With Love, From San Francisco to Pakistan
Finally, conveying pride to the country, a Pakistani sets the record for being the first person to bike from San Francisco to Pakistan on his Honda F4i. Enthusiastic, adventurous, determined and passionate are the words that could depict Moin Khan’s personality.
After a long excursion of dodging drivers, sleepless nights and struggling to get enough to eat, Moin effectively registered his endeavors and made it to the headlines. Moin belongs to Lahore and the Chief Minister of Punjab describes Moin as “the star of the country who has made a mark for Pakistan [giving the] message that Pakistan is a peace-loving country”.
His trip took approximately 6 months on a course which included 22 countries: San Francisco, Vancouver, Calgary, Montana, South Dakota, Omaha, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, New York. Travelled on ship for 3 weeks and then made way to Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Munich, St. Nerve en, Geneva, Nice, Monaco, Pisa, Rome, Venice, Slovenia, Budapest, Slovakia, Vienna, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iran and finally Pakistan.
He endured various situations and road rage due to which he was knocked off his bike twice somewhere in Romania resulting in three broken ribs, a broken shoulder, a fractured thumb and damaged wrists.
A graduate of the University of San Francisco hopes to bridge gaps between countries and represent his homeland Pakistan as a peace loving nation. Moin posted many videos and a large number of pictures on his facebook page “ADifferentAgenda” during his journey.
Khan is committed to his passion for bikes and traveling and changing the image of Pakistan globally. Let’s see what all he has in store for us, bring his journey in a nutshell with a question answer session.
Q: Since when was biking your passion?
Moin: As a kid 5/6 years old, I had motorcycle posters all over my room. I idolized Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts and Michael Doohan. They were my role models growing up; I always wanted to race motorcycles.
Q: The first ever bike you owned? Which bike was it do you remember?
I was 11 years old when I stole my carpenter’s bike and went all over my city Lahore. I was hooked. The feeling of being on two wheels was magical; I felt free and knew this was it. I’m going to be riding motorcycles for a long time. I went to the States in 2005 and bought my first motorcycle in 2006 which was a 1985 Kawasaki Vulcan 750. I sold that just 2 months later as I didn’t have money for food and rent. Then in 2007 I bought my first real motorcycle which was a 2006 Honda CBR600RR, my introduction to race machines.
Q: Who inspired you to be a biker?
As I said before, the early 90’s racers/champions were my idols growing up. I didn’t want to be Spider-man or batman or Imran khan growing up; I wanted to race motorcycle when I was 5 years old. I could ever be a professional racer but 18 years later I went around the world on a sport bike, solo. I raced up and down the Swiss, Italian, Austrian and French Alps, I was EPIC.
Q: You made a daring decision of traveling from San Francisco to Lahore on a bike, how did you end up making this plan?
I think it’s every bikers dream to do one big tour. Over a few states, a few countries or maybe a few continents. I was planning a ride from California to Alaska and back while I was going to school, San Francisco State University. However, bad news out of Pakistan took a toll on me and I thought it be better if I ditch Alaska and actually ride my motorcycle to Pakistan. Then I can show the world we Pakistanis aren’t what they see in the media, we ride motorcycles and we go around the world on them too.
Q: What you did is purely adventurous. How do you sum your journey?
My journey from San Francisco, California to Lahore, Pakistan was 40,000KM, 22 countries, 6 months. When you’re on the road for this long you are tested every day. Your determination and motivation is tested to the limit and sometimes even more. All this travelling is a lot of fun but you can lose your motivation within a few minutes. So I had to be really sure that I wanted to do this. I worked hard before the trip, I sold everything I owned, slept at different friends houses to save money on rent and ate boiled rice and ketchup for 18 months straight to save money for this journey. I was determined and motivated 200% since the first time I ever told myself I was going to do this and it was only because I was following my passion, I was doing something I loved the most in life and that is the only reason I was able to pull this off.
Q: Why and how was your journey a different one compared to others who have tried on similar ventures?
Moin: I know people who have done much bigger, longer, tougher journeys around the world on a motorcycle mine wasn’t anything outrageous or too out of the box. I sure am the first one to ride a sports bike from California to Pakistan. And maybe it a bit unique too because I crashed twice, broke 3 ribs, my shoulder, a wrist and a finger, was in the hospital for 1.5 months and then people from 5 different countries helped me build the bike up. They donated parts and I was able to get to my destination on the same bike. It was unreal, it felt like I was playing chess with someone very powerful, a higher force was on my case and “checkmate” me every few days to test my will and then gave me a pat on the back when He saw nothing could break me down. I was determined.
Q: Put some light on the hurdles you went through reaching Lahore on a Bike.
3 jobs 75 hours a week, white boiled rice for 18 months, didn’t use any GPS system or Paper Maps on the journey. I got lost everyday about 50 times, that made me ask for directions from 50 different people who in the process would ask me where I was going and what I was doing and then I would spend a few minutes tell them about Pakistan.
Q: What route did you opt for?
San Francisco, Vancouver, Calgary, Montana, South Dakota, Omaha, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, New York. On the ship for 3 weeks. Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Munich, St. Gallen, Geneva, Nice, Monaco, Pisa, Rome, Venice, Slovenia, Budapest, Slovakia, Vienna, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan.
Q: What one place was your favorite? You traveled a long distance, name one place that left you amazed?
Stelvio Pass in Italy. One of the most gorgeous places in the world to be on two wheels.
Q: Was it easy getting the VISA’s of all the places that you covered by road?
