Saturday, January 31, 2009

troublesome visas!!!

it was a painful process. .

1st, we have to fill up a form on the computer. this form cannot be saved and it's online. after filling it up we have to print it on the spot. so we go to an internet cafe to make sure the cafe has a printer linked.

2ndly, go to the 'post office' to buy a kind of phone card that cost us$14. it is so good as described in their webpage that we can use this card to call the embassy in chile up to 8 minutes and the expiry date is 1year. the pain is, we have to find a good working phone.

3rdly. the 1st phone that we found was a littlebit soft. the chile public phone ( they specify which particular network to use) always eating up our coins. we are puting about s$0.20 per minute. we didnt standby enough coins when we call. Sam has to rush to some shops to get coins. the local shop usually dont change coins. at last, after 10minutes, i got the operator. to book for the appointment, they will ask for my name, address in chile, phone number in chile, passport number, email address. this is real hard. by spelling out my name thro this soft spoken phone, i kept shouting. we were calling by the main street and when a bus passed, i couldnt hear a thing. then they ask me which is the 1st name, the last name and blah blah. for them, its quite difficult to understand the structure of a chinese's name. don't forget, the meter is clicking. this us$14 last for 8 minutes, excluding the per minute public phone charge that Sam has to put the coins in. For the address, they need to fill in every columb. we are staying in santiago central. they wanted to know the small zone of the city. i told them santiago central and she said no, i must have it. i just bluff something out because i know it is not important. she is just being not flexible. then it comes to email address. ohhh... i have to spell everything. its hard to spell because the english pronouncation is different from the spanish. like 'V' the spanish pronuced as 'Bee'. just before anything, the public phone stop taking in coins and the line was cutted! i nearly had a stroke on the spot.

we ran across many streets to find a good working phone. again i called and made a shout over the phone for providing all the infomations again. luckily i had a better operator.

back in singapore before the trip, when Sam booked for the appointment, everything was online. isn't all the usa embassy in the world worked with the same system?

4thly, it cost us 2 x us$131 = us$262 for the visa application, regardless if the visa was approved or not. we had a US$500 travelers cheque. the next morning we set out to change the travelers cheque (TC). Sam read in a guide book (2004) that the tc could be changed easily at an address. we took a train, walked all over and found that address. no... they no longer change tc. we went to HSBC Santiago, somewhere near. along the trip when i show my tc to any bank, they refered me to go hsbc because the hsbc logo was printed on this american express tc. at hsbc, they told me that they dont change tc. go to a 'casa de cambio', a change house. we ran to that change house, its like a private owned money changer that accept tc also. the rate is very lousy as compared to the bank rates. we will lose money (about the price of one night stay in a hostel)! after running here and there, we decided to use our ATM for withdrawing the cash.

we had to go to the 'post office' again to tell buy a kind of cashier's order paid to the embassy.

5th, we prepared about 34 pages of supporting documents like:

bank account statues
my apartment's (in singapore) value
our marriage cert
my education cert
our planned route in usa
vehicle document

for male, im required to fill in another form which questions like: have you ever been specilized train in any firing arms or weapon? if yes please indicate. then another one was the list of countries i visited for the last 10 years. in the list, there is Iran and Pakistan. i hope it wouldnt be too sensitive for them that we stayed in these 2 countries for almost 3 months.

the most important and strongest document is: an air ticket.

we checked the net on LA to sydney.
cheapair.com united airline/quantas
one way: us$915 us$1400
return: never check us$1000

how come they charge cheaper for a two way tickets?

then we took a taxi to the santiago airport to purchase airticket from the desk counter of american airline. (as recommanded by a fellow biker from germany, daniel.) that is our only hope. we reached the airport at 1210hrs. that AA counter was closed. the information counter said AA has an office at the next building. we went. its closed too! com'on! its a working day and at working hour. we went back to the info counter and update her. she told us to wait till 6pm and maybe AA will open again.

dissapointed, we walked out of the airport and look for the taxi that was waiting for us. he disapeared. i went in to try other counters. not many counters are selling airticket for usa-australia. there is one: quoted an one way, that cost $1200. forget it. my plan was to go back and book from the internet.

just as we were going out, the AA counter re-opens. i think it was lunch time but they just put a label: closed.

