Our tickets to Canada were booked. That gave us six weeks to prepare everything that needed to be done. We only had one problem and it wasn’t Mango.
It was the bikes.
What were we going to do with them? On the one hand we could ship them to Canada with us. They had served us faithfully for over 10,000 kilometres in Asia. When I shared this thought with my dad he guffawed and declared that should we survive riding through Canada and the US on 125cc bikes, then he wanted us to call him just outside the exit to Mount Pearl. When I asked why he declared “so I can help you hide the bikes in the woods and drive you home. I don’t want anyone to see you on those bikes!”
The Politics of Cool
I’ll admit that the moscoots (so named by me as they are part motorcycle and part scooter, thereby getting more motorcycle for your scooter and more scooting for your motorcycle, get it? Ha!) will not win any ‘cool’ contests outside of Asia. Here in Asia our 125 Ultimo X is the ultimate in cool (until we meet up with other bikers who gasp in dismay when they learn that not only are these our bikes, but that we gave up our BMWs to ride them).
Luckily for us, neither the German nor myself are particularly good at being cool. Dorks – absolutely. Cool – errrr, no. But isn’t that the whole point about not being in high school anymore? That we don’t need to be cool? In fact, I have come to the firm conclusion that doing anything for any other reason than because it’s what you want to do, leads directly to unhappiness – even if it comes with a shiny exterior. We care a lot less about the shiny exterior and much more about the fun and happy times, even if others might think we’re insane.
…I have come to the firm conclusion that doing anything for any other reason than because it’s what you want to do, leads directly to unhappiness – even if it comes with a shiny exterior.
So we looked into shipping our trusty steeds to Canada. The plan was to finish the trip on them and leave them in Newfoundland. In the end, this plan was not defeated by the size of our bikes, but rather by Canadian import laws. Only bikes made in the United States can be permanently imported into Canada. That meant either that we would have to eventually take the bikes with us back to Germany (and we didn’t love them that much) or pay to have them destroyed (no joke). This, in our minds, would be a colossal waste. So we looked online and discovered that second-hand bikes in Canada seemed to fall into our budget. So we decided to sell the bikes.
Off to Malaysia!
Only now we had a new problem, and this time it definitely was Mango. Before deciding to adopt Mango we had looked into bringing him back to Canada, the US and Germany. It never even occurred to us to check about Malaysia. Our line of reasoning was that all things being given, it must be easier to get a dog into Malaysia than the other countries we’d been worried about.
We figured we could handle the 7-day quarantine. We even decided that we could accept leaving him and riding to Kuala Lumpur while he was in puppy prison to sell the bikes, since the import permit did not allow him to leave the province that he was ‘imported’ into. The final killer was that you need to be in Malaysia to get the import permit to begin with. In other words, one of us would have to enter, apply, get permission, return, get the dog, drop him off for a week of misery in quarantine, and then head off to sell the bikes.
Our line of reasoning was that all things being given, it must be easier to get a dog into Malaysia than the other countries we’d been worried about.
In fact the more we thought about it, it occurred to us that in the same amount of time it would take to do all this in Malaysia, one person could sell their bike at a dealer near the Thai border, the other could stay with Mango on the beach, and the next day the other person could go. No hysterical ball of abandoned fur necessary! It sounded perfect.
The thing is, I am not the navigator on this trip. I can get from one city to the next, or even across countries, so long as I do not have to go into a city. When that happens, everything melts into evil one-way streets that spit me out into other one-way streets until I finally have no idea what my name is let alone where I am (it’s the rage, choking off all other thought processes, that makes me forget my name). But, I was willing to ignore all this given that it seemed to be our only chance at avoiding charges of bike abandonment (not to mention 700 Euro in lost Moscoot sales).
As I had expected, the ride to Malaysia was lovely. The border is nothing more than a quick passport scan and a stamp. Solo riding is fantastic. I had my earphones keeping me company and found that riding by myself was liberating. I could stop when I wanted, I could go as fast as I wanted. I was free. As great as riding in a partnership had been, I began to wonder why I don’t ride cross country solo more often.
And then I arrived at Alor Setar in Malaysia and was quickly reminded. The German, when he had done this run, had dropped off the bike, obtained the necessary stamps and had cash in hand before noon. I, on the other hand, decided the map was obviously wrong and rode off to the next city instead.
I managed to find the place four hours and two temper tantrums later.
The good news was that they said yes to the bike. The bad news was that from 1 until 2 pm the Department of Motor Vehicles were having lunch.
A sane person would have reflected on the fact that they had just gotten lost for four hours, and would have stayed put so as to not risk getting lost again.
A sane person would have reflected on the fact that they had just gotten lost for four hours, and would have stayed put so as to not risk getting lost again. I, on the other hand, decided to take a ride into the city center. Needless to say, I was very soon cursing my head off when I found myself somehow on the outskirts of the city. More to the point, I could seem to find my way out of the outskirts. I wasn’t lost in the city; I was lost trying to figure out how to get into the city. Every time I tried to ride in, somehow the city wound up spitting me back out into the outskirts. If I had hated one-way streets prior to this experience, I now loathed them with all my being. I also refused to accept any responsibility for the situation. It was obviously the fault of the city planners.
But find my way back I eventually did, and although my excursion had finished at 5:00pm as opposed to the German’s noon-hour victory, I still counted my first solo international ride a success.
Even if it did end with me being bike-less.