Arctic Wheels : Malaysian Nomad Project

          I think I’ll go for a little cycle tomorrow.  I haven’t been out on the bicycle since late November because the weather’s been shocking.  With the thermometer plunging down to around -20 C this past week, the roads were nothing but a treacherous mélange of ice, snow and salt anyway.

          However, the temperature is slowly climbing up towards a friendly zero and some of the ice has melted away.  Besides we need to go out for groceries so badly – in fact, it speaks volumes of the kindness and patience of poor S that he obligingly ate the sordid gruel I put together with the last of the ingredients of our pantry this evening

          I do love my little bicycle, even though this cycling malarkey is pretty new to me.  Some of my happiest summer days in this new city were spent cruising around on my darling little two-wheeler.  Sadly, I’m such a nessie, and as soon as I have to start charging head first into chilling winds …. BBbbbbrrrrrr.  It’s just not something I could bear.  So today I dedicate my blog post to an inspiring person from back home who made it his life’s purpose to deliberately combine the two!

          The Arctic chapter of The Malaysian Nomad Project is the solo journey undertaken by a guy called Zahariz, cycling from Stockholm to Kiruna in Sweden in pursuit of aurora borealis and then pushing further northward into the Norwegian tundra.

          The auroras are seen in the sky of the north and south pole (I know what you’re thinking – first the polar vortex, and now this?) due to a collision between atoms in the thermosphere and a stream of charged particles in the magnetosphere known as the solar winds.  When the solar winds start egging our atmosphere, it ignites a geomagnetic storm.  According to Zahariz, 2013 was a great year for this project because the storm was particularly ebullient, due to the 11 or 12 year sunspot cycle.  I haven’t felt this nerdy since someone gave me a copy of Astronomy magazine in high school – and I’m usually pretty nerdy!

          The upshot of this journey was a documentary series entitled “Dengan Basikal Aku Menjelajah” (“With My Bicycle, I Explore”).  When it aired on national TV back home just a month ago, he won the hearts of thousands of people across the nation with the pure splendor of his adventure and delightfully surprised old Hartamasians like myself.

          The documentary series went on to win the People’s Choice Award at the BMW Shorties short film competition.

          I think what he did is absolutely astounding.  It obviously took adamantium balls for him to ride out in hostile conditions lugging his possessions in its entirety strapped to a bike, camp out in the wilderness, survive near death experiences (no kidding) and do it all alone.  All the same, what I liked from his narrative were the gems he sought out throughout his travel:  Not just to see God’s creations, but to live it.  Not just to meet people from a foreign land, but to befriend them.  Not just to tread the Earth, but to connect with it, always making an emphasis about forging that connection, and sharing his ambitions of a self-sustainable lifestyle.  His sweet rewards at the end of a long road were the kindness of strangers, and the most spectacular show of Northern Lights, all of which he captured in breathtaking photographs and footage which took undeniable dedication.

          See it for yourself:

          Zahariz blogs in English, but narrates his documentaries in Malay. If you don’t happen to speak Malay, it might be time to befriend someone who does.

          If Zahariz ever comes across this post, my messages are:

1.  My mom thinks you’re awesome!

2.  There was once a Scandinavian explorer whom I admire greatly, who traveled in reverse from you – from Norway to the tropics – and never stopped exploring.  His name was Thor Heyerdahl, and I think he would’ve thought that what you did was awesome, too.  :)

          Readers, I apologize in advance for the time you will now spend watching YouTube videos, reading his blog and Googling beautiful images of the aurora borealis.  I’ll start you off with these:



Alas, photos NOT by author, but click on image above for a Northern Lights gallery compiled by The Telegraph, with credits.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s