sam was in the room, Hope Too was locked in the garage, and I have to pay what ever the bill states. After handling the cash to him, he smiled at me and gave me a hand shake. Chaturvedi was fast and able to switch his mind and words when ever I caught him into any loop hole for charging me double.

From this incident, we learned a very hard lesson. Pay when we check in and get the receipt. I would strongly request the Tourism Cooperation Development of India to look into this matter seriously. It was a real burn out in our wallet.

We are again careless. It’s our fault.

Case 3:

We are in Agra, where this City holds the world’s number one world heritage, Taj Mahal. We asked a few locals about the direction to Taj Mahal. Even they do not understand the English language that I was trying to say but at least to know the word Taj Mahal from my mouth. As usual, a few will try to shout at me when we ride pass, I decided to ask the direction from this guy. I tried to say the word Taj Mahal in different volume for 5 times and he pointed to an opposite direction (which I realized later). It led us to a totally off road, under construction, dusty, humid and jammed road which injure Hope Too. I tried to ask a few again, some speaking very good English and started to point left and right. Well, we are definitely NOT SMART enough to believe on who we choosed to ask direction from.

It’s our fault.

Case 4:

We pitched a tent in one of the guest houses in Agra; we paid 100IRP per night to use their lawn. It was running 4°C at night and it was really cold sleeping in the tent. We have to save $. We saved more from cooking our own meals. The vegetables were running out and we decide to ride Hope Too without its side panniers to the town to replenish the stocks.

As usual, we stopped at a small lane where there are lots of vegetables sellers laying their products on the floor. Sam was with Hope Too, about 3 meters where I squat down to choose potatoes from the old lady. As I was choosing, a kind man took away the potatoes from my hand saying the ones that I had chosen was not good. He helped me to choose a few good ones. I only need to buy half kilogram of it and he said no, at least one kilogram. I thought to myself, maybe it’s a wholesale market and they do not sell in smaller quantities, and to support the old lady’s business. I choosed one kilogram of potatoes and one kilogram of beans. There laid another stall, selling different vegetables, manned by an old man. I chose tomatoes and chye sim. This kind man helped me to choose and the same theory applies, at least one kilogram, quoted by this kind man. I asked the old man in total how much it cost by using hand signal, he said ‘paach’, which means 5IRP of all of this. This kind man translated to me ‘ten rupees’. I have a quick thought, maybe he just wants to earn a 5IRP of commission from me, which is ok or 5IRP for tomatoes and chye sim. I handed 10IRP out and grabbed the plastic bags. The kind man stopped me, saying, ‘10IRP of tomatoes, and 10IRP for chye sim. Total 20IRP.’ Immediately something is wrong with this kind man@!#@! While I was battling with the kind man, Sam was really really busy keeping the hands from the bunch of the kids from molesting and triggering the switches of Hope Too. I was a mass. The crowd in growing bigger. Many passer by wants to see how I buy vegetables and some kids starts to touch me, which I alerted my rear pocket, having my daily cash in it. It was a mass. Upon paying 20IRP to the old man, which is supposed to be 5IRP, I returned to the old lady’s stall and pay for the potatoes and beans that has been chosen. I asked the old lady ‘how much’ and showed her hand signal. She said ‘paach’, which means 5. This kind man followed me and said ‘ten rupees’. At this time of situation, it really pissed me off and set my coal ignited. Sam was busy with the kids, I was pestered with this kind man, and the heavy crowd was surrounding us with thousands of eyes. I told the man to go away. He quietly walked back into the crowd. It’s now between me and the old lady. I handed 5IRP to her and she gave me the Indian head shake, means ok. I told myself ‘is it too cheap even she just wants 5IRP for all of these?’ I digged my wallet out for some extra coins to gave her, 5IRP. For a second, she refuses but after some shouting from the crowd, she accepted about 3-4 of the 5IRP coins. It’s ok for me to pay her more since she does not have the intention to charge me extra. It’s the kind man, which is pestering me off!

