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Young S’porean couple quit their jobs to travel from S’pore to Europe in S$11,000 van

All the best.

Nyi Nyi Thet | August 26, 01:37 pm

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Turning 30 is considered by many Singaporeans to be a sign to try and work doubly hard on establishing your career

Martin and Jacinda decided to take a slightly different route.

A van and a dream

The couple is leaving their life, and careers, in Singapore behind and making their way to Europe, specifically Portugal, in a relatively inexpensive S$11,000 van they bought in Malaysia.

Here they are taking out the seats, to put in a whole load of stuff.

View this post on Instagram

This was back then when we first bought the van and just finished removing all 11 passenger seats, ON OUR OWN!!!! ☀️👫🚐 You know, initially many people told us we couldn’t do it cos we had no idea what we were doing. It was true, we were never very hands-on people, living in the city, everything we needed, we bought. But everyone has a first time, if you wanna do it, we’d say just f***ing plunge into it and get your hands dirty. Yes we made mistakes and blamed each other for the mistakes we made (haha), but that’s learning. Learning to live life and learning to live together. 👫🚐☀️ So what are you waiting for? Follow your dreams and don’t look back ☀️🚐👫 . . . . . . #vanlife #vanlifediaries #vanlifers #vandwellers #myvanlife #hiacecamper #vanlifemalaysia #travelmalaysia #travelgram #asiatravel #vanconversion #adventure #advanture #roadtrip #homeiswhereyouparkit #sustainable #zerowaste #diyvan #responsiblevanlife #thegoodlife #camping #MJROADTRIPPIN #vanbuild

A post shared by Martin Jacinda☀️👫🚐 (@mjroadtrippin) on

Here is what their accommodations look like.

Screenshot from 24-hour traveller

And all the ingredients they keep in their environmentally-friendly storage boxes.

Screenshot from 24-hour traveller
Screenshot from 24-hour traveller
Screenshot from 24-hour traveller

The dangers present with sleeping in a van in the middle of nowhere had invariably presented themselves as well.

View this post on Instagram

the previous night, we parked & slept by this beach under the stars and by 11pm we were sleeping soundly in bed….. and…. . At midnight, we awoke to banging on our van door.. we opened our eyes & through the curtains, we saw bright headlights, followed by blue blinking lights. Must be the police. We opened our windows & 2 uniformed officers were right outside. they said they‘re from immigration control & asked what we were doing here. Martin explained we‘re Singaporeans traveling in our van. they spoke really nicely & even apologised for disturbing & left. so we went back to sleep… . Again at 1am, Martin woke me up and bright headlights were pointed directly at us. Zzz. This time there were no blinking blue lights. Martin said he was going to check it out & walked towards the car. I watched from inside but the lights were so glaring I couldn’t see anything! Now I was worried sick and regretted letting him go alone. if he got stabbed or killed I wouldn’t even know! Luckily after a few (agonising) mins he came back but in search of our passports. He said they were plain clothed police, showed him their badges but were being really rude and demanded to see us. I was now super frantic, wondering what if they were robbers instead?! Martin insisted i stay calm and follow him. As I got out of the van I smelled cigarette smoke. Made it worse, chances of them being thugs got higher. Their car was about 50m away and as we came close they really looked like 2 thugs sitting on the bonnet smoking away. Martin handed them the passports and they checked it under the headlights, cig still in one hand. Martin explained again we‘re a married couple on a road trip here. They asked a few routine qns & finally sent us away, this time kindly telling us to park our van near the chalets where it might be safer and even reached out for a handshake to apologise for intruding. . After we re-parked, though it took a while to recover from our thumping hearts, we had a peaceful rest after. we were just left wondering Malaysia’s security like better than we thought ah (at least in the desaru area?) also, mental note: needa work out a plan in case we meet real robbers next time man…

A post shared by Martin Jacinda☀️👫🚐 (@mjroadtrippin) on

Thankfully, it was just the police.

Planning and family objections

As expected of a van trip to Europe, there was plenty of planning, and saving involved.

While Jacinda, who’s a freelance emcee in her own words, had less of a hassle packing up and vanning it up, Martin’s situation was a tad trickier, as he worked in a corporate environment.

Despite his penchant for planning, Martin did acknowledge there was a limit to how much he could plan for a journey like this, as Jacinda recounted in an Instagram post.

“You’ve come a long way to where we are now. Though I was the one who put the van life dream into your head, you were the one who made it happen. Thank you for being the smart to my stupid, for calculating the sums and adulting to make it happen. And even when you couldn’t calculate no more, you decided to wing it and made this leap of faith.”

Even though their convictions were strong, getting their family on board was always going to be a bit of a challenge.

According to an interview with 24 Hour Travel, they revealed that Martin’s family weren’t all that psyched about him taking off to Europe in a van.

His family called him “siao la” for even thinking about the lengthy expedition. They also pointed out that job prospects wouldn’t be all that great for someone who had taken off for a few years, and questioned “who’s gonna hire” him when he eventually comes back.

