Saturday, February 28, 2009

We are on budget but we are not Desperate!

We would like to thank Rick Ong for his donation in our trip! Rick, you are getting married, i thought i could be your "door knocking party" but im sorry. instead of us giving u angpao for the wedding, u gave us! thanks!

Heartache: u have been digesting our blog. thanks... i didnt want to see my blog these few weeks, just want to see if im addicted to internet or not.

Be_yourself: you understand my situation well. thanks for all the words but im still trying hard to digest it.

The death of my relative, reminded me of my mum, Mdm Chua Siang Keng.

2003, when I retook my diploma for a year, I was working for my uncle at the same time studying full time. Timetable for school wasn’t so tight because I needed not to take all the subjects. I worked half a day and had to ride to school for the rest of the other half day. On Saturday there was no lesson so I worked full day. On Sunday, the company operated for half a day so in a week I only had half a day rest.

I had good results in my studies. 2003 was the period of SARS in Singapore. To visit a hospital with mum, we had to go through scans and there were many limitations in the hospital.

13th April 2003, about 7pm, I was studying for an important exam which took place on the day after. I received a phone call from Sis that Mum couldn’t make it. Mum was in a special room in the hospital. The hospital only allowed one visitor at a time in that room. I entered, Sis got out. She was breathless and couldn’t talk much. I couldn’t help so I let Sis to be with her while I went out to study again. Mum was diagnosed with Leukemia 2 years ago. She had various therapies but didn’t work out.

At about midnight, I received another call from Sis that mum really couldn’t make it, this time the hospital made an exception for both of us to enter the room. She was much breathless and shouting something weird in mandarin:

Wait for me! The bus is going away! Wait for me big brother!

She kept repeating this while struggling for her breath. She was unconscious even I pinched her. We could see her eyes were open wide, trying to reach out for something.

We consulted the doctor and we had two choices.

1) Leave her alone till she is short of breath and pass away as the doctor couldn’t help with the situation.
2) Give an injection for her to be calm BUT it was a very high chance for her to lose the life. This would make her pass away peacefully.

Sis looked at me, asked for my opinion.

I don’t want mum to struggle any longer. She had struggled for the past 53 years in her life. Now she is fighting the cancer. I chose option 2.

After the injection, she closed her eyes, breathing normally and slowly. After about 3 hours, she passed away.

We had to organize the ‘out process’ for the dead body and the funeral. It was until 7am than I could catch some sleep. 9am was my examination. I was quite satisfied with the results but mum couldn’t attend my graduation.

Her life triggered me much to go for this trip.


From Mendoza (Argentina), Sam and I rode the same border and went to Valparaiso (Chile). We arrived in villa kunterbunt. Enzo and Martina welcomed us with a beer and coffee. This is a biker’s place to stay. We met Andreas, Saskia (Swiss) and Daniele (Italian). It was a gathering again for the 5 of us.

We couldn’t get any parts from Mendoza, we thought that Valparaiso, the main sea port of Chile, would be a good place to source parts but Andreas, Saskia and Daniele had been there for some time looking for the same part as me. They could not find any.

villa kunterbunt was amazing. The rooms were full when we reached there. Enzo offered us a beer first, cool down and Martina tries to organize us to park Hope Too next door and introduce us to the hostel next door for a special price. Martina also said we could use all the facilities in Villa Kuntabunt though we are not staying there.

Hope Too was parked next door with 5 dogs in the garden. After one night sleep, 3 of our plastic straps (1 to hold onto the tank bag, 1 to hold onto the shoe bag and 1 to hold onto a rear big bag) were bitten by the dogs. Enzo gave me a better strap.

On the 3 day, Enzo went to feed the dogs. 2 of the dogs started fighting, biting each other. It was a mess. When 2 dogs fight, the other 3 went around the 2, barking and running around. The fighting crowd went near to Hope Too and the dogs might topple the bike. Enzo tried spraying water on the fighting crowd; tried beating the 2 dogs with a stick but it doesn’t work. In the end he had to go into the fighting crowd to pull the 2 dogs away from each other. A fellow biker saw this and went in to help. He lifted the dog in the sky and slam dung the dog on the floor until it raise white flag. It was all over, quiet and could only hear Enzo panting, breathless and cursing the dogs. The fellow biker that slam dung the dog was bitten on the arm. I had to attend first aid to him.

From this incident we could see that how Enzo took care of us and the bike ensuring that we have a good stay with them although we are not sleeping in Villa Kuntabunt.