AA quote:

one way : us$1200
return (2 ways) : us$759

we bought the 2 ways ticket and only intend to use one way.

now i have to plan my date and route very carefully. the date has been set for departure from usa to australia and the location also has been set. no 'cock ups' has to be done. if we need to change the date, it will cost us$200 per person.

on the day of interview.... cut long story short, the officer checked our passport.

'oh.. u been to pakistan. did u go to that wagah border?'

because out of intrest, this officer had beed working in pakistan and made many travels around. so he understand us.

'hmmm.. u been to iran, how do u think of it'

i replied about the people there always mistaken me as jackie chan.

the officer laughed. it wasnt so tensed as compared when sam was interviewed in singapore alone. i wasnt allowed to accompany her in because i need no a visa.

this time we applied as 'a family' and both of us was standing at the counter.

we had so many documents to show him, the only document he wanted to see was only the newspaper article. i showed him the brazilian newspaper when we were at felipe's home.

YES! we got it! it was a multiple entry visa that last for one year!

not to be too happy, their web says it doesnt mean that if we are issued a visa, we were allowed to go into usa. the officer at the actual border will determine the entry.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hope Tree.


our new Hope for the world. only if he can manage well in his own country, then he can help the rest of the world. Truely from my heart, not because of us doing the visa, we read the news about his new work in his office. the strategy that he is planning is what i was thinking about. unlike the previous, is more of into 'business'.
the world is so different now. we went to many countries and they told us about world politics, which we, singaporeans were filtered from the news, we were sad about what has happen.
new hope for the world. readers, please support him.
did u know his full name had a hussien in the middle? did u know he lived in indonesia for 4 years (had an indonesian step father)?
will tell u guys about how is our visa application results in 2 days time. we had a hard time running here and there...
still in santiago.

video

Saturday, January 24, 2009

chinese new year = we need help


new friends we met in bariloche, they were real cute and nice to me. one of the things we did along the trip is that when kids run to us and wanted to take pictures, we would. then they ask me where we came from, i would take out my world map to educated them where and what is Singapore.

pay and go in to look at the dead? com'on. my trip is about life. i would rather spend the money on buying a meal to a new friend.


one of the hotel in Bariloche, argentina. when can we get to stay a night??





the town in Bariloche, argentina.




we visited a chinese resterant in santiago. looks cool with all the chinese bosses and chinese furniture. we ordered a wan-tan. big serving of crispy fried dough and 5mm of meat?!





at bariloche, argentina








in argentina, many people came to us and talked to us. the usual questions are:

1) Q: where are you from

A: singapore

2) Q : which country did u visit?

A : blah blah......... blah..(the list of the countries).

3) Q: where do u what go?

A: blah blah blah
4) Q: what brand is the bike and how many cylinder?
A: honda. 2 cyliner.


bye!


many people talked to us. we kept answering their question. they can see that we are tired, lost, hungry and looking for a place to rest. Nobody iniciate us if we need any help. no body ask if we need to find a place to stay. no body ask if we need a drink. well, i dont expect them to be like the pakistanis that paid us food in the shop. just a little help or a show of concern that we are tired and dont disturb us or at least asking so much questions, may offer us some help about local terrain. NOTHING!

but in this campsite, i met 4 wonderful 'strangers' that became friends. there are the first to offer us help. they ask where we were going next and they start to bring out their map and show us, giving us all the neccessery information. they even bought us breakfast on the next day when we were leaving. these 2 couples were from other cities far away and came to El Bolson to travel also. Thank you very much!



it is common to see this in touristic places.


1328 in santiago
we met friends from Hong Kong... had a very good time with each other, abit of chinese new year mood!

Santiago



one of the camp site in chile






another camp site in chile




恭喜发财


we would like to thank Adrain low (3rd time), Koh Chin Yee (4th time) and Timothy Low (my childhood friend) for making their generous donation. they had given us a very big ang pao for CNY! really really thank you all!

we are at chile now. santiago, applying visa for panama (1 month process), costa rica (2 weeks process), mexico, canada and usa.

we are very afraid of usa because we got rejected once and its very expensive and difficult! US$131 application fee per person. the only problem is that we cannot show them a confirmed return air ticket out of USA.

can anyone suggest a airline that let us have a reservation ticket (showing name of passenger, date of flight and location) without paying any confirmation? we must convince the officer that we are leaving the country, they only reconize a return ticket!?


