Day 156: Tour de Paris

Day 156: Tour de Paris

Chantilly to Paris

Distance: 61.3 km

Time on board : 4 hours 28 mins

Average Speed: 13.7 kmh

Cumulative distance: 6897 km
Forgot today is Monday, a working day where everyone rushed to work. Woke up to see the hordes of cars rushing to Paris for work. On the hindsight, should have just skate to Paris yesterday which traffic is almost non existent on Sunday. Last night camped in the middle of roundabout. It was pretty comfortable to sleep if you can ignore the noise from traffic. Cooked my pasta for breakfast while waiting for the rush hour traffic to subside. But it doesn’t, so I continue skating, contenting the narrow road with them. Usually, they will overtake me by going on the other lane, but this time, with traffic,continuously flowing from both directions, it become a mammoth task to overtake me on a narrow lane. Soon, the traffic behind me began to pile up and it was going to be this way for 40km. No choice but to take train to Saint Dennis, outskirt of Paris.
Skating into colossal cities like Bangkok, Saigon and Hanoi is nothing compared to this. Though it may seem the traffic in Paris is significantly fewer than those in Bangkok and Saigon, due to narrow lane without any shoulder, it is unwise to skate into Paris on peak hour. In Asia, though traffic is significantly larger, but i felt safer skating into cities like Bangkok and Saigon because the roads are wider with shoulder lanes and vehicles move a lot slower  among the heavy traffic. Furthermore, they are used to sharing the road with slow moving mode of transport like bicycle and me.
Stopped at luzarches to grab a train to Saint Dennis, where I can find a safer road to skate on to Paris. Once I found river Seine, it become easy to navigate. Just follow the bike path on river Seine. First stop is stade de France, where France won their first and only World cup. Visited all other attractions including place de Bastille, Notre Dame, lovre, Effiel tower and arc de triumph. Paris was too expensive for me to stay in, since my fellow long distance skater Romain Bessiere the Globeskater with his girlfriend Maria Teresa Rabelo Rafael invited me to stay with them in Caen. Caen is located in Normandy, near D Day landing, isn’t my planned route at first. It is 250km west of Paris, so I had to take 2 hours train to Caen, where I was picked up by Romain at the train station. His girlfriend cooked me a great pasta and oysters feast. Normandy is next to the sea, thus it is famous for its seafood. 
Will stay with them for a couple of days to recuperate before moving on to Tours, where Panta Gruelon, another famous skater awaits me.

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​Day 281 : Adios USA! Hola Country no. 15 Mexico


San Diego, USA to Tijuana, Mexico

Distance: 32 km / 20 miles

Time on board: 2 hours 51 mins

Average speed: 11.5 kmh

Cumulative distance: 10953 km
Day 276-280

Worked in ITH Adventure hostel for free accommodation to save costs. Spent 4 hours of cleaning the dormitories and toilets daily and I am free for the day. Back home, I never ever clean my room. My mom must be proud upon hearing that I had to clean the rooms. Best of all, the hostel provide free breakfast and Dinner for guests. Truly a cost saver for me. Daily have a hearty breakfast to suffice till mid day where I buy $2 hot dog from 7-eleven.
Watched Justice League. Rather disappointed that DC chose to compress the movie into 2 hours, rather short considering they have to introduce all heroes. DC should follow Marvel’s formula of taking time to introduce standalone movies of all the heroes first before rolling out Justice League. Rest of the days spent binge watching Netflix in the hostel. Finished the entire Punisher series. Thanks to my sponsor Mark from GBomb, he sent me another GBOMB tee shirt, collected from Pablo in Adrenalina Skateboard store. Explored La Jolla and got real close to seals and sea lions. Literally i can touch them and smell their breath. During my stay in Hostel, made many friends. One prominent is Joey from China. We have been room mates during entire stay. Since we both spoke the same language Mandarin, we clicked rather well. 
Day 281

