My flight from UB transit via Hong Kong took a few hours before the connecting flight with Cathay Pacific Airlines, and I finally arrived at Bangkok at 8pm. I took a taxi to a hostel nearby the airport. After all the challenges in GDR, reaching here felt so easy. Everything was easy as almost everyone spoke English. It was easy to find my way around, easy to find a suitable place to eat, and easy to find a place to stay. Thailand‘s like my second home and it was so good to be ‘home’.
I had few days to chillax in Thailand before my bike arrived, so I decided to go to Pattaya for 2 nights. There’re lots of things and sights to see here, and it was not my first time in this sex city so I only enjoyed the halal food (at last) and walked through the streets at night which were filled with bars, sex businesses and sexy girls dancing at the poles. Well, not my kind of thing actually, so most of the time I prefered to just laze on the beach and watch people.
I returned to Bangkok by public bus and took the metro to the Malaysian Embassy. One of the staff, Miss Aishah, who was introduced to me by another friend, was kind enough to let me stay at her house even though she was away for vacation. It was the Eid Qurban’s eve when I arrived, and I was lucky again that the person who gave me her house key also gave me some Eid delicacies to eat. Mmm…..so yummy…
Meanwhile, I had been in contact with Thai Yamaha Motor in Bangkok who were introduced to me by Mr Lee CW from Hong Leong Yamaha Malaysia. They were very thrilled to know that I had arrived and they offered help. I was informed that the bosses also wanted to meet me. Since my bike had arrived, the offer was like winning a lottery which I couldn’t resist and gladly accepted . The next morning, Mr Nikhom and Miss Yi came to pick me up. They drove me to the airport to do the bike clearance.
It wasn’t easy to unite with my baby. Even with Mr Nikhom and Miss Yi assisting me, it was still not easy, as both of them had zero experience doing bike clearance. The clearance procedure was disrupted by the greedy staff’s attitude at the entrance to the cargo complex which pissed me off. The staff insisted that I took the agent’s service which I declined. He (and the agent) said that it was going to take a long time to do the clearance and the process was VERY difficult. I politely rejected the offer especially when the agent asked for THB3000 for his service (excluding compulsory fees). They kinda forced me by saying repeatedly that it was very difficult and refused to give me the FZ pass to enter the cargo complex. I was beginning to lose my patience. They had no right to force me. I knew the staff would get some kind of commission from the agent if I fell for his ‘threats’. Luckily I saw an officer and seeked help. Reluctantly the staff gave me the pass, but I had already wasted an hour for that.
The clearance procedure might not have been very straight forward but it was not so dead difficult either, only lots of to and fros from one building to another. As usual, the first place to go is the cargo office (Thai Cargo), to get the AWB copy and locate the respective warehouse where GD was kept. Then I had to go to customs for declaration. Then back to Thai Cargo for documents signing and fees (THB1330 only), then go downstairs at the warehouse for more signatures, to locate the crate, go through inspection, signatures again and voilà …I finally got my baby back.
Since it was already late by the time we finished clearing GD, and it was going to take quite some time to assemble the parts which were dismantled from the bike, Mr Nikhom suggested GD being brought back to the HQ on the company’s pickup truck. We were all very tired by then so I welcomed his suggestion. Mr Nikhom sent me back to the Malaysian Embassy. The next morning, both of them came again to pick me up and brought me to their HQ. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see that GD was assembled and even the oil had been changed. That was so nice of them. Then it was time for me to meet the bosses. I was given a warm welcome by the management, including Mr Atsumi who recently transferred here from Japan. Mr Atsumi was one of the important YMC Japan person whom Mr Lee CW from Yamaha Malaysia was going to contact to handle the support I needed during my GDR.
After that Mr Nikhom invited me for a sumptuous Thai cuisine lunch. The tomyam was to die for.
I left early the next day to escape the morning traffic. While riding my bike, I couldn’t help smiling when recalling my first time riding in and out of Bangkok in 2012. The road was so busy with traffic and since I was a newbie at that time, I remember it was so stressful for me. Ever since then, I never wanted to enter Bangkok anymore. I would rather make a big loop every time I wanted to ride to the east part of Thailand. Now, after all the challenges in GDR, after all the difficulties reading signboards which only have Cyrillic alphabets in Russia, after riding on scary big highways to enter or exit huge cities such as Seattle, Vegas, San Diego, Lima, BsAs, Ldn, Madrid, Rome, Tehran etc, Bangkok didn’t seem so hard or scary anymore. Same goes to their long lorries which scared me most last time, but now didn’t anymore. It ’was because I had experienced riding (and was overtook) by much bigger trucks on I-5 (N & S) in California, which ran at 130kmh the least. Just to show you how much I had gone through during this one year…
I exited Bangkok without difficulty and headed south. It was a breeze riding on the familiar highway 4. I experienced baby wind along Prap Khiri Khan to Chumphon and there were lots of road works along this stretch, so one side of the road had to be shared with both. I checked in at a guesthouse in Chumphon just before a very heavy rain hit the area.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Perhaps I only managed one hour sleep . Again, the reason was the hate comments thrown to me by readers in the latest article about GDR’s success. It was very sickening to read what they wrote. Even though sleepy, I had 500kms to Dannok to do today. Dannok is a small town located by the Thailand – Malaysian border. I couldn’t wait to meet my friends who came all the way from KL to welcome me here, especially my best friend, Zana. I found Paramount Hotel, the hotel where we had agreed we would all stay for the night. I met some bikers from Lanun Bikerz club, and the President, Jai (who is also Zana’s husband) at the lobby. It was a very hot day today and I felt like fainting, so Jai helped with my checking in and asked me to take a rest in my room. As I made my way to my room, I bumped into my close friends, Sue, Rose and my bff Zana. It was a teary moment as we all hugged and kissed each other. It was like a dream to meet all my dearies again. I hugged Zana for a very long time. For a minute or so, nothing came from my lips except sobs and cries. We were hugging like a couple deeply in love, but please do not get us wrong. We were the bestest of friends. I had missed her so much.
