Saturday, 2 November 2013

Kashgar Adventure . . . the journey continues

Click here for Continuation from Kashgar Adventure .... Journey Began

20 Sept - Chengdu - Lhasa - Lhazi

We received news from the airline that our rescheduled flight will be at 0630 hours. Great i thought. Not much to make up for lost time. 

We arrived in Lhasa surrounded with banks of peaks and 11 eager individuals craving to run Tibet after the much appreciated recess. Our rides were waiting some 230 km away in a town of Lhaze. So in the meantime, we go public but not before a visit to the famous Potala Palace. Quoting Mr Wang's convincing refute; “You haven't been to Tibet if you don't visit Potala Palace". 

Earmarked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the historic site offers inspiriting insights of the history of Dalai Lama(s) and his teachings. Due to the overwhelming enthusiasts they receive every day, all visitors are only given an hour of pilgrimage of the site.

A chartered bus prearranged by Mr Wang awaited us as soon as we left the palace.

Our Tibet guide, Phun Tsok greeted us at the airport. Now another regulations for visits to Tibet will require all tourists to engage a Tibet guide. Not any Chinese guide but a local Tibet guide and on top of the existing permits entering China, Tibet also calls for additional permits like an 'Alien Travel Permit among a few.

After lunch we were off for Lhaze.

We arrived Lhaze to an anxious Mr Wang and all the bikes covered with road dusts. Checked in De Xi Hotel for 230 yuan. 

21 Sept - Lhaze - Everest Base Camp

We bade goodbye to Mr Wang who was a paramount figure in  ensuring the group still advance even after numerous counts of misfortunes. Ironically as our official guide, he spent half the time not being with us but in hospitals, police stations, vehicle inspection centers amongst a few places and then after, in numerous modes of public transportation exhaustively trying to reconcile with the team. He could have easily point his finger on us and blame it on our riding styles instead of luck but in his most accurate statement which I recalled, " Don't worry Ibrahim, it is my job to help you guys. I will settle this problem, You continue with my driver but be careful". Those proved to be most re-assuring when calamity took place and the setbacks piled up one after another resulting in undesirable casualties. He is not one who goes by the itinerary religiously but gives variance in times when preference is a privilege but he does on critical times when needed, stressed that other alternatives are not an option. In short, this 2nd acquaintanceship with him re affirmed my perception of him being honest, direct and realistic.

We left Lhaze for Old Tingri but was interrupted by the power outage the town was experiencing during our usual morning re fuel. So we head back into the town when the attendant suggested a kiosk which carry a generator. 

Of all the 6 Chinese province, The Autonomous Region of Xizang or Tibet must be one most lawful and authoritative territory. Apart from the various permits, our activities are closely monitored as well. When we arrived hotel the previous night, soon after, two police officers turned up to check on us. Even for fuel refilling, all consumers are required to register with the district police before they are allowed to buy petrol. They are normally located at the entrance of the kiosk under a makeshift tent. Time consuming in my opinion. Park vehicle near the entrance, register with the police, look for a can, walk to kiosk with can, fill up, pay up, walk back to vehicle and refill. Most of the time, you are only able to find 2 cans at most. 3 on few occasions. And a full can is not sufficient to fill up the entire tank on our bikes. 

Police checkpoint

The police at this checkpoint warned us that the next checkpoint will be manned by military and they will not tolerate any attempt of photo taking or even display of cameras on our bikes or helmet. 

Lunch in Old Tingri

Then she presented herself from a distance.

 North Gate Entrance 

South Gate Entrance

We were supposed to cover a distance of 194 km with about 100 km off road. However, our guide brought us to the south gate route which is longer but with only 70 km off road thinking this will save us time.  But the treacherous trail was packed with plentiful huge rocks. Most times, I was strenuously trying to keep the bike upright and only managing low speed travels on this highly demanding terrain. Fatigue sets in fast on this grave backbreaking trails and the thin air contributed a significant extent to that as well.  I was lucky but few others took some heavy punch.

One third to the end of the journey to the Everest Base Camp, I was travelling alone. The harsh terrain strategize everyone to ride at their own pace for fearing of tipping over. At this stage, lifting the bike would be a distressing ordeal. Even getting off the bike begs for hard gasping of air. There was a point, out of a sudden, the lethargy, faintness and exhaustion brought out fear. I was anxious if I was on a right track. There seemed to be no road at a certain junction and it was all 'bash through' protocol. We were stringing along the cable lines atop that should lead to the base camp. Until a tiny settlement, I was uttering 'Qomolangma' to the locals and they nodded in affirmation that I was on the right path. 

Meanwhile, the majestic peak of snow capped mountain kept peeking on me.

Ultimately, I found the last checkpoint.

It was joyous. Accomplishment of the pinnacle triumph. I took some time to admire the beauty and reflect on the conquest. Thanked the Creator a million times for my witness of his alluring grand accessory. In my own words, it's orgasmic. The military officer reminded me that it's still another 5 km before i arrived Qomolangma Base Camp or famously known as Mount Everest.

The tent costs 60 yuan per bed. I tucked in without removing any riding apparels except for the boots. I anticipated the cold was going to get on me.

That night I was fighting for air. Sleeping was difficult. I was contemplating for medical evacuation but even to cry out seemed a gruesome effort. It was almost impossible. It turned out I was not the only one. And the cold was awful.

