Introducing Yuu, the 24 year old Chinese Malaysian who jumped on a bike 18 months ago and just can’t stop cycling... through Asia and beyond. Yuu and his older brother Dar were workawaying at the same time as me in Qeshm, Iran, February 2017 and were just lovely company.
Yuu’s home town is Kluang in Southern Malaysia but he hasn’t been there for a few years. He describes Malaysia as very mixed culturally with three main people groups (Indian, Malay and Chinese) living peacefully together, eating each others food etc. His mother tongue is Chinese and he speaks Malay and English too.
Yuu studied for 4 years in Hangzhou, China completing a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Management, a field he has no interest in working in any time soon! Unsure of what to do after graduation he decided to bike through Asia so he sent his stuff back to Malaysia, caught a boat to Japan and began his cycle travels in July 2015.
He had done a weekend trip with a friend from university where they’d biked around 100 km and he really enjoyed it… so off he went! 17,000km later, he has cycled through Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia and wants to keep going. His original plan was to bike through Central Asia but he has done that now and says he can’t stop. Next on his list is Turkey.
At first his mother was worried about him but she is very supportive of his adventure as is Yuu’s girlfriend of 4 years. Each Chinese New Years holiday they visit him somewhere. This year his girlfriend met him in Georgia then later he left his bike in Georgia and went to Iran to meet his mother and brothers. When it’s too cold to bike he stops and workaways somewhere.
Aside from traveling by bike, Yuu is also passionate about football – a big Manchester United fan. He played when in high school and carries a football with him on his travels – a gift from his girlfriend. When he’s bored he pulls it out… Also in his panier is a coffee bean grinder so he can make fresh coffee wherever he is. For the first year he carried a hammock round but hardly used it so that went back to Malaysia with his mum after their New Year holiday together.
His trip has been full of amazing experiences but he names Mongolia as his favourite. There he truly felt like he was venturing into the wild. There were few cars and he met more animals than people. The Pamir highway in Tajikistan was also spectacular.
The only real difficulty of the trip has been the weather. Coming from Malaysia where it is consistently warm, between 26-32 degrees every day of the year, to cycling in Mongolia in Spring when it got to minus 10 degrees – that was tough. The unpredictable changeable weather is the main challenge.
The toughest week was the first one of the whole trip – coming from a comfortable apartment to having to always find somewhere to sleep was a challenge at first. But after the first week he got used to it and describes the wonderful freedom he experienced, like he can control everything. Yuu carries a tent and camping gear so just needs somewhere to put it each night. In more than 18 months on the road he’s paid for accommodation less than 20 nights.
Along the way he’s had plenty of opportunity to observe people, how they live and what they think about life. He describes the differences say from Japan where everyone has to work hard every day to Central Asia where people have a more flexible life and can enjoy life more. He stayed sometimes for longer periods in one place, for example in Japan he spent one month workawaying in a forest and he also workawayed in Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia & Georgia. The hosts all became like family to him and took care of him. Most of the work involved in all these places was construction related and Yuu hopes one day to put the skills he’s gained to good use and build his own house. As for other future dreams, he wants to find a country to live in for a year or so, learn from local people, how they work. He’s keen to try things he hasn’t tried before and is pretty open as to what that might be.
For those interested in following Yuu’s example and heading off on a bike trip of their own, a map is essential. He recommends the app Map.me as you can download the maps and see them offline. He also recommends utilising the ‘Warm showers’ site which connects hosts (like me and Antony!) to cycle tourists, offering them a place to sleep or at least a spot on the lawn to pitch their tent… and a warm shower.
Other wise words from Yuu…. Less is More!
(All photos from Yuu)