Mohammad Lasim, 57, with his scooter at one of the mountain passes he encountered on his journey. — All photos by Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: A retired teacher has proven that a strong spirit is a powerful force that can drive us to achieve our goals including going on a solo motorcycle tour to six other countries.
For the 30,000km road trip, which took him almost four years to complete, Mohammad Lasim Deraman rode his Yamaha NMAX 155 scooter, starting off from Kota Baru, Kelantan in December 2019, crossing over to Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal, China and Laos and finally returning home in June.
Sharing his adventure, Mohammad Lasim, 57, said the expedition took quite some time to complete due to the Covid-19 pandemic and some routes through the Himalayas that were closed for several months to all vehicles due to heavy snow.
He said after three months of riding and arriving in Mumbai, India, he decided to take a flight back to Malaysia with the intention of bringing his wife along on the journey, however, Covid-19 hit the world causing the trip to be postponed.
"In May 2022 when the borders reopened, I returned to Mumbai to resume the expedition. However, after less than a month, I had to return to Malaysia again because the Zojila Pass, which connects Ladakh and Kashmir, was closed to all vehicles.
"After the expedition was delayed twice, I made up my mind to bring home my motorcycle. So, sometime last April, I took a flight to New Delhi and continued my tour. Finally, three days before Hari Raya Aidiladha, I arrived safely at the Rantau Panjang-Sungai Golok border in Kelantan," he said.
Mohammad Lasim said he had to go through various challenges to complete the expedition including encountering problems when his scooter broke down, travelling through rocky, muddy, narrow and steep mountain paths in India and Nepal as well as facing the extreme cold weather of -20°C, which could lead to acute mountain sickness (AMS).
"Despite the setbacks there were unforgettable moments, especially when riding through the Zojila Pass. This mountain pass, at an elevation of about 3,528m above sea level, is considered to be one of the most dangerous routes in the world because the road is slippery and rocky with unfenced gorges.
"Even though it was torturous having to ride slowly and taking over three hours to pass through the 50km stretch, the topography of the area was breathtaking and amazing, making all the struggles and sacrifices well worth it," he said while sharing photographs, videos, entry and exit stamps on his passport as proof of the expedition.
The former special education teacher at SMK Kolombong, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, said he started going on expeditions riding various types of motorcycles in 2008 and among the places he has visited are Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and the African continent.
Mohammad Lasim said traveling overseas on a motorcycle gives him the opportunity to discover hidden treasures, make friends along the way and gain new experience.
Meanwhile, avid traveller Azman Baharuddin described Mohammad Lasim's achievement of riding a scooter over a long distance as something extraordinary, adding that he is perhaps the first Malaysian to accomplish such a feat.
Azman, who has the experience of riding a motorcycle abroad since 2001, including travelling to the Holy Land to perform the umrah and Haj pilgrimage, said riding a scooter has its limitations and is mechanically more complex than riding a regular motorcycle.
"Scooters are generally popular for short-distance rides in city areas with heavy traffic because they are more convenient, gearless and comfortable, but they require regular maintenance to keep in prime condition.
"It can be difficult and uncomfortable to ride a scooter over an unpaved and hilly path due to the small wheels. Likewise, its risk of breaking down is higher and it can be difficult to get spare parts in remote areas," he said.