We left villa kunterbunt and head for Santiago, again with the Swiss and Italian team. Daniele was staying in Santiago at a friend’s house. He knew this friend from crouchsurfing dot com. The Andreas, Saskia and both of us were allowed to stay in that house only for one night. Daniele didn’t tell us the real reason but I believe it’s because there is no need for the owner of the house to show sympathy to us and we are not inside the crouchsurfing group. Daniele tried very hard to let us stay for the next few days, tried to invite us over for a swim or food but we didn’t.

My personal point of view about crouchsurfing:

It is a good way to travel so that we could save money on lodging.
We could also get to know more about the local’s way of living.


We will definitely not allow to stay if we do not have a crouchsurfing account. Example: if some crouchsurfing members come to Singapore and contacted me through the crouchsurfing website, they stay in my house for free and will leave some comments on the web. So if I want to travel to their country, it would be easy for me to find a place to stay when they looked in my crouchsurfing history.

So these people, Nicolas, the owner and friend of Daniele, travels a lot. They need to ‘earn points’ to let travelers stay in their house so that they can stay in the other people’s house.

Sorry Daniele, we know that you tried very hard but it’s Nicolas’ house. We were lucky to stay one night and the rest of the night you came all the way to our hostel and accompanied us and ride alone in the dark back to Nicolas’ house. Must say thank you to you. I have a crouchsurfing account when I was in Singapore but I didn’t really use it during the trip.

So, next day the Asian team and the Swiss team with the escort of the Italian team went to Hostel de Sammy. Cool and awesome! One of the best hostel in Santiago. It was worth the money to stay. It had a small garage that can hold 3 bikes easily. We could work on the bike on the day time comfortably. The breakfast is the best so far in our trip. Home made pan cakes, home made bread and fresh scrambled eggs, not forgetting Juice and coffee.

6000 Chile Peso per person including the breakfast, with free bike parking, 4 fast computer with free WIFI and internet, free billiard table usage (not pool table), TV room with a wide screen TV, 3-4 times bigger than our TV at home, humble management, clean dormitory and toilet, bicycle available to use. Kitchen was in very good order. Strongly recommended for budget traveler’s like us; for bikers; for meeting nice people; for good rest.

Also the dog and the cat is much friendly.

Good news! M-Technik from Singapore is sending a 5kg parcel to me in Chile. He included a DID525VM X-ring chain, 2 front sprockets, 1 rear sprocket, alternator, starter relay and some small but important parts. it will arrive in Villa Kuntabunt around 3rd March. Meanwhile, we are traveling up north with the Swiss team. When the parcel arrive, we might take a bus back to Villa Kuntabunt to collect and meet Enzo and Martina.

Information for fellow travelers:

Camping along ruta 5, Pan-american highway:

Near the town Quilimari, S32 07.735’ W071 30.767’, we named it as an expensive campsite. for an area for both of us to camp, it cost 15000CPL. Then I went to use their toilet. Sam was with Hope Too. The daughter of the owner, about aged 7 came to Hope Too tries to open the box. Sam was irritated. When I came back we asked for a bit of discount, it came down to 10000CPL. I told the owner we are on budget and he offer us for free! guess what, we rejected his free offer.


we don’t feel comfortable here so we went on…

Furthur north near Chigualoco, S31 45.181’ W071’ 30.808’, another beach camping. Cost per area is 10000CPL. Minimum facilities.

Ovalle, free camping at S30 35.680’ W071 10.398’. there are many food stalls in this free camping but we don’t feel safe. 2 locals had warned us to look after our belongings.

there are 2 more camping site along this road.

The best around is at Valle Del Encanto. top up supply before going in. 1200CPL (no typing error, in English is one thousand two hundred Chilean pesos only) for visiting this monumento arqueológico and staying in the safe camp site for a night, for 2 person. worth! S30 42.233’ W071 22.727’

La Serena: we look at the guide book. recommended a hostel with German management with good parking. Sam went in, first thing that the lady at the reception asked was do we have a reservation? We did not have one. The lady said that we can only stay in a private room as all the dormitory are full. also we could only stay for one night as there are many reservations. Private room is out of our budget and we enquired from her if she could recommend us another hostel nearby with motorbike parking, she said: I’M NOT SURE and continues clicking on her computer trying to ignore us. is this some problem with foreign owned hostel in Chile? after being recommended by travel guide book they seems to be high class. Andrés Bello 979. hostel El Punto. Go there if you like. we don’t feel good from their first impression.

after some rounds of recommendation from other hostel, we came back to the same place, one unit before Hostel El Punto (and that receptionist don’t recommend their neighbour). Excellent! Safe parking for 2-3 bikes. the lady owner is very friendly. She is a Chilean. if you want to meet the locals this is the place to stay. free WIFI and nice people. S29 54.516’ W071 15.223’ Hostel Vergara. La Serena, Andrés Bello Number 991.

