When The Sun Starts Shining…
… and when the scary dark clouds coming from the North Atlantic Ocean are giving ways to the blue sky to appear, its magic! All out of a sudden, Scotland is revealing its beautiful scenery to me again. Weather here in Scotland is like a grumpy woman. Its always driving me crazy. But when the mood is good, it can make my heart melting away like…. like… like a chocolate! I rode north from Sligachan fast towards the north heading to Uig, to take a ferry to the Isle of Harris (hehe, pulau encik harris!) leaving Skye. I was feeling a bit disappointed, I couldn’t see the beauty of this island. So I was actually planning to leave Skye on the same day. But upon reaching Uig, the dark clouds suddenly disappeared. In a split second, the usual scenery of Scotland which was usually grey colour, turned to be colourful.
It was warm again, so I took off my Goretex jacket and enjoy a slow ride under the sunshine for a few hours. Everything looks beautiful here under the sun. When I reached Uig, I was amazed with its beautiful location, sitting at the coast under towering cliffs. When I saw those beautiful cliffs, I knew where to camp that night! So I rode down to Uig, get some stuff and climbed back up to those cliffs searching for a place to pitch my tent. While I was busy snapping pictures, I was approached by a curious tourist from France, asking about my cycling trip. We talked a while and exchanged contacts as he would love to read my blog and see my upcoming film and would like to host me if I ride in France.
It feels good to make more friends all over the globe. Met a female Swiss cyclist while I was having lunch in Lochtree, we also exchanged contacts after a long talk. I do this trip, to get out of my old routine life back in KL. I got bored of waking up early in the morning and preparing to go to work, swearing at other drivers while I got stucked in the bad traffic on my way to work, do the same thing at work making me feel like a machine, then swearing again at other drivers in another bad traffic on my way back home and once I reach home, Im too tired to do anything else… and it keeps repeating day after day, nothing new. I feel that my life is not progressing, Im just surviving, that’s all. Out here Im doing routine as well, getting up early in the morning, having breakfast, packing up my tent, riding for miles and miles, find a spot to camp, either in the wild or in a proper campsite, cook dinner, read some books and sleep. But at least I get to see different views everyday, talking to different people everyday, making new friends everyday, approaching different villages, towns, cities, mountains, beaches, etc etc for the first time. Out here, Im always a stranger and always being in a strange land, constantly all the time.
Anyway, after finished exchanging contacts with the French, I rode up and down, looking for a perfect camping spot. After a while, I found a nice, quite plain grass to pitch my tent. It was quite steep to get to the spot, so I climbed few times, carrying my bags one by one and finally my bicycle. It was one of the most beautiful camping spot I ever been since here in Scotland. The colors of the sunset was incredible, a very nice gradient from blue to red in the sky. I feel so peaceful, blessed to see this kind of landscapes. Right after I completed setting up my tent, the raincloud coming in again! But it was a small one. It rained for a few minutes while the sun was still shining, resulting in one of the most beautiful sunset I ever seen, a double full rainbow was proudly showing itself under the magical sunset colors in Uig. It appeared for 5-10 minutes or so, and I was watching it in amazement. Maybe it’s a good thing too that the weather here is always bad, so that once in a while when moments like this happen, I will really appreciate it and it feels so special living this moment!
When the sun hides itself under those hills, the color turned blue and it was getting darker. So I had my dinner and read some books, wrapping myself nicely inside the sleeping bag to get warm. Before I went to sleep, I went outside my tent for a while to check my bicycle and the surrounding, and there you go, while I was looking up at the sky, I was shocked, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was the out of this world, marvellous celestial lights! The night sky was so clear for the first time here in Scotland, and the night sky was really bright. This is almost like what I witnessed in the sky of Tibet few years ago, every single star was blinking proudly and I see shooting stars every few seconds. The shooting stars were so massive, it feels like there was a war going on deep in the space just like in the movie Starwars! I ignored the cold completely, took all my cameras out and film this magic.
It lasted about 40 minutes before the thick clouds started to move in again, and the rain started pouring again. So I went to sleep. I woke up around 2am since it was too cold. I wrapped my body with more jackets and just get outside my tent for a while to see the sky again. It was clear again! This time, its even brighter with the moon. It was really beautiful. Again, I felt blessed to see this marvels in the night sky. It was really cold that night but I managed to ignore it. For the second time I took all my cameras to film this unearthly colors coming not from this planet. Because of this, I ended up staying up all night, watching the sky under the cold weather. I slept around 5 am that night.
The next day, I woke up very late at around 11 am. And I was feeling lazy when the wind was blowing really strong and it was raining heavily. So I just stayed inside my tent preparing my late breakfast. The sun started to shine again at around 1 so I decided to cycle to the nearby Quairaing, which is famous for its beautiful peaks. When I reached there, it was a bit of disappointment. There were so many tourists there, a big group of students probably from China, shouting and laughing all over. And the wind started to blow really really strong, carrying raindrops with it. So its like the weather doesn’t want me to proceed to climb to the peaks of Quairaing, I turned back and cycle back to Uig. While riding back to Uig, I was struggling fighting the strong headwind, it was hell. Its almost as strong as the one that blew me away during the sandstorm in the Taklamakan Desert 2 years ago.
I then finally took ferry from Uig crossing into Tarbert in Isle of Harris. It was a 90 minutes journey. Very comfortable riding it, costing me only around 6 pounds. When I reached Tarbert, it was late, about 8pm and very very cold. The rain was heavy and the wind was very strong. It gonna be hell for me to pitch my tent under this condition. There is a campsite just a mile north of Tarbert village, but when I look around the harbour, I found a bunkhouse, which is 15 pounds a night. So I decided to stay there for a night, I need to sleep inside a roof so badly. I couldn’t stand the cold anymore, at least for a night. When I came in the bunkhouse, I attracted the attention of other tourists who stayed there for the night.
Everybody was asking about my journey, so I became the storyteller for the night. One of them asked me on the reason why I do this trip of a lifetime. I answered, “It’s the simplest reason ever, I was just bored sitting at home”. Everyone was laughing. Then a British guy asked me that whether I’m not afraid of strangers, that I might get robbed or something worst could happen, since I’m traveling alone. I gave them a long answer and said, “Since the first day I live my life on the road, I realized that I’m very… very vulnerable. Why should I be afraid of getting robbed by strangers, since there are so many other things that can kill me today, even right here, even right now. We are all very weak, we are all vulnerable, but most of the time, we tend to forget it, since most of us living inside our comfort zone. This journey made me realize that, reminding me on how vulnerable I am… all the time… especially when a huge truck driving fast passing by me on a narrow road or when I’m stuck in a mountainside under a harsh weather. Whether I will survive my journey or not, its all depends on God’s will. So there is no need to worry.” I was glad that some of them really like my answer. There is a young Scottish traveller who is really inspired of my journey, so I showed him some of my footages and pictures of my journey from my laptop. We chat for the whole night and as usual, ended up exchanging contacts so that we can keep in touch.