When I heard Woon Chi was planning a month-long motorcycle ride throughout the western U.S., I was immediately interested in his journey. As the writer of this blog, I’m always the traveler — the person coming and going, packing and unpacking, sharing photos and writing posts. But Woon Chi’s trip offers a chance for something greater — a chance to see my country from his perspective as a foreigner, and to share his experience with anyone who follows.
I met Woon Chi when I lived in Singapore. He and my husband were both working at Lucasfilm. Woon Chi is a compositer, and recently finished working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Like me and my husband, Woon Chi relocated to Vancouver, Canada last year where we’ve reconnected amid the shifting world of post-production.
Ask anyone who knows Woon Chi, and I think they’ll agree. He has a certain way about him: cool, easy going, always friendly, and instantly recognizable with his trademark long hair. He was born and raised in Singapore — a tiny country, sometimes referred to as the Little Red Dot. Singapore’s total area is only 277 square miles (719 sq. km.). Compare that to the total area of the U.S., which is about 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million sq. km.). Or, think about it this way: if Singapore were one Lego piece, you would need an additional 13,700+ Lego pieces to create the comparative landmass of the U.S.
Woon Chi is setting out on what’s surely going to be a long, immersive experience in the vast landscapes and lifestyles of the West. By going on a road trip, he’ll be experiencing a typical feature of an all-American summer, when millions of people take to the open road on their family vacations. What will he see? Who will he meet? What will be his perspective on the U.S. when he arrives back in Vancouver about a month from now? Follow along with me and find out as I post his updates from the road.
Before he left yesterday, I asked him some questions about his trip and shot some photos of him on his way out of Vancouver.
What inspired you to ride your motorcycle around the western U.S.?
It was always my dream to do a motorcycle trip in the states, as you know the terrain’s so different from southeast Asia, now I can go from the redwoods to the canyons and onto the salt flats. I was also most likely inspired by western films like Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, Into the Wild, and books like On the Road, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. And since I got a job in Vancouver, and bought a motorcycle here, that leaves me no choice but to do it.
What’s your route and how did you decide on it?
As I only have approximately 30 days to do this trip, I’ve been reading up on a lot of other motorcyclist roadtrips that were done in the U.S, and I figured doing the National Parks loop would be my best route. Firstly, I would hit most major national parks on the west coast, and I could actually pick a few places to stay and relax for a few days, rather than riding on the road most of the time. I divided my routes to about 4-5 hours of riding a day, so it wouldn’t be as tiring, and I would have time to actually enjoy the day and do stuff. In summary, the route would look like this: Vancouver B.C., Astoria, Coosbay, Eureka, San Francisco, Yosemite, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, Missoula, Osooyos B.C., Tofino, Victoria Island.
Tell us about your motorcycle.
Since I got here in Vancouver last spring, I realised this place is so incredibly beautiful, with just a short drive, you could be at a place with almost no human presence. The roads here seemed to be made for motorcycle riding, especially the Sea to Sky Highway, the curvy roads by the coast! My Motorcycle is a Kawasaki w650. If you know custom motorcycles, you would know that this model is one of the popular models that custom builders use to customize their ride with. But for some reason, it’s super rare in North America, as they stop selling these models in 2002 due to poor sales. But their reputation for being a sturdy ride/vintage look with the amazing custom scene in Japan has brought back the w650 onto the limelight, so I was really really lucky to get one of these, and of course I spent the winter customizing it.
What gear are you taking, and has it been challenging to pack with such limited space?
So I’ve decided to do a lot of camping during this trip, because I love camping. Being able to wake up in the wild, is a truly incredible experience. Secondly I can save a lot of money doing that too! So the obvious problem, I‘m not doing this roadtrip in a car, I don’t have the luxury of space. I have to be able to pack my camp gear, extra fuel bottles, clothings, all onto my motorcycle. But being in B.C., this is camp gear heaven! There are places like MEC, Army&Navy, Canadian Tire, that sells incredibly small camp gears, of course you have to pay a little premium for them. So now I was able to pack my tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, stove, all into my saddlebags, and that leaves my clothings/raingear/electronics into my bag pack.
What experience or location are you most looking forward to on your trip?
To be honest, I don’t know what lies ahead, I don’t know who I am going to meet, or what I’m gonna see. My emotionals are all over the place. I am excited, scared, a little nervous, this is going to be my first big solo motorcycle trip. After thinking for a moment…… I guess I want to see a herd of bisons grazing in the plains, I want to meet amazing people along the way, I want to have moments that can’t be scripted in any way, I want to be able to truly live again in this journey (at least for 30 days), and not live our routined lives we are so used to.
As of this posting, Woon Chi has been gone for about 36 hours. He’s already broken down in the middle of nowhere, experienced the kindness of strangers, and located the part he needs to fix his bike — the ONLY PART LEFT in the ENTIRE United States — thank you, Kawasaki! What a start to the trip! Stay tuned — much more on all of this in my next post.
Until then, safe travels Woon Chi … and may the Force be with you.
Missed part of the road trip? You can catch up with Woon Chi here:
Have any recommendations for things to see or do along Woon Chi’s route? Please leave a comment below.