Finally muster my will to leave San Diego, USA for my country no. 15 Mexico. Had my last hearty breakfast in the hostel and biding farewell to my hostel mates. Skating to the Mexico border Tijuana is very straightforward and flat. Just 30 km away from San Diego, and arrived in San Ysdiro, the usa border town shortly. Exchanged my remaining us dollars to Mexico pesos. Exiting usa and entering Mexico is the simplest border crossing ever. I never have to go through USA exit checkpoint, in fact there is none. Exiting USA is damn easy, it is like they want you to leave. Of course, entering usa is different story, is what I would describe as pain in the ass. USA – Tijuana is one of the world’s busiest Border crossing, however,  entering the Mexico is another simple affair. No queue or whatever. Walked straight into custom and paid 500 pesos or $27 USD for 180 days Visa. Enquired about Singapore visa free entry but it is only applicable to air travel, not for land border crossing. My Singapore ‘ s ministry of foreign affair never mention this fact, they should update the information. I suppose no one cross the Mexico border on land then. Getting my visa to Mexico takes only a matter of minutes, as compared to all the border crossing I encountered so far except Europe schengen borders of course. The easiest border crossing ever. Proof, next thing I realise I am in Mexico. It is evident when you arrive in Mexico. The whole world immediately changes upon leaving the Developed USA. From relatively calm USA, entered into the chaotic Tijuana. I have been pampered by the western civilization in Canada and USA over the last 2 months. Now I felt I am back in Asia. Mexico is like Vietnam and Thailand where chaotic cars ruled the lawless roads. Massive hordes of cars bewildered me, filled the roads of Tijuana, time to get back the feeling to chaos once experience during my Asia leg. 
Received loads of birthday greetings from my friends though technically my birthday is tomorrow 22 November. Since Singapore is a day ahead of USA, it is already 22 November in Singapore time. All my Singapore friends and family started greeting me on Facebook. Since today is considered my birthday in Singapore time, I treated myself to a hotel stay with some luxury term. $60 USD for a queen bed room which would have bankrupted me in USA. Heard of Tijuana ‘s notorious reputation for crime, therefore I researched for the safe areas in Tijuana and found this hotel. B my hotel had many good reviews so I paid bit more for for comfort and safety since it is my birthday in Singapore time. Finding my way to the hotel is absolute chaos. Unlike typical grid like system in usa which make it no brainer to navigate, the Tijuana roads swerve whenever they feel like it. Facing the behemoth mazes of Tijuana, getting lost is a common occurrence despite my hotel is only 2 km from the border crossing. I cannot follow Google map navigation for bicycle anymore. Surrendered trying to skate in the right direction, I skate in the direction towards the incoming traffic as it is the direct route to the hotel. Do as when you are in Rome. I followed the Mexicanos cyclists riding against the traffic. Finally arrived in my hotel after a hour of navigation through the mazes though it is only 2 km. Incoming journey through Baja California will be a very simple affair. Once out of Tijuana I will be riding on highway 1 throughout, entire way till la Paz, 1000 km away.  There will be days without any civilisation or towns as I will be riding through desert. Therefore, don’t panic if you haven’t read my posts in a month. Only panic if u haven’t heard from me in January when I should be back in usa Miami for the ultraskate.

Day 233: First day with jogging stroller


USA: Portland to Salem 

Distance: 50.5 km / 31.3 miles

Time on board: 3 hours 24 mins

Average speed: 15kmh

Cumulative distance: 9418 km/ 5853 miles


Always been toying with the idea of having a trailer with brakes since my accident in Spain. Cory Poole happens to be the guy who makes them and I am staying with him in Portland. I ordered a jogging stroller from Amazon but it didn’t work out as the handbrake was handlocked, meaning it will jam brake, not good at downhilling at high speed. We looked through Craigslist and got $60 2nd hand stroller. The brakes is compatible with bicycles, so I can easily get it replaced. 

The weekend was the Push in The woods, annual push race in Portland organised by Robin Mcguirk and Cory who wavier my fees. Meeting same Ldp guys last and this weekend was weird, never I seen them twice in a row. The race ground was wet and slippery, almost slipped couple of times hence I decided to let the guys sprint ahead while I slowed down to enjoy the race. 5 km and 10km race ended pretty fast. For the Raffle draw, Robin got the ladies and kids to decide their prize from boards, complete bustin setups to wheels. His rationale was to promote the sport, making it interesting and enticing them to join again, rather than the pros getting all the prizes. I took nothing as I can’t carry them.

In the morning of leaving cory’s home, I decided to take the train to Wilsonville, skipping Portland’s rush hour traffic. Cory found out the train was a commuter train only serving the morning and evening crowd. Last train to Wilsonville was at 8.35 am, leaving Cory only minutes to drive me to station. In the end, we missed the train, Cory drove me to Wilsonville where I continued my journey.