22 Sept - Everest Base Camp - Zhangmu

 Anuar got up at 5 am to capture this gem

We left base camp by 10 am. This time we took the north gate which was about 100 km off road but more manageable. We took about 4 hrs to clear that route. After that, there was another 244 km of good road to Zhangmu Pass. The whole ride took us to an elevation of 5035 m passing through 5 mountains along the way with the prospect of spectacular scenes. We also had to go through a total of 4 police and military checkpoint. Quite stringent in Tibet. Some significant jaw dropping backdrops as we took the north gate. 

Then a rider discovered this on his tire.

He managed to ride this away to the big road.

We were back on good tarmac when the fragmented tire gave way. We sourced for a truck to transport the bike to Zhangmu Pass. This delay caused us to ride about 100 km in the night. About 70 km before our destination, another bike stalled. We waited for the lorry which was transporting the earlier bike to arrive so we could load the second bike.

Zhangmu is a border town with lots of tourists transiting from Nepal to China. It is a unique town sitting by the valleys of the mountains. 

23 Sept - Zhangmu - Kathmandu

Today would be the final leg of our ride which covers the crossing of China - Nepal border and ends in Kathmandu. Prior to the trip, I spent an extensive amount of time inquisition for regulations of foreign vehicles entering Nepal. Most websites mentioned the need to carry one but i had a couple of friends who entered the same border equipped with it but was not asked for. There's one which mentioned it is only recommended but not necessary to have. A call with Automobile Association of Singapore suggested we get one but knowing the ridiculous amount we have to deposit for it, an acquisition of CdP is not an option. But finally after a couple of months, i managed to get hold of a 600 over pages of Nepalese Immigration Import Regulations which confirms that a foreign vehicle entering Nepal without a CdP requires to fulfill their temporary import regularities which includes paying a small fee. So i got it printed out and brought them along.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Morning was a busy day for 2 riders as they look for workshop in hope to get the bikes running. But as expected nowhere in Zhangmu carries a tire for the GSA and a fuel pump for the Dakar. So up the lorry they went again.

A bridge separates the 2 countries

Was expecting hold up in China but we cleared soon enough. On the other hand the issuance of temporary import customs in Nepal took all day and we were only good to go by 6 pm. 30 km of bad road along the valleys and was told by the villagers that it's good 90 km after that. So we wasted no time.

 As someone reminded that the congestion was similar to Lorong Fatima Woodlands checkpoint back in the early 80's

The first 30km of our route was a badly damaged road. After this stretch, the road was paved but with lots of potholes. The ride from Kodari border to Kathmandu brought us through villages along the fast flowing rivers. 

We settled for the night at a district called Thamel. We checked in Hotel Nana for 1100 rupees per night.

24 Sept - Kathmandu

Totally different vibes in Nepal. Language, outfits, habits and contrasting cultures. Hotel Nana was recommended by the 8 man group who scouted well for this place. We spent the morning having roof top breakfast while waiting for a shipping agent whom I contacted before departure. He was coming in to take measurements on our bikes for crating.

 Measured at basement carpark

 At the office for documentations

Then off for some souvenirs

25 Sept - Kathmandu

We booked a day tour for white water rafting the night before. First time for most of us.

For a whole day event costing USD 20, I thought it was quite a steal. The boys certainly had fun although 2 of them donated an Oakley shades and a camcorder to the river bed.

26 Sept - Kathmandu

After breakfast we were headed for airport cargo complex prepare the crates. Ejat made his way for airport to catch a flight home.

Ejat Hussain

After breakfast, we took the bike to the custom house

That night we scattered around for shopping and some were seen just picking some corner joints for a good dinner. 

I got this custom made for a cool USD 10

27 Sept - Kathmandu - Singapore

It's day 42 and it was time to go home. Although I could have wish for more days, but there's a couple of people back home who can't wait for this day. 

The good people of Hotel Nana. Not a fancy place but the staff made the difference. 

Had a brilliant time in Nepal. Good natured people and relatively cheap for tourists. Loads of fun trolling down Trisuli river for white water rafting. The people certainly possess more charm than their fairer skinned neighbors. Poverty is more prominent but the people offer friendship and good will. The children in Tibet waves and ask for money, the children in Nepal waves to say hello. 

Pokhara does sound enticing. Should be flipping the calenders once I'm home.

It's just me and Kachuak taking a direct flight back to Singapore while the rest preferred MAS. Farid decided to stay a bit longer in Nepal and Ejat returned a day earlier. I was all upbeat about coming back the moment I took those steps.

I know. The kids missed C not me. But those faces must be the most pleasing for me.

And the good looking friends of ours embracing our return.

It was pleasing to see familiar smiles and laughter. Comfortably soothing.The accomplishment was great feat but having friends and families consistently offering support makes it extremely meaningful and worthwhile. 

The team was top draw. They inspire in many ways.

The comedian in the group. His ability to put on a straight face whilst at it is most hilarious. A food lover, he was awfully dispirited when he was forced out of the journey after 15 days. Nevertheless his feat on his moped was creditable.

Taufiq being the youngest, his energy was immense. Always in jovial mood. My roommie before his early departure at Shangri La due to a broken wrist and a badly damaged ride.

Quite a character Vin is. Often vocal, he ensures things get done accordingly. He was always volunteering.  He rides fast as well and was always leading the pack. He was fighting for his life after his Katoom bowed down to mother nature. He is all well now.

