~ The beauty of nature lies in its imperfections ~

Monday, April 24, 2017

Revisiting an old favourite - Cameron Highlands

It's 2017 and our annual visit to Cameron Highlands beckons!
halfway up to Brinchang, scenery beckons!

It became a couples only ride!  Chiu & Candy, Simon & Katherine, me & Ros  :)

it was also the perfect warm up ride for Wei Jie & Shi Qi, who gamely trotted up Camerons on ANOTHER iron butt machine.

We went out for a day trip to Gunung Brinchang.

and stopped at Boh Tea store for .... tea !

a perfect warm up ride for the NEXT ride.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Singapore to Hua Hin Oct 2016

our year end ride for 2016 took us on the little explored regions between Bangkok and Krabi.
somehow, us Singaporean bikers will just gun full throttle for Chiangmai and skip the hill regions of Khaosok and Ranong.

We headed straight for Our Jungle House in Khaosok, watching the weather forecasts and taking a 'gamble' as October straddles the dry and wet seasons in Thailand. Luck wasn't on our side and we reached Khaosok in the rain, parked the bikes in the rain and sat out rainy days in the resort :(

On the road to Ranong, a whole row of road side shops selling Pau of 3 different flavours!

Midway between Khaosok and Ranong, there is a quiet little cafe on a lookout point.  As usual, there is a HUGE expresspo machine in there and lots of cakes / coffee :)

We make it to Ranong, a quiet quiet little town with a Big C supermarket. They sold motorcycles for a song!

Stayed two nights in Ranong and even found the local hospital has a sideline business of running a spa!  I wonder which Singapore Hospital will have this entrepreneurial spirit!

Enough of the quiet spots... so we headed into Hua Hin, planning to stay at Mana Thai, Hua Hin.  It was the perfect little hotel, with huge rooms, secure parking and walking distance to EVERYthing a travelling biker could want :)

On a day trip northwards, we went to seek out Santorini Park, a man-made theme park.

On another day trip out of Hua Hin, we find the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, approx 35km away from town and in a beautifully set countryside.  Gotta come back for more!

The tourists in us wanted to also have pics in front of the legendary Hua Hin Railway station.

On our return journey, we spent a night at Chumphon and picked this cute google color inspired container hotel :)  Looks fun and the set up is really neat & compact... BUT... the rooms were really small as well.

We also went seeking for Thayang Hotel, a place we stayed in 2002, when we did our 1 month tour of Thailand.  Thayang is still standing AND fully booked for the night!

Southwards we went, to spend some time in Krabi.  We attended the Ya Cooking School and she was even interviewed by Gordon Ramsey for some Thai cooking tips :)  her spoken English is fantastic and we had a great time doing the "Bang Bang".... (Ya speak for using the mortar and pestle) Pounding brings out the fragrance of the spices, not blending!

 After Krabi, it was sountwards to Hatyai and we couldn't resist this shot.  The best way to travel the highways in Thailand?   Gotta have it with Amazon Cafe :)

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Singapore to Laos 2015

Want to see what happens across a 14 day ride from Singapore to Laos? 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cameron Highlands ride - Aug 2015

It's our first ride with Cherie & Weijie, before the bigger one at the end of this year.

Chose the nice twisties up Cameron Highlands to test her DR650 & sniff out any other mods needed. Here's us....after doing the NS highway, and finally among tea plantations :)

We spend the 2 nights at Snooze 2. A very new, hipster B&B in Brinchang. They have a disused Land Rover as part of the cafe decor too.

Touristy things to do in Camerons?  Strawberry picking. Good that there were lots of them ripe & ready to eat this time. Left the farm with 2 full boxes.

Took a day ride exploring parts of the hill. This path leads to the highest point of Camerons with a radio station. 

It's calming looking at the patchwork patterns of the tea plantation.  Somehow we never get tired of this scenery. Helps that there's cool air, a nice ride up & big variety of delicious food. We'll be back for more....

