"We have only one life, if we miss the chance now, we may not have another one later"
- Anna Grechishkina
Touring the world has been a dream for mankind long time ago, because of the desire to explore and discover new places; it drives to the technological advance in our civilization, from a simple ship for sailing to metal jet soaring the sky. There is one particular group of people who try to change the way of traveling in one of a non-conventional way – traveling on a motorcycle. Since motorcycle been invented, bike touring has been a new life style which never fades, bikers do it year to year and never stop craving for the enrichment.
Anna, a lovely Ukraine girl who holds a dream long time ago decided to go for a one big step in her life, to ride the world. Her story can be an inspiring one for other bikers. She enters Malaysia on December 2013 after Thailand and we are very happy to have her to take part in our interview, sharing bit of her story with us. The interview is not able to be conducted face to face due to our packed schedule, but luckily Anna is kind enough to accept an online interview. We are here to share what we have with Anna.
1. As per your "I have a dream" website, we know that it is a project to ride around the world with motorcycle. Can you briefly let us know how many countries have you cross so far and before arriving in Thailand, you were in South Korea and skipped China, Vietnam and Cambodia, is that because of the visa problem?
Yes, this is the world trip on my KTM Adventure 1190 bike meaning that I will cross all the continents except Antarctica but of course it does not mean that I will cover all the countries. For that I would need more than two years. I’ve been on the road for almost six months already, I started my journey from Kiev, Ukraine, on 27 July 2013 and I intend to complete it by summer 2015. So far I crossed all Russia till Vladivostok, shipped my bike to Thailand; all the way covered Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, soon ready to continue for Australia, then USA, Mexico, Central & South America, Africa and Europe. I skipped some of the countries in South Asia because of visa issues and complicated procedures as to bringing my bike to the countries - like China, Vietnam. Of course, I am interested in these countries as well but I am sure that my traveling spirit will not expire after my world trip is completed and I will continue to explore the world further.
Well, I agree that it’s more challenging for a female to take a risk of such journey. Main issues are connected first of all with safety, because single woman on the road in a foreign country can easily become a target for some people. Also women normally need more comfortable conditions in terms of hygiene and it’s not always that you get on the way, so you have to adapt to different situations and different conditions, to learn to be happy and contented with small things. Part of the challenge is connected also with some things which are normally considered as “man’s piece of cake” like lifting up the bike when you drop it, or carrying heavy luggage on and off your bike, taking care of the bike when something is broken or out of service.
In the other hand being a female rider is somehow easier in some sense. Because when people meet you, they immediately want to help you and facilitate your journey. It’s not very common situation to see a woman on the bike, especially in a long-ride journey, so people want to support you in everything. For example, whenever I dropped my bike (because it’s heavy) I could hardly get on my feet before there was already somebody around to help me to lift it up. I experienced a lot of situations when I got very fast help just because people wanted to help to a single lady on the road.
Of course, it’s very important to have connections in the countries that you’re heading to, at least you should have at least few people to whom you may call or ask for help.
But it’s much more dangerous to travel alone in your imagination, reality is often very different, and the most challenging and difficult part is to take the first step and to start. Once you started, other things are being sorted out easier. Therefore, one of my goals is to show to female riders that they can do it, it’s not just men’s privilege to travel. We also can explore the world, and sometimes it’s even easier for us to do it.
3. There are many types of riders, there are riders who love speed, roaming around the track most of the time: there are riders who loves customizing bikes; some loves to travel around and integrate the machine as part of their voyage, Which category you think that you will put your own self in. Also, when you started to ride a motorcycle, bikes that you have ridden so far? What is the motive to make you have such strong desire to archive this goal where a lot of people who will only think of without action?
I am definitely not a type of riders who love speed, I am a slow rider who prefers to travel for long distances and explore the world. To do this you need time, not speed. I like to look around, to stop for taking photos, for meeting people. Sometimes people are wondering why I take so much time to get from one place to another, but for me it’s not the distance that matters but experience. And maybe I will cover only a few kilometers in one day but I will get such an unforgettable experience which will enrich my life or touch other people’s lives.