During his heydays, Zainal was a pro. Now he still got them all. He glided on his loaded GSA like an eagle. Being in tourism industry, he's very much interested in cultures. He blends in fast and very well. Always eager to explore.

I really have to thank Hendra for keeping me in check most of the time. Always asking questions and reminding me. He's my walking memo. An off road maniac, he puts his Katoom to what it was designed for.

One of the coolest guy. The most experienced overlander from the other team. Easy to work with. Took some stunning shots. Has a great eye for photography.

Mr MacGyver Faizul. An engineer by profession, his technical knowledge is boundless. And he does it so with ease. Speaks little but helps a lot. He sports the coolest hairdo too. 

Dr Liang must be the most disciplined individual in the team. Being the oldest, he's the most fittest too. Never heard him raise a voice. Always calm. Puts me at ease many a times. At some point he was our recce team. But that team consist of only 1 man. The amount of assistance he provided was measureless. Super guy.

Shahreel  rides a mammoth for this trip, his 1150GSA. Seeing him soar gracefully amazes me. An average joe who is passionate. Always accepting, always accomodating.

He's cheery, he's carefree, he's happy go lucky. Recorded the most number of drops, some of them were nasty but he didn't care. He pledged on 'let's enjoy the ride, deal with problems when they come'. He's a good cook as well. Hazrin made some of the best noodles I've tasted. I lied actually.

Kaz's 2nd trip into China. One of the main marker and he did a splendid job in keeping the team as close as possible. Let down by some technical issues but most times he perseveres on. He will remember Tibet for the rest of his time. All for the wrong reasons.

Sess traveled 90% of the journey without a windshield and harnessing a wrecked up panniers after the incident in Laos. He picked himself up instantaneously and pressed on with great determination. Never been past Malaysia on his bike, he achieved multiple breakthroughs in 42 days. His enormous courage pulled him through to the finish line. Two thumbs up for him.

Anwar must be one of the key figures during the preparation stage. He was ever so present and ever so committed since day 1. His passion for adventure touring is admirable. Throughout the journey, he squeezed painstaking time to record our daily accounts during the 42 days. You can check out his wonderful videos he's pieced together. 

Adventure of a lifetime Part 1

Adventure of a lifetime Part 2

Adventure of a lifetime Part 3

Singapore - Nepal - Kashgar

The biggest smile bearer among all. Being one of the 2 Mandarin speaking member of the team, needless to say, Dennis' main appointment was communication. He managed to cut down time significantly with his proficiency in the language. And he's been patience with the team himself responding to every request from them with translation. A businessman, he questioned every cost to ensure we were fairly charged. 

Another technical savvy individual. He lead the team with purchases of parts during the initial stage. Dealer for rim's tubeless conversion, Outex and having affiliation with Heidanau tire distributor as well as juggling between day job and part time studies, he handled the logistic needs comfortably. His commitment during the trip was unquestionable. His bike clocked more mileage than others having to retract back whenever he was needed. And every time he readily obliged. He proved many people wrong when outsiders warned about his possible attitude. His involvement was top notch.

Encik Mus is a top grade gentleman. He leads, marks and sweeps for most of the journey. He's adventurous and handles his ride ever so comfortably. His talent with tie downs was essential in ensuring the bikes stayed upright during transportation time. A well mannered individual by nature, he's the team's anchorman and was often overlooking and offering assistance. But when he's not, he's mostly cam whoring.

Farook or fondly known as Kachuak defines the term endurance and will power. Traveling along with the big trallies, we often forgot he was on a 135 cc bike. Many consistently question the decision to allow them to tag along suggesting slowing down of the convoy. Kachuak rode along instead. He never got intimidated for that matter. He deserves my biggest applause. Packs humour, he provides laughter with his jokes and eccentrics. Oh, and he sings too.

Farid was like a guardian angel. He rides a fast bike but was always the last man. He never really put his Strada to test but that was never his intention. Routinely, he traveled with the mopeds throughout the journey. He's my rear man all the time, every time. His patience and tolerance level was second to none. 

I'm always lost for words when it comes to Ejat, He impressed everyone with his attributes. He lead by example and his presence provides assurance and confidence to the rest. He somehow had those. We all suspected that he possesses the lungs of 2 horses and always seen on spots where help was needed, most times keeping positive minds. He's optimistic, always ready and ever so effervescent. Many of us depended on him for confidence boosting. My hats off to this guy and no unfairness to the rest, but he's everybody's man of the match.

We had a good team. I owe a lot to them for this completion. Their spirit, endurance, brotherhood. On many occasion, I learnt a thing or two from these chaps. They even managed to put on their biggest smile after 16 hours of ride through 360 km of off-road. They offer whatever they have in times of distress. They put the needs of others before theirs. We had frequent change of plans due to many unwanted events and not once they voiced any unhappiness. Often, we compromised quickly. My job was made easy by these brothers who understands the concept of group adventure touring. As for me, these guys did most of my jobs. These guys are my Kashgar heroes.

It was an extremely a great journey. Seen plenty through that non tourist route that makes me ever so grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to witness His creation on the other side of the world, to realize the values of life and what He has given to me and my family, to appreciate them, my loved ones and being loved by them. I don't have that much money but He made me realized that I have much more than what money can give me. I am sure these have been said a lot from the wise ones, but hearing is different from believing. I'm rich enough with those virtues and blessings upon me.  

