Thursday, September 14, 2006

Road Trips

I love travelling. Give me a whiff of a map and I'll beat a path out the front door before anyone can think of saying,"Pack yer bags and gas up the car!". Of all forms of travel, roadtrips beat 'em all, especially when the mode of transportation is a mean machine with a roaring turbo and steady handling (and neat cupholders).
Road to Simpang Pulai
From our little sunny island of Singapore, the only direction for a roadtrip is north up the Malaysian peninsula. Armed with valid passports, a wad of ringgit and the Bible and a change of underwear in the backseat, the wide open country is but a border away where empty highways reach beckoningly into the horizon; where you can rev past sweeping fields and oil palm plantations and forests of rubber trees, collecting splats of bugkill on the windscreen; where you can brave thick fog, go off-roading on dirt tracks and cross rickety wooden bridges of dubious stability.

There is no timetable, no itinerary to follow. Anytime you want, you can pick a town to stop in, chow down, wander around and discover new places, new foods, new cultures and get to know new people.
Road Trip Collage
It's been a lifelong dream to do a Jim Rogers or just an epic roadtrip up the Malaysian peninsula, into Thailand, hop over to Beijing and then bounce overland across Russia, past some of those little 'stans, through Western Europe and across the Channel to England. Hopefully, when the time comes to do it, technology would have advanced enough to allow us to "kick the oil habit" and run on some environmentally-friendly clean-burning fuel (we might even be able to convince a carmaker to sponsor our ride. No, not quite "What Would Jesus Drive?".). Perhaps there'll even be some help from a local version of Road Trip Nation by then!
Road to Gua Musang
Compared to that dreamy odyssey, last weekend's trip was a mere babe: we whizzed up the North-South Highway to Simpang Pulai in Perak and then across the peninsula on the Second East-West Highway from Simpang Pulai to Gua Musang in Kelantan and then down again through dusty trunk roads skirting Fraser's Hill, Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands. But boy was it a fun one. The speed demons (who were on 2-3 hour feeds to keep them happy) had great fun chasing each other round exhilarating hairpin corners on mountain roads with thousand metre drops. There were stops for plates of mee rebus, bags of fresh hot Dunkin' Donuts and coffee, a hearty steamboat dinner accompanied by cover versions of Michael Jackson/Bryan Adams/All-4-One/Debbie Gibson, smoky sticks of satay seranaded by an old jukebox in a corner (yes, the satay was seranaded), sukiyaki fit for alcoholics, a huge bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and stacks of scones lathered with cream and strawberry jam and washed down with innumerable pots of tea.

For thousands of miles, we sped past the huge billboards and glittering steelwork of cities and the wooden houses on stilts with chickens resting on their corrugated iron roofs of shanty towns. We passed people crammed in dirty hovels and crowded graveyards on the sides of hills. We passed old mining towns with vehicles rusting in abandoned buildings, devoid of life. We passed people in their colourful best, streaming into a white Malay wedding tent, gold thread embroidered into its sides. We passed homes and trees and corners where lives were lived and dreams were dreamt and loves were consummated and babies were bounced on laps and deaths were mourned. Intimate spaces inhabited by generations which passing strangers would never be able to penetrate.

At times, we were dwarfed by magnificent limestone cliffs dotted with enticing caves, and at other times, by hills of black cold hard slate. There were lakes covered with water hyacinth, spectacular waterfalls, hundreds of tomatoes ripening on vines, eagles riding the wind drafts, scavaging goats and giant squirrels scampering across the roads. And when we reached a place where the sun shone so beautifully in the blue sky and the lush green hills were laid out so gloriously, everyone burst out in spontaneous praise:
All Heaven Declares
All heaven declares
The glory of the risen Lord
Who can compare
With the beauty of the Lord

Forever He will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow my knee
And worship Him alone

I will proclaim
The glory of the risen Lord
Who once was slain
To reconcile man to God

Forever You will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow my knee
And worship You alone
Noel Richards, Tricia Richards © 1987 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
For God's invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So man everywhere is without excuse (Romans 1:20). So, inevitably, what followed was the Psalms set to music and then err...Christmas carols... How brilliant it was to roadtrip with likeminded friends. :-)

There shouldn't be a need for specially-designed Christian road trips like those by Nieu Communities, Share Jesus International or Road Trip Mission to get Christians evangelising in foreign places, because the essential Christian-ness of a Christian should not be something that is turned off when the Christian is on holiday (but that is not to suggest that they are of no use whatsoever). Wandering about and meeting fellow travellers, buying each other drinks, exchanging road gossip, chatting with a diversity of locals, bartering life stories, it takes no special effort to talk about the gospel and about Jesus because these are so overwhelmingly present in the life of a Christian. "Making the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5-6) should already be an intrinsic part of our lives. And stories like that of Alan Quigley and Chris Forbes of The Most Important Thing help to remind us that wherever we are, there are people to be saved. And sometimes, they are more amenable to hearing the gospel from a passing traveller than from their local Christian friends. Of course if you happen to be Stephen Baldwin, Livin' It extreme sports vids are tantalising bridges all on their own. ;-)

PS: No, it wasn't like this at all:
Moral Relativity
(But Casting Crowns does sound better when blasted at 160.)

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At December 06, 2006 9:47 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the mention in your blog! You should apply for a roadtrip. Go to to see how you can hit the road with us.


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