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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

BLAME IT ON THEM

It has been a looongggg time that my blog had been in a total silence. Well, I hv three very good reasons for it. First, I hv been away for a ‘once in a life time’ dream, that is conquering the Central Asia ‘Stans’ countries on my motorbike – solo as usual. Second, after coming back, I hv been extremely busy with job, fasting month, Eid, attending interviews, invitations, preparing for the big event of my life....and the list goes on.  Third, I am now working on my book regarding my recent ride to the Central Asia.

Since too many ppl had been asking me to write a bit (at least) about my Central Asia ride, I hv decided to take some time to update this blog. However, the info will be basic, as the main purpose is to help fellow traveller, especially adventure riders and overlanders with infos regarding the road condition of the route which I hv taken. Full and detailed story regarding my ride will be told in my maiden book, which I am currently working on.
Anyway, today will be a long post. I am not going to write about my ride (keep that for tmrw), but I am going to write about two most important people who hv significantly changed my life. They are – Zahariz Khuzaimah, the Malaysian Nomad, the person who triggered the inspiration in me to do what I am doing; and the other one is my sifu and mentor Hadi Hussein IAMALAYSIAN. I hv wrote a brief story about them in this blog, in a post titled INTRODUCTION, but today I am going to write more.

ZAHARIZ KHUZAIMAH
I was introduced to Zahariz’s blog by someone who happened to know that I am an avid backpacker. This someone truly recommends me to read Zahariz’s blog to see how ‘crazy’ this Malay guy is. So, I did just that and it took me one looonggg full day (and night) to read all his posts from the very beginning, right till the end. I became so fascinated with Zahariz’s cycling and nomadic experiences and was at awe looking at the jaw dropping beautiful pics that he captured. I never knew that someone could be as brave and as crazy as him, especially for Malays!!! His story became an inspiration to me that after letting out one big sigh of satisfaction when I’m finally done reading his last post (saying that he’s back home and still in the same room with the air condition not working), I decided to leave him a comment. This is what I wrote to him:

>>“…..Even the smallest things. Cycling under the hot sun and climbing hills everyday during my schooldays, problems that i encounter and many more things that ive done and experienced, happened for a reason. and now everything seems clear, i started to realized that those things happen because god is preparing me to undertake this tough journey….”
How true !!! I can’t agree more….Same goes for me here….all the hardness that I’ve to endure during my childhood & all the challenges that I had faced thru out my life makes me what I am today….Even though not as daring as u….but somehow, I might be the very few Malay women who dared to backpack alone......... I am done reading yr blog…..setinggi2 tabik spring to you….siapa kata melayu tak boleh kan?
He never reply to my comment...

However, 6 months later, that is in October 2011, I received a friend request from Zahariz in Facebook. What? Zahariz Khuzaimah wants to add me? Am I dreaming? Without hesitating, I punched the accept button. The very first time I saw him online on FB, I asked him about the places he had been to, especially the beautiful pristine blue lake of Issykul, and the turquoise green river which had made me fall in love with Kyrgyzstan. Being a backpacker, the most important info that I need to know is how to get to the place. Zahariz told me that those places were remote (then) and I need to hv own transport to reach the place. Oh nooo....its going to be very costly to hire a car and driver, especially that I normally travel alone, so is there any other alternative? Zahariz told me to cycle, just like him. Cycling? Are u mad? How long will it take for me to cycle there? I would hv to quit my job then, not to mention whether I am fit enough and my bones and joints are strong enough to take the challenge at this age. Zahariz then asked me, “why don’t you ride a motorbike....u know....like Hadi Hussein, the one who rode solo all the way from KL to London on his kapchai?”  Whattt??? Serious??? A Malay guy can be that brave and crazy??? Through my knowledge, only western people and some from Japan and China hv this type of craziness in them, but Malays? Hardly so. Zahariz gv me the link to Hadi Hussein’s Facebook and asked me to add him to hear his stories. I said, ok, I will do that.
As for Zahariz, every other time I saw him online, I will chat with him and we enjoyed our conversations very much. Even though we are only communicating via the virtual space, I regard myself as a sister to him, and he as my brother. It was really an honour to me when he always showed his video work for me to comment before he actually posts it in the internet. It was only in May this year, 3 days prior to my Central Asia ride, that I managed to finally meet him personally. He was at that time, just returned to Malaysia after almost a year cycling to Iceland, Scotland, Norway and Sweden. To read more about his journey, plz visit http://zahariz.wordpress.com/


HADI HUSSEIN

If any Malaysian biker who is into touring said that he/she does not know who this guy is, then he/ she must be joking. Hadi Hussein, as his blog reads, is a graduate from Instituto per Gli Studi Di Politica Internazionale (ISPI) in Milan, Italy with Advance Diploma in Management of Humanitarian Intervention. He is also a graduate from Aviation Career Academy in Lakeland, Florida, USA with a Diploma in Aeronautical Study. Being involved in the humanitarian field, he has been posted to several countries including the Middle East and most of Asian countries. He experienced hostage situation, attended several humanitarian courses including Emergency & Post-Conflict Internal Displacement, Camp Coordination and Protection Training in Geneva, Swiss Development Cooperation Security Field Simulation Exercise, Essentials of Humanitarian Negotiation in Sri Lanka, Advance Security in the Field, Humanitarian Logistics, Homebuild Aircraft & Club Management in USA and Crew Resource Management. His experience regarding humanitarian and disaster are beyond words, thus makes him a very tough person in any given situation.
In adventure riding, Hadi’s biggest achievements are KL – London (2010), and Equator Challenge (2012). He is now busy preparing for his Sahara Challenge, which will be due in a month or so. He regards this challenge as an unsure whether he will come back alive or not (I can feel shivers running down my spine upon hearing this). I wish him good luck and I will pray for his success.

