Saturday, August 22, 2009

Recovery Hope Too

a friend of mine designed 3 stickers for us. can you give us some comments?

Mike Havan, MPH Cycles, Houston, USA.

A big thank you!

The following people had contributed to part of our travel fund. Thank you all for your generous support.

Oliver Triebl from Austria
Jack Jackson from USA
Hii Chun Hui from Singapore
Wilson Tay Chiow Chee from Singapore
Moto-V (Spectrum) from Singapore
Travis Teo

We would like to thank the following people that had involved in the ‘Recovery Hope Too’ project for the past 2 months:

Andrea Staps, Germany.
Andreas AKA Awind, Califonia, USA.
Aaron, fellow Singaporean biker in USA.
Billy and Anna, USA.
Dave, USA.
Friends of Africa Twin club, Germany.
Gary Schulte and Heather, USA.
Harry Spielvogel, Germany.
Heico Modenbach, Germany.
Leo Lim and family, USA.
Mike Bui, USA.
Mike Haven, MPH Cycles, USA.
M-technik, Singapore.
Thomas Hentschel, Germany.

Also to our regular readers that left some boosters in our page to keep us going. they are:
Heartache, Ratz, 旋仔, HNS, Steven Singapore, Atwin, CY, FX110lim, Mariasol, Oliver+Silke, ah Tong (technical detail info), Desmond Kong (forum info), Antz (always letting us know that he is reading), Mike Fong (technical info) , God, mic8836, William, Lucas, pinkie, Joanna, locorider, haojie, Jo-han, kid_rizal,

And have to thank those that had left negative remarks and those that had taken our money for teaching us a hard lesson.

did we missed out anyone?

What happened these few weeks?

While waiting for the engine to arrive from Germany, we flew to Rhode Island for an international arboriculture conference (its for my work) in 26 July 2009. Our initial plan was to ride the bike there.

Flying from Houston with one stop in Charlotte, we arrived in Boston and rented a car. On the website it quoted about US$40 per day but in the end it cost about US$75 a day. We needed the car so that we would be able to stay in camping site instead of staying in the town near to the conference area and stay in 4 star hotels and use the expensive public transport. In the end it is still the cheapest alternative. In USA, they will really do marketing by quoting a very low price and end up paying double when it comes to the actual billing.

After Boston, we took a bus to New York, staying at our Malaysian friend’s house. It really feels like home here. They stayed near a Chinatown and we were able to eat some familiar food. They treated us like their own brother and sister. It had been a long time that we had not had such feelings. Taking the subway at 7pm with our luggage and backpack is not the nicest experience.

After all, there is no need to have a motorcycle in New York where the public transport here is quite affordable. New York is a place where many people from all around the world come here to work and earn a living.

The most unforgettable memory I had in New York while walking around was not the Statue of liberty, not the lights in Times Square or the massive bridges, it was the Chinatown in Manhattan.

We went to a park and saw many Chinese elderly gathered around to play card games, sing karaoke in the park and chat with friends. Outside the park there hanged some posters, promoting the sense of origin. I looked at the elderly; they behaved exactly like my grandma, with the same dress and same body language. They came to USA to seek for a living when they were young, or even they came with their parents or grand parents.

Their children still speak good Mandarin and English. They still remember that they are Chinese.

There are also citizen here with Italian ancestor, Africa, Germany, Japan, India and to trace back, it’s the British that came here and override the native red Indians and conquered their land. What they are called now are the citizens of USA. Like us where we have ancestor from China, Indonesia, India and some other countries which we call ourselves Singaporean BUT we have forgotten our ancestors.

I am not a citizen of China but a Singapore Chinese and I must be able to speak Mandarin and English.

I need not study the 5000 years history of China but I do need to know my ancestor.

Are we missing something in our society? Look at kids in Singapore that is below the age of 10. Majority does not speak proper English and do not speak a word of Mandarin if they come from a both Chinese father and mother.

The kids that are lesser than age of 7 would speak perfect Singlish, where they learn from their Grandparents and their working parents would only have time on Sunday morning to bring them to Mac Donald’s. I do not blame them; this is what Singapore Chinese are.

Sorry, at the moment we still have no kids and I have absolutely no right to talk about this.

Back to my trip:

Since we are in the North East area of USA, we took a 3 days 2 night tour to Niagara Falls, Pennsylvania and Washington DC. It’s quite cheap here where we booked through a Chinese company. 3 days 2 nights, buy 2 get one free with 20% discount. Printed for US$165 per person, ended up for 3 of us, we only need to spent less than $30 a day per person and we need not ride the bike all the way here again, in these metropolitan states.

We also did side trips to Hershey chocolate factory, Corning glass factory, the America mint, Liberty bell and an unknown site out of nowhere because the bus stopped due to a flat tire. The rubber part of the wheel was missing and the metal rim was the only contact part with the road. Actually, if we ride our bike here, the visit would be free of charge!

