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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

How a Trans-Siberian trip on a bike with sidecar led to a deep appreciation for Oman

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So what happens when you put five men — a hotel manager, an oil and gas expert, an executive chef, a magazine editor and a mechanic — with a collective interest in BMW R75 replica in one room?


For Germans Rene D. Egle, Peter Schaumburg, Matthias Schepp, British Richard George and Chinese Shang Jin Gou, it led to an incredible 11,000 kilometres journey from Beijing to Berlin passing through more than 30 cities including the steppes and deserts of Inner Mongolia, the deepest lake in the world Lake Baikal, the Ural Mountains and the spectacular cities of Saint Petersberg, Copenhagen and ultimately Berlin.


 


It’s not a typical adventure one usually makes. The team has to pack 120 kilos of spare parts and almost 10 kilos of provisions in a trip that would eventually be completed in 33 days. That means sometimes dreadfully driving with the fear of falling asleep while on the wheels, getting stuck on mud and dirt, battling rain and cold temperature and dreadfully long nights.


But it is the kind of trip that you will remember for the rest of your life especially of the beautiful views and sceneries along the way and the lessons on the road that can only be appreciated by those bold enough to go beyond their limits.


Rene is now based in Muscat brought here by his hospitality and hotel career that spans nearly four decades. Now the Area General Manager of Shangri-la Resorts in Muscat, he has worked in some of the best properties in the world across Asia like Indonesia and the Philippines, and in Dubai and tourists favourites like Mauritius and the Maldives.


He initiated the trip with Peter and served as its organizer. Their vehicle of choice, the Chang Jiang CJ750/BMW R71 750 cc has a long history that goes as far as before World War II when Germany and then the Soviet Union struck a deal using BMW technology manufacturing sophisticated vehicle designs. Post-World War II,  the Chinese and the Russians had greatly improved the production and the parts of the motorbike with a sidecar that Rene’s team thought that it will help them accomplish their plans.


 


This thing that happened in Siberia, this little act of kindness was something that Germany has lost. It brought me back to when I was younger, I remembered wherever I go in Germany, people are always so eager to help. It made me appreciate that the people who are not even well-dressed are the most polite and the most friendly... — Rene D. Egle


 


Calling it a ‘bike for all seasons,’ they believe that it has enough modern features and is very practical for everyday use as a transport yet still retain the charm of a post-vintage thoroughbred.


“The team has an initial discussion that if we have trouble fixing the bike, then we will pool our resources and leave it behind. But it did the job,” he said.


Rene also said that while they packed a lot of tools to fix the bike, they eventually have to rely on ducktape for fixing a lot of their vehicular issues.


 


 


“Every time we stopped by a city, we go to a hardware shop and buy ducktapes. The trip was a good test not only of the equipment but of the people’s resolve too. We were driving in the rain and even the raincoat we bought didn’t last long,” he said.


While the trip was dramatic and eventful in so many levels, Rene shared that he picked up several life lessons because of embarking on such a difficult adventure.


“When we went on that trip, the guys are already friends. But we discovered different things about each other. I realised we have two sides as human beings. There was a point that we lost our teamwork and we were acting like spoiled kids and that while difficult circumstances make us act outside of ourselves, in times of needs, our humanity always triumphs,” he said.


He added, “There was a time during the trip that two or three days we didn’t see any town. There was also an unfortunate incident that we passed through a pothole which resulted in the bike needed welding.”


But it is during this time of need that he appreciated the kindness of people.


“There was a guy in the petrol station who we asked where we can get help to have the sidecar fixed. He was wearing this military checkered garment. He didn’t even smile. We were wary the whole time but he just went on fixing the vehicle for three and a half hours without even a conversation. When it was finished, he didn’t collect any money but instead poured out a drink for us and then that was the only time he smiled and asked where we were from,” he narrated.


 


Rene is impressed by the hospitality and the kindness of the Omanis and is looking forward to learning more of the culture and what makes Oman truly different not only as a destination for tourists and travellers but as an experience as well.


 


“This happened throughout our trip. And I remembered it made an impact on me that I wrote something about it. I said this thing that happened in Siberia, this little act of kindness was something that Germany has lost. It brought me back to when I was younger, I remembered wherever I go in Germany, people are always so eager to help. It made me appreciate that the people who are not even well-dressed are the most polite and the most friendly. They come to your rescue,” he said.


While he is only in Oman for less than 10 months, Rene has been back to doing his bike trips and have visited places including Yiti and the Qantab area. He has seen for himself that what was lost in many places all over the world, one can easily find in villages in Oman.


Rene is impressed by the hospitality and the kindness of the Omanis and is looking forward to learning more of the culture and what makes Oman truly different not only as a destination for tourists and travellers but as an experience as well.


When Rene moved to Oman, he brought with him a wealth of experience from Europe, China, Hong Kong, the Middle East and South-East Asia.  With over 30 years in the hospitality industry, paired with his extensive knowledge of luxury brands, he looks forward to nurturing Oman’s exhilarating seaside oasis with authentic Omani experiences.  And without a doubt, the things he will see and experience in Oman, he will then spread to the rest of the world.


 


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