we need help:

we would now like to purchase 2 OPEN ticket from america (any airport) to australia (sydney), making sure its the cheapest. OPEN ticket means the date of departure could be changed. estimated date of departure is july 2009.
like today, i told the panama embassy that we are entering panama by boat from columbia and will travel to nicuaragua by motorbike. they insisted us to have a two way ticket showing that we are also exiting the country.... how to? well, i will do some magic!

we want to go alaska and come back to usa and ship the bike to australia. that means we have to do a usa visa here, enter usa, exit usa and go canada, apply a usa visa again in canada and enter alaska, exit canada to go alaska, exit alaska to enter canada, do usa visa again in canada to go usa. we have to do 3 times usa visa! (usa do not issue multiple entries visa)

even we get a visa for usa,it doesnt mean we are allowed enter usa, it depend on the custom officer on the border! they can reject our entry on the border even we have a visa.

will update more after we finish the paperwork for the USA visa. its giving me too much headache!!!!

. im going to get Hope Too's rear tire changed 1st before it get any nails in. how do i know if my chain is worn off and need to be replaced? it had been about 48000km since day 1.


this blog will be resting from 26 Feb 09 - 27 Feb 09 due to the chinese new year.

we will be on skype during chinese new year, 26 Feb 2009, 1300 hrs (GMT+8hr) to 1400hrs (GMT+8hr) my skype name is goh.mia.chun


wishing all of you have a properious year of the Ox ahead.

Lottery fans, here are some numbers that will appear on the next draw

1st: 7658
2nd: 3515
3rd: 7413

consulation:
7651 3207 0321 7807 1788
2309 0101 4559 0324 9812

starter:
4437 9027 8916 7717 5333
6890 5155 6109 0480 7382

good luck!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

we are at El Bolson, the hippie town

this big big stone, almost the size of a 20 storey building...


along Ruta 71... many beautiful lakes.





something that we are trying out... too much chain lubricant splashing all over our bike. will this work???




this new vest was sponsored by Miguel Angel of Puerto Madryn.



it has been 5 days since we left Miguel’s house. we stayed with him for 11 days and spend our 1st year anniversary, his birthday and watched the Dakar race with him. Miguel is a very Argentinean that we have met. His bike travel knowledge in Argentina is superb. He had written various articles about his travel and yet he is a very humble and easy going person. If you come to Puerto Madryn, you must visit him.

we camped freely along the road from Puerto Madryn to Esquel. the first camp site was a wrong decision as it was about 6pm, the sky was very dark and about to rain. I got off the main road and saw some bushes. I rode in and Hope Too was stucked in the sand ditch! both of us could not get it out. we were tired, hungry and it was about to rain. My decision was to pitch the tent for a night and wait till tomorrow to get some help. the ground was sandy. I could not hammer in the tent pegs. The ground was very lose so we left the tent free standing. the heavy wind blew our tent as we hid inside. the fine sand rushed into our tent. it was a horrible experience.

13 January 2009, we entered a national park. along the road, there seems to be like a guard house to ‘filter’ tourist from the local. I stopped and asked the lady (dressed in her home clothes) that got off her seat in the guard house regarding the camping site nearby. then she said something (in Spanish) like we had to pay 30pesos (S$15) each person to enter this road. I took a quick glance at the guard house and there isn’t any price list, I assumed she is trying to get some part time income from us. guess what I did: with my broken Spanish, I told her thank you and off we go!

Am I doing the right thing? She might be right that we have to pay but she did not show me any tickets nor there is any signage of payment. we didnt see the cars in front and back of us paying her.

Ruta 71 was nice as recommanded by Miguel (puerto madyrn) and Paul (germany). there are a lot of camping libre (free camping) by the lake. bikers... u can just dont stop at the unautorized paying station... i think its like india, foreigners always pay almost double than the local here. there is no proper system.