Popular tour from La Serena goes to the East, visiting Pisco distillery and sky observatory. Prices from La Serena to Pisco distillery, eat some food, see some free sights cost 20000CPL. Observatory cost 15000CPL. so we ride east, about 60km east from La Serena to Vicuna.

Vicuna, book the tour to Observatory Mamalluca at Gabriela Mistral 260. cost 3500CPL for tour and 2 way shutter bus to observatory and back to Gabriela Mistral 260 is 1500CPL. don’t try to ride your bike to the Observatory. it’s a mess and very dark. no body switch on lights around the observatory. Camping at Rancho Elquino, 300meters walk from Plaza de Armas. S30 01.685’ W070 42.861’ Independencia201.
don’t be surprise to pitch your tent under the sun as you will not get a chance to sleep in the day. there is a shed where everyone can use as a kitchen, BBQ, reading. Nice swimming pool. very nice people. not crowdy and not noisy. kids are real nice, so as the owner Mario. 3500CPL per person. RECOMMANDED!

there is also a Pisco factory at S30 02.384’ W070 41.892’
Solar restaurant, they use sunlight to heat up the food. 4000CPL for menu of the day: S30 02.720’ W070 40.857’

Valle del Elqui: about 60km east of Vicuna.
We camped at S30 08.021’ W070 29.784’
very steep slope down hill to this campsite. Good swimming pool but gets crowded. surrounded by grape vines. Nice! Agrocamping Dona Josefa. 4000CPL per person.

Pisco tour avalible in the town. 5000CPL with free tasting of Pisco and free Pisco glasses.

Top up gas before heading up North of ruta 5 from La Serena, into the Atacama Region. Next estation will be more than 180km at city of Vallenar.

We camped wild in the desert by the coast of S28 17.442’ W071 09.930’ possible. we reach at about 530pm with Andreas and Saskia, clear the area from cactus and stones, cooked dinner and when it was about sunset, we set up the tent. Thanks to Thomas and Andrea of Germany, we learn to camp freely from them. we see the stars more clearly then in the observatory. there are many shooting stars to catch here!

Good supermarket at Copiapo S27 22.885’ W070 19.769’

now we are camping at Bahia Inglesa S27 06.340’ W070 51.043’ Cost 19000CPL per site up to six person. we found a couple traveling by their car so we asked if they want to share the site and split the cost. nice couple, Jessica and Miguel from Sweden. nice beach and swimming pool.

Don’t envy us, we are traveling with Andreas and Saskia! 26th February 2009, Bahia Inglesa.


Thomas & Andrea said...

Hi Guys,
looks like you have a wonderful time ! We really liked that desert part of Chile .... dry and hot ! Say Hello to Andreas & Saskia .... we are in Junin de los Andes, having a break again which means 1 day driving (about 60km)and then 2-3 days rest (laugh). The reason, we have still plenty of time to drive to Valpo (another 3 weeks). So, take care and enjoy life & travelling !!!
Love & greets from Thomas & Andrea

brifusg said...

Hello Mia Chun,

This is Tran here. Take a good care! said...

Apa kabar kawan? Pray both of you in good health and safe always. Valparaiso, Chile is a nice city. Been there in 2006 for the Maritime Exhibition and enjoyed Chilean hospitality. Dont forget Chilean wine, one of the best in the world. BTW, Malaysia imported Chilean wine
in great amount too. Also, the Chilean beef steak to my recogning is the best.
You take care and safe ride. Amzah

singaporedream said...

Amzah: Im fine friend! meat is nice. i think u understand the nice feeling of us riding a bike here. there are alot of Proton Wira here, did u see?

Tran: thanks for reading! we might come back home before june 2010.

Thomas and Andrea: we had so much relationships with German and Swissgerman riders. go slow is good. my parcel arrived at Villa kuntabunt now but we are in the north, we dont know what to do.

maybe go to San Pedro de atacama and park the bike there and take a bus back to valpariso. also we need some confirmation from the panama embassy...