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Long Ride SS

We met Philip and Mikael two years ago, when a mutual friend introduced us as being long distance biking enthusiasts.  After lots of planning, we finally managed to get two weeks away from Singapore, to join the 1st leg of the Long Ride SS.  (www.longrideSS.com)

Essentially, it is a motorbike event that is aimed at raising awareness for Breast Cancer Research in Asia.  We would ride with them from Penang to Chiangmai.  And here is our story.

21 March - Singapore to Penang
22 March - Pink Bikers parade thru Penang, plus a visit to Mount Miriam Hospital

23 March - Penang to Hatyai

24 March - Hatyai to Chumphon

25 March - Chumphon to Cha'am

26 March - Cha'am to Nakhon Sawan

27 March - Nakhon Sawan to Chiangmai

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chiangmai - Rest and Recover

We rolled into Chiangmai thru the 41 degree heat.  THAT is an experience unlike any other!  High temperature, combined with a low 60% humidity results in the feeling like you are charging head first into a hair dryer. Outdoor. In the full heat of noon day sun. Wearing full riding suit of helmet, jacket, pants and boots  :(
Upon reaching Chiangmai, we found cool rest in Dusit D2.  Initial thoughts about going to bunk over at a friend's house was quickly extinguished by the lovely inviting cool air in the hotel lobby and welcome drink  :)  Here's a little pic of us finally chilling out in the hotel lobby

Then the next days, we spent sending the bikes to have the awful sticky tar to be removed, while Phil & Mike had to attend an official function in Chaingmai hospital to open a new ward.  The rest was much needed as we had just ploughed across Thailand in four tiring days, trying to make the deadline for the official function.
One of the dinners was capped by finding a local Thai restaurant specialising in Northern Thai cuisine :)  The specialty is salad using pork crackling dipped in minced meat sauce!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Journey from Penang to Chiangmai

23 March : Penang – Hatyai
The Sunday morning session is a talk on breast cancer statistics and the mission of the ride by both doctors, which is to raise awareness for Asian breast cancer and its research.

At 3pm, we set off for Hatyai & targeted to stay at New Season Hotel
Dinner was at a Teochew Porridge stall which has the longest depth of any shophouse that I have stepped into!  After dinner, it was route planning time for the next day.

24 March : Hatyai – Chumphon
Dreaded Highway #4 and the ripples....

Progress was slow on this leg. Road surface was covered with ripples caused by too many heavy trucks travelling daily.  (read about Philip’s ripple classifications here.) Reached Chumphon Cabana Resort as the sun was setting.  Beautiful dive resort with a fantastic restaurant serving us a super tasty dinner.  Sadly, the road leading to the resort had some road works going on...  so an awfully liquid form of tar had sprayed up onto the four bikes, getting into really hard to reach places  L

25 March : Chumphon – Cha’am
As we moved out from Chumphon, back on the highway, the initial suspicions about Philip’s bike came true when Seung noticed the rear wheel beginning to step sideways in the turns. Something was loose on the rear, and it was later confirmed by a mechanic that the rear wheel bearing was damaged.  Bike was towed to a nearby small town called Bang Saphan to be repaired...  This contact was gotten after a call to Wan Azuar and Sumon, bikers from Malaysia & Thailand, always ready to help.

Due to this set back, we had a 3 hour delay causing us to reduce the day’s distance to Cha’am.
Stayed at Chez Nous Boutique Resort, a nice comfortable beach side resort with immaculate gardening, pristine housekeeping & friendly staff.

Philip opted to give himself a break and so Bumblebee swung into action.  We activated bike carry mode and Phil’s V-Strom 1000 was safely hitched onto the rear of the truck.

26 March : Cha’am – Nakhon Sawan
It was full touring rhythm today, we had good cruising speed of 100-120kmh on the highway to Nakhon Sawan.  Arrived at 4pm, a good 1.5 hours ahead of Bumblebee as it trudged along with the full load of five adults, luggage and a motorcycle sitting on the back of the tow hitch.  Our place chosen for the night is an excellent stop over for road trippers called Bonito Chinos Hotel.  It is just 100m from the turn off along the Superhighway and with eateries within walking distance for tired bikers / drivers.  Bonus is the full breakfast spread which includes the sweet Thai pineapples and watermelons.