The moment we reached New York, Leo came to fetch us. He is staying with is sister (Helen), brother (Michael) and sister in law. We ate Chinese food, walked Chinatown, and bought the entire essential that we had missed so far. Ate Dim Sam, cooked home dinner and did a lot of ‘home’ stuff. It felt like a break from our trip where everything seems so familiar.

I made some calls back to Singapore and the friends that I have talked to advise me to go back faster as they are waiting for me to be in business.
It’s a kind of lure now: the bike is terribly broken, back home there business to do, staying with Leo let us feel the comfort being back at home. I made the decision to stay on the trip.

We flew back to Houston from NY on 14 august where I had instructed Heiko from Germany to send the engine, reaching Houston on the 14 august where we could clear it on the 15 august. End up we could only pick up the engine from the airport on the 18 and sent everything, including Hope Too on the 19 to MPH Cycles. On 20 august, Hope Too was alive again and we were able to ride it again.

It’s not easy not having our own transport getting around. The moment we reach Houston, we had last minute arrangement that we have to take public transport back to Dave’s house. After 12 hours of plane, waiting, transferring of flight, walking, bus ride, walking, train ride, bus ride and the last 2 miles of walking with our heavy luggage, we reached Dave’s home where there is no electricity. He is away for vacation but he allows us to stay at his house. We were tired, hungry and abit lost on that night luckily Billy(Dave's friend) came to pick us up to stay with him.

We have to rent a truck to get the engine from the airport and load Hope Too to MPH cycles. The truck rental company is very cruel. I made a booking and Dave drove us to pick up the truck and he left for work. Then the company do not accept Singapore Driver’s license where the last time I rented the truck with them, I used the same license. We have to call a taxi back home. Not cheap! Then we looked for another company and take a bus to collect the truck. Dave’s truck does not have an insurance for me to drive it.

MPH cycles was introduced to us by a fellow biker that knew our problem from a forum, Mike Bui. The owner of MPH cycles, Mr Mike Havan, is the fastest mechanic that I ever met. MPH cycles does repair especially for Mercedes Benz, BMW cars and bikes and Moto Guzzi motorcycle. Mike Havan was able to diagnose any problem from any bike he is working on. At this time, Mike Havan does not need to have his hands on, on any repair. He usually diagnosed the problems and guides his experienced mechanic to do the job. For my case, he did it personally out of his busy schedule. After the Hope Too gets running, Mike Havan did not want to charge us any fees for his service. He did it just to help us get going. He did it out of good will. He had changed our point of view towards the people in USA where there is still nice people around where we had met many merchants, trying to rip us off.

Technical stuff:

The engine I bought from Heico, Germany is an used one. It is not the similar model as Hope Too. Our original engine model is a RD07A and Heico has a RD07. We did a change on the alternator flywheel and the pickup sensor. The rest of the stuff is the same. I also transferred the new clutch plates to this German engine. Now there is no more clutch problem. I still do not have much confident in this German engine. Do not know when it will break down again or did we missed a screw. We are almost ready to set off to Alaska but the last thing we have to do is sent the old engine with the useful parts back to M-technik. Also the engine number has to proof to the authorities in Singapore that I had made a change to the engine and provide me with a new vehicle registration number.

About the blog:

During this difficult time of our trip, I kept checking my emails and the blog for advice from friends and readers. Those that read the blog know that we were in trouble and even through common friends, they knew it but they chose to:

1) Keep quiet and wait for something to happen because they know that we will find a solution, also don’t want to get involved. (bad)
2) Keep quiet and pretended to be busy and know nothing about it. (very bad)
3) Keep quiet and help by putting up help on other bike forums. (good) I get most of the help from this but suddenly I noticed that there are some unknown readers leaving comments like as if someone had begged them to donate $ to me. I also get comments like: ‘don’t ask for money, go look for some job. Why donate to you?!’ this is strange. I wonder did anyone leave a wrong message that now we are begging for money for our trip? I want to make this clear.
4) Advise me to stay on, not to give up. (best!!!) This is the help I wanted. I know that there are people behind me, giving us support. It really helps us a lot.

I also contacted some friends back at home. They were kind of close friend. I told them about the problem I had now and ask if they know of any place to look for an used engine. The reply I got was:

‘I went to see. Don’t have any.’

well, thanks mann. that is really a very BIG help and he did not reply anymore. Not even asking about anything. Afraid that I will pull him into this circle and get him involved?

Some encouraged us by donating money. It is really useful for us and it’s a big encouragement if words are not used to comfort us to go on.

Some sent me link of technical details, it is really useful. (GOOD!) I get a lot more brains with this blog. That helped me to solve the problem more efficiently.

I am just upset about those who are afraid to help, not by giving something that is precious to help but a hand. Now we understand what ‘help’ means.

If you trace back some comments left over this month, its either heart warming or very discouraging.

