Juvena Huang – globe-trotting solo scootergirl : SUNDAY SLUK
Most of us make regular journeys on our trusted steeds, be it a normal commute, a local ride out, national rally or even further afield to a European event. But how many of us have actually considered or decided to go on an intercontinental trip ie. outside of Europe overland on our scooters? Not that many I wager – as normally this may mean taking extended holidays, leaving friends and family for much longer than the normal 2 week break – that’s on top of the money and organisation this type of trip takes. The days of packing a thermos, cucumber sandwich, and one extra spare pair of socks for a two-up trip to Greece are a thing of the past.
And so a somewhat determined and courageous Singaporean woman has embarked on a rather incredible journey with only herself and her companion “Ebony Rogue”, an old Vespa Excel 150.
Juvena Huang from Singapore set out on the 16th May 2015 with no fixed destination but with an aim to ride for as long as she can.
“I’m your typical 28-year old Singaporean millennial with an insatiable desire to see the world – except that I’m doing it all alone on my Vespa scooter.”
The tragic death of a good friend in a road accident inspired Juvena to quit her job and sell her belongings, so that she could scooter her way through some of the most picturesque places on the planet, “Most of all, what happened to him made me question what I wanted to do with my life, and the answer was a combination of my two passions – travelling and riding.“
The stress of raising her target of $30,000 was inevitable, at points running between three jobs. She also had to convince her mother that she would be okay travelling solo in foreign lands. ‘It took time to develop her trust in my independence.’
Juvena’s passion for scooters began at the age of 19 on a trip to Vietnam where scooters filled the streets ‘granting their owners the freedom to roam wherever they wanted.’ After this trip Juvena purchased her very first Vespa, the same 150 Excel that she is using on her journey from Singapore to Europe. Her familiarity with the scooter and the cheap availability of parts when travelling through places like Asia made this the obvious choice.
“Becoming a scooterist opened the doors of a new community to me. I met fellow riders who became good friends”
The three and a half months of travelling amongst the northern and north-eastern regions of India were some of the best for Juvena where the locals were kind and curious about her journey and new experiences.
“The Vespa is a good conversation starter with the locals because it is so recognisable around the world.”
During Juvena’s first day in Pakistan, she received an invite into two homes, was offered food and drink, and given directions by strangers. For a period of three weeks Haung was a guest in the homes of locals, who recommended other places to stay on her journey.
On one occasion, Juvena’s scooter had overheated on route to Dakshinkali, Nepal and she had to push her scooter along a steep slope until hitting level ground. A complete stranger stopped to help Juvena reload her luggage, she offered to buy him tea but was immediately refused – ‘I don’t want anything in return. I’m just here to help another human.’
‘It intrigues me to see how the culture, languages and people slowly evolve over every 100km. I doubt I’d get the same experience flying thousands of kilometres to a new country.’
Safety was a consideration, in preparation Juvena spoke to other travellers on travel forums about safety precautions and particular routes that could be taken. The reality of travel does not always match news reports or people’s perception. Juvena is proud to have been selected to be a Jupiter’s Traveller under the Ted Simon Foundation (an organisation promoting world understanding through personal adventures and founded by the former journalist who travelled the world twice on a motorbike). She has provided much information and guidance for potential overland travellers and you can follow her on Facebook at The Wandering Wasp or read her blog The Wandering Wasp at Blogspot.
“My friends sudden passing was a startling reminder of life’s brevity and uncertainty, which never left my heart.
Many times I wake up and find it hard to believe I’m travelling the world on a Vespa. It feels like a dream. I do fear for my safety but the more information you have, the better prepared you are. I’ve been talking to a lot of travellers on overland travel forums to find out about routes and precautions I can take. I also believe that the reality on the ground is not always what’s reported in the news or perceived by most.
I’m going through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Italy. I plan to reach Italy in March as I don’t want to hit Europe before spring.
At the moment, nothing is holding me back. I might be on the road for another year or so, and I can’t say for sure when I’ll return to Singapore. I choose to live by the Latin saying ‘Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ (seize the moment, putting as little trust as possible in the future). After all, the future is unknown.”
The future is indeed unknown for all us but perhaps if Juvena’s story can inspire one more person to seize the moment, then it will be a story that was worth telling. And if you see Juvena on your scooter travels this year in Europe or beyond please extend your normal scooterist greeting – that of camaraderie and friendship that we all appreciate when we are out on the road. Ride safe.
Words: Emma Franklin
Photos: Juvena Huang
If you have an interesting scooter journey that you’d like to share with other scooter riders then please get in touch. SLUK loves scooter adventure.