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From UK to Malaysia By Bike
We sat down with Malaysian cyclist Muhammad Adeeb to discuss his feat: pedaling across 25 countries.
Decked in his cycling gear, Muhammad Adeeb was in Kuala Lumpur en route to his final destination (and hometown) Johor Bahru, which he aims to arrive at by 31 December 2015. The 26-year-old had just made his way back to Malaysia on bicycle from the United Kingdom. From the cycling community of Sick Siders Malaysia Club (SSMY), Adeeb’s passion for cycling and traveling is the fuel for an adventure many of us can only dream of. We speak to him about his unique experience.
What made you decide to cycle from UK to Malaysia?
Previously I have cycled around Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Then, I realised since I am in my twenties, I should do something to inspire others. Some people would consider artists as their idols, but I want my future children to have their father as an idol. That was what inspired me to go on this trip - so that I have a story to tell later. In the beginning, we travelled as a team of four but we split to half in Paris because they were going down to Dubai. My friend and I cycled up north, but along the way I met another backpacker and asked to go as a team. If anyone decides to go on the Journey to Homeland programme that I created with the bicycle as their main mode of transportation, they can, but it is their choice to choose their own route. Sometimes we have to take other transportations due to weather, visa validity, and things like that, to ease things up.
How long did it take you to make this decision?
It took about one year. I made a proposal, [did some] network planning, [planned] timelines, and I tried to get some contacts around world from the routes that I will be taking. I tried to get some sponsorship, but it was too soon so I decided to just go ahead.
How did you prepare for a journey like this?
To be honest, there were no gym sessions involved, plus I didn’t really have a lot of cash on me because at the end of the day, it really boils down to having a good disposition and the will to do it on my own.
How many countries have you travelled to since the UK?
Including Malaysia - 25. This is the biggest journey and a first for me.
What was your favourite country?
It would be the Balkans in Eastern Europe. The people are really welcoming. They really love Malaysians. Actually, the whole journey is a favourite because of the people I met. Sometimes it would be at the most random moments, like sitting down and trying to find a place to stay … and people would acknowledge us by asking us to have coffee with them. From there, they would ask if we have a place to stay, and would offer to let us bunk at theirs. Sometimes we would stay with them from a week to a month. Once when we were on the road cycling and the snow was really bad, they called to advise us to return to their place until winter ended.
Were you guys prepared for the winter?
We prepared mentally! Because of money issues, we couldn't afford to buy the good [heat insulating] items. At least we had a jacket and basically just layered [our clothing].
Do you need to have a lot cash for a journey like this?
Not really if you planned it properly and can find places to stay through your connections. For this trip, I had a supporting letter from the ministry, so the Malaysian embassies were very helpful by providing protection, helping with the travel visas, places to stay and food.
What would you say you learnt most from this trip?
I learnt more about myself and that there are a lot of good people out there that could become our family or friends, but we just don’t make enough of an effort. After this journey, I also realised I have a lot of friends and family around the world.
How different is this trip from your previous cycling journeys?
Some people would do travels like this, but don't update as they go so no one really knows what happened during the journey. What I have been doing is to give people updates on what I have been going through, the people I’ve met and the problems I’ve faced through social media.
What is your least favourite part of this trip?
Hmmm. Sometimes during the winter time, I wished there was sun out, but when there's sun I wished it was winter! But generally everything was perfectly in place.
What do you miss most when you are on the road?
The people you’ve met when you leave the place. Even though it was only one night or for just a moment, everything counts. It's always a sad moment.
Do you have a hero that you look up to?
I think the hero is myself. I always strive to be a better me. If I couldn't get through a problem yesterday, I would hope to be able to do so tomorrow.
What are your plans for 2016?
I am trying to open a cafe and hostel, like a common room in Johor Bahru, where I can invite people who travel like me to inspire more people. I don't want people to just come to a cafe for coffee and leave with nothing. I want them to be inspired, go home and perhaps figure out a way to do the same for themselves, or even better.
By Kevin Yeoh
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