When I finally gained control of my tears and emotions, only then did I notice a figure in the background holding a video camera, capturing every moment of the scene. I heard her calling my name. Her voice sounded very familiar. Who was that? It looked and sounded like Deborah, my host when I was in Temecula. was that really her? OMG, it was indeed her! I could see her hb, Mark standing by the door. OMG, OMG, OMG! I was screaming and crying and being emotional again, all at once as I hugged Deb tightly, while Deb just laughed and patted my back and said, “See, you made it. I know you could do it.” All these emotions drained me out very quickly. I just couldn’t believe it was really her. She and Mark flew all the way from USA to Malaysia just to welcome me home. It was unbelievable. I had to pinch myself few times to be sure that all this was real and that I was not dreaming. I could never imagine someone would do such thing for me.
After we were done with crying, hugging and kissing, it was teasing and laughing again while sitting on the floor of the alley. Oh I love my friends sooo much.
I met more friends after that, Yongsuzi and her hb, Lee panjang, sis Mira Yaacob, and friends from Lanun Bikerz convoy. It was so nice of them to come more than 500kms from KL to meet me here. We had a nice chat over dinner and I was also interviewed by Thai TV.
Again as the previous day, I only managed 1 hour sleep last night. No matter how tired I was, I just couldn’t put my eyes to sleep. Too many things distracted my mind. I woke up feeling dizzy, but it was my big day so I forced myself to stay focused. At 9.30am, all of us gathered outside the hotel with our machines and we made a move to the border. I stamped my passport at Thailand immigration’s new building and surrendered the customs form. Then it was the Malaysian side and I was grinning from ear to ear to see the familiar Bukit Kayu Hitam border post. The customs officers had the privilege to interview me first as I needed to get my carnet stamped at their office (as a proof that I had taken my bike back into Malaysia). The officers, including immigration congratulated me and took pics with me.
It was still early before call time, so all of us stopped for a while next to the immigration building. More bikers from Lanun and Yamaha FZ joined us. Jai gave instruction that some will escort me while the rest will enter the venue earlier and wait for our arrival. Some of my fans and followers had been waiting for me since morning so they took the opportunity to take pics with me too. I felt like a superstar 🙂
At 11am, those who escorted me marched into the police station with our bikes (the place where Givi put up tents for my home coming event), with me taking the lead. While riding GD, my heart throbbed so fast and my eyes watered to see how grand was the welcome given by Givi Malaysia and my supporters who lined the road. Camera flashes blinded my eyes as the reporters (lots of them) tried to get the best shots. I was greeted by the State Assemblyman and Givi Malaysia Managing Director, Mr On Hai Swee. Too bad that Mr Joseph Perucca, Givi Overseas Operational Director, the one among very few who believed in me from the very beginning and never had any doubts in my ability, and also Edwin, Givi staff who put lots of effort for the home-coming preparation, couldn’t be here during this special moment. Friends and biker friends from Lady Bikers Malaysia came running and hugged me, including my dear friend Mastura who came with her hb Ajax and their kids. I noticed no less than 60 big bikes parked at the venue and approximately 100 people gathered in and outside the tent. It all happened too fast and again I felt as if I was in a dream.
After a series of speeches (which were interrupted by the arrival of my kids and the emotional hugging and tears scene again), media interviews, a live TV phone call, and a photo session with fans, friends and the Givi team who worked very hard to organize the event, I made a move to my hometown Ipoh, which was 300kms away.
Again, I was taking the lead with 10 bikers from Lanun trailing behind. They accompanied me to my mom’s house. My mom was not feeling well, so she couldn’t be at the border for the homecoming event. Surprisingly, there were also reporters waiting at my mom’s house. I remembered the day when I left my country one year ago, not a single medium wrote about me. Now that I made it back successfully, it seemed that my GDR had sparked a phenomenon in the country.
Tiredness, lack of sleep and repeated emotional moments were taking their toll on me. By the time I hugged my mom and my sister, I could only shed tears of happiness. I thanked God for keeping me safe during my journey and allowing me to come home safely. After all the challenges in GDR when there were countless times when I thought I was not going to meet my family again, it was hard to believe that I was finally back in the arms of my loved ones.
With that, my GDR has now come to an end. A million thanks to Givi Malaysia for organizing a wonderful homecoming event for me. A very memorable event for me to cherish forever in my life. Thanks to all individuals who have given a hand and came to celebrate my victory day, especially Deb and Mark who came all the way from the USA. My special thanks also go to my sponsors, Givi Msia, Givi SRL Italy, Hevik, and Hong Leong Yamaha Motor. Also many thanks to Lanun Bikerz, LBM, Dato Raja and Datin Yan, all my hosts, donors, friends, fans and followers for the support and prayers throughout my ride. May Allah repay all of you for your help and kindness.
All memories of blood, sweat, pain and tears in GDR are now history not only to me, but to my country as well, for my being the first Muslim woman to ride solo around the world. GDR is not just a ride to enjoy seeing the world, but it’s a journey, and the road is my best teacher from it I learnt a lot about life and people. I came back as a different person. A much better person…for my people, my country and my religion…
A journey of 1001 stories…