About sponsorship:

I don’t see a need for big company sponsorship. This kind of sponsorship is very cold blooded. It involved investment in us and a predicted return of value. There is no hand shake, hugs, tears and blood involved. Fuck these animals. We had realized that our kind of sponsorship had came as a kind of good will, as a kind of encouragement and as a good helping hand for us to ‘sail smooth’. I had sponsors from some companies like M-technik because the owner knew me personally and I did not ask for it. They provided service support and some necessary equipment for us. Like MPH Cycles, the owner Mike Havan, he became our sponsor (gave us free servicing) because of good will, because he had helped us when we needed and he did the first move to aid. I do get irregular cash donations from readers and friends. I had consolidated it and put it under some expenses. For example: for the past 3 months I get a total of S$300 from 6 friends/readers. Then I check my expenses where I had a set of tires change for about S$300, and then I would put the name of these 6 friends/readers as my tires sponsors.

I think it is more meaningful that way.
Everyone needs money, for me, money is never enough. that is a truth and a fact BUT now money is not the main issue. the main thing is how can i fully utilize the amount of money i had for the whole trip. that is not a big problem with proper planning and good spending habits. I would very much prefer to have more words and encouragement on my blog. i would very much prefer to have advice and would love readers to help me source information when i needed. that is the best interactive help we could get. in return, you had already got it. i had given informations about trips and locations, methods and 'how to do it' stuff. if anyone needs advice on such trips, i would gladly share how we did it. For those that had put on negative remarks, i see them as someone that is still living in their own circle. again, they are not wrong when i feel that it is negative. it would be hard for these people to get out of the circle. for those that had reached out the helping hand, i believe are those that had experienced the same problem and had also experience how to 'help' people around.
doing it for charity? no. please do not think by helping us, it means: charity. during this journey, i see how 'charity' destroy the society. we often see pictures of poor kids or hungry people in tv and feel that we should donate some money to them. if i were to help them, i would want to change their countries' political situation first. the country cannot depend on the outside world to feed the poor while they are selling their natural resource to the rest of the world, gaining benefit in their own pocket. i dont want to mention any countries that are involved here. also, some had done motorcycle ride for charity, which i do not believe so. these 'riders' just want to feel that they are being 'saint' by doing such work. it only destroy the society. if they want to feel saint, go and change the political situation of that country first before doing such charity. on this part, you may feel that i am very selfish but that is the fact. it's the management of the country that is causing all these troubles. there is no justice in these countries. the people are poor and the 'management' are rich. they are handling a country like a business. it's the common people that suffer. if u see a well to do (rich) parent going out with their children where the parent is ill-treating the children or not giving them food or basic need, the root solution to problem is not to give the children what they need at that moment BUT to change to concept of that parent. i have seen real charity work where not many people can do and money could not be replaced with, which really touches my heart.
This is the worst time of our travel. We met the worst people and unlucky event. On top of all these, we get the chance to meet the real nice people because we are in trouble. example: Aaron is a fellow singaporean living in usa. he knew that we are in trouble and offer to lend us his bike to continue the trip to Alaska. We knew Thomas, a fellow biker during our trip and now he is back home. he made alot of effort back at home asking around for technical details for Hope Too on how to remedy. Strangers that read some bike forums will search through their telephone book to give us the best contact and make the effort to call and give us the best solution.
The society had given me so much, what can i do for the society now?

Gonna rush to Alaska now else we would be riding in the snow.
Goh Mia Chun

We were certainly spoiled by Leo and his family.

Opening the package sent in from Germany.

Mike could do it alone!

This is RD07A model.

This is RD07 model. see the difference? it can't start when it is different.

Mr Mike Havan.

For sale. anyone that wants to purchase this sticker, please drop me a message. i only have one.

My long lost BMT buddie, a renuion in New York.

The one dollar note...

we bought a $15, two way ticket to a casino and upon reaching, they gave us each $25 in cash! anyway, i lost/spend/paid/gave/donated/dropped about $10 in the 1 hour jackpot game. many elderly that lived by the retirement fund given by the governemnt came here. they would earn $10 each day by taking this bus.

self explained. time off not to think about the bike.

i heard from mum that Yeo's used to be their neighbour. hmm, why didn't grandpa wanted mum to marry their son?

I was caught in action, doing 'part time' at Leo's front yard.

The famous liberity bell. do u have one at home?

This guy is cool. i do see him holding his job with pride though it is a simple yet important job. i just wanna take a pic with him. respect!

now i get to know how big is the congress hall of Washington DC.
by the way, do you know that the capital of USA is not New York?

'i am the one'

can u spot the snipers on top of the white house?

couple of the year.

Martin Luther King: I have a dream.

i clearly understand how it feels when someone could explain that freedom is not free. it left a scar on me at that moment i saw this.

i don't know how sam is going to finish that.

nice glass work.

Niagara Falls. if you come here by your own transport, the entrance to this park is free!

closer look at the falls.

when will these countries shake hand?

the falls by the night.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

For our new readers:










现在我们遇到了旅途中最大的挑战 -我们必须替换引擎!!











我们在这个旅途所要的是去经历人生百态,各国的传统 和当地人的生活方式。打个比方,在每个国家起火的方式和煮米烧饭也是不一样的。



八月九日是新加坡的国庆日。 一年前我们也就是在这天成功地抵达这遍美洲大陆。

吴明骏, 彭灵凤.