The jogging stroller was a great idea. Initially I was spectic about the stroller. The stroller swerve another direction from my board. After I got the hang of it, I was on the roll. My back never felt so light and free of burden before. Daily carrying load of 17 kg took a toll on my back. Today my back finally freed from its shackles. The advantages of pushing stroller were that I could carry more load and water. On my backpack, I could only carry up to 5 litres of water. On the stroller, I could carry more than 20 litres of water, giving me freedom to skate anywhere I want without having to camp at towns for water supply. 20 litres can last me for 4 days, meaning I can skate through deserted areas without having to worry about water. At last, I am truly free.

Another advantage was that it comes with hand brake, compatible with bicycle. I can go downhill with ease of controlling and reducing my speed without having to burn my soles. Safer than footbraking. Only pain in the ass is having to tow uphill. Gravity hurts but it is only marginally slower than pushing uphill with my backpack. The pros outweighs the con so far. Only the first day using the stroller, i cannot say much though I am really happy with the initial result. There will be more test to come. The true test will arrive when I have to descend a steep hill. 


With stroller, it carries the inertia pulling me along as well, or perhaps it was the tailwind. I don’t know, only time will tell. I was easily rolling at 17kmh without having to stop for breaks. Stopped at woodburn for lunch. Accidentally spilled boiling water on the ground, leaving me no more cooking water as I forgot to top my water supply this morning. Was too hungry to bother saving money, got myself McDonald’s meal before shopping at REI recreational equipment inc in Salem. The REI store manager noticed me and was intrigued by my skate stroller. I explained my story. All the whole staffs knew my story. Bought a collapsible 20 litres water container so that I can skate for days without searching for water. 


Continued my way to Salem, the state capital of Oregon. Stopped at State capital hall for photos. A couple asked me to take photo for them which I obliged. I explained my story to Dago and his Chinese wife. He gave me 2 dollars for coffee. Wow! The sign I made explaining my travel works. People noticed me and know my adventures without having to explain umpteen times. Next, encountered a homeless on bicycle. Charlie Brown the clown as he called himself. Chatted with him until Larry, the owner of Longboard Larry arrived to pick me up. Had pizza with his family before showing me his workshop.

​Day 215: Hello USA! Goodbye Canada!


Country no. 14: USA

Vancouver, Canada to Blaine, USA 

Distance: 50km

Time on board: 5 hours 

Average speed: 10kmh

Cumulative distance: 8805 km


Just a brief update of what I have been up to since Santiago, Spain. Flew to London, watched Wicked the musical, moved to Brighton, south of London, expecting bright sunny beach but I was wrong. Cold, Windy and wet. Ended up staying in Hostel for days. Met up with Michael Levy, another distance skater for lunch and witness Brighton win their first premier league football match against West Brom. Flew over to Vancouver, British Columbia. Hugh Johnson invited me to stay with his skater friends in Stoop Skate house. 


Left Vancouver today to officiate the North America Skate down the Pacific coast. Vancouver, just like any North America state, is designed in grid like roads, making it easy to navigate. Go straight and then turn at whatever street. Vancouver is located in valley, therefore there is downhill and uphill. I still haven’t got rid of my fear for downhill ever since my fateful accident in Spain. If downhill is steep, even at 20kmh speed, I will just get off my board and walk. Wasted time slowly walking downhill. Vancouver roads are shared together with cyclists, a dedicated cycle path beside the road, making it pleasant to skate through except when I have to cross several Colossal bridges. My fear of downhill and heights forced me to walk the 3 km suspension bridge. People thinks I am fearless just because I dare to skate around the world. On the contrary, I do have alot of fears and phobias. Going on a tour mean I have to face my fears all the time. Fear is what keeps us alive. To be fearless, is not with fear but to face them in the eye. I never cower from my fear and walk away but to walk up the bridge. Though I am still scared to skate up and down the bridge, but I walked the bridge to fight the fear. 
Have to detour to Walmart as my shoes lost its sole, unable to brake effectively. My Decathlon shoes gone through 3 mountain ranges, from Berlin to Santiago, Spain, 3000 km. Been resoled twice. At Vancouver, I went to several shoe repair shop and quoted me $70 just to resole. My shoe only cost $17 from Decathlon and I have to spend 4 time the cost to resole. Might as well buy a new one. Stopped at Walmart to get a new pair of shoes for $15 CAD. In Europe, lidl is my best friend. In America, Walmart has become my best friend.


