Bike & Gear

As you’re meandering through my pictures, you’re probably wondering: MinWah, what’s all that stuff on your bike?! Well, wonder no more because here I’ll tell you all about it!


Bike Story

I first set eyes on this bike in January 2009. It was several days before my Africa trip, and I still didn’t have a bike yet. If you’re planning on biking for 7 months from South Africa to Egypt, a bike would be a good thing to have. Graciously, my friend Orian acquired a bike for me from the Stanley Project, a used bike warehouse in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin (Orian’s hometown). It was only partly assembled at the time so Orian sought out the rest of the components and put together the bike into one full functioning piece. Orian’s longtime friend Will was gracious enough to give a used wheelset he had lying around.

Ironically, the bike frame that Orian picked out was painted in leopard prints–very suitable to blend in with African wildlife. The day before we flew to Africa, we went to a bike shop in Stevens Point to get some last minute bike supplies. The guy behind the counter said: “Hey, nice bike! Did you get that from the Stanley Project?” I replied: “Yes. Why?” “Oh, that used to be my bike. You know, I painted those leopard prints.” Turns out he painted it way back in the 80s in his hippie days when he was stoned for 3 months in the mountains of Colorado. What a life! And who knew twenty years later this very bike would end up all across Africa! Now it will go all across Asia too.

To the Stanley Project, Orian, Will, and Stevens Point bike shop guy, I am forever thankful.



– Old style mountain bike, steel frame, no suspension, no disc brakes
– Schwalbe Mondial tires (never go touring without Schwalbe tires! Props to German engineering)
– Brooks Saddle

Clothing (Pannier #1)
– Waterproof jacket/pants/socks
– Insulating top/bottom/feet
– 2 biking outfits
– 1 “cleaner” outfit
– hat/ balaclava/ gloves
– bandanas
– biking sandals / regular shoes

Trip Stuff (Pannier#2)

– First Aid kit
– sewing kit
– Malaria Pills/ Antibiotics (cipro, azithromycin)/ Pepto Bismol
– Contact Lenses
– Feminine Hygiene
– Central Asia Lonely Planet Guidebook/ Phrasebook
– Central Asia maps (Reise maps)
– Journal
– smartphone/ cheapo phone
– camera/ memory cards/ adapters

Bike Stuff (Pannier#3)
– Tools: headset wrench, crank puller, chain whip, cable cutters, needle nose pliers, adjustable wrench, all-purpose bike tool (the best Topeak one)
– Extra stuff: extra cables, extra small chainring, extra chain, extra bolts
– Spare tire and tubes
– Cable ties
– 4 patch kits
– bungee cords
– duct tape
– saddle wax

Food Stuff (Pannier#4)
– Whisperlite International stove
– 2 L pot
– 1.25 L fuel (car gasoline)

Sleeping Stuff
– 1.5 person tent
– sleeping bag
– tarp
– emergency bivy bags


Flying to Istanbul

I was very nervous while packing for Istanbul becauseĀ I could not for the life of me decipher the Russian Airlines baggage regulations. Was I allowed 1 or 2 checked baggages? How much would they charge non-compliant baggage and was that in USD or Euro? Were bikes special? With the horrible service of Russian airlines, rereading the website over and over, calling, and emailing, came to nothing. But in the end, everything worked out. Good grief!

All in all, I had 2 checked baggages for my flight from New York to Istanbul. I was so happy when I finally got through check-in with all my luggage within their respective weight limits. WIN!

Carry on luggage (limit 10kg) – 9 kg

Bike box (limit 22kg) – 21.6 kg

Duffle bag (limit 22kg)- 13 kg

The only expense was that the bike box was oversize (greater than 158cm) so I had to pay $150. But thanks to a $200 discount off my plane ticket from HSBC reward points, the baggage was essentially free. YES!