Wednesday, February 25, 2009

RTW Planner



1. This is my personal experience in preparing for the RTW trip. As usual, making any preparation in between your current work is challenging. There are times when you have to meet people or do research on particulars RTW issues ended up in postponement giving way to your work which is of higher priority. I recalled in mid- 2003, when the urge of riding again is ‘hot’, I did not have a clear mind about RTW preparation. From 2004 till mid 2007 no progress in the preparation still. Work, work and work. Then in 2008, I started to be serious in this whole idea of going RTW trip although my job comes first.

2. I think you need time to make any serious preparation for the trip. So, if you are still working keep your work on high priority. Otherwise you makan gaji buta (not working). Some would require 6 months solid preparation but for me, I like to get started early as I needed more time. I plan 2012 for the RTW. Why? I will be retiring from my current job in 2010 therefore the issue of time is solved and from now till 2012 give me enough time (I think) to come up with the budget required.


3. My previous job as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans and Operation in the Naval HQ, Ministry of Defence has taught me “ talk money first then plan what you can do with it” makes sense to start the planning with budget first. No money no trip concept.

4. Let me start with the easy item first – the bike. I intend to make the trip by riding my own bike. There are many ways to RTW but nothing more satisfaction then riding your own bike be it a typical 50cc Honda or a well-equipped and high tech adventure BMW. In 2003 I bought a used Kawasaki ZX10 at RM 16K. Man! This bike is so powerful. Anything above 250 km/h is a piece of cake. The down side- heavy. Thus only owned her for about 6 months. Then I opted to buy a used Honda ST1100 at RM40K. Superb tourer and as good as any 50 cc Honda to maintain but again too heavy for my midget size. I rode her to Phuket, Thailand which happened to be very comfortable and reliable. Later I disowned the ST and bought BMW R1100RS 1994 model at RM38K hoping this would be the right choice for the RTW. A BMW is a BMW. Expensive to maintain but a wonderful piece of machine. Never regret owning a BMW if cost is not your problem. However, later I found it is not the bike I want to RTW mainly because it is still too heavy for me and cost factor. Finally, I bought a Kawasaki KLR 650 model 2008 in October 2008. It costs me RM 39,000 on the road. If you are looking for speed this is not the bike but if you want to adventure the world in 50-50 paved and off-road with a 187 kilos of load, then take a test ride of the KLR. My bike, which I called Camel has clocked 7000kms now.

5. Daily Travel Expenses (DTE).
Based on the opinion made by the community in the Horizons Unlimited and taking EU rate of USD$100 per day (which is on the high side), the following DTE is considered:

Food- Euro 15.00
Lodging- Euro 50.00
Fuel at Euro1.10/lit - Euro 30.00

Sub-total DTE… rate at RM4.3 = 1Euro RM 408.50

Other Expenses as follows:
Carnet - RM 39,000.00
Air/sea passage rider + bike - RM ?
Health Insurance (5 mth valid) - RM 360.00
Border Crossing - USD?
Handler fees/agent - USD?
Crating - USD?
Bike Insurance + Green Card - USD?
Money Handling Charges - USD?
AAM Memberships - USD?
Emergencies + unknown - USD?
Tel/Fax/Internet at USD1 - USD18/hr - USD?
International passport - RM 300Visas - RM?

Grand Total ( RM 3.6 to USD$ 1) RM 150,000.00

Above figure is my rough estimate only and it sounds on the high side making sure enough budget to cover the trip.


I expect the DTE would be sufficient for duration of 6 to 9 months going on a shoe-string budget. Few factors come to my mind when the question of duration pops up. First, the budget is extremely important. The more you have not necessarily you can stay longer in a place. But there is likely hood you can afford to stay longer or get out of difficulties. Second, Western Europe, the US and Canada are expensive countries especially lodging. Perhaps there are more reasons to go to places where you have not been as this is going to be once in a life time trip. And maybe I want to spend more time in that kind of places. There is also other good reason to break journey in Europe, park your bike somewhere and return sometimes later to continue the RTW. By way of convenient, I am going select the Netherland to be my anchorage place. Why? I have my family member there. Third, I want to transit India as quickly as possible because for India, you either love or hate it. I happen to pick the latter. The country is fabulous but the people and ‘makes people feel stupid’ Indian culture put you off. Sorry, no hard feeling yeah!

The idea to go as far and long as your money takes you is not a bad also. I am exploring this possibility as well. Would 9 months enough to cover the entire RTW route I am taking? No answer on that. It all depends.