After buying my shoes, I rested at a food court. Then I heard “where you been” I looked behind. It is a Canadian lady Elen who has a British passport and on the verge of getting an Irish one. She recognized the shell on my backpack symbol of the Camino. Her daughter completed the Camino last month, like I did. Probably her daughter have seen me skating before. I shared my story with her. Surprised me by taking out $15 CAD from her wallet and handed it to me. What is even more touching, she treated me to lunch. I didn’t know travellers don’t have to pay for VAT or GST tax. She talked to the Chinese stall owner that I was a tourist, don’t have to pay the taxes, thus only paid $5 CAD for Chinese noodles with veg and meat. Damn, I spent loads over the last few days. I am amazed by Canadians’ friendly nature. Beforehand, a couple of Canadians stopped to ask the same thing, where have I been, what was I doing? They always are awed by my stories. Elen was simply generous. We are total strangers yet she handed all her cash to me without any hesitation. This is indeed a world without strangers. 
After Walmart, is another 20 km to USA border. Soon I was skating on highway 10 to the border. They smacked a bike path beside the busy highway, with vehicles zooming past me. Nothing to separate the bike path from the highway except the white lines. Any crazy driver might swerve to the side and hit me. It is a just thin line from fatal accident. But everyone respected their boundaries and kept to their lane.
Cross the last hill and soon the Peace Arch monument is in view. The Peace Arch monument signify the peace and friendship between Canada and USA. Inscripted on the arch “The Gates never closes”. Trump’s America defeats the meaning of it. At the Peace Arch,  met a group of tourists from Guangzhou China, they were intrigued and awed by my story. One lady from the group handed me $100 CAD after I told them that I cooked my pasta and wild camp. Therefore she handed me the money for a good night sleep and better meal. That makes it 2 cash handouts in a single day. Unbelievable. Strangers not knowing me before, without hesitation handed me their hard earned money, trusting in me. The world have bad men trying to kill each other but most of us are simply good in nature and few are angels. Today I met 2 angels. Canada is really amazing. I am starting to miss Canada.
Entered the immigration office. As usual, I was interrogated by immigration officer. A single colored male is always earmarked for interrogation thanks to current terrorism situation. It is only right that they have to guard their borders tightly. I ended up sharing my life story with them. Sharing how much cash I carry in hand and my bank account, where is my destination, my life goals and my friends in USA. I have to show them my Facebook page and Facebook friends in USA. In 15 minutes, immigration officer have become closer to me than my parents, knowing every single detail about me that even my parents don’t know. In just a short period of time, they become my best friend. Even the officer beside, was intrigued by my story and eavesdropped. Skating through America! That is insane.
Successfully, got pass the border and entered Blaine, the border town. By then it was already 5 pm, too late to continue on. Since I got generous donations today, decided to stay comfortably in Anchor Inn Motel. Motels, as always portrayed in Hollywood movies, I wondered what is like to sleep in a motel. I got one for $65, with change to spare from my donations. Good thing that I got to stay in a motel tonight, as I realised I lost my power bank, meaning I will have empty phone tomorrow if I don’t find a place to charge.
Wonder what adventure lies ahead in USA.

​Day 204: End of the World Finisterre 


Spain: Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre 

Distance: 66.66 km

Time on board: 4 hours 54 mins

Average speed: 13.6 kmh

Ascent: 837 m

Descent: 968 m

Cumulative distance: 8727 km


Finisterre was once thought to be the end of the land before the new world America was discovered. It was only befitting that I skated to Finisterre to end my Europe Asia continent skate even though Finisterre isn’t the western most end of Mainland Europe. Portugal ‘s Cabo de Roca took that honor. St James ‘ s body was carried over through the sea and ended up in Compostela. Therefore, the real end of the Camino should be in Finisterre. Many pilgrims continued their way after Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre. 
Last night drinking with Mexicans left me waking up later and groggy to find out the road surface was still wet from last night rain. Took a bus to Negreira 20 km away to try my luck to see if the weather there was anything better. But it was worse, mists and fog engulfed the roads. No way of turning back, I have to fly out of Europe union by 6 September, leaving me only today to skate to Finisterre. I pushed on with caution. Bought new Kong ball for 30 euros in Santiago so I can brake all the way to Finisterre. However today road surface was wet, rendering the Kong Ball brake useless due to Aquaplaning. Once again walked Downhill. The rain marred my skate. Tried to hitchhike but to no avail. Kept skating to find a spot for cars to stop but cars relentlessly passed me. Until Bainas, Carlos stopped to give me a drive to Cee, 20 km away from Finisterre.
With newfound vigour, pushed up the highest point before skating all the way down. By now, the road had already dried up, safe for me to paddle brake the way down. Fisterra is the seaside town but the Finisterre lighthouse is up the hill. The final climb of the end. A way to end it. Facing the Atlantic ocean, just us and the ocean, reminding me of the vastness and emptiness over the horizon, making us really insignificant in this world yet we have the ability to destroy whatever we have. The world is in our hands yet not, mother nature still render us helpless. Look at recent Harvey in Texas. 
Just as I arrived in Finisterre, the Mexicanos Julian and Tomas came hugging me. They have been the pivot persons for my Camino. Meeting them along the way. Can’t never lose them. They took the bus from Santiago while I skated. But it is fate and timing Everytime that brought us together. As they said it best the humanity is best felt in the Camino. Everyone is humbled and made equal regardless of nationalities, race and religion. In the Camino, we are just human. 


