Monday, December 28, 2009

America and Canada 5 months experience

Hope Too in Sydney Airport.

We entered USA via Mexico on 26 June 2009. We met many nice people in Canada and USA.

The first person that talked to us was also a biker that wanted to invite us to her house but we are urged to go to Dave’s house for the night.

Dave was amazing. He hosted us and helped us in our biggest problem we had on this trip. He introduced us to Gary and Heather, which Hope Too was hospitalized there for about 19 days before the engine finally broke down.

When Hope Too was broken down along side of the highway, we actually received help from 3 different people but we did not get them to help because Gary was coming to pick us up to the nearest motel on the next exit.

We felt very homely when we stayed with Leo, Helen and Michael after flying to Boston with a backpack for the tree conference. Over at New York which we got there by bus, we were rejoiced to meet Waimun.

when we flew back to Dave’s house, the ‘new’ engine arrived at Houston. it was Mike Bui, someone that I do not know personally, recommended me to MPH cycles where Mike Haven helped me to repair Hope Too for free!

Our first destination with Hope Too after his recovery was Dallas, meeting a fellow Singaporean that had stayed in USA for some time, his name is Aaron.
the writing till here, I suddenly felt bored. Not because the last topic was about Aaron but because the way I am writing, too longwinded.

ok, lets start all over again:

Our 5 months USA and Canada experience:

we met many nice people in USA

Gary & Heather
the 3 person that offer us help when Hope Too broke down along the highway.
the lady that I hitchhiked with.
The old couple that brew us coffee when we were staying at the campsite of Rhode Island.
Leo and his family.
Waimun in NY to catchup with.
The black lady, unknown name. we were ‘lost’ when someone did not promise to come and fetch us from the airport, she guided us on taking bus and nagged at the bus driver so that we can get the ride for free.
Mike Bui.
MPH Cycles and Mike Haven.
Aaron Thor.
Bill, helped on our tire puncture repair.
The friends we made during the Horizons Unlimited Bike Traveler’s meeting. (many)
Karen Rutherford and Fred Walti.
Blanca and Jim Williams.
Tom Mclnally
Mary Pint and John Willcox.
Lawrance Pevec.
Peter Kiss.
Drew and Dave Gottenborg.
Joshua Briggs.
Ian Stewart.
Eric Stieglitz.
Luigi Chiarani.
Christ Ratay.
Dr Greg Fraizer.
Mark Weeding and Rosana.
Bill in Arizona.
Derek Jou.
Another Bill and wife near Las Vegas.
Tara and Bruce at Yosemite.
Thor Anderson and Jerry.
Richard and Jacqueline.
Sonia, Taiwanese lady we met at Cresent City.
Duncan Badine and friends.
Patti and Herb Harsch.
Longbeach motorsports.
The bus driver that guided us in LA after we sent in Hope Too to the warehouse.
Jose, that drove us to the freight forwarder when we can’t catch a bus or taxi in time.
The Chinese couple we stayed with in LA.

Don Serl and family.
The guy that bought us lunch.

Other than that, we also met some NOT very nice people, that gave us a lot of problems. to quote a few:

Houston motorcycle exchange (VERY NASTY)
Truck rental company, U-haul, in Houston.
Subway sandwich in Rhode Island. Did we tell you the story about that?
Custom officers in Canada: fine us for CAD$1000 because of their EGO.
A police officer in Califonia.
The customs of USA: Accused us for smuggling the bike into USA when we wanted to fly out to Australia.
‘Swindle’ Logistic Company in LA (THE WORST).

we spent a lot of money going to north America. from the start when we were back in Singapore, the USA embassy took US$100 from Samantha and did not approve the visa. from that incident, we were not very keen on going USA. 1 year later, after hearing many travel stories from fellow bikers that went to USA, that motivated us to apply for the visa again. we spent another US$300 for that visa and luckily it was approved. we also spent about $1400 to buy air tickets out of USA 6 months in advance for the visa application.

the more painful things began in Houston Motorcycle Exchange where we spend about $245 on them for something that I can DIY and still having the problem unsolved. that led me to look for Gary, were we spent 19 days repairing the bike, that we have to include the living expenses, and buying of parts for the repair. on that 19 days we spent about US$1000.
After the breakdown, we had to stay in a motel and rent a truck back to Houston, that cost another $300. then we have to buy airticket to Rhode Island because we couldn’t ride there in time for the conference, that cost another $930. another $230 for car rental.

when the engine arrived in Houston, we have to rent a truck $150. then another $1200 for the engine and custom clearance.

we spent another $800 to change the date of our airticket out of USA.