However, the general plan I am taking is to opt for 6-9 months ‘out’ and 6-9 months ‘in’. That is, for the equal period ‘in’ or ‘out’ of Malaysia. To give a general idea, I may first be ‘out’ of Malaysia for that duration, leave the bike somewhere, return home. Come back later and continue the remaining trip. For now, I am looking for the Msia to Europe through India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and into Europe trip first. Leave the bike in Europe. Then continue Europe - South America – New Zealand- Indonesia and Msia. Expected problem - Carnet only can be issued to a vehicle twice in the vehicle life-span. Each issuance valid for a year only though we heard there is chance to extend that period but have not heard anyone in Malaysia have done that. Will need to check on this. I wonder how Goh and Mah (Singapore Dream) managed to ride on a bike which have passed a year outside the carnet validity. Have to ask Goh.

Another possible option is to buy a bike in Europe and park it there ready for next trip. This option is much more attractive considering the fact that the budget to ship bike from Malaysia is considerably expensive and cost of carnet inclusive.

More to follow.

At time of writing, Camel experiences electrical problem. On one of my weekend trip (14 Feb 09) to Perak after stopping at Kuala Kubu Baru for fueling, Camel could not start. There was no electrical power; nothing on the cockpit meters. I thought it must be the side-stand switch failure but discard this as there was complete no power. I opened the User Hand Book and search for the page regarding Engine Cannot Start column. One of the possible problem indicates main fuse blown. So, I opened the cover for the starter relay where the main fuse is located and found out that the 20 Amp main fuse blown. After changing the fuse, put the switch to On and power restored but when push the starter button to start the engine the main fuse blew and total power failure again. Upon consultation via telephone with a mechanic in Kuala Lumpur he instructed me to by-pass the starter button. This is how it is done; Switch position to Off, change the main fuse and put the switch position to On, then with a plier connect the positive and negative points of the starter relay (the relay housed the main fuse). Once the engine runs quickly disengage the plier from the starter relay. The engine will run and you can ride provided that you do not switch Off the engine or else you have to repeat the sequence to start the engine. When we arrived at the workshop, the mechanic assumed the starter relay is defective. But upon checking and starting the engine everything runs normal! I was total puzzled. Why hasn’t the fuse blows when the start button is press? Now you have, now you don’t. What the mechanic did then was to replace the main fuse from 20 Amps to 30 amps. Satisfied that it could be the fuse defective, I continue my journey to Perak without further problem. I thought that fix everything. I am happy. Not so. When I reached my destination in Perak, something else crop-up. When I put the switch to On and push the start button to start the engine nothing happened. I found out that the start button did not functioned, so I had to by-pass the start button again and return to KL. I managed to arrive the workshop in KL and asked to sort out the defect as the bike is still under warranty.

On 21 Feb 09, I took the bike from the workshop after the entire right hand switches was replaced brand new (I was told this). This time I wanted to ride the Mersing –Gemas route. Towards the end of the day ride, the similar defect occur – the start button fails and I have to by-pass the start button using the same technique described earlier. Now, I tend to believe that there is a short circuit in the electrical wiring harness as notified to me by the KLR Forum. The bike is in the Kawasaki Dealer workshop now for repair. Hope they find the root cause of the defect. I rang the Kawasaki Dealer to ask about the bike status. I was told that, the wiring harness is OK but the battery water is empty and the starter button spring misaligned. They got it fix up and as far as the Dealer is concerned the bike is OK now. I am doubtful they did a thorough check at all. Bloody fool

Planned Route

Msia – India. There is high probability to fly the bike to India because it is faster and less troublesome. From the knowledge I gather, air freighters are very familiar to ship small and high value/dangerous goods. It is ‘cheaper’ when compared to sea shipment taking into consideration all the administrative difficulties you have to undergo. Target port is Chennai or New Delhi. MAS aircrafts fly to these airports.

India. Chennai – Hyderabad – Indore – Agra – New Delhi (or in the case start at New Delhi, then spare few days to cover Indore – Agra and back to New Delhi). New Delhi – Rohtak – Jullundur – Amristar (cross –border to Pakistan at Lahore; Amristar – Lahore on Route #1

Pakistan. Lahore – Sahiwal – Multan – Dera Ghazi Khan _ Quetta (cross-border to Iran at Taftan)

Iran. Taftan – Zahedan – Bam – Kerman Yazd – Esfahan – Qom – Tehran – Qazvin – Zanjan – Tabriz – Khoy – Maku (cross-border to Turkey at Dogubeyazit on route #E80/D100

Turkey. Diyadin – Erzurum – Istanbul – more to follow on the next destination which is under development at time of writing.