Spent the last hour in Finisterre staring over horizon. It is not yet the end of my world. Over the horizon, The new world civilization America awaits me. Vancouver, Canada is my first stop, skating down the west coast Seattle, Portland, LA, San Diego and Mexico to another world’s end South America. New World here I come. Americanos watch out for me!

Day 202: From Singapore to Santiago 

Spain: Melide to Santiago de Compostela 

Distance: 56 km

Time on board: 5 hours 59 mins

Average speed: 9.4 kmh

Ascent: 856m

Descent: 954m

Cumulative distance: 8632 km


800 km, 22 days since Saint Jean Pied du Port including 9 days of immobility and injury, even that couldn’t break me, finally reached Santiago de Compostela where hundred of thousands pilgrims come from all over the globe annually to pay tribute to St James whose body lies in the cathedral. This is the 2nd time I did the Camino. First was last year via Portugal. This year I wanted to complete the full tradition route. It is much tougher than Portuguese way. Throughout the way, I am tested with endless ascent and descent. There is never once a flat road, even the flattest stage between Burgos and Leon isn’t that flat. First stage, I have to face a daunting test, 1200m climb up Roncesvalles. Last stage, I have to climb 2 mountains back to back. The Iron Cross and Cebreiro. The whole Camino is a test of faith and will. Beyond limits.


In the morning, heeded the advice of my Mexican friend Julian and Spaniard Santiago to join them in riding just 30 km today, then the next morning ride short 20km to Santiago. This way, we get to attend pilgrims mass by 12 noon. Since it is a short 30 km, we woke up and started late. On the uphill, I was already faster than them pedalling on their granny gear. I had to lead them by a huge distance cos by the downhill they will blaze through, while I will walk down slowly. By the following town I was way too fast on uphill, I waited for them on downhill. Spotted them but they turned to the Camino off roads. I continued my way on N 547. Though it is weekend, horde of cars still roam the road. Since losing my companions, not knowing where to meet them, I reverted to my original plan to ride to Santiago today. As usual, skated uphill and walked downhill. Rinse and repeat throughout the way. By 30km, the gang of Spaniard cyclists whom I met yesterday, invited me to have drinks with them at a cafe. Took opportunity to eat my lunch as well, finished my remaining peanut butter and bread. The gang went off first while I took my time to have a break. Pushed on. Bumped into The Mexican Juvare and Santiago. Told them that I decided to push on to Santiago Compostela today, will meet them tomorrow while they stopped at the next town for the day.
Soon after all, I met the gang once again while they are having their breaks. Once again, they bought me drinks and fed me. According to them, I am only 10 minutes from them. Once more, we split our ways to go on different road to Santiago. I went on N634. At Monte de Gozo, met the gang. Either I am super fast or they are really slow. Monte Gozo is the last hill before descending to Santiago de Compostela. Even that is not the end of climbs. Santiago is based on valleys.
Have to walk the last bits as the path in the old town is cobblestone. Along the way, pilgrims kept requesting for photos. I never got tired of it actually enjoyed the attention showered on me.


As I got closer to the cathedral, I felt really hyped in reaching the finish line. However I arrived at Cathedra, my emotion was rather dull. Not the sense of accomplishment i am supposed to feel upon arrival or awe in sight of magnificent cathedral. Maybe this is the second time, even then the first time, I was like ok I have done it. Rather it is the process, the journey that get me really excited, satisfied. The destination was just a means to embark on my journey. It is not the destination that matters but the journey. Even journey alone, doesn’t  matter the most. It is the people that I have to encounter during the journey, that really matters the most. I supposed I am more of process oriented person rather than an outcome driven type. I thrive on the challenges and trials, tribulation faced during the way. Overcoming them bring most satisfying emotions in me rather than just reaching at destination. Part of me didn’t want to arrive at destination, as I wanted to keep going on. Of course, this isn’t the end of the Camino. There is still the end of the world Fisterra to skate to. Another goal to aim for. Many More journeys awaits me.