Lesson learned: there are Robin Hoods in the town. The vegetable sellers really pure people.

Case 5:

After buying the vegetables, I was quite happy but the crowd was still there. Kids are still touching Hope Too as I shooo them off. In the crowd, a young man in brown shirt held his camera out and wants to take picture of us. I jokingly told him ’50 rupees for me with the bike’. He replied ‘200 rupees to take a picture of her (my wife Sam) and bike’. That was humiliating! I just wanted to be friendly with the locals and they replied in a humiliating way. I said ‘No. No photos then. Go away.’ When I started Hope Too and Sam got on behind, the kids just kick and bang Hope I said ‘No. No photos then. Go away.’ When I started Hope Too and Sam got on behind, the kids just kick and bang Hope Too’s rear case. Sam turned around to warn the kids not to do it and as I accerated, I could feel some restricting. Feels like they are pulling Hope Too. I heard some shouting from Sam and I stopped after 5 meters of travel. She said that brown shirt guy pinched her bottom. I got down, run back to the crowd, smiling and waving, ‘who wants to take a picture? Photos? Photos?’ as I was searching for that guy in brown. Nothing. Crowd was dismissed because the police jeep arrived. In the jeep, seated 5 policemen. I tried to tell them by touching the police backside and said ‘my wife, my wife’ and pointed to the direction to the crowd. Guess what he does? Immediate action for the police is he made a phone call using his cell phone. Seems like not getting through the line. Then still at his seat along with 4 others, I pointed to the direction of that brown shirt guy, which was behind the jeep and rubbed the policeman’s backside. He asked me to keep quiet and he talked to a local kid. Misunderstanding the situation that my wallet has been stolen, I gave up and rode away with Sam and Hope Too.

Lesson learn:
a) Even it is a stolen wallet, why was the 5 policemen’s immediate action was to make a phone call? Was the phone call made for asking back up forces for this minor case where 5 strong policemen were sitting on the jeep all the way?
b) Don’t try to be smart to outrun or to be friendly with them.

Case 6:

I was walking passed a group of auto-rickshaw drivers, taking their break by playing cards. They are Mr A, B, C and D. Mr A saw me having a tobacco stick on my mouth and opened his mouth ‘HALOW! YOU! HAAALOOW! My friend (Mr B) wants a bide (the tobacco stick).’ Without thinking much, I just handed one to him and A passed it to B while B was busy with cards. I joked with a ‘two rupees’, smiling at my best. B told A something and asked him to return the bide to me. I told him I was just joking and I’m sure he can have it. All the while B did not have eye contact with me. He accepted the bide without saying anything. Suddenly, Mr C turned to me, shouted at me which he was sitting less than one meter from me ‘DO YOU HAVE A LICENCE TO SELL BIDE?!!?? WHERE IS YOUR LICENCE?!’ I was stunned! The tone is exactly like as if I got a warning from my primary school discipline teacher! The group continued their game.

Lesson learned: again, don’t try to outrun, be friendly, and be kind to them. It’s my fault.

Case 7:
At Pushkar, the holy village, I was riding Hope Too through a small barricade, just missing 2cm from its side panniers. On the side, which was the opposite direction, 3 motorbikes were queuing up to get through another gate. After we squeezed through the gate, I stopped and adjust some switches, which no vehicle was behind me and I was not obstruction anyone. The first motorbike among the 3 that was queuing to get through the gate on the opposite direction, stopped and appreciate Hope Too, causing 2nd and 3rd bike to stop and jammed up. The rider of the 2nd bike shouted fiercely at me ‘YOUUUU. HALOWW. YOU GO! DON’T STOP HERE!!’ I wasn’t causing his jam; it’s the first bike that caused it!
Lesson learn, there is no right of way. I am in fault again by attracting attention from the first bike, making him stop and jammed the place.

Enough for lesson learned. Day after, I shall share with all of you, the really nice side of people I have met. They just helped me without asking for any returns. I will be at Pakistan then. Hope the internet connection will be cheap.