We saw children walking miles and miles to get to school. We rarely see that in Singapore, as most of them would have a seat in a school bus.

We saw children using scrap yard items as toys. In Singapore, we have futuristic playgrounds with parents or domestic helpers supervising.

We saw mothers tending to a push cart stalls with toddlers playing underneath.

We saw a family of father and daughter living off their car selling vegetables by the roadside. In Singapore, they would be referred to Ministry of Community Services.

We saw a house with just 1 single wall for the occupants to lean on. The other 3. Was not constructed in the first place.  In Singapore, it's not fit to be called one.

It was an eye opener for most if not all of us. 

As I pen this, we already had some fair share of criticism on how we 'cheated' because the bikes flew home. That we truck load the bikes on certain stretch, that the accidents could have been avoided with proper planning. Funny that these were coming from people that have never been there or were not there. Yes of course I appreciate suggestions, but to be fair they didn't sound like one to me.

I must admit there seem to be some form of 'sickness' in the biking community. They seemed eager to condemn and discredit. To be honest, I saw this coming all along. Before the trip I reminded the rest that we are not there to outdo anyone or prove anybody wrong. Whatever that we have and will achieve, many others have done more. On the final meet up before the trip, everybody was cautioned that the itinerary that was presented was only served as a guideline. There are many factors that may prevent all of us from accomplishing. 3 didn't make it. And it was never their fault.
Once home, everyone was congratulated but I was compelled to remind us again that we do not come back as champions or masters and this triumph should never put us above everyone else. On the other hand, these wonderful guys deserves some bragging rights. They earned it. For most of us including myself, it was a dream being fulfilled. 

I ride not for fame. I don't ride to get status. I ride to see other parts of the world. And I will ride again to see more.

Till the next one.

Published article

Berita Harian, 2nd December 2013

By Noor Hasnah Adam, Berita Harian journalist

Oleh: Noor Hasnah Adam

“Orang kata, mencari ilmu biar sampai ke negara China. Pengembara kata, kalau mengembara jangan setakat ke negara China.”
Inilah pegangan Encik Noor Ibrahim Abdillah, 37 tahun, seorang Instruktor Teknologi. Pada tahun 2011, Encik Ibrahim telah mengembara bermotosikal dengan isteri yang membonceng beserta 5 lagi sahabat. Mereka sampai ke Yunnan Shangri La China dan amat takjub dengan keindahan alam negeri itu. Namun apabila pemandu pelancong dari China mengatakan bahawa Shangri La hanya keindahan yang sedikit jika dibandingkan sekiranya kita menjelajah terus ke utara, hati Encik Ibrahim terasa terusik. Sepulangnya beliau dari Shangri La, kata-kata itu terus terngiang-ngiang dan menjadi tekad untuk beliau menjelajah lebih jauh lagi suatu hari nanti demi melihat keindahan alam ciptaan Tuhan.
“Saya seorang pengembara. Bukan untuk mencipta nama atau sejarah. Tetapi demi minat yang mendalam terhadap pengembaraan bermotosikal sambil menemui pelbagai ilmu dan sesuatu yang baru sepanjang perjalanan.”
Dengan ketabahan dan sikap merendah hati, Encik Ibrahim bertekad untuk menjadikan pengembaraan beliau sesuatu yang bermakna dalam kehidupan. Beliau berazam dan berikrar semoga sekembalinya beliau nanti, beliau dapat berkongsi dengan masyarakat atau pengembara bermotosikal di samping dapat juga menjadikan pengalamannya sebagai inspirasi pembakar semangat pelapis generasi baru pencinta motosikal.

Tahap Perancangan

Sekembalinya dari Yunnan Shangri La China pada tahun 2011, Encik Ibrahim mula melakar perjalanan baru dan merancang pengembaraannya untuk ke Kashgar. Xinjiang China kelihatan sangat jauh melalui lakaran peta namun Encik Ibrahim membuat perkiraan bahawa pengembaraan itu boleh dilakukan dalam masa 42 hari.  Encik Ibrahim sedar bahawa kos untuk masuk ke China dengan motosikal amat mahal justeru sekiranya beliau mengembara secara solo atau dalam kumpulan kecil, beliau terpaksa menanggung kos yang amat tinggi.

Pengembara asing yang mahu masuk ke negara China dengan motosikal perlu memohon visa dan mempunyai pemandu pelancong. Tanpa pemandu pelancong, mereka tidak dibenarkan masuk. Visa permit untuk masuk ke China berharga USD$250, sementara yuran mendapatkan seorang pemandu pelancong adalah USD$200 sehari. Beliau telah mendapatkan khidmat seorang pemandu pelancong bernama Encik Wang Lun selama 30hari di China. Beliau juga perlu memajak sebuah jip sebagai kenderaan bantuan sepanjang perjalanan dengan harga USD$180 sehari. Di Tibet pula, mereka terpaksa menggunakan khidmat pemandu pelancong yang lain kerana Tibet bukan lagi di bawah kuasa Negara China. Yuran pemandu pelancong Tibet setinggi USD$300 sehari dan jip kenderaan bantuan pula berharga USD$320 sehari.

