Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Stepping Out of Comfort Zones - What Life Is Like As A Food Delivery Rider


Stepping Out of Comfort Zones - What Life Is Like As A Food Delivery Rider.



I never saw this coming.



The severity this pandemic has caused, the economic and mental chaos it has thrown the world into and drowned many alive. I know the crisis is far from over, and it is painful. 

But when all these have passed, we will look back and be proud that we #survived.



Meanwhile, I’m still in a little disbelief that we’re already in the third quarter of the year.
Last I recalled was opening 2020 feeling superb. I went skiing in Korea,



before jumping on an epic motorcycling trip in India, traversing through the mountain valleys.



Next thing I know, everything changed within a flip of the switch.

Almost all our movements and activities were restricted; schools, malls and offices shut, work from home orders issued. Basically none of us were allowed leave the house for the next three months except to get the most basic essentials.

Many were retrenched too, with countless people and families abruptly left struggling to stay afloat.

Credit: businterchange

Even the world’s busiest border crossing between Singapore and Malaysia has ceased operations and remains closed even as I'm writing this, on top of the travel bans implemented worldwide. 



As an adventurous traveler and a motorcycle content creator where content production relies heavily on moving around outdoors and around the globe, this #quarantine period has been indeed a challenging one.



While I am thankful to be living in a country with decent levels of hygiene standards and having a roof over my head that has kept me safe from the virus that was out on a rampage, it doesn’t deny the struggles of being made to feel like a prisoner of my own home.



On the 7th April 2020, our government implemented the circuit breaker (CB) as a preventive measure to fight and curb Covid 19.

I still remember thinking to myself, “It's not gonna be that bad. We can still virtually meet our friends and family, go to the supermarket for essentials, and still enjoy our favourite cuisines via ordering food delivery even though dining out is no longer allowed”.

Anyway, it’s just a two week period, how bad can it be right?



The first few days of lockdown went by alright. Spent time with my dog, watched plenty of Netflix, baked some cookies, even took on #ChloeTng exercise challenges feeling all ready to emerge the end of this lockdown with a post-circuit breaker hot bod.


Credit: straits times

On 21st April 2020, just when we thought MAYBE this circuit breaker was coming to an end (who were we trying to kid), our government announced an extension up till 1st June 2020. 

The list of essential services available shrank further and restrictions on entry to more spots such as wet markets were tightened.


Credit: today online

We were forced to bid goodbye to Hotcakes and Double McSpicy burgers when McDonalds had to close down their stores islandwide in response to a number of their employees being infected.

Even our simple pleasures derived from a cup of BUBBLE TEA was suspended.



Before April came to an end, I was already feeling increasingly restless. I've ran out of shows to watch on Netflix, I'm done baking and I'm tired of exercising challenges. 

I need to get out of the house. 

I can't even recall when was the last time I rode my motorcycle out. Maybe its battery is already dead? Maybe it'll get cranky and faint on me halfway if I take it out now? 



Uhh but if (touch wood) that really happens, at least I know I can rely on DirectAsia Insurance who provides 24 hours motorcycle breakdown assistance so I'd have one less thing to worry about.



From days to weeks, it wasn’t long before my free-spirited mind found it exceptionally hard to come to terms with being contained in an enclosed space. Not being able to travel or head out to create content like I used to, I felt discouraged and unproductive yet there was nothing I could do….



And then I remembered: We’re always just one decision away from a completely different life.

Instead of drowning in negativity, I started to ask myself, what can I do or learn? How can I be of any help to the current situation? 



I decided to let go of all the apprehensions that held me captive in my head and gave myself a chance to adopt a fresh new perspective of things by trying something out of my comfort zone.

And I decided to do that by….. 


Enrolling to be a food delivery rider during the circuit breaker period.

(Note: This is not a sponsored post nor a collaboration with any specific delivery company. It was done purely out of my own initiation.)

You may wonder, of all things, why a food delivery rider?

Well, firstly, there’s not a lot of options to choose from considering the fact that I like motorcycling right haha.


Credit: malaysiakini

Secondly, why not?

I need a legit reason to get out of the house to ride, I'm a foodie so maybe I can explore more yummy places along the way, but most importantly I'd like to lend a hand to this essential workforce which I feel many may have overlooked the significance that they play in our current lives.