​Day 201: Happy Teacher’s day


Spain: Sarria to Melide

Distance: 63km

Time on board: 6 hours 56mins

Average speed: 9.1 kmh

Ascent: 1092m

Descent: 1046m

Cumulative distance: 8576 km

 

Sleeping in a private albergue is different from the public cheaper albergue. First there’s fewer pilgrims and everyone wake up later. As result I woke up later at 6.42am without any ruckus by pilgrims starting early. Met Tomas the Mexicano at Sarria once again but he ditched his bike to start walking to Santiago while his friend Felix continued cycling. 
Today is Teacher’s day in Singapore. I have been teaching in special education line for 10 years. It is weird not celebrating Teacher’s day for the first time and without receiving countless gifts from parents. It has been 7 months since I left my teaching job to embark on this ardous journey. Miss my students and job but not the management. They are really a pain in the ass. 
Started with uphill but nothing as severe as Cebeiro. In fact I can skate 1000m ascent faster than downhill 1000m because downhill is dangerous, have to walk down most of time. Whereas uphill is safer. I would say uphill is lung bursting and downhill is balls bursting. The 2 British gals cyclists whom I met in Sarria albergue caught up with me in Paradela and left blazing down the hill whereas I have to walk down slowly to Portomarin. Overtake a cyclist at an uphill and lead him all the way till gonzar. I must say it felt victorious to overtake cyclist on an incline. Stopped at lunch in Gonzar. Treated myself to bocadillo with cheese and bacon. 
Continued the steep uphill and downhill. Can’t they make gradual uphill and downhill to make my life easier. They have to make 3 km up then 3 km straight down.  Had a fall at a downhill but no injuries and scratches. Have to devise an effective way to brake downhill without burning rubber. Paddle brake is most effective but burn  rubber quickly, same goes for footbraking. Benjamin Planda offered me Flo Florian Michl Rickshaw with brakes. Much safer to brake and I can carry more load with it. But I have to see if Benjamin can mail it to USA. Arrived at Palai de Rel, before skating another 15 km to Melide.
Met Julian at Melide and enjoyed local Galician cuisine Octopus. Tomorrow just 50 km to Santiago!!

​Day 200: Silent Hill


Spain: Cebeiro to Sarria

Distance: 46 km

Time on board: 6 hours 11 mins 

Average speed: 7.3 kmh

Ascent: 558 m

Descent: 1400m

Cumulative distance: 8513 km


Woke up to a misty day which I can’t even see what is in front of me. Felt like the movie Silent Hill. Safer option to walk down the Camino route rather than to skate down fast blindly. Took off at 7.30am, joining other pilgrims on the Camino. Skate down the road when it is much brighter and safer. At the San Roque, set up my tripod for camera photo to have a selfie, then a cyclist offered to take photo for me. As a result, I left my tripod and forget about it. Is only when I skate 1 km downhill to realise I left my tripod there. Quickly I skated uphill 1 km only to find it gone. I hope the pilgrim who find it, will put it to good use. Continue skating down again. Resorted to footbraking every 5 counts in order to shed speed off the steep downhill. Footbraking constantly can be exhausting too. 


Met the other Mexican who got separated from Tomas yesterday. However, he didn’t saw Tomas on the way today. Yesterday I was with Tomas, and today I met the other Mexican. We can never gather together at once. Haha. He waited for Tomas when he heard from other cyclists that tomas was on his way. I left him as l needed a headstart for them to catch up with me on the downhill. 


I went back to walking the Camino again. At Fillobal, missed a sign and went the wrong way into a private farm. Only then a farmer informed me I was on the wrong way. Walked back to Fillobal to find the correct path. And so walked and skate whenever I felt safe to do so. At Triacastela, stopped for lunch. In the morning, I had peanut butter bread. Lunchtime I still yearn for peanut butter. I can never get sick of peanut butter. Triacastela was already located at the bottom of the mountain, but start of another hill.  You gotta be kidding me. Skate up and down the small yet significant climb. You thought the nightmare is Finally over but no. I kept climbing up and down hills till I reach Sarria. Couldn’t find Mexicans. Probably will see them tomorrow again.