Melihatkan kos yang tinggi, Encik Ibrahim cuba mendapatkan lebih ramai pengembara motosikal untuk turut serta dalam pengembaraan itu supaya dapat mengurangkan kos setelah dibahagi sama rata. Akhirnya Encik Ibrahim berhasil mengumpul 20 peserta. Seorang peserta perlu membayar USD$2600 hanya untuk visa dan pemandu pelancong. Keseluruhannya, seorang peserta perlu membelanjakan sekitar USD$9000 untuk pengembaraan itu.

Perancangan perlu dilakukan dengan teliti justeru banyak pertemuan diadakan untuk membincangkan pengembaraan itu. Pada awalnya, peserta hanya 12 orang. 8 orang lagi berminat untuk mengikuti pengembaraan itu tetapi terhalang dek komitmen terhadap pekerjaan dan keluarga. Justeru Encik Ibrahim melakar semula perjalanan untuk memastikan lagi 8 orang itu dapat menyertai pengembaraan itu tetapi dalam waktu yang lebih singkat.

Konvoi sebanyak 20 peserta memulakan perjalanan dari Singapura-Malaysia-Thailand-Laos-Yunnan Province-Sichuan Province-Qinghai Province-Xinjiang Province. Kumpulan A, iaitu kumpulan pertama seramai 12 orang akan meneruskan pengembaraan ke Golmud untuk ke Kashgar melalui Laluan Sutera Selatan (Southern Silk Road), terus ke lebuh raya Karakoram -Kashgar-Urumqi -Lhasa-Tibet-Everest Base-Kathmandu. Manakala kumpulan B iaitu kumpulan kedua seramai 8 orang meneruskan perjalanan yang lebih singkat, ke Lhasa-Tibet-Everest Base-Kathmandu. Kedua-dua kumpulan akan mengakhiri pengembaraan di Kathmandu pada tarikh yang berbeza dan pulang ke Singapura dengan pesawat. Paling menarik, konvoi itu disertai dengan penunggang jenis motosikal yang berbeza kuasanya. Ada dua motosikal kapcai atau Yamaha Spark 135cc yang mengikuti pengembaraan itu.

Persiapan pun dirancang dengan lebih teliti, terutama dari segi logistik dan mempersiapkan motosikal. Para peserta diberi tugas masing masing untuk pengembaraan itu.  Mohd Shahrin ditugaskan mencari dan mengumpulkan alat ganti motosikal serta kelengkapan teknikal. Encik Ibrahim menguruskan segala logistik perancangan perjalanan dan sering berhubung dengan pihak di China. Ada juga beberapa pengedar yang menaja kelengkapan mereka seperti kamera Go pro untuk digunakan dan tayar Heidenau dengan harga rendah.

Semakin dekat tarikh pengembaraan, debaran kian terasa dan semangat untuk menjejakkan kaki ke Kashgar melalui pengembaraan bermotosikal semakin membara. Pada 15hb Ogos 2013, pengembaraan pun bermula.

Peserta konvoi Kumpulan A (42 hari)    

Jenis motosikal
Noor Ibrahim Abdillah Bin Abdul Manap
Instruktor Operasi
Toh Wen Bin Dennis
Pengurus Operasi
Mustafa Bin Hassan
Pegawai Pertahanan
Anwar Hussain S M
Pengurus Operasi
Farook Fageh Bin Rahmat
Penunggang Despatch
Yamaha Spark 135cc
Mohammad Shahrin Bin Mohammmed Moonshi
Penyelia Marin
Mohamad Fazio Bin Rahmat
Pegawai Khas
Ducatti Multistrada 1200
Hazrin Bin Abdul Halim
Kapten kapal
Ramasess Ramakrishnan
Pengurus Sukan
Norkassim Bin Mohd Nor
Operations Technician
Mohamed Izzat Bin Mohamed Husain
Operations Technician
Mohamad Fazeli Bin Mohamed Yunos
Yamaha X1R

Muhammad Taufiq Bin Mohamed
Pegawai Polis
Zainal Abidin Bin Bulat
Pemandu Pelancong
Vinodh Menon
KTM 990
Mas Eizrah Hendra
Teknisyen SIA
KTM 990
Mohamed Elfie Bin Samsidi
KTM 950
Muhammad Faizul Bin Selamat
Jurutera SIA
Dr Liang Te Shan
Doktor Bedah
Mohamed Shahrel Bin Mohamed Rahamatulla
Pegawai Penjara

Oleh: Noor Hasnah Adam
 “Kapchai ke Kashgar. Kapchai boleh ikut motor besarkah?”
Itu soalan spontan sesiapa sahaja sewaktu diberitahu bahawa pengembaraan itu akan melibatkan 2 motosikal kapchai. Namun dengan penuh yakin, Encik Fazli memberitahu bahawa dirinya beserta Encik Farook akan bergerak dari Singapura sehari lebih awal. Mereka hanya bertemu konvoi di Chiangkong Thailand setelah meronda Segitiga Emas (Golden Triangle). Seorang lagi peserta, Dr Liang bertemu konvoi di Haadyai Thailand.
“Penunggang motosikal tak boleh tunggang laju di jalan raya selepas Laos dan China. Justeru kapchai tidak akan ketinggalan. Lagi pula, motor kapchai memerlukan bajet murah sedikit berbanding motor besar. S$8000 sahaja. Saya benar-benar menikmati ekspedisi ini. Pada awalnya memang rasa tak dapat pergi. Tapi saya sanggup kumpul wang dalam masa dua tahun dengan bekerja sebagai penunggang Despatch dan buat kerja sambilan. Apabila dapat sampai ke Kashgar, hati saya benar-benar melonjak kegembiraan. Seronok sekali,” cerita Encik Farook, salah seorang peserta yang menunggang kapchai Yamaha Spark 135cc.
“Apabila ramai kenalan tanya saya bolehkah Kapchai ikut motor besar? Saya jawab mengapa tidak? Tunggang kapchailah selamat. Dalam pengembaraan ini, kapchai tak jatuh langung walau macam mana teruk sekalipun jalan. Motor lain semua jatuh paling sedikit 2 kali. Tapi kita cepat bangkit, angkat motor, sambung perjalanan. Kalau motor seringan kapchai tak mengapa juga,” seloroh Encik Ibrahim, ketua ekspedisi.