Without these delivery heroes, we won’t get to enjoy food delivered to our doorstep whenever we want, especially when its pouring heavily outside, or when our movements are restricted because of this pandemic. F&B would lose out on so much revenue too since dine-ins are not allowed and not everyone will want to head out, queue, then pack the food home.

Think about how much time and inconvenience these food delivery riders have helped us save.



Well, since I know how privileged it feels like to be a customer, I’m curious to find out what it really is like behind-the-scenes and I'm enthusiastic about what it can teach me.

Time to get that fatty booty movin’.



Enrolled, and off I went on my delivery quest with my little 200CC scrambler. I took it on with an open mind, and it opened up my eyes to many things.

I'd observe how people of different households are like, how we can never judge someone based on the type of housing they live in, how a small act of kindness can make all the difference, how adopting an appreciative attitude and an understanding mind can change people and our very own lives.



I still remember vividly the customer of my very first delivery order.


Credit: wiki, photo for illustration purpose only

It was an 80 plus year old grandma who lived in a HDB flat in Bedok. When I took the lift up and arrived on the level of her unit, she was already standing by the door as she called out to me gently from behind the gate, “Over here, over here”.

I walked over and saw that she had a small table set up just right outside her door, specially arranged for delivery orders where she told me to leave the food at. 

There was even a bottle of hand sanitizer prepared on the table which she told me I could use.

She paid in cash for the order and with a sweet smile on her face, she handed me an extra $2 tip, saying “For you, you keep ok”.

Honestly that kind gesture of hers made me so happy, while still feeling amused at her cute concierge set up :D



From day to night, rain or shine, delivery riders would have to brave through it all to bring food across to hungry people.

There was one time during a night shift, I got caught in a heavy downpour with threatening thunder and lightning everywhere as I was making my way to deliver a food order located at a private condominium. 

On the roads, I could barely see because my helmet visor was all blurry from the rain and vehicles that drove past fast had rainwater splashing every which way onto me.

By the time I arrived at the customer's place, I was completely drenched. The lady who received the order felt so bad for seeing me in that state she kept apologising to me and thanked me profusely for delivering the food despite the weather.



For the remaining hours of my shift on those days where I witnessed and received these little acts of kindness, it doesn’t matter if it came in a form of a tip, or even just a genuine “thank you” or “hey, ride safe” message via the delivery app, it warmed the cockles of my heart and all that physical fatigue I was feeling would instantly melt away.

I could be sweating buckets from within my helmet or soaked in the rain zipping from one place to another, but I had a spring in my step as I felt happy being able to deliver food to people, adding convenience to their lives and in a way, help keep them safe from the ongoing virus.


        

But of course, I’m only human and there were days where I didn’t feel as motivated.

Apart from riding under all sorts of harsh weather conditions while ensuring food orders are delivered on time and presentably, 



we (as riders) also have to put up with the attitude of nasty customers who tells us off or slams the door in our face when we deliver the food late due to piling orders or long queues at the restaurant (which really isn’t our fault).

On top of that, we skip our meals so customers can have theirs, yet we have to swallow the lousy treatment of some restaurants which can really come across as absurd.

I do believe that there are some who are nice, but quite a bit of my personal encounters were witnessing restaurant staffs treating delivery riders (including myself) like we owed them a living. Either that or we were invisible to them. 




While I can understand during this difficult period where manpower may be reduced yet having to handle an overwhelming amount of orders can be stressful to the restaurants, delivery riders should not be the receiving end of their frustration especially when we're doing our best to deliver their food to their customers.  

We shouldn't be told off when we, on behalf of the customers, ask how long more an order is going to take, just so we can advise the customer accordingly. It would not be fair as well to make us spend a chunk of our shift just waiting for the restaurant to clear their backlogged orders.

Instead, I personally feel restaurants could consider taking measures to put the influx of orders on hold (such as making it unavailable on delivery apps) if the staffs can barely cope anymore.

After all, everyone is trying to make a living here and it really wouldn't hurt to exercise basic respect, understanding and graciousness. 


Credit: straits times

Now if you haven't realised, it’s not an uncommon sight to see clusters of delivery motorcycles near a mall or an eatery because delivery riders grab and go as quickly as possible. 

Sometimes, due to limited parking spaces, riders would have to park their motorcycles really close to one another.