​Day 198: Downhill hurts


Spain: Manjarin to Ponferrada 

Distance: 22km

Time on board: 3 hours

Average speed: 6 kmh

Cumulative distance: 8413 km


Thought last night, I will be only one staying in Manjarin, the Knight’s Templar refugee by Tomas. Thanks to the pouring rain, 3 pilgrims had to made their stop there. Without WiFi, we had to communicate with each other, without ever looking at our phone. That is a good change. Facebook allows us to communicate with people over the world yet impedes us to communicate with people next to us. Tomas made us a simple but hearty meal fit for the cold weather. Bread slices in egg soup. To end the night, we participated in Templar ritual before turning in.


Woke up to see the mountains engulfed by the clouds. What a view. Pilgrims from last town made their way here, there I met my Mexicanos duos. Today was downhill 1100m over 22km. Gradient was too steep for me to skate down. Braking will be too dangerous. Don’t want to repeat another accident therefore I walked down most of the time, only skate when it isnt too steep. Even walking down the rocky path is difficult. I had to carry my board with me all the way. Seasoned pilgrims were too fast for me on the walking path. My gear wasn’t suited for walking. Thus I walked down slowly with caution. Slipped off the rocks couple times. I must say walking down the rocky path is more tenuous than skating uphill. I prefer skating uphill, though it requires more effort but it is is at least safer for me.


Arrived at Ponferrada at 1 pm. Now is flat road for next 47 km, could have skated further but walking wrecks my knee. Thus rested at Albergue San Nicolas Flue in Ponferrada. Best thing is albergue is on donation basis, I pay what I like. 
Tomorrow shall be the test. One more big mountain to climb. The Cerebeiro awaits me.

Day 199: Riding wet in the cloud mountain 

Spain: Ponferrada to Cebeiro

Distance: 55km

Time on board: 6 hours 17mins

Average speed: 8.7 kmh


Cumulative distance: 8468km
Last night was a sauna sleeping in San Nicolas Flue Albergue. Therefore I slept in the dining room with other pilgrims. It is not only me who find it stuffing hot.
Bid farewell to my Chinese friends during breakfast. Probably this is the final time I will see them as I am only 3 days ride to Santiago. First 40 km was a gradual incline heading to the final mountain pass of the Camino. The Cebeiro @ 1300m


First stop 22 km at Villa Franca, bumped into the polish pilgrim whom I stayed with in Manjarin. After that, the Camino route converge with the National road NV 1, but there is barricade protecting the pilgrims on the road. I took the barricaded road, much smoother. Pass countless pilgrims along the way. At the pit stop for cars, a lady handed me a packet of biscuits. First gift from strangers in Europe. 


Plowed on to Las Herrerias before the real climb commerce. When I skated uphill, I am faster than cyclists but I cannot last long. Until my muscles and endurance are strong enough to push all the way up. At Las Lamas, the sky opened. Seeked refuge in garden of a house. There are no one to seek permission from, thus I have no choice but to trespass. Had my biscuits given by the lady earlier on. The rain wasn’t going to stop anytime, I put on my rain gear and walked as Skating on wet surface can be fatal. Once again I alternate between walking and skating. The rain got heavier, seek shelter under the highway bridge. The rain never seem to stop. About to continue my way, the Mexican cyclist appeared, pushing his bike. Even the gradient is too steep for cyclist to cycle up. He got separated from his friend who went other Camino way. We were glad to see each other and hugged for warmth. Now at least I am not the only one walking up alone. Got some company to suffer together. I am not happy but with someone to suffer together made the ardous walk less suffering. Now I understand why people would get others to suffer together. He cycled on his granny walk which is slightly faster than me walking. I let him lead a distance from me before I skated to overtake him and then walked till he overtake. We took turns to leapfrog over each other. 


False hope when we thought we arrived at Cebeiro. Actually it was Pedrafita Do Cebeiro, not the actual Cebeiro. Another 4km up. To made matter worse, the gradient got super steep amidst the Fog. Literally i couldn’t see the road few hundred meters away. For safety sake, I walked. Played leapfrog with trio of cyclists who passed us. Skate and walk again till i gave up chasing in the mist. 


Can’t imagine the joy when I reached the peak Cebeiro 1300m. Originally planned to skate down another 27 km to Triacastela today but due to rain and fog, it is best to stop at Cebeiro for the night.

Can’t wait to find the albergue and have a hot shower. The shower was disappointing, just lukewarm at best. The wifi at Albergue is not working thus you probably read this the next day. 

