Alfa Romeo has always been a driver’s car. While not everyone would appreciate driving an Alfa Romeo, but those who do, fall in love with one and will always have a wide grin on when driving it. Although we live in a small city, we are fortunate enough to be able to easily drive across the border to enjoy driving and experience the feeling and sounds that are unique to Alfa Romeo.
Since it’s the school holidays, we thought we’d catch up with some of our Alfisti in Singapore on their experiences of driving to the less-travelled family road trip, slightly off the beaten track across the border.
Q: Hi Rashid, thank you for taking some time off to share your Alfa Romeo experiences with us. First off, we heard you’ve owned a number of Alfa Romeo cars, what was your first and what are you currently driving?
A: 1st in Singapore was the 156 2.0TS Selespeed which was procured in year 2000 and exported out in 2003. It was later replaced by a 156 GTA 3.2. As of now, I’m currently driving the Brera 3.2SV and GT 1.8TS
Q: Why this obsession with Alfa Romeo?
A: A long story but suffice to say – the exhaust notes emanating from the Alfa Romeo of the 60’s and 70’s (Giulia & Alfetta as used by the Malaysian Police & Customs) was the cause for the obsession till today. I still have the Alfetta GTV6 2.5V6 and Giulietta 2.0 with me and kept in Malaysia plus a few others.
Q: Would you mind sharing with us a place you’ve driven to, with your family, which you’d consider less-travelled by Singapore drivers?
A: I travelled all over Peninsula Malaysia with my Alfa Romeo over the years. A few less-travelled by Singapore drivers would be Lake Pedu Resort in Kedah; Gunong Jerai also in Kedah and Taman Negara National Park in Pahang.
The trip to Lake Pedu was in 1997 with the AROC Malaysia family. The surroundings made me go back once again in 1998 with my then Alfa Romeo 155 2.0TS. You can appreciate the jungle trail, mountain biking, peaceful & quiet natural setting, and minimal crowd. Though they do have a golf course on site.
Similarly, Gunong Jerai Resort is near the summit of Gunong Jerai and the place enables one to scan the entire Kedah rice farming plains and Straits of Malacca. The road leading to the resort can also be ridden up over a distance of 12Km of switchbacks.
The Taman Negara National Park is another place that is worthwhile to venture. You get the opportunity to experience the longest Tree-top walk in Asia, swim with the fish and meet the local indigenous people. On that trip, the flood waters had me dis-assembling the air filter from the car, blanking off the intake, pushing the car across, refitting the assembly and resuming the journey home. That prevents any untoward damage from clearing the flood.
Q: What inspired the trip? How was the experience?
A: My trip inspiration is always – Nature, Market Scenes & Local Community day to day venues. Certainly, I do not look for crowd in my touring plans.
Q: Why the decision to take the route you’ve taken? Were there any issues faced during that trip?
A: Tourism on wheels in Malaysia is easy and least difficult. There are less preparations for self-sufficient recovery for the car as we can seek assistance from many Alfisti in Malaysia. Plus, getting lost in the journey enabled one to meet and communicate with the local community along the way. This refreshes the mind and enabled one to learn the local culture too.
Q: For each road trip, what do you look forward to the most? Are there any specific preparation you do for each trip?
A: The basic provisions and preparations remains – Back to EuroAutomobile to do a pre-trip service checks, Road maps, and contact lists of Alfisti along the way for assistance as needed. I do bring along some fluids and minimal spares for the car, fruits, muesli bars, water, and some snacks to give away to children as we meet them at the local markets.
Q: Owning so many Alfa Romeo cars, in your opinion, which is your favourite choice for a long haul road trip?
A: For long haul trip – engine capacity and storage space becomes a requisite. There will be less stress to the car and you can just load-up the purchases along the way. For me the previously owned 156 GTA 3.2 was the favourite as it had delivered its duty to Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Kunming, China without any difficulty and had done a few towing service for other Alfisti cars in those trips.
Q: Are road trips for everyone? Perhaps some tips or advice for anyone who might consider driving to the location you’ve shared?
A: Yes, road trips are for everyone. It allows the family to travel together and bond better through sharing of duties of leading and guiding to destinations. It is also to experience the way of life of other communities. It is very enriching as we re-acquaint the local culture, food that we have somehow overlooked in our modern Singapore.
Q: Thank you, Rashid. To end off, in 3 words, how would you describe Alfa Romeo?
A: Just Do It.
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing other places which Alfisti in Singapore have driven to. Stay tuned to #AlfaRomeolesstravelledroads and perhaps you’ll discover new places which you’ve never driven to before.