I started to ride bikes 9 years ago, in 2005. My first bike was Kawasaki Eliminator 125, but already next year I’ve bought Kawasaki Vulcan 900. I immediately got interested in long rides and traveling to other countries. I realized that traveling is the best way of exploring the world and broadening your mind. For these years I’ve been to Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Georgia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, India, and after one of such journeys I felt that I am ready for a very long ride around the world. This idea first seemed crazy to me but it was coming back to my mind again and again, I consulted with my good friends who really supported me, and one day I decided to start preparations for my world trip.
My goal is not just to travel around the world for my own pleasure, but also to support people who have their dreams. Actually my journey is called “I have a dream..” , and I want to encourage other people to follow their dreams and not to be scared to take the first step. We have only one life, and if we miss the chance now, we may not have another one later.
Also part of my mission is to do some charity and social work within my journey - like visiting orphanages, homes for the aged, meeting any kind of people who may need support and encouragement. My main message is that everything is possible in this world even if you are simple and ordinary people like I am.
4. Can you briefly let us know how long you prepared for this journey? Do you have anyone behind you who work for the funding or backup and what you do (occupation) before departed for this mission?
It took me more than a year to get prepared. First I had to choose the bike which will accompany me in this journey, and I chose KTM Adventure 1190. Also I had to find partners for my trip as it’s quite costly. I had to make the route, collect all the information about visa issues and customs regulations in every country along my route. I had to train myself in a physical sense, so I visited the gym almost every day. Also I spent almost every day in motorcycle service workshop to learn how to deal with the bike in case something happens. In order to have time for all this, I quit my full-time job and shifted for free-lance, and still my everyday schedule was really packed, I didn’t have much time even for rest. And still some issues remained open at the day of my start. But I realized that I have to start otherwise it can be delayed forever.
One of the issues which is still not settled was financial issue. I didn’t manage to raise all the amount for my trip, therefore search of partners is still in the process though one quarter of my journey is already completed. In Ukraine I have a group of people who help me with organization issues because sometimes I even do not have time for posting photos in Internet.
5. How do you find the people, food, landscape of Malaysia?
I really enjoy Malaysia, and I can say that of all the countries that I visited so far (not just within this world trip) Malaysia is one of my favorite countries. And I really looking forward to come back here again. I made a lot of friends here, Malaysians are so nice and friendly and supportive people. I felt like at home here because I knew that they take care of me and will never let anything bad happen to me.
Of course I enjoy landscape and the roads. They are very smooth and comfortable for riding.
I am not very picky about the food but I like all the varieties of Malaysian food. First I missed potato a lot as it is very traditional food for our countries but now I got used to rice, and like it a lot!
6. Do you have any advice for bikers who really want to ride the world? Such as motorcycle choice, things to be aware of when at a strange environment that you are not familiar with.
Of course a lot of things are very important for the world rides, it’s not a ride for a cup of coffee behind the corner, and it takes a lot of time and energy to get prepared. But I would say that the most important thing you have to start with is psychological readiness. It’s not that easy to leave your comfort zone and head for uncertainty so you have to be fully aware of your reasons to do it. It should not be just a one night decision, you have to think over it, understand all the difficulties and challenges, and only after you understand all this and ready to take a risk and challenge you should start and go.
Also I would advise to learn or practice much flexibility. As a world rider you will get to many unusual places and meet a lot of people whose mentality would be very different from yours and sometimes very weird. You should learn to adapt, to change according to the surroundings, to be more tolerant and understanding. In this way you will learn a lot about the world; this is the most precious knowledge. There is no place for rigidity and stubbornness when you’re traveling.
So I would say that this is the first you should start with and then to continue of course with the choice of bike, collection of information about countries, etc. This part is easier.
7. Lastly, I would like to ask a question that most of our male riders who really keen to know - are you still single and available? Into what extend you open your door to man, what is your preference on man.
Well, I have a boyfriend in Ukraine, and hopefully time and distance will test our feelings and show us if we fit each other that much.
Thank you Anna for replying back to this interview and for those who is interested please do visit Anna “I have a dream…” blog @ http://www.ihaveadream.com.ua/