Folks, we need help. we would need:

1) Tires sponsor. we need one set within next week and estimated 3 sets in the future. each set cost S$350.00
2) 1set chain kit ($200.00) within next week.
3) long term engine oil sponsor (estimated 5 liters for every 5000km, about S$75.00 every 5000km). estimated journey back home is 40000km, that means we still need 8 oil change, 8 x S$75.00 = S$600.00
4) 2 x inflatable sleeping mattress (S$120.00 each)
5) we also need help from anyone that is able to design a sticker for us. preferred with Singapore flag design.
6) to help us participate in the ‘Singapore record breakers’. check the web on
7) help us to write letters to corporate companies to seek for equipment (the mentioned above) sponsorship.

at the moment, item 1 and 2 is more important as my last tire, the Metzeler enduro 3 (made in Brazil) only last less than 7000km as compared to the Metzeler Tourance which I used for 20000km previously.


this is the ´supermarket´ that we topped up our food. beware... they are closed from 1pm-5pm.


it is not a MUST to have it (the sponsors). it would be better to have. by having their sponsors, we would last longer for our trip. by getting sponsors, we would encourage the next bikers to do the same for helping their trip. is there any other way to get $ for such a trip? well, lets try!
We hope to get good responses from everyone!
also... is there anything that we can do over here? other than enjoying the road, the food, bike repair, tent zip repair (can anyone suggest how to repair a broken zip?), uploading pictures for lazy readers, enjoy every monent....





seasons greetings!

Goh Mia Chun

below is a blog extracted from a fellow biker. this couple from Poland is now in africa. we had the same experience too:

Maybe it’s too early to be writing this (given we’re only about a quarter of the way through this big continent) and it can be interpreted as a blatant generalisation, but we have to ask - “Africa, where is your pride?!” We’re referring to the constant begging… And it’s not just the kids, crippled or elderely that are doing it but the educated and relatively well off Africans. Time and time again we have met people who at first seem generous and willing to help out a ‘foreigner’ passing through, only to discover that there is a catch… Two examples:- We stopped in a small village in Rwanda to have some lunch. As is typical of Rwanda, dozens of people immediately surrounded us and the bike. One guy came forward asking (in English) if we need some help. We could have managed to order something ourselves but always like to meet the locals and appreciated the offer. All was going well until our new ‘friend’ insisted we buy him a beer. “Why should we buy you a beer?” we asked. “Because I was the first to help you and I’m poor” came the answer. We tried to explain to him that if we gave money and gifts to every African that asked for it, we’d be broke by now.- The second example is from Tanzania. Again we stopped for some food. A middle-aged man sms-ing away on his mobile phone, came up to us for a chat. All was cool until we asked whether they had a well or spring from which we could get some water. He said they didn’t because they’re a poor village, but we could change that by giving them a ‘grant’. What’s wrong with picking up a shovel and digging a hole yourself, we thought…


Not everyone is like this of coarse and we’ve met some fantastic people. Most Africans are super friendly and always smiling, but some just can’t help themselves when they see a white face. We realise a lot of it has been caused/influenced by western countries, who use corrupt governments to feed off Africa’s rich resources and think that a bit of humanitarian aid will silence their conscience. Also ‘generous’ tourists who think material possessions is what the Africans are missing don’t help the situation either. But we don’t buy the argument that if you think you’re poor, the world owes you something. We’ve been to many countries and regions of the world (Mongolia, central Asia…etc) where people have less than here, yet don’t expect anything in return for their hospitality. It’s not for our benefit that we say all this (although it would make for a better travel experience), but how can a country (continent) hope to prosper and move forward when they feel helpless and give up their pride so cheaply

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

sorry... sometimes i do have mood swing...

ok, im back to normal... sometimes just abit depress over small little things. we are human... not machine. yes i do ride the continents but i am not God. i do silly and ugly things on the other side too. i am just a normal person like u.

so dont expect me NOT to: digging my nose, doing a fart, littering once a while, looking at other girls on bikini, scratching my underwear and trying to pull it out from the ass... blah blah blah.... everyone do these! (secretly)

i just have a bad neck and spinal pain. it happened over one night of bad sleeping position and after that night, everymorning i wake up i suffer it. morning: problem lifting my head up because of weak neck. little pain down to about 6 inches below the neck on the spine. like usual stiff neck... i cant turn my head but the little spine pain is not usual. Sam gave me alittle massage and it feels better. in the afternoon, my neck can operate like normal condition with very little pain. in the night, after sleeping and next morning it happen again! i am using a inflatable pillow. does it affect the condition?

cube: can u advise me on how to invite company to advertise on my page? i have no knowledge on this.

steve: thank you for following our blog. your encouragement makes us feel better for further updates.

haojie: neck... donno how.... hope can recover by itself. i dont use painkiller. about the statistic, sometimes i feel like writing to ghost... only ghost is reading. like the 7th month ghost festival, the wayang artist perform on stage and no body clap or watch...

cindy: do you think i shall only give registered user to read this blog only? BTW, we really sorry to miss ur wedding.