Haadyai – Chiangmai - China
18 motosikal dimuatkan ke dalam trak dari Haadyai ke Chiangmai. 18 peserta menaiki pesawat ke Chiangmai dan dapat berehat dua hari di Chiang Mai.
“Kami memilih menaiki pesawat untuk menjimatkan masa dan mengumpul tenaga. Kami tahu kami akan menempuh perjalanan yang lebih mencabar bermula di Laos. Ternyata, jangkaan kami tepat sekali,” cerita Encik Ibrahim.
Konvoi terus masuk ke Laos dan tiba di Boten Sempadan China pada 20hb Ogos 2013. Mereka terkandas di imigresen selama 3 jam untuk pengurusan kemasukan ke Negara China.
“Leceh tapi berbaloi. Semua orang dah tak sabar menempuh pengembaraan baru. Ada antara kami yang tak pernah masuk ke Thailand. Apabila dapat menjelajah bermotosikal sehingga ke China, pastinya merupakan suatu pencapaian besar dan pembuka mata,” cerita Encik Fazli.

Cabaran 1
Pada 23 Aug 2013 dalam perjalanan dari Jinggu ke Nanjian, Encik Muhammad Taufik Bin Mohamed telah mengalami kemalangan bertembung dengan kereta.
“Pada waktu itu saya sedang menekan minyak menambah kelajuan sambil membelok selekoh kanan. Saya tak dapat melihat apa-apa di hadapan kerana selekoh tajam. Pada waktu itulah sebuah kereta tiba-tiba muncul kerana cuba memotong kenderaan di hadapannya lantas memasuki laluan saya. Saya tak dapat mengelak. Kami bertembung. Saya jatuh ke kiri jalan dan mengalami keretakan tulang tangan dan kaki. Motosikal saya ranap,” cerita Encik Taufik yang menjelaskan bahawa insurans yang dibelinya membantu mendapatkan ganti rugi motosikal dan kecederaan. Encik Taufik berjaya mendapat wang pampasan sebanyak belasan ribu USD daripada pemandu kereta itu dengan bantuan pemandu pelancong, Encik Wang yang bertanggung jawab.
“Memanglah dapat ganti rugi tetapi saya tetap berasa rugi kerana tidak dapat menyambung pengembaraan. Wang belasan ribu itu tak dapat mengganti pengalaman indah dan baru yang sepatutnya saya raih.Saya menangis kerana rasa sedih sangat.” Ujar Encik Taufik kemudian di hantar ke hospital di situ dan kemudian terpaksa menguruskan proses membuat repot polis dan ganti rugi yang berakhir selama tiga hari. Konvoi terpaksa meninggalkannya. Encik Taufik pulang ke Singapura dengan pesawat manakala motosikalnya dihantar dengan trak ke Kunming China.
“Bagusnya, orang-orang China adil. Walaupun yang bersalah dalam kes kemalangan itu orang China sendiri, mereka tidak memenangkannya. Saya dibicarakan dengan adil.” Ujar Encik Taufik yang kecewa tidak dapat meneruskan ekspedisi.

Cabaran 2
Di sebuah Bandar kecil Dun huang China provinsi Gangsu, salah sebuah motosikal mengalami masalah yang kritikal pada tayarnya. Motosikal Encik Mohamad Farid Bin Rahmat, Ducatti Multistrada 1200cc koyak teruk tayarnya sewaktu di Dun Huang China. Malangnya Encik Farid tidak membawa peralatan khas Ducatti untuk membuka tayar.
“Saya berasa marah pada diri sendiri sebab semasa di Litang saya dah jatuh motosikal sehingga pecah pelindung tangki. Apabila tayar pula koyak dan semua mekanik kedai tak mahu baiki kerana tiada peralatan, saya hampir putus asa. Saya beruntung sebab kawan-kawan semua bersatu hati memikirkan penyelesaiannya. Pada waktu itu saya hanya ada dua pilihan. Baiki tayar secepatnya atau pulang ke Kunming dengan trak yang bermakna pengembaraan saya tamat di situ.”
Namun mereka tidak berputus asa dan mengubah suai apa yang ada dengan memotong tin red bull dan memasukkan ke dalam soket yang paling hampir saiz dan menjadi alat untuk membuka tayar. Apabila tayar dapat dibuka, mereka merayu mekanik untuk menjahit kembali tayar itu dan membaiki tayar itu. Ternyata nasib masih menyebelahi Encik Farid. Tayar itu berjaya dijahit dan dipasang kembali. Namun Encik Farid terpaksa berterusan mengepam angin setiap kali motosikal berhenti dan memasukkan alat ‘cacing’ sehingga ekspedisi tamat.
“Semangat kawan-kawan mengajar saya untuk tidak berputus asa. Selama 4 hari saya terpaksa ‘menjaga’ tayar melebihi makan minum saya. Saya bimbang tayar itu terus tak dapat berfungsi dan saya harus pulang.Sepanjang perjalanan saya berdoa.”