Day 197: The Simplicity of life


Spain: Astorga to Manjarin

Distance: 30 km

Time on board: 3 hours 24 mins

Average speed: 8.8 kmh

Cumulative distance: 8392km

Ascent : 631 m @ 1500m altitude 


5am, abruptly awaken by the thunderstorm. Bad omen. Waited till 8 am for the storm to stop. While the surface was still wet, I took my time to walk. Met two Taiwanese ladies and 2 Mexican cyclists. Rode with the Mexicanos for awhile till they follow the off road Camino way. The climb up to Cruz de Ferro began. First 20km to El Ganso was gradual slope, not too steep for me. I could easily but slowly push up the inclines. After El Ganso, it was different matter. The climb became very steep, i had to alternate between walking and skating. Walking most of the time obviously. Living in Singapore, flat piece of island since birth, breathing in 1500m altitude is difficult. I was panting heavily after each push.


Met a elderly lady who asked me to take picture of her. She showed me a leaflet in English, that she had no camera phone and requested me to send her an email of our photos. Good idea to get people started in conversation. The weather was cloudy after the morning storm. However, at 1500m it was freezing cold for me, given I come from a topical island. 


Made it to Cruz de Ferro, Iron Cross. Iron Cross is symbolic landmark where pilgrims toss a stone which they carried all the way during the Camino. The tossing stone symbolizes leaving behind the burden the we carry in life. For me, I placed the soft toy Rabbit given by Celine in Tours. Since Tours was the official start of my Camino, it was only right that the rabbit represents the trouble and burden I carried in my Life. As I place the object, I said the traditional prayer

O Lord, may the stone which I bring to this holy place be a sign of pilgrimage to Santiago. When I reach my final judgment, tip the balance of my life in favor of my good deeds. I lay down this token which I carry from Singapore. Please forgive my sins and help me carry my burdens in life. Amen. 


Naturally me skating gathered lots of pilgrims at Cruz de Ferro. More photo taking session. After Cruz de Ferro, it was 22 km downhill all the way to Ponferrada. However, 2 km into the downhill, I passed by an interesting place. Hospitales de los tempalos. It was run-down Refugio with no facilities, no running water, no electricity, no wifi, no shower. Why would anyone stay there? But there is something about the place that captivate me. It is raw basicity, like a place for the hippies. Tomas run this place, maintained by donations. He lead a simple lifestyle, don’t yearn for luxury. Tomas is rather eccentric being, who believes in the knight’s Templar. Doesn’t bother me for I am also eccentric one, choosing to travel the world on a longboard.


Pilgrims of modern era relies GPS phone, trekking boots, branded backpack to walk the Camino whereas centuries ago, pilgrims completely relied on faith to carry them through. 


You see life don’t have to be so complicated. A simple sustainable life is actually wealth. Jose Mujica, former President of Uruguay, popularly known as the poorest president in the world. He donated away 90% of his salary to charity. He once quoted that he don’t need much, all he has is just enough to get by life. This way he isn’t enslaved to wealth and possession. Once you have wealth, you fight hard to maintain your lifestyle, as result you become enslaved to prosperity. When you live a simple self sustaining life, you don’t care anything else. It is freedom. Example, you might consider the tribal people in Africa, Asia, Papua New Guinea as living in abject poverty. However, that is subjective. They grow their own food, live off the land, they simply don’t need money. They can live comfortably without us modern society. It is when we hold them to our view of wealth and poverty, enslaved them. When we prevent them from living their traditional lifestyle and force them to work for money, they are unable to self sustain their lifestyle and grow food, that is when they are in poverty. In tribes, there is no things such as possession, everything is co owned by the community. Money is not an issue. 


I am not saying that we should abandon our current lifestyle and become farmers. No, Consumerism and capitalism is what drives us to work and innovate. Without it, we don’t have the motivation to progress. But instead, I am saying we should live within our own means. I used to hanker over high tech expensive phones and chase after latest items which serve no purpose. I can get a simple Android phone instead of latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. It both serve the same purpose to communicate and call. I can get simple clothes rather than branded items. Since going on my world tour, I learnt to live simply and go for functional items. Here , a shelter, food and water is all I need. 


Money is only a value given by human. In a apocalyptic world, money won’t have any value as you can’t eat on money to survive. As so the hierarchy reverse in an apocalyptic world,  It is the farmers, engineers, skilled workers whom will strive. Lawyers, bankers and politicians doesn’t contribute to any value to sustainable life.


My final thoughts to my readers is to contend and live simple sustainable lifestyle. That is true freedom and happiness.

 


For once, I decided to stay here for the night without any WiFi, totally free from shackles of society and civilization. This update will be posted the next day when I get internet in civilization.