God: thanks for your offer. i would very very prefer readers to advise me on how to get $ from coperate company rather than getting $ from readers. can u help on this? BTW, when is the Lunar new year?
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we dont really enjoyed watching the dakar but had a wonderful time being with friends watching the dakar.


this race is a special one... 30th annivesary and first time out of Europe and Africa. i watched the TV report, most of the riders were suprised by the terrain condition of Argentina, unlike the usual Africa. on day 5, reported about 104 paticipant were out of the race!
check out their sponsers!!!



the girls waiting.... waiting for the racer to arrive...




day 2, we went to Telsen, 150km away from Puerto madryn at 9pm and camped in the wild for a night with Miguel and friends. it was dark.... road was dirt and gravels. we fell once again:
a car overtook us and created a huge cloud of dust... it was dark... i cant see... so i slow down but Hope Too wheeled onto a huge pile of very soft gravel and my handlebar go left and right like a DJ... due to lack of experience... again we fell... luckily the heavy truck behind us stopped in time else Hope Too and both of us will be a meal for that truck.





at the beach while waiting for the Rally paticipant to arrive... there are so many people looking at Hope Too and wanted to take picture with us. as usual, crowding around us... we felt like little celebrities...




one of the small little crowd-....





thanks to Miguel, we are now staying at his house to fix Hope Too and do up some administrative stuff.

Miguel"s friend came from far away and stayed at his house, like us. we had a good BBQ dinner with the company of new friends! they are great!!!






this is the part between the meter and the tank. this piece of metal holds on the meter to the main chassis. i used epoxy but it doesnt work. not that epoxy is not good but i have never, never use it before.... so again, got to learn some new skills...



Sunday, January 4, 2009

1st anniversery video

we did this video ourselves, dedicated to you.





we also like to thank Mr balachandran thevakumaran for his support in our trip... thank you!



we spent half 1 full day in editing this video, almost 3 hours in this expensive and touristic city just to upload this video for all of you, what do we get in return?! if we are lucky enough, we get a few comments. its a WASTE OF OUR TIME AND MONEY FOR THIS BLOG.

why are we spending these effort? why do we need the blog? i do not have to answer to anyone. 43000 readers, only less than 50 comments. less then 0.001% readers give comments. what does reader want to get from our blog? are they friends that are concern about us and want to know about our location? if we do not update blog for 1month, i guess no body would care.

im not trying to be selfish. this is our travel. why must i make all the trouble to update all these shit????

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dakar Race 2009


we did something bad. we took these 4 pieces of wood, that had become stone, aged: 150million years from the park. anyone wants to buy it from us?


























this big piece of log is from an Aracaria tree that was 150million years ago. this wood had become a stone























we met 3 french driving towards Argentina. they had low petrol in their tank and i escorted them to a nearby Kiosk 70km away.




the lovely Hostel Argentino, operated for the past 7 years is a biker friendly place. we are so sad to stay in this place on her last 2 days of operation. it had been a successful hostel but the owner, Gracillo, rented this place from a landlord. so the landlord wanted to kick her out (because this place is established with many customer and travellers) and operate the hostel at his own cost. we are sad about such business tatics, happening around the world. It would be really upset on the day she bring her signboard down and leave the place.


here we are, 1st january 2009, celebrate our 1st anniversary of our travel.

we are back at Miguel's house. he welcomed us with his warm heart. Miguel is the mechnic for the team BMW in Pureto Madryn. The race will reach here on 4th January.

Goh is suffering from severe neck ache. upper spine is corroded. cannot turn his neck well. got problem making arms and neck movement. real bad. it happen just one night, unlike the usual pain. not just like neck stiffness, what should i do? really pain. see a doctor?? get an xray or wait for 3 more days to self recover?
Sam is loving the sun in Puerto Madryn. tempreture is back to normal.


Hope Too had a crack on the main chassis in front of the handle bar, needs welding. the chain need to be replaced but it cost double more than singapore price. the speedo meter is not working. all these small stones in your shoe really irritates you. His chain had last for 46000km since day one.




these looks like wood chip but they are hard like rocks.