Cabaran 3
Sememangnya keadaan jalan raya yang tak rata dan tubuh yang semakin penat menjadikan para penunggang kurang bertenaga dan mudah hilang kawalan. Cuaca yang sejuk memburukkan keadaan. Kebanyakan yang jatuh motosikal adalah di daerah Sichuan, Xinjiang dan paling teruk jalan ke kem Gunung Everest. Semua peserta jatuh sakit kerana suhu yang sejuk dan mereka berada pada ketinggian 5364meter dari paras air laut.
“Kami bukan hanya bergerak atas permukaan yang berlubang-lubang dan berlumpur. Bayangkan, motosikal bergerak atas bongkah-bongkah batu besar. Perjalanan benar-benar menguji daya tahan kami,” cerita Encik Mohamad Farid Bin Rahmat.
Walaupun semua peserta sudah bersedia dari segi mental untuk sampai ke kem Gunung Everest dan dibekalkan dengan pil penahan mabuk di tempat tinggi (altitude pill), ternyata kesemua peserta jatuh sakit sewaktu bermalam di situ. Apabila mereka bergerak turun keesokan hari baharulah kesihatan mereka kembali pulih.

Cabaran 4
Motosikal Encik Dennis, BMW 650 GS Dhaka, tongkat motosikal patah. Apabila tongkat motosikal patah, secara otomatik motosikal tidak boleh dihidupkan. Mereka terpaksa mencantumkan semula tongkat yang patah. Namun disebabkan motosikal masih tidak boleh dihidupkan wayar otomatik terpaksa digodam. Kemudian, motosikal ini mengalami masalah bateri. Bateri motosikal tidak secara otomatik dicas justeru menyebabkan coil terbakar. Bateri hanya dapat dibeli di provinsi XIZA tetapi hanya boleh bertahan selama 4 jam justeru terpaksa dicas semula tiap kali berehat sehinggalah sampai ke Nepal. Minyak hitam pula meleleh dan ada alat dalaman yang patah. Mereka ke kedai motosikal dan pati semula besi itu. Apabila akhirnya motosikal itu mengalami kerosakan pam minyak petrol, motosikal itu terpaksa dipunggah ke atas trak. Nasib baik perjalanan sudah menghampiri destinasi terakhir iaitu 220km sebelum Kathmandu.

“Saya rasa orang-orang China gemar membantu. Mereka tak kenal saya tetapi apabila saya ada masalah di jalan, mereka hulurkan bantuan. Sewaktu motosikal terpaksa diangkut ke dalam trak, mereka turut sama membantu mengangkut motosikal,” jelas Encik Dennis yang kini sedar bahawa persediaan dari segi mental, fizikal dan peralatan amat penting dalam pengembaraan lasak sebegini.

Oleh: Noor Hasnah Adam
Apabila salah seorang peserta silap mengisi minyak diesel ke dalam tangki motosikal, semua jadi bingung. Dengan pantas mereka mengosongkan tangki dan mengisi semula dengan minyak petrol.
Masalah motosikal GSA BMW 1200cc milik Norkassim Bin Mohd Nor pula, disebabkan jalan terlalu teruk, alat gantung motosikal rosak dan menyebabkannya melendut ke bawah mengenai tayar. Tayar motosikal rosak teruk namun motosikal masih terus dibawa.
“Saya terus berdoa agar motosikal saya mampu bertahan namun 70km selepas turun dari Kem Gunung Everest, motosikal dah tak mampu bertahan. Kami terpaksa tahan lori berainan setiap daerah ke daerah, dengan bayaran harga sekitar 500-1000yuen (S$500) setiap perjalanan.”

Cabaran lagi

Passport Encik Ramasess Ramakrishnan hilang di Provinsi Xinjiang. Disebabkan kehilangan passport, Encik Ramasess terpaksa membuat laporan di 3 stesen polis berlainan sejauh 1300km merentasi padang pasir Taklimantan. Sewaktu berada di balai polis ketiga, barulah dapat berita bahawa seorang budak pengembala kambing terjumpa passport itu dan menyerahkannya ke balai polis pertama. Encik Ramasess terpaksa pulang semula ke Kashgar. Beliau membelanjakan sekitar $1000 dolar Singapura untuk perjalanan ‘mencari’ passportnya namun beliau berasa beruntung tidak perlu terus terkandas menanti passport pengganti.
“Saya rasa dek kepenatan dan sering ditahan oleh polis yang menyekat jalan, saya meletakkan passport di belakang poket seluar supaya mudah memberikan passport itu jika mahu diperiksa. Saya pelajari bahawa saya perlu sentiasa meletak passport ke dalam beg atau jaket berzip untuk mengelakkan kejadian sebegini akan datang,” jelas Encik Ramases.