It was lunch time when I went to pick up an order but when I returned to my motorcycle, I found it sandwiched in between two other motorcycles and a bicycle which made it difficult to manoeuvre out because:

my Suzuki DR200 weighs 120KG, and 
I have tofu weak arms, plus I was already 
carrying a heavy bag of Marrybrown enough to feed a family of 10 people, 
while dealing with sweat rolling down my face and it stinging my eyes, 
while trying to ignore the food delivery app BEEEEEPing me to prompt me of the time.

Ahhhh!


Just before collapsing all the motorcycles like a domino-effect while trying to extract my motorcycle out, a friendly food delivery rider came forward and helped me move it out to freedom.

I was like "omg thank youuuu!!!" before hurriedly getting on my way.

I felt so grateful because if he didn’t help me, I foresee a string of negative things potentially happening;

I may take a longer time to get my motorcycle out, which means I would try to ride faster to avoid delivering the food late. But by doing so, it would affect my safety on the roads which may result in an accident where if an at-fault claim is made against me, I would lose all the NCD I’ve collected the past years and all my earnings from the past week made from 50 deliveries would go down the drain.

That would be SO bad.



Good thing I’ve got DirectAsia Insurance’s NCD Protector Plus to help safeguard the loss of my NCD if an unfortunate at-fault claim is made against me, and not just that but my NCD can still advance to the next stage the following year so that means I get to enjoy more savings!

For now, let’s just be thankful that no motorcycles and no one got injured thanks to that fellow delivery rider’s help!


Credit: carlist

Many of us may have witnessed food delivery riders riding like MOTO-GP fast, and that's because they're constantly racing against TIME (don't we all too?) 

In this line of job (like many others), Time is Money.

The more orders clocked, the more money we'll earn, the better our performance would be, which would entitle us to receive extra cash incentives and priority queue when it comes to booking our next delivery shift.


Credit: today online

When I'm out doing delivery, I found myself riding noticeably faster too when I’m trying to make up for lost time which, directly compromises my safety.

This happens when I can’t find locate the food stall, or when the restaurant takes longer than usual to prepare the order resulting in a delay, or when the delivery app malfunctions.

Time delay (even though it's not rider's fault) affects our performance which ultimately would affect how much we'd earn.

These are factors beyond our control as riders but it still eats into the stipulated time we are given to pick up and deliver the order :( 

What we (as riders) think we can control is the speed we ride our motorcycle albeit still being subjected to the speed limits. 



Be it riding a motorcycle for work or leisure, I still cannot stress enough the importance of bearing safety in mind first when we are on the roads.

Like myself, you may be insured by one of the best motorcycle insurance companies like Direct Asia who always have riders interests at heart by providing a listening ear before offering tailor-made comprehensive coverages and benefits that insures us up to $100,000 under their Personal Accident optional benefit as well as other Medical Expenses.



But even with that, please never take road safety for granted. Try to make a conscious effort of reminding ourselves the importance of safe riding above the race against time.

Being well-insured can really alleviate huge financial burdens so you can focus on recovery in the event of an accident but the downtime from any injury is never worth the rush. 



After experiencing the full spectrum of what it is like being a food delivery rider, I can assuredly say to you it really isn’t easy at all.

It is laboriously intense, there are significant risks involved, you can't make a lot of money unless you slog for like 24 hours, yet I believe these riders are striving to deliver foods as fast as they could to satisfy our grumbling tummies and like the rest of us, they too, are doing their best to make ends meet. 

So, cut them some slack if your food runs a little late, try to be a little more forgiving, practice little acts of #kindnesstoriders and you’d just never know how positively you can make someone’s day or even change their lives!



To all delivery riders, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your hard work. You have my utmost respect and you are undeniably part of an essential workforce that our lifestyle could no longer imagine without. 


     

Kindness doesn’t cost a dime but it goes a long long way, so pay it forward if you can, in your very own way. 

That’s how we will tide through this difficult time together and triumph the year, doing more than just #survive.

Monday, 6 January 2020

2D1N Round Trip Touring Ride from Singapore to Malacca For Just $60!


A brand new year is here and what better way to start 2020 with a ride up North from Singapore! Who else have got their touring adventures all sorted out or maybe in the midst of planning?

Man, that touring vibe never fails to rub off me. Whenever I'm seated comfortably in a car and I see bikers all geared up zooming past me, I feel this strong urge to be out there on my bike too!


