Friday, March 26, 2010


Ben Mok is truly one of the sweetest bikers I know. Who would have thought that after having survived solo biking trips around the world, he would be a victim of (an almost) hit-and-run and (suspected) drunk driving in his own backyard.

Although he was almost a permanent fixture at our humble abode many moons ago, having dated my ex-roommate, our conversations were fleeting and centered around our common passion for biking, diving and dogs. I wished I had gotten to know him better since we moved out of that apartment. I was glad a common friend, Dom, gave me regular updates on Ben's whereabouts and what great adventure he was pursuing next. And when I was in doubts as to who bothers to read me blog, a "Ben" would pop out now and then, giving me positive feedback...just dropping by to say, "hi"! I can't wipe away the image of his Cheshire Cat smile - he always exuded a warmth and charm that is very rare in this world.

He (was, and still is) an inspiration to his blogger fans, and I have just begun to get to know him better through reading his blog : left behind a legacy of making us all laugh while examining how we live our lives - and make us reflect on how it should be lived.

His friends have set up a memorial website for Ben :, and the funeral details are on that blog.

I will leave you with a little excerpt from his blog - a rant in fact, which speaks truth in volumes...hopefully it will spur me on in grabbing life by the horns, not taking it for granted and embracing every minute of Ben had done in his...

I'm glad Ben didn't wait....

"Rant on.

(Skip ahead to the next image if you don't wish to read this.)

8:13 AM. Looking back over the trip — I've been on the road trail for 9+ days so far — I've had a ball. There were some hard moments, where I wondered what the hell (and why the hell) I'm doing here, but I came out stronger, wiser . . . and a little more twisted and out of whack each time. (So, the kangaroo on the tor, above Oakley Dam, was right. *THUMPA!* *THUMPA!*)

What amazes me then (it no longer amazes me now) is the sheer number of people advising me to wait on this trip; wait until the entire Munda Biddi Trail is complete; wait until you've gained more weight, muscle, fitness, et cetera; wait until the Singapore gahmen (government) convinces Australia to let them micro-manage every aspect of this trail and idiot/moron-proof it: exterminating all the nasty insects, venomous snakes, big spiders; tagging and issuing RFID cards for all kangaroos, wallaroos, and wallabies; installing guard rails and lamp posts along the entire trail; and employing puerile prurient park rangers to protect my genteel sensibilities from properly attired elderly males.

fortycalibernap visited Singapore and observed that the locals are afflicted with a crippling inertia — they wait. They complain, whine, and they wait. They wait for other people to do things for them. They wait for the government to implement social/business programs for them. They wait for social programs to match-make them. Then, they wait for handouts to spur them to reproduce. Even on vacations abroad, a significant number — if not the majority — of them embark on group tours: their itinerary all planned out — and safe; comfortably ensconced in crass, poorly-worded, mass produced, treacle, they are corralled by mini-Eichmann tour guides, who dictate, right down to the minute their hourly (or even half-hourly) schedules. Enjoy your bus rides and change parades, folks.

On the issue of waiting, Chris posted a great comment on a recent tour, but I never found the opportunity to respond in a manner that would do justice to it. During yesterday's easier ride, I had plenty of time to ruminate, so here's my response:

On the issue of waiting, I agree with Chris. Why wait? Why not now? You've prepared as much as you can, and you go. Wait for what? Wait for who? (Remember, I generally prefer to travel alone.)

Wait. While you wait, time passes you by; opportunities pass you by; and, day by day, you grow older, less fit. The longer you wait, the higher the chance of life / misfortune / evil, overbearing, paternalistic governments throwing a wrench in your spokes, turning your planned trip into a permanent dream.

So . . . wait. Wait until when? Tomorrow, next week, a month from now, a year from now, you could be hit by a truck, a murderous cab driver, an ah beng distracted by his ah lian, or some tai-tai reaching for her cell phone behind the wheel. Then what? Be the next poster child for fraudulent charities seeking donations from schmucks the well-meaning public?

Or, someone you love, or are close to, could be struck by a terminal illness, requiring you to provide (or support) palliative care. How are you going to ride then? When are you going to ride?

Sure, there are older folks who have done this trail (and countless others) but I rather do it now when I'm (relatively) young. At the end of the day, my position towards unsolicited advice is this: if I desire your opinion, I'll ask for it; I inform out of courtesy, and am not seeking advice, direction, approval, or your blessings.

So, while I ride, they wait*. I go on adventures; chalk up rides; grow with each adversity, learning to be grateful for each serendipitous act of generosity or stroke of luck — they wait. They can wait then. Until they are in their seventies, then they can wheel their tours around food courts — clearing trays**.
-9:12 AM
Federal Gully Brook"

* = FWIW, the folks who advised me to wait on my Thailand-Singapore Ride are still waiting, what with their litany of excuses: political unrest, racial tensions, economic downturn, floods, inclement weather: too wet because the monsoon is here; too warm because the monsoon is over; their pants are too tight, blah blah blah...

** = Personally, I think it's disgraceful to hire geriatrics to clear trays and dishes at food courts; if you are not disabled, you are capable of clearing your own tray. Allowing this practice to flourish is an exercise in hidden unemployment and enabling moral decay.

Rant off."