most asked questions

I get so many questions from the local people when I’m stopping somewhere on my bike.
Most of the time it’s at petrol stations, accommodations or at mini markets.

These are the most questions I get, ordered by frequency:

  1. where are you from?
  2. how old are you? (yes, in Asia this is mostly the second question!)
  3. where are you going?
  4. photo/selfie?
  5. are you traveling alone?
  6. what’s your name?

and in Indonesia, I get these two new questions almost daily:

  • are you single?
  • do you want to marry my sister?

Petrol station habits and information

In most of Europe the procedure at petrol stations is pretty easy: just fill it up and go into the shop to pay. But there are some differences in other countries I came along…

Here you have to wait for a guy to enable the pump (mostly by an RFID card). Most of the time he will put the gas in, sometimes I was allowed to do it by myself.
He will the print out a receipt. Now you can pay cash or go inside the shop to pay with credit card. You’ll get three(!) other receipts: one for the payment, one for the credit card and the third one you have to hand out back to the guyย outside which pumped your fuel!

Here you have to pay in advance. Which is hard if you want to fill up and don’t know how much it will cost. If they understand English or my sign language, they usually enable the pump for me to fill up and then I can pay the amount by credit card. But sometimes they just don’t want to understand and I have to guess an amount, which they will release. If you guessed too much you have to go back inside to get the change. But there seems to be always a big queue in Russia, so guess right!

You must pay in advance too. But on the bigger petrol stations you can go inside and say you want to pay by credit card and want to fill the tank. So they release the pump and you can go back inside after filling up to the rim. The following stations mostly accepted credit cards: KazMunayGas, Sinooil and Helios.
Sometimes they strictly don’t want to release the pump before you payed. Either by credit card or cash. So better estimate too high and go back inside to get the change. Its annoying, but it works.

You’ll find KazMunayGas almost everywhere, but their shops only have some bottles of water and sometimes coke. Helios seems to be the modern newcomer, mostly with big shops. But occasionally they were out of petrol…

It’s basically the same as in Kazakhstan, you have to pay in advance and be good in guessing. Sometimes they didn’t want to give back the change when I guessed too much and could not fill in all.
But I only could pay once with credit card.

It depends heavily on the province you are in!
Xinjiang: The petrol stations are enfenced and guarded by security. The locals have to scan their ID (with digital chip) to open the gate and to get petrol. As the foreigner’s temporary drivers license do not have the digital chip, the guards don’t know how to handle the situation. Show them your Chinese paperwork, sometimes even the passport, ask for their manager and finally they will open the gate and let you in. Credit cards won’t work in China at all, even if the terminals have written Visa/MasterCard on it!
Tibet: Motorcycles are not allowed on the petrol stations at all!
You have to park outside, walk to the pump and they will handle you an aluminium tea pot or can. The sizes vary from 2 litres up to 10 litres. But they are dirty and have sometimes sand in it, so use an extra filter! It’s fun to carry around some petrol at the height of 4500m!
They say it’s for security! But carry an open canister full of fuel is not? And sometimes you have to show your passport too.
Yunnan: No problems at all here! Just drive up, they will fill it up for you. No discussions at all.

They only have ‘regular’ (the red pump) and ‘Diesel’. I have no idea if regular is 90, 93 or 95 octane. And the petrol itself is also coloured red! They will pump the petrol for you and also ask for how much money you would like to tank, mostly they understand ‘full’ or some similar hand guesture. Payment is in cash directly at the pump, you won’t get a ticket. Most of the times there are girls working the pumps. And on my big bike they are too small to look into the tank to see how full it already is…

Similar to Laos, there are workers at the pump stations to do the work for you.
You can choose between 92 and 95 octane. Payment is always in US dollars with the fixed ratio of 4000 riel = 1 USD.

Same same as in Cambodia, but you have a lot of choice. There seem to be five different types of fuel and colors at the pumps. I always went for 95 (the orange one), which I guess is 95 octane with E10 (10% Ethanol).
I can recommend the PTT stations. They always have a 7-Eleven supermarket there!

Finally be able to get the petrol by myself again! Payment with credit card is also possible again, directly at the pump! Interestinly, goods in the shop have to be paid with cash, no credit cards accepted.

Pertamina seems to be the biggest and most common petrol company there. Outside of the big cities I could only see these Pertamina stations. They pump the petrol for you and it has to be paid in cash.
There are about five different petrol colors and names. but there are no octane numbes on them! you cannot go for the nosle colors, as they seem to repurpose old pumps.
The workers always sent me to the scooter pump, but this is 88 octane (which my AfricaTwin had some troubles with).

This is what I found out about the different kinds:
Premium: 88, yellow
PertaLite: 90 (officially 90. but if asked, they said it’s 88), yellow
PertaMax: 92, blue or sometimes red
PertaMax+: 95, red (only seen once…)
Bio Solar: I guess this one is with Ethanol (E10?)
DexLite: Diesel



Crossing the Equator!

Yesterday I crossed the Equator on Sumatra in Indonesia!
it didn’t hurt at all! ๐Ÿ™‚
There’s a stone, a monument and a line on the ground. But the GPS showed the actual Equator 150m south of all this…

So now I’m in the southern hemisphere, summer is comming!

I’m on Sumatra in Indonesia!

On Monday I’ve got my motorbike out of customs at the harbour in Belawan. I’ll write another post about the transport from Malaysia to Indonesia soon.

I’m heading south now, hopefully crossing the equator tomorrow!

Internet access is very slow here, so I probably won’t be able to upload any videos or photos in the near future ๐Ÿ™