Schedule for January was looking pretty tight with a few work and travels lined up but still, I wanted to hit the roads even just for a day or two.

It also really helps when my bike is insured by DirectAsia Insurance, where their motorcycle policy coverage extends from Singapore all the way through the whole of West Malaysia, even up to 80KM from Thailand's Southern border.

So... I actually have the option to do a 2D1N ride all the way to Hat Yai, Thailand and be covered through the whole journey. But seriously, I don't think my back will survive LOL. It would literally be like "Touch n Go" which I think is crazy hahah but I know there are some of you hard-core ones out there who have done it, several times maybe.

Anyway being sufficiently insured is always necessary in case of any unforeseen circumstances and it definitely gives me an additional peace of mind whenever I ride into our neighbouring country.


I decided to do a short and sweet easy 2D1N touring ride from Singapore to Malacca - A historic state in Malaysia, rich in heritage buildings, ancient landmarks, colonial structures and not forgetting loads of yummy street foods too! #willtravelforfood


Touring can be an expensive hobby, but it can be extremely affordable too, depending on your destination and the planning or logistics involved.

Having done longer distance touring rides over the last few years, such as my #BeyondEverest ride from Singapore to China and Tibet where it required a lot more time, costs, planning and execution, I gotta say it is actually nice to hop on my bike and just head off on an impromptu touring ride that doesn't require much time, money or planning in advanced!


Whether you're a beginner who just started riding, or a seasoned biker just looking for a short getaway over 48 hours with your buddies or for some me-time, I hope this travel itinerary of mine can be of reference to you!

The total distance of this trip covered? Approx 490KM.
The total spendings? Just SGD $60.


Now, let's think about it... What can you do with SGD $60?

You can enjoy a scrumptious dinner at a buffet that you'll finish in about 2 hours. Have a drink or two at a bar. Catch a movie with a friend and munch on some snacks.


Or how about a 2D1N ALL-INCLUSIVE motorcycle trip to Malaysia while experiencing the winds on your skin, that freedom unleashed, be spoilt for choice with endless foods and learn about some cultural history at a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Yes, you read that right.

That cost includes fuel for the round trip ride, breakfast at Yong Peng, a good night's sleep at a quirky Peranakan hotel that includes breakfast the next morning and indulge in all the yummy street foods on Jonker Street.


Don't believe me? Let me take your through :)



10:30AM/ Singapore - Gelang Patah

Dumped all my essentials into my little backpack and headed off to Gelang Patah Petron where I met up with Deb.

Didn't refuel my bike cuz it seemed to be already half full when I entered Malaysia and since we were gonna stop at Yong Peng, I'll just refuel there if needed.


Located just over 110KM from Singapore, our first stop Yong Peng is an easy 45 minutes ride on North-South Highway.

It is a small town in Johor where majority of the residents are Chinese, and there are plenty of mouth-watering local foods!

Because it is located not far from Singapore, Yong Peng is quite a popular stop for breakfast drives/rides.


11:20AM/ Yong Peng

Apart from the usual famous fishball noodles or Bak Ku Teh, I'm diving straight in for some Hok Chew noodles at Atap OD coffee shop located here. Not sure if any of you have been here before but they serve up really good fried noodles and lor mee.


Just the thought of it makes me drool in my helmet already~


Food is served!! But I'm still kinda stoning while hydrating first because the weather was pretty darn hot.


Ok let's dig in!


We ordered 1.5 serving of the Hok Chew Noodles (RM8), plus Fish Cake (RM4.50) and some drinks.

As you can tell.. this isn't a very nice photo of the noodles hahah because sorry, it has already been half eaten. Deb was too eager to try so she dug in while I was still stoning so, no nice food photo!



But this doesn't make the noodles any less delicious!


Total bill for two was RM22.80, which makes RM11.40 each.


With our tummies satisfied and before the food coma kicks in, we geared up and continued our way to Malacca which was about 116KM away from Yong Peng.


It was a weekday and traffic wasn't exactly light. There were many trailers and trucks on the highway. At times when all the lanes were packed with cars, we'd travel on the road shoulder before going back on the main road when it was clear. Be careful even when the road shoulder is clear of any traffic though as there are debris lying around at times.


At Pagoh R&R, we decided to refuel since my reserve light just came on and I bet nobody wants to risk getting stuck on the highway without having enough petrol! #beentheredonethat Even friends who love you will hate you for making them bring petrol to you hahahah.