On just the broke down of engine in USA cost us US$4855 from what we calculated from the above. That was excluded from the aftermath of it. Then our plan was delayed for 2 months for everything. going to Alaska and Canada 2 months late was expensive too. We had to stay in expensive lodging because of the weather. even we go back to the south, in USA, there were many places we couldn’t visit because we were 2 months late and again, we had to pay $$$ to stay indoors instead of traveling. all these extra lodging due to the weather cost us about $300.

then it comes to the ‘swindle’ freight forwarder that took about extra $1000 on top of the initial quote.

don’t forget about the CAD$1000, we are still fighting for this case. the officer that we are fighting with is tough because if we win, it will affect her job.

so the most important question:

was it worth going to USA and Canada after all these troubles?

answer: YES!

will we go back to USA or Canada again?

answer: the only reason that we would go back would be the friends there.

so now, whats happening to us here in Australia.

we arrived on 28 November 2009. till date, our fund is almost dry. so we wanted to cross Australia as fast as possible to Darwin and go to East Timor and Indonesia where standard of living would be much affordable for us. BUT BUT BUT: going north now is the worst season. Rain, flood, extreme dry in certain places, cyclone and terrible roads. No bikers would want to go north now till mid march 2010.

our visa in Australia will expire on 26 February 2010. we have to pay A$250 each to extend the visa. I heard from a fellow biker, he extend his Australia visa for another 12 months, he had to pay the A$250 and had to proof to the officials that he had at least A$12000 in his bank. He did it. we don’t think we are able to show this amount of money and it would be a pain to pay A$500 just to extend the visa for 2 months.

what about going south now?

it would be a good time to stay in the south now but we can’t travel because we do not have enough money. so we are staying in a friend’s (Steve Smith) house, apply for a working holiday visa now and will go and find work after all these holiday seasons are over.

meanwhile, Steve would be busy doing his paperwork for his business and had less time with us, he suggested us to move to his friend’s (Paul) house, near Kilkivan, Queensland, to stay while I can practice on my chainsaw skills there for a couple of week.

Paul lived in the bush. there isn’t running water or electricity but there would be plenty of dead trees to cut and practice.

we will be at:

S 26° 14.476’
E152° 14.756’

from 30th December 2009 till maybe 10th January 2010 before coming back to Steve’s place at:

S 26° 42.014’
E152° 56.645’

the problems we had now was due to a chain reaction. It started off with the lost Hope in October 2007.

If I were not to visit my friend’s father at a Malaysia’s hospital, Hope will not be stolen.
then we will not be getting Hope Too,
then we would not had spent so much money on Hope Too and all the stupid repairs,
then we would not be 2 months late.
then we would have enough money,
then… lesson learn:

don’t visit your friend’s father in Malaysia’s hospital where he get into motorcycle accident while riding with his friend and his friend left him alone in the hospital and come back to singapore, that caused his son and his friend (me) to go and settle the case and take care of him? no.

don’t go to Malaysia with your motorcycle? no.

I learned to double and triple lock my bike and belongings. just a lock at that time could save us so many things. I am still upset over the lost Hope and when all these problem we face now, even everyday riding Hope Too, it linked to the day when Hope was stolen. Up till today, Hope Too is giving us problem (like a stone in the shoe) and we do not know when he is going to break down on the road again. We have no confident on him. Nobody here knows how to repair Hope Too even they are willing to repair, it cost a lot of money for their labour.

we are just waiting for time to pass now, till all these holidays are over and could look for a job and working visa, that allow us to go home.

Plan always don’t work out so we have to plan of some other plans along the way.
Mr Lou, we stayed with him in LA. He loves real spicy food!


RaTz said...

Things might not always turn out the way we'd like them to be, but it often presents a great opportunity for one to learn from the experience and grow wiser. Perseverance will always bring you to new heights.
Both you and Sam have a great dream. Hang in there and make us proud, my friend. :-)
Ride safe.

Anonymous said...

hello~nice to meet u..............................

david said...
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