Back to the story, after being introduced by Zahariz, I started to read Hadi’s blog http://iamalaysian.com/ from the very beginning, until the very end. Again, I was amazed at how ppl can do unimaginable things to live their dreams. As Zahariz, Hadi’s stories inspired me by lots and I became his friend in FB since October 2011. I tried to arrange a meeting with him, but it always ended up being cancelled last minute. It was one fine day in April 2012, that god decided to meet us both, and it took place at NZ Curry House (after I just finished watching Bunohan movie at KLCC with Dilla Hussein (Faizal Hussein – the actor’s sister) and my ex vocalist, Rose). My first impression when I met him was.....wowww....tall and handsome. He was very friendly and nice. I can’t help laughing when recalling how naive I was when I told him that I want to learn how to become an adventure rider from him, when the truth is not only I don’t own a motorbike.....I don’t hv a license....and I don’t even know how to ride a motorbike. He must hv been laughing inside his heart.
Anyway, it was his adventure and humanitarian stories which makes me almost drooling for 4 hours, instead of 1 hour that he had allocated for me in the beginning. He told me to learn to ride a motorbike first before planning on anything big. I took his words, and I met him 2 weeks later with a brand new Yamaha FZ150 which I just bought, with a big L sticker pasted in front of the bike. Actually, I had just learned to ride 5 days previously, when I braved myself and rode the bike all the way from Ipoh to Klang to meet him for the 2nd time. I can still remember how loud I screamed when the lorries overtook me on the highway, as I was only riding at 60 – 70kmh due to the bike's confinement period. To cut the story short, we agreed to go for a 22 days introduction Indochina ride on which he will be my sifu and I am his student. Before we started, he taught me how to do plotting, how to read the map, how to use the GPS, how to check location by looking at the sun, some bike maintenance skill, how to lift up the bike if I drop it, how to choose the correct riding gears and many more.

Finally, we set off on May 26, 2012. Lots of things happened during the ride. I did things which I never imagined that I have the nerve to do. (Stories can be read in this blog, May, June & July 2012 postings). Honestly, in the beginning, I felt that he’s being too strict on me. I was a newbie. I can’t even handle the bike properly...but he has taken me to the tough road of the Thousand Corners in Thailand, to the mountains in Laos, up to the Laos – China border and Laos – Vietnam border, down to the madness and chaotic Phnom Penh streets, heading east to the crazy Bangkok’s suburb traffics, and back to Malaysia. During the chores, I experienced 1 serious bike fall, and encountered 2 bridges failure in Laos which forced me to cross the river with a sampan and a raft. God knows how I felt. I was also instructed to navigate and lead the way (starting on the 2nd day in Thailand), to find the accommodation myself, to look for suitable place to dine, to find the way to attractions, and many more. There were times that Hadi asked me to go first and find certain attration myself, and he will meet me there later. I felt like a participant in Amazing Race. Through out the 22 days 'hell' ride for me, we only had 2 days rest. The other days, we were on the bike for 10 – 13 hrs every day. At that time, I don’t understand his training method and intention. I was tensed. I was tired. I want to go home. However, in all difficulties, I managed to finish the ride and returned home safely.  
Well, what did I learn from Hadi’s way of teaching? Apart from what I hv listed above, I learned how to navigate the road without the GPS (GPS was broken when my bike fell).....I learned how to estimate my fuel consumption by checking the kms covered (odometer was broken due to the fall).....I learned how to find my way in darkness of the mountain road in Laos when we still didnt reach the destination when night already falls.....I learned what to do when I get lost.....and most important thing.....I learned to fight my fear and survived in the hardest condition.....
These are the things which u can never find in any guide or handbook. These are the things which u can only learn by actually ride with the expert.....not from conversation with others who had been there, not via chatting, not through phone calls.....

My Central Asia ride had seen me riding on the worst terrain that one can ever imagine. It was among the most dangerous roads in the world. Should Hadi didn’t train me the hardest way, I doubt if I can accomplish my mission. Should Hadi only brought me to ride on nice paved road during the introduction Indochina ride, I doubt if I can tackle the crazy mountain passes in Kyrgyz and Tajik. Should Hadi didn’t challenge me to face my fear, I wonder if I can face the fear of being alone and helpless in the mountains. Should Hadi didn’t put me in tense situations, but being lenient to me, I hv no idea if I can survive doing solo rides. Should Hadi didn't train me well, can I be what I am now? And can I conquer the Central Asia solo on a motorbike?
Well, reality is....the Central Asia solo ride was done, and it was very successful.....

Hadi, you are the best sifu that I will ever have in my whole life....A million thanks is not enough to express my gratitude for the knowledge and experiences that I gained during my ride with you. Whatever achievements and praises that I’m getting now, it all started from the training that u had given me.....and for that, I will be forever grateful.....   

ZAHARIZ & HADI HUSSEIN....YOU ARE BOTH MY INSPIRATION....YOU SHOULD BE PROUD THAT YOU HV INSPIRED A ZERO-IN-BIKING-ME TO DO IMPOSSIBLE THINGS.....YOU BOTH ARE TO BE BLAME FOR MAKING ME WHAT I AM TODAY.....YOU BOTH HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE.....
I THANK YOU BOTH VERY MUCH.....

Yours Sincerely,
Anita Yusof

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NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')
HAK CIPTA ANITA YUSOF