Approximately 11L of fuel set me back at RM23.61.


And off we continued straight on into...


MALACCA (MELAKA)!


1:45PM/ Malacca

I don't know about you haha but Deb and I both know that upon arriving into Malacca and after showering all, we'd probably be too lazy to have to ride to Jonker Street if we stayed elsewhere even if it's in the city centre.

So we decided to stay at Hotel Puri Melaka which was located in Jonker itself, but tucked in a quiet street, just 2 minutes walk away from the main bustling area.


The entrance had a heritage feel with an elegant spiral wooden staircase leading to the second floor of rooms. The lounge area were also furnished with antique pieces commonly seen in the olden times.


With an open concept al fresco cafeteria, this is where hotel guests can dine in at and have breakfast.


Our twin room was of good size at 24 sqm, with more than enough space to lay our gears and bags everywhere. Or if Deb gets wasted after drinking too much beer and doesn't make it to the bed, the spacious room floor can accommodate her too! Hahahh.


The bathroom was basic, nothing fancy but as long as it's clean, we're good.


Many hotels in Malacca state online that they have carpark on site but more often than not, they are public street parking located near the hotel instead of a private carpark on the hotel's premise itself.

Secured parking is very important to us, so thankfully Hotel Puri Melaka had a private carpark that is gated, with CCTVs installed.


All in all, a night's stay here cost us RM181.55 including taxes, which works out to be RM90.7 each.


Jonker Street

After the smooth check in, we refreshed up and headed out onto Jonker Street to eat and explore!



Jonker 88 is well known for their ice cold Baba Cendol and,


 their Special Jumbo Laksa (RM10.50).


We weren't big fans of that dessert so we skipped it and went straight for two huge bowls of Laksa. Just look at that thick savoury curry base wooohooo.


The weather was hot, and this is how you make it hotter LOL.


After slurping up that bowl of spicy goodness, you don't need no lipstick or lip fillers to get a nice plumped up sausage lip hahah.


What better way to soothe the spice from our burning tongue with a refreshing Mango smoothie (RM5) topped with real sweet mangoes!


Just look at that eager greedy face.... waiting to devour the whole cup.


Jonker Street Night Market is only open from Fridays to Sundays where the roads are closed and vendors start setting up their stalls from 6PM.


From clothings,


to all kinds of street food,


and yes, more food! It's really a non-stop eating heaven.


I don't think my stomach has even digested the fried noodles we had at Yong Peng and after stuffing myself with some more food here in Malacca, I can't eat anymore otherwise my stomach feels like it's about to explode.

We chilled by the river and observed street art painted on the side of these shophouse buildings that brings the whole ambience so much more vibrancy and quirk.


When night fall came, we checked out some more interesting stalls before...


Yes, you guessed it right.


We continued to pig out again... Seriously, I feel like I'm eating three days worth of food. But they're all so cheap and good! This tasty fried carrot cake (RM5) has a really fragrant burnt taste that once you eat, you can't seem to stop. How to resist!

Ok we're so done for the day (and night), it's time to head back to the hotel to grab some rest as we're riding back to Singapore tomorrow morning!


Got up at 6:30AM, had the hotel breakfast (they had fried noodles so we consider it not bad haha) and moved off from Malacca!


There's something invigorating about early morning rides.. Maybe it's that cold crisp air, the sound of birds singing, and it sure feels good to be riding around before the world wakes.


Back on North South Highway, we felt the crosswinds at various points that would either push our heads to the side or sway our bikes a little while we rode. Sometimes, it happens right next to these huge-ass trailers so it's good to pass them as quickly as possible!


We cruised at a comfortable speed and made one last refuel stop that cost me RM38 at Gelang Patah before entering back into Singapore!


Thank you Malacca for always being such an easy-going friendly place to travel to, and so enjoyable even if the stay is short.

Total cost of the trip? RM184.21 (SGD $61.40)!

There you have it! A short and sweet touring ride that wouldn't break your wallet! :)


Ride safe, and don't forget to always ride insured! Check out DirectAsia Insurance for a list of comprehensive coverage that suits you and your bike best!




[Singapore. Malacca. Singapore]
[Mileage Clocked: 490KM]
[Terrain: Tarmac]
[Traffic: Moderate]
[Temperature/Weather: 31°C/Hot]