27 March : Nakhon Sawan – Chiangmai
Again, another full day of biking, on highway 1. Experienced epic heat of 41 degrees air temperature on the highway. The hot air blowing had an insane effect that no amount of cold drinks could take away. We stayed hydrated, breaking for iced coffee and water every hour at the much appreciated Cafe Amazon within the petrol stations.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Background story for the trip
To join Philip Iau and Mikael Hartman on a long distance ride to raise awareness for Asian Breast Cancer research.  The journey would take them from Singapore to Sweden.  We would join them from Singapore till Chiangmai.....

21 March : Sgp – Penang

We leave Singapore, using the North South Highway to run in the V-Strom 650, while Ros is on the SMT.  Arrived at Millennium Tower, Gurney Drive at 4:30pm and met the guys for dinner.  We were introduced to our travelling companions – Pierce, Soo Lin, Neo Chian and Sunny.  Together with the pair of doctors, our group would be a total of 8 persons.  Among us, a former head of military, a video grapher, a trip scribe cum blogger, two surgeons.  It would be an interesting week ahead

Here is a pic of the support 4x4 that will drive all the way to Sweden.  Affectionately known as Bumblebee, it has been specially kitted out for this expedition with some useful modifications - more of that later!

22 March : Pink Biker Convoy ride
The first of the programme for the doctors, would be a visit to Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital.  On reaching there, we were met by Penang Superbikers who came out for the ride procession to the E&O Hotel.  Penang has been criticised for its jams recently and part of the way, we also got held up by these jams...

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Seeing the Swiss Alps - Aug 2013

This was a rare trip. Getting to the destination by plane instead of motorbike (Hindu menu on SQ is awesome!); 2 weeks out of Singapore (yay! no work!); going to another continent!

Switzerland never stopped wowing us with its breathtaking scenery, historical buildings and friendly people. In 2 weeks, we visited Zurich city, Berne, Mt Pilatus in Lucerne, Zermatt...

Getting Around
We had Zurich as our base, moving around mostly by train and Google maps. They say the trains and buses were so accurate you could set your watch according to the time they arrived.  The number of facilities for bike commuting also made us drool and wished we could live there.  There were designated bike lanes, bike racks on the back of public buses, special carriage on trains for bikes.

Seung the engineer checking out the super space saving bicycle rack.

Borrow a fixie to ride (outside Freitag shop)


Took many trains to get around.  This is the Glacier Express.

Natural beauty

Switzerland is a continuous line of ice caps, mountains, valleys, lakes.  Almost no such thing as a plateau, but a constant canvas of scenery weaving thru the sky.  It unwinds as far as the eye can see, with a dreamy calm that is punctuated by the occasional strolling cow! 

Mt Pilatus, Lucerne
Traditional family restaurant on outskirts of Zurich

On Jungfraujoch, view of the magnificent glacier. We touched snow for the first time.
The 20 min walk from Jon's hut was filled with amazing scenery.

Things we did
The weather was perfect for outdoor activities, the mountainous terrain ideal for skiing and downhill biking, the air fresh and crisp.

Seung rented a mountain bike for some downhill fun in Valbella 

Klettersteig at Zermatt (Via Ferrata climbing) 
Set up by Mammut, free access to the public if you have brought your own gear

Paragliding off Gornergratt in Zermatt

In Zermatt, cycling on the private roads with the Matterhorn in sight

Our Hosts
We're extremely thankful for our lovely hosts who welcomed us into their homes, prepared delicious Swiss food and gave us useful traveling tips insights to their wonderful country. Most of all, spending time with us.  Luckily we remembered some Chinese recipes and duly returned the favour the next night too :) 
Our hosts in Zurich - Urs and Marlene and their daughter Vivien, with family friends
Sonja hosted us in Bern, welcoming us with a pair of Bern bear cakes
Home cooked Polenta and veal stew with Jon and Hanni,
 in their private mountain house that is refurbished from a 300 year old barn!
Even more authentic?  He cooked it over a wood stove.  Luckily we brought a pack of bak-kwa, and slabs of that very quickly became the starters for a memorable combination of Asian and Western.
Breakfast at Urs' mountain house in Valbella

Overall, a wonderful holiday for us.  We love Switzerland!