Hikmah Menukar Haluan

Rancangan awal adalah Provinsi Shangrila -  Tibet – Nepal.
Namun separuh perjalanan, pegawai kerajaan Negara China mengatakan bahawa sempadan timur Tibet ditutup kepada pelancong asing. Laluan terpaksa diubah melalui jalan yang lebih jauh mengikut  laluan Sichuan-Qinghai, yang akan menempuh lebuh raya Sutera (Silk Road). Pengembaraan terpaksa ditambah lagi 10 hari.
Peserta konvoi memasuki daerah Gangsu, yang dikelilingi tembok besar China sebelum masuk ke lebuh raya Sutera melalui pintu masuk sebelah barat. Sudah tentunya, perjalanan itu membuka lagi mata mereka kerana pelbagai budaya dan wajah yang berubah sedikit demi sedikit semakin mereka jauh merantau. Wajah Asia bertukar sedikit demi sedikit seperti kaum Mongolia campuran Arab dan Eropah.
Konvoi terus menuju ke lebuh raya Karakoram. Lebuh raya internasional yang tertinggi dan merupakan antara 8 keajaiban dunia. Lebuh raya bertar itu melalui kawasan pergunungan setinggi 4000 lebih kaki di atas paras air laut, melangkaui Afghanistan, tajikstan dan Pakistan dalam laluan Gujerat. 
“Lebuh raya Karokaram terlalu cantik. Pada waktu itu, saya berasa sedikit kesal membawa motosikal Kapchai sebab itulah laluan yang sangat baik untuk menunggang motosikal kuasa besar. Jadi, saya makan angin sahajalah sepanjang perjalanan,” seloroh Encik Farook.
Encik Anwar Hussain pula mengatakan bahawa diri manusia terlalu kerdil dibandingkan gunung ganang yang memaku bumi.
“Pemandangan gunung ganang sangat indah. Saya terpegun dan bertafakur sejenak melihat kebesaran pencipta kerana gunung ganang itu berlainan warna. Ada yang hijau, coklat, biru, putih, merah dan berpuncak salju. Warnanya berubah pagi dan petang. Menakjubkan sekali!” cerita Encik Anwar Hussain yang mengatakan beliau pulang ke Singapura menjadi insan berbeza.

Pengalaman indah
Sememangnya tiada antara mereka yang terfikir akan berjaya mencapai objektif perjalanan ekspedisi ini. Mereka meraih pelbagai kenangan indah yang amat bermakna pada diri masing. Suatu pengalaman yang sukar dijelaskan dengan gambaran dan kata-kata.
“Di provinsi Xinghai utara China, salji turun menyambut kedatangan kami. Kami semua dah macam anak-anak kecil yang jakun kerana tidak terfikir dapat menunggang motosikal dalam salji. Kami sangat seronok dan terharu. Saya terus menjabat tangan ketua ekspedisi, Encik Ibrahim kerana sangat berterima kasih kepadanya membawa kami menyaksikan keindahan alam ini.” Cerita Encik Fazrin Halim.
Di lebuh raya terkenal iaitu laluan sutera (Silk Road), para peserta semua menyatakan itulah pemandangan yang sangat menakjubkan. Lebuh rayanya di kelilingi padang pasir.
“Saya ingat apa yang orang katakan tentang fatamorgana atau mirage itu bohong. Tapi apabila saya alami sendiri, barulah saya sedar semuanya benar. Apabila merentasi padang pasir, saya seperti terlihat taman permainan, seorang puteri sedang mengayuh basikal, motosikal terbakar. Rupanya semuanya hanya ilusi dan halusinasi,” cerita Encik Ibrahim dengan bersungguh-sungguh, dipersetujui rakan-rakannya.

Pengalaman Baru
Kesemua peserta turut mengalami kejutan cuaca dan kejutan budaya. Cuaca berubah-ubah di beberapa daerah. Di Xinjiang terlalu panas kerana di kelilingi padang pasir. Di Kem Gunung Everest terlalu tinggi dan amat sejuk. Di Sichuan waktu malam suhu jatuh 8degree. Yunan pula sering hujan. Di daerah Xinghai pula mereka dapat menikmati salju.
Terasa aneh apabila hotel tiada tandas. Semua peserta sanggup mengguna cangkul dan cari kawasan sesuai untuk menabur ‘baja’ kerana tidak rela menggunakan tandas awam.” Mereka terkejut apabila melihat orang awam lelaki perempuan tidak segan silu kencing sembarangan di tempat awam.

“Di Tibet saya meyaksikan betapa cerianya anak-anak bermain bola dengan menggunakan botol berisi air. Baru saya sedar betapa beruntungnya zaman kecil saya selama ini kerana mainan saya bermacam-macam,”cerita Encik Farook yang amat berterima kasih kerana diterima ke dalam ekspedisi ini walau menunggang dengan motosikal Kapchai.
Bagi Encik Hazrin Halim, beliau tak sangka ada manusia yang hidup dalam keadaan yang serba dhaif dan tidak merungut langsung. Apa yang dilihatnya hanyalah kepasrahan dan kebahagiaan di wajah mereka.

“Kini saya lebih menghargai kehidupan. Dalam hidup ini, kita tak memerlukan banyak benda. Kita cuma perlu bahagia.”

#three sixty magazine, 1st edition, Feb 2014

By: NHA and kd Rose

Moto Culture Asia, Vol 8 Issue 43