Friday, March 13, 2009



we enjoy camping at Calama with our retired police inspector. he is 75 years old now. it's one of our best campsite. with that amount of $, we had facilities of a cabanas. the owner is very helpful and friendly. if you want to meet nice people, go to S22 27.598 W68 54.999
Casas del valle. Francisco bilbao 1207. near stadium.
the world largest coppet mine. 3km wide, 5km length, 1km deep.

look how big is the machines...

the tyre of this big truck is 3meters height. cost is about us$15000 per tire. its to deliver the raw copper from the bottom of the mine to the factory. there are about 100 of these truck working 22 hrs a day. visit to the mine is free. we book thro our campsite management. just have to pay a donation to a children's home. can park vehicle at S22 19.480 W68 55.726
El Tatio is about 80km from San Pedro De Atacama. it took us about 4-5 hours to travel that 80km. We go there to watch the world 3rd largest Geyser field. Advisable to reach there on the day before and stay in the refugee. very nice place to stay. homely. we paid 2500cpl to sleep in the hall. you will not want to camp outside. it could go down to -9degree celcius in the night. if u join a tour from san pedro de atacama, you have to wake up at 3am to catch the morning splash. we reach the refugee at 5pm. good thing is that there are no tourist.we could go around freely, enjoy the privacy, use the natural hot pool alone. quickie is good.
refugee at S22 21.056 W68 00.941
camping at s.P. de atacama S22 54.796 W68 12.016
4000cpl per person. best campsite. camping Los Perales, Tocopilla 481. there are campsite at 2000cpl but bikers would not want to camp there.
route to valle de luna, flamingo park, salt pool are not easy. you will end up like us bathing in the sand with the bikes. drop me a message if you want the route from my GPS.

we had the swim yesterday, when it's not so cold.

height of el tatio is about 4320m avove sea level. as we go higher, air inside any tube will expand. so decrease your tire bressure before accending.

burnt BBQ chicken. more chicken for bbq next time.

some updates...

We are in Iquique now. Parted with the swiss team. Both Andreas and Saskia are secondary school teacher back in their country. they are about 2-3 years younger than me. their XRV750 is the same age as Hope Too but it is only 15000km when they bought it. ENVY! it was the first time that we traveled with another couple for such a long time, more than 20 days. we really had fun together. Traveling with Andreas is so fun. i called him 'boss'. i would go where he go, do what he do, eat what he eat. no need to think so much. we skiped swizeland when we were in europe but now i know much things about their country.

he taught me how to sing the swiss song. i taught him about singlish, singapore-bangadesh-english, like:



that was fun.

i always woke up later than them so they always prepare breakfast for us. sometimes they would want us to eat our own food, like curry chicken for dinner, rice porridge for breakfast. they know that we miss home food.

we are close enough to fart infront of each other and laugh about the fart... i mean Andreas and me.

hard to say goodbye. they gave us something that i had always wanted:

a travel BBQ set.

will not forget the moments together.


1) Hope Too had a twisted neck. the steering wheel bearing is damaged. it would be a big project to change it. i need proper tools with good mechnic around. i have the spares with me, thanks to M-technik, advised me to bring the small but important spares.

2) Sam submited the Panama visa application in Feb 8. we tried calling back since last week. we get answers from them like:

a) today is 7 march, tomorrow will be 8 march, that will be exectly one month for the application. call tomorrow.

then i call the day after, they reply:

b) this week is Carnival in panama. they are not working. call on monday.

weekend passed. i dont call on monday but tuesday. they said:

c) i don't know. maybe this week, maybe next week. call again.

then today i call at 9am:

d) call me back at noon.

then at noon i call:
e) u call back half hr later, person in charge is not in.

then i called half hr later:

f) call 20mins later.

then i called 1 and half hr later

g) call half hr later

then half hr, my internet (skype) dont work. i dont have a mobile phone. i guess they had went home by now. so tomorrow i had to call again.

but tomorrow i had an appointment with the BMW mechnic to do up Hope Too... pray hard it will not be the BMW price for repairing.

3) the parcel sent from singapore is 1850km south of where we are now, valporiso. the parcel consist of a new chain kit and some important parts. i dont want to ride back. will check out the bus fare tomorrow. we have to consider. staying in Iquique is half the price of staying in Valporiso. so we will wait for the reply from panama embassy in santiago then we can go back.

4) Canada visa for Sam. Canada visa application before 1st April2009 takes about 15 days to process. after that it takes 30days to process. so before 1st april 2009 we might be in Peru, Lima, the big and polluted city that no biker would want to visit. are we going to stay there for 15 days? in such a city its hard to find a cheap place to stay for us and Hope Too.

5)we want to reach north tip of alaska in 21st June 2009 where it is the longest day of the year. it will not be so cold around this date. next is 19 july there is a arboriculture confrence near new york, 3 days. 1st september is our flight to australia from LA. i had to arrange shipping for Hope Too at LA 2-3 weeks before we depart. how to meet this timing???

6) the darien gap:

between Panama and Columbia there are no road link. either take a boat or plane. now Sam still waiting for Panama visa. do u think its worth to wait for the panama visa? it may not be approved after all the waiting. the options we have:

a) if she does not have the panama visa, she had to fly to costa rica and wait for me for 2-3 weeks. while i will ride to the port, take a small sailing boat with hope too to panama and ride to costa rica to meet Sam.

b) Sam, Hope Too and me will take a big ship from Columbia to costa rica together, skipping panama.

the problem is i have to CRATE THE BIKE (which is very troublesome), pay the shipping US$350. (andreas enquired from the same company about shipping from columbia to europe, which the route is longer than mine but it only cost US$300!) pay $440euros, thats S$880 per person for the 5 days boat. there are many many hidden cost for port clearance and port fees not indicated.

7) hope too front tire needs to be changed before getting to the next tire store in equedor.

please friend: looking at my awesome photos, you may think its so nice to travel but there are so many logistic problems to be solved.

what should we do?

please advise.


Anonymous said...

why not ship from colombia direct to Mexico or the states instead? Safe you all the trouble of getting so many visas along the way.

contrarian said...

How about crating your bike in a more space-efficient way, would it help to save some shipping cost?

These other guys took off the crash bars, both wheels, front forks, windshield, rear rack and handle bars. Managed to fit the Africa Twin into a crate measuring 1.5cbm (61cm x 206cm x 113cm).

Pictures and description here:

singaporedream said...

contraian: i had my 1st shipping done badly. the crate too big. the thing is that im paying more than going to europe, doesnt make sense. my turkey friend had their panama visa done in usa, waited for 4 months.

singapore 2 poland had a good bike. envy....

good news is that i just called panama embassy, they said something like we can go back to santiago and hand in the passport. so likely 90% we got the panama visa.


Vincent said...

ah goh.. u know abt singapore 2 poland.. i saw in one of the local mag... thou u might be in... mayb u can try to put ur in the mag too..

singaporedream said...


yes, i know them. riding a XRV750, black. 2 up. he is a pilot. left few months after me. after all, he is angmoh... not singaporean. nothing curious about for the local news.

singaporedream said...

vincent, did u know what magazine r they in?