PILGRIMAGE: The Touring Month

The open road. The sights and sounds. The people and culture.

Every tour is an adventure.

It’s letting our primal instincts take over as the roads lead us to our destination.

Humans, by nature, are strange creatures who can’t seem to stay contented. We thrive on seeking greener pastures – the fulfilment of a better life by pushing through new frontiers, covering vast distances, often through seemingly insurmountable adversity. Without this insatiable will to achieve, we would not have conquered the highest peaks, dived to the bottom of the deepest oceans, explored the wilderness and space.

Similarly, it’s this desire that compels us bikers to ride far and wide, pushing past the discomfort and sometimes pain towards our destinations. It’s the need to see, feel, and experience different places for ourselves.

We’re not hemmed in by a cage, smelling artificial fragrances. Instead, we have a 360-degree view around us. In fact, we’re part of the view. You’ll even smell some of the food being cooked as you ride through villages (which usually means its time to stop and eat).

Just like their brethren across the world, Malaysian riders love touring, too.

We’d wake up early on a weekend to “convoy” to some remote village for breakfast. But instead of returning by lunch, we find ourselves diverted to somewhere else and on the phone with our wives telling them we won’t be home for dinner.

But in contrast to those short rides, long distance touring requires proper planning: Destination, route, fuel stops, equipment, riding gear, bikes, physical condition and psyche.

And it’s always better to over-prepare than winging it.

It may be a manufacturer’s slogan, but motorcycling is definitely about the journey and being prepared means you could ride with peace of mind. Done right, you can relax and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. This is what touring on motorcycles is all about, really.

In April, large numbers of our fellow bikers make their annual pilgrimage to Thailand to attend various motorcycle carnivals in Sadao, Krabi, and Phuket in conjunction with Songkran — the Thai New Year festival.

Typically celebrated on a massive scale in Chiang Mai (where it originated), the epicenter for bikers is of course Phuket island, where thousands around the region — and the world — throng to Phuket Bike Week, which is traditionally held twice in April. The event is estimated to contribute approximately THB 800 million to the local economy annually.

But what the Phuket Bike Week truly stands for is the celebration of touring among our motorcycling fraternity.

Fun events are aplenty and bikers, friends, families, and onlookers are treated to anything and everything from motorbike and custom bike exhibitions, parties on the beach, concerts and various rides.

The main event though is the motorcycle exhibition — or really, a chance to have a closer look at some incredible bikes and choppers from the makes of Harley Davidson, BMW, Kawasaki and Yamaha. The custom bike show is equally a feast for the senses for bikers during the week-long list of festivities.

But Songkran aside, Malaysian riders are spoilt for choice with the amount of tours they can do without leaving the country. Though, where’s the fun in that?