Unable to return home, Malaysian man tours China on his motorbike


By BK OOI

The writer (right) and his friend visited the village with the same round-shaped houses seen in the movie Mulan. — Photos: BK OOI

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“Motorcycle touring” is becoming a big trend in tourism, especially in China, though the country’s rules on motorcycles in its major cities can be quite strict.

With the pandemic, one can see a big change in the lifestyles and spending habits of the people here, be it locals or expatriates like myself. These days, people are willing to spend a whole lot more money on activities they enjoy doing or have always wanted to do, like touring around the country on their bikes (bicycles or motorbikes).

Since it has never been that easy for me to “balik kampung”, especially now with the travel bans, I decided to go on a tour of China on my motorbike a few months back.

ALSO READ: Can Malaysians only travel if they took the 'right' vaccine after pandemic?

I outlined three routes to choose from: from Sichuan to Tibet, Qinghai to Xinjiang, or Hangzhou to Hainan island. The third option looked like it was the best for me and my bike, though it was the least popular route for local holidaymakers in China.

Hainan is also the southernmost province you can ride to in the country, and one of the closest places to Malaysia (the distance is still about 1,800km away though!) that I could be.

The  beaches in Hainan reminded the writer of Penang.The beaches in Hainan reminded the writer of Penang.

My full route was actually Hangzhou-Fujian-Guangzhou-Hainan. It ran about 3,500km one way, which took me 10 days to cover. I had to ride on the federal roads since all the cities I passed through did not allow me to be on the highway.

I rode on my Ducati Multistrada 950, and was accompanied by another rider and local friend from Anhui.

ALSO READ: Malaysians need to reconsider the way they pack for a post-pandemic holiday

It was the summer, and to be honest, it is never easy to ride in the south provinces of China during summer as it gets pretty hot during the day (up to 37°C), and there are usually heavy thunderstorms in the mountainous areas.

Still, the view is mostly beautiful and the food is great, especially in places like Wuyi, which is famous for Chinese red tea. I also loved Shaxian province as this is where locals go for delicious Chinese “fast food”.

Those who have watched Mulan (the live-action version), may have noticed the little round-shaped houses, or tulou, in the movie. (Tulous are similar to our longhouses in Sarawak and Sabah, except that they are circular.)

Inside a tulou, a traditional house in China.Inside a tulou, a traditional house in China.

Well, I came across these same houses and stopped at the village for a visit. The place was great and I could just imagine what it was like in the past. About 100 families used to live in these round houses, but today only a few are occupied by ageing folks whose children have long moved to the city.

I also loved Guangzhou, a paradise for foodies. The food there is similar to our Cantonese cuisine, and it made me feel a little less homesick eating all the familiar dishes; it has been one-and-a-half years since I last went back to Malaysia.

In Hainan, I enjoyed the beautiful beaches which somehow made me feel like I was in Penang. Today, the most famous feature here is the aerospace launching centre at Wechang City.

By the time we were done with the ride, I was very happy, especially since I know that not many people have done the same route we did. In fact, I may even be the first Malaysian to do it...

I tried my best to promote Malaysia, too – places to visit, our cultures and multcultural society, our languages and food – every chance I got during my journey.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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