To that, Martin replied that “wo zuo gong hen jiu liao” or “I’ve been working very long already” at which point his mother rolled her eyes.

Martin himself had some reservations about going on the trip so early into their working career, but Jacinda eventually talked him round to it.

One of the impetus for going on this journey now rather than later was a response to a popular Singapore saying about enjoying life only after retirement. Which to Jacinda felt a bit too late.

Screenshot from 24-hour traveller
Screenshot from 24-hour traveller

Check out their really informative interview with 24 Hour Travllers on just how much they had to prepare, and what is needed if one does intend to travel all the way to Europe from Singapore in a van.

Jacinda ended the interview with this quote:

“If you don’t like your life, change it.”

This was apparently a saying Martin liked to use, but trademark laws are hard to enforce in a van

Enjoying themselves

And while the journey is just beginning, it looks like they’re really enjoying themselves.

Here they are celebrating Martin’s birthday on the road.

View this post on Instagram

☀️👫🚐 It was a real simple birthday celebration. Just the 2 of us in a beach hut, a surprise cake I made while Martin was napping (recovering from his back) and a foot dipping session in the blue sea waters. That was it! Nothing too fancy, needed a good rest from all the driving, but we were happy and we’re pleased to announce Martin’s back has recovered 80%! Thanks you guys for all the well wishes, it really helped with all that good energy vibing around us! . . . . . . . . . . #vanlife #vanlifediaries #vanlifers #vandwellers #myvanlife #hiacecamper #vanlifemalaysia #travelmalaysia #vanlifethailand #travelthailand #couplegoals #travelcouples #travelgram #asiatravel #vanconversion #adventure #advanture #roadtrip #homeiswhereyouparkit #sustainable #zerowaste #diyvan #responsiblevanlife #thegoodlife #camping #MJROADTRIPPIN #vanbuild

A post shared by Martin Jacinda☀️👫🚐 (@mjroadtrippin) on

And here is a well-written post on why they decided to do what they are doing.

View this post on Instagram

Why have we decided to travel the world? ☀️👫🚐 When we used to work full time, we could always only travel 2 weeks max at a time. But even during those short trips, our encounters with the locals made us realise that we actually didn’t know much of the world and her ways. ☀️👫🚐 Maybe cuz having lived, studied and worked our entire lives in Singapore, all we saw was what’s in front of us and all we knew was where we lived. ☀️👫🚐 Over time, we slowly discovered, what we typically considered strange or judged as taboo in other cultures was mainly merely ignorance on our part; just cuz we’re not familiar with it, we deemed it “wrong” or undoable. ☀️🚐👫 But the world is so big! There are a million ways to do one thing, so why stick ourselves in a box! Keep an open mind and we’d be less judgmental, more willing to take risks to try something new and then start to learn more and do things differently. ☀️🚐👫 So we MUST go! For the sake of ourselves and the society, we‘ve got to go into the world, take off our tinted glasses and head towards the unknown, physically and mentally. And this time not for only 2 weeks; we wanna really take our time to discover, and maybe from it, find ourselves and our place in the universe. Also, we go NOW, not when we retire and become more set in our ways. And we will return when we are ready and hopefully can contribute more value to the society. ☀️👫🚐 Till then, we know we’re in for a great trip! We’re gonna keep our eyes, ears and hearts open and explore the wonders of the world 💕 . . . . . . . #vanlife #vanlifediaries #vanlifers #vandwellers #myvanlife #hiacecamper #vanlifemalaysia #travelmalaysia #travelgram #asiatravel #vanconversion #adventure #advanture #homeiswhereyouparkit #sustainable #zerowaste #mjroadtrippin #roadtrip #diyvan #vaneats #responsiblevanlife #thegoodlife

A post shared by Martin Jacinda☀️👫🚐 (@mjroadtrippin) on

“When we used to work full time, we could always only travel 2 weeks max at a time. But even during those short trips, our encounters with the locals made us realise that we actually didn’t know much of the world and her ways.

Maybe cuz having lived, studied and worked our entire lives in Singapore, all we saw was what’s in front of us and all we knew was where we lived.”

So here’s a trip that is a little longer than two weeks.

“So we MUST go! For the sake of ourselves and the society, we‘ve got to go into the world, take off our tinted glasses and head towards the unknown, physically and mentally. And this time not for only 2 weeks; we wanna really take our time to discover, and maybe from it, find ourselves and our place in the universe.

Also, we go NOW, not when we retire and become more set in our ways. And we will return when we are ready and hopefully can contribute more value to the society.”

They plan to travel around Southeast Asia for a while, before heading off to China in 2020, and eventually making their way to Europe after that.

Screenshot from 24 hour travellers

Good luck!

Images from 24 Hour Traveller.

 

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About Nyi Nyi Thet

Thet has a chronic fear of teenage girls laughing at him. He sometimes puts on a cap in his room and yells “Gryffindor”.

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