A bubbly, blonde American girl, a Harley Davidson, and an epic roadtrip through the roads less-travelled in Malaysia. Seems like an unlikely combination, but that is exactly the formula behind Ride N’ Seek, a new travel documentary set to premiere on the History Channel on 10 June. Jaime Dempsey is the biker girl and host of the show, and will be bringing viewers through every state in Peninsular Malaysia to explore the best and most unusual things to do there. Here, we ask her a few questions about how she first started biking, how she got her very cool job, and the craziest things that happened to her while going off the beaten track in Malaysia.
How did you get involved in this whole project, and end up going on an epic bike journey through Malaysia?
I love to travel, but I have only taken my bike across the