You have to prepare properly, Visa’s are obviously one of the most important aspects of touring the world and you have to start early, it can take up to a year to get all the visas. Process is slow and I think riding the motorcycle is easy, the paper work before the journey started was much harder.
Q: You were on road for quite a long time, how and where did you take your breaks?
I would take a break whenever I felt like resting up a bit. I would camp on the side of the road and sleep for the night, a tent and a sleeping bag is all you need to save money while living like a gipsy. It’s awesome, sun in your face, living rough on the road.
Q: What food did you carry during your journey?
I didn’t carry much, had 2 days of water with me at all time, a few chocolates and granola/energy bars.
Q: What is your favorite Pakistani food?
Chappli Kebab, Lahore’s bhaiyah kay kebab, Aloo Keema and daal mash with garam roti.
Q: You have been working hard to give Pakistan a positive peaceful image, how do you think your journey helps Pakistan in getting that image you desired?
Well I went around the word, slept on the road; met strangers from different corners of the world, a lot of people had never met a Pakistan or a Muslim before. I think it was great to break some of the stereotypes the media has created. After the journey I feel I kind of made a special space for myself on different motorcycle groups/forums around the world. They kind of trust me now somehow and so when I invite them to Pakistan they actually come and ride motorcycles with me here.
Q: Pakistan has a lot of diversity to offer tourists. What hindrances are there that does not let the tourism develop in Pakistan?
The media scares the world away, I’m not saying there aren’t any issues, there are but it’s not as bad as it seems. Just like everywhere else in the world there are some no going areas in Pakistan too… Like South Side Chicago or Compton in L.A. or parts of Detroit, we have certain parts here in Pakistan too. You avoid them and you’re good. I’ve taken Americans, males and females on motorcycles all over the country form Chitral, Skardu, Hunza, China Border to Lahore and never had the slightest issue, and we travel without personal security guards too… Allah ka shuker, Pakistan has been amazing to my guests/riders from the last few years :)
Q: Were you helped on your way? How were you treated by inhabitants of different places you traveled? Which place and people gave you the best and most memorable reception?
Was helped everyday by strangers. Americans/Canadians took me to their houses, gave me a spot to crash for the night, fed me and sometimes filled up my fuel tank. Europeans were awesome too, random people from Bulgaria, Poland, Romania donated parts to me when I crashed in Romania.. People have been amazing.
Q: Do you have any more plans of such wild adventurous journeys?
I’m going to Mongolia in May, riding a horse for 15 days. I’m taking 4 tours to the northern areas all foreigners, trying to show the world this beautiful piece of land. 2016 I ride my motorcycle from The Arctic Circle to The Antarctic Circle. Alaska to Argentina. I’m going to be on the road for a year. If you’re reading this and would like to help with sponsorships email me at ADifferentAgenda@gmail.com – You’ll have the opportunity to brand my bike, helmet, jacket, website, social media and more.
Q: What is “ADifferentAgenda”? What were you focused on and how many people collaborated with you in this? Is it Pakistan Specific?
ADifferentAgenda so far is a one man show, I say it’s a one man show as there are no volunteers and no one on the payroll either. I take up on projects that I feel need the most attention. 2013 I distributed 3000 Hoodies and blankets in the winters to poor people on the roads. I would drive all day looking for people without a sweater and hand out a warm piece to them. It was great. 2014 there was a drought in Tharparkar Sindh, and so I took food for 200 families for a month and handed them out to 200 different houses myself. People from 34 different countries donated for this project, it was epic once again.
Q: What was the most exciting and beautiful moment you’ve witnessed so far?
I’ve opened a school in Lahore with 72 girls studying in a little village where there was no girl’s school ever. Whenever I visit, the smiles on those faces are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.. They are my life.
Q: How do you plan to sum up your journey? You are working on a book right? When is it going to be published? Or is it already out?
My book is coming soon. You can go to www.ADifferentAgenda.com and subscribe with your email address. You will receive an email from me every few weeks (or months) when the book gets out, my subscribers will have the opportunity to get their hands on the book first. December I’m hoping but let’s see.
Q: Your take on tourism in Pakistan?
Pakistan can run on just tourism, it has so much potential, you have no idea. Highest polo ground in the world to highest plains in the world to biggest deserts in the world to deepest sea port in the world. 5 of the 14 highest peaks in the world, this country is a hidden paradise and inshAllah soon it will bloom. Whoever the head of tourism is these days, not that I care or it makes a difference because all of them are useless and don’t know jack about tourism and how to promote it. I hate you sir, I hate you.
Q: Which one place (CITY) is your favorite in Pakistan?
I love Shandur, Hunza and Pasu.
Q: What do you love about Pakistan when it’s about traveling and tourism?
The hospitality the people in the mountains show towards travelers is unimaginable. They spend 100 on you when they only have 70 in their pocket.
Q: Do you think it’s safe to travel in Pakistan? Did you face any issues passing sensitive areas of the country?
No issues what so ever. Check this documentary out: https://vimeo.com/119388524, I went around US, Canada, UK and Ireland showing this film at different universities.. Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and many more. You will enjoy it.
Q: People say traveling makes you learn valuable lessons. Agree? What do you learn when you travel so much?
You learn about yourself, how much your body can take, you learn about others, I learnt there are more good people in every country than bad people.. I love everyone
Q: A message for all your fans around the globe?
Do what you love to do. You only live once.. ADifferentAgenda has no spaces in the middle so make sure you use it the way it’s supposed to be used..