Dreams Do Come True - Two Malaysians Completed an Incredible Tour on Vespa after 3 Years

What are your thoughts on travelling around the world on a motorcycle? Specifically, a scooter. The idea might sound daunting and impossible to some, but it is a dream come true for Mohd Johaniff Mohamed Sohaimi, 36.

The adventurous Malaysian decided to take on Indonesia, the largest Southeast Asia country with over 16,000 islands. The idea came about when he met a fellow riding enthusiast Zafari Zakaria in 2015.

"I did not expect that my friend, Zafari was interested in the idea since he wished to travel to Indochina at the time. We also invited other friends to join, but in the end, it was just me and Zafari who proceeded with the mission," he told mStar.

Touring Malaysia and Indonesia on a Vespa adventure

Danau Kaolin Air Bara, Bangka, Indonesia Image source via Mohd Johaniff Instagram

Touring on motorcycles is not a new thing. Many have completed their tours, from sports bikes to full-dress cruisers. Most would opt for rides with good tank range to go the distance or models best suited for the kind of trails they will be spending more time on and consider other standard adventure touring features like a decent luggage space.

What makes Johaniff and Zafari's adventure a rather unusual one is going on a tour with a Vespa! These classic scooters are great for a daily commute; they are fun, light-hearted but not quite the choice that comes to mind for a journey that requires mile-munching comfort and ability. However, that is the dream - to go on an adventure with his favourite bike!

The first phase of their expedition went on from January to the end of February in 2016. They have their Vespas air-flown to Sabah, Malaysia's "Land Below the Wind." From there, they explored the state, as well as Brunei.

Malaysian successfully tour Indonesia on a Vespa

Going through immigration to enter Kalimantan from Sarawak. Image source via mStar

According to Johaniff, the initial plan was to tour Sabah and Sarawak. They decided later that they would venture into Indonesia via West Kalimantan. 

After completing their journey in Sarawak, they rode to Pontianak (capital of West Kalimantan, Indonesia), followed by a ferry ride to get to Semarang (capital of Central Java province). From there, they went on a long journey on the Vespa before finally reaching Jakarta. 

The two friends travelled through Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sulawesi, Sumba, Flores. Apart from discovering stunning destinations, they had gained a lot more experience throughout the first phase of their expedition.

"With our own Vespa, not only are we comfortable with it, but we would also know what is wrong with it should there be any mishaps that occur," said Johaniff.

Malaysia travel across  world's largest island country Indonesia on a Vespa

Cooling off by taking a dip in the river at Pekanbaru, Indonesia. Image source via Mohd Johaniff Instagram

Riding the classic scooter was no issue because the vehicle is widely available in Indonesia according to Johaniff. There are plenty of workshops should they need any repair work or servicing. What was more crucial was to ensure that the bike was in good condition and to have essential equipment ready for an emergency before embarking on a long journey.

"I am not worried because there are so many workshops and friends with similar interests throughout Indonesia. Many can offer a helping hand."

Johaniff's Indonesia tour took three years to complete due to several unforeseen circumstances. For one, it was inadequate planning, and also, along the way, their money was swindled. They were forced to cut the expedition short and return to Malaysia by the end of February 2016.

They came to the hard decision to leave their beloved Vespas in Jakarta. That way, it would motivate them to return to complete the tour and bring their rides home.

Malaysians touring Indonesia on a Vespa

Crossing between islands in Indonesia by ferry. Image source via Mohd Johaniff Instagram

"There is not much information to tour Indonesia as there are not many Malaysian riders who have toured there. We have to do our own research and do proper planning. We were lucky to get to know many Indonesian riders who offered us much assistance in the first part of our tour."

After they returned from the two-month voyage, they took the time to plan in detail for the second phase of their trip.

It was not until December 2018 that Johaniff and Zafari set out for Jakarta to resume their unfinished mission. The second time around, the two riders were much more prepared and took only three months to travel from Jakarta to Bali, Lombok, Flores, and later to Edanjaya and Sulawesi. 

They also visited Baka Belitung, Sumatra, before heading towards Pontianak and Kalimantan to make their way home to Malaysia in March 2019.

Johaniff shared how it made a big difference the second time around as they studied their route and considered the Indonesian archipelago. It is, after all, one of the world's largest island countries!

"Just imagine that we had to take 20 ferry rides to get to Papua! Not forgetting the weather factor. We also experienced being stranded on Sumbawa Besar Island on our way to Flores."

Malaysians Johaniff Zafari celebrate the completion of their first Vespa world tour

Zafari (left) and Johaniff (right) celebrate the completion of their Vespa touring in Indonesia in March 2019. Image source via Mohd Johaniff Instagram

Thankfully, with careful planning and the help of many friendly acquaintances they met, Zafari and Johaniff completed their Vespa tour successfully.

"I can still remember how it was as though our visit was already spread throughout the Vespa community there. How we were so well received as outsiders were extraordinary."

Despite being deceived, it did not affect the overall experience of their adventure. Instead, they consider every moment to be a precious memory. What impressed them the most was the spirit of brotherhood among the local communities. It made the whole experience that much more valuable.

There were many breathtaking locations they discovered in Indonesia, including the scenic East Sumbawa.

The Vespa enthusiast hopes for the pandemic to end soon as he is ready to go on his next adventure with his most beloved Vespa.

How about you? Are you all set to make your dreams come true as your 2022 new year resolution? The hardest thing is often starting. We do all have the same amount of time on this planet. With a will, a little bit of creativity, and trashing those excuses that so often hold us back, you too can achieve your hopes and dreams as Johaniff has. Let's make a pact to not wait until we are old and retired to live the life we have always wanted, shall we?

Source: mStar

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