Bond­ing with strangers

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Senior -

FREE­LANCE lead­er­ship coach Yong Foo Chuen aka Krankster has been cy­cling for 17 years and likes “peo­ple watch­ing”.

Dur­ing the stopovers on his cy­cling ex­pe­di­tions, he would walk around and ob­serve what the lo­cals are do­ing. Some of them would also be cu­ri­ous about the stranger in their midst.

“When I soaked up the sights, I get into their world,” says Yong, 56, a re­tired sales di­rec­tor.

“It’s fas­ci­nat­ing how peo­ple re­act to strangers. Some are cu­ri­ous and would come for­ward to talk to you. Some would only open up if you ap­proach them.”

Ac­cord­ing to Yong, the Bos­ni­ans are friendly while the Bul­gar­i­ans are more re­served.

Lo­cals he met dur­ing his trav­els would some­times buy him meals, and even of­fer to host his stay, such as the friendly Al­ba­nian choir con­duc­tor he met. They com­mu­ni­cated us­ing body and sign lan­guage but still man­aged to forge a bond.

“He even of­fered me a place to stay but I de­clined. It would have been a good ex­pe­ri­ence if I had stayed,” says Yong.

He chuck­les, re­call­ing how he and the Al­ba­nian had to run af­ter a goat that es­caped from the gar­den. Thank­fully, they caught it. His friend also took a pho­to­graph of him and his young grand­daugh­ter in the gar­den with his goat and chick­ens.

“It was a strange and won­der­ful en­counter. The Al­ba­nian also gave me fruits and roses from his gar­den when he left and we are now Face­book friends.”

Yong is an avid cy­clist who loves moun­tain bik­ing, bike com­mut­ing, and most of all, bi­cy­cle tour­ing.

Since 2012, he has been shar­ing his tour­ing ad­ven­tures in his blog, Re­flec­tions from the sad­dle (https://krankster.word­, hop­ing to in­spire oth­ers through his cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ences.

The beauty of cy­cling, he adds, is “that it gives me a chance to slow down, meet dif­fer­ent peo­ple and live in the mo­ment and in their coun­try”.

Yong is part of a net­work of cy­clists (warmshow­ who sup­ports each other world­wide, with ad­vice on routes, weather and safety mea­sures.

Dur­ing his trips, he would camp in the open if he could not find ac­co­mo­da­tion. Lo­cally, he joins cy­cling groups of 15 to 20 t is ” l peo­ple, or com­bined groups of 30 to 40 bik­ers. Some bik­ers, he says, are in their 60s and 70s.

He also en­joys solo bik­ing – both lo­cally and overseas.

Yong usu­ally cy­cles for five days and rests a day, or he might cy­cle for 10 days straight be­fore tak­ing a break.

He has three bikes. His moun­tain bike is for off-road­ing week­end rides cov­er­ing 15km to 50km.

His En­duro Bromp­ton bike is for com­mut­ing in the city, where he rides and takes the LRT or MRT, as well as for Sun­day rides.

His LKLM Tour­ing bike is for moun­tain and off-road­ing rides. Yong also uses it for long dis­tance rides like the Balkans Tours or his Turkey-Switzer­land ex­pe­di­tion.

Yong ex­plains the dif­fer­rent types of cy­cling. He said: “Solo cy­cling is free and easy. To cy­cle in pairs, it’s better that you know your part­ner very well as you need to be tol­er­ant of each other.”

Group cy­cling can be fun too.

“But you have to be tol­er­ant of other cy­clists in the group as they all have dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and opin­ions,” he says. l Sun­day, 30 July 2017 6.30am Sun­suria City, Pu­tra­jaya South 5.5km (Fam­ily Ride) & 30km (Fun Ride) Of­fi­cial ra­dio sta­tions:


Yong (right) with Gez­imi Femi­jeve, a friendly Al­ba­nian he be­friended dur­ing his cy­cling ex­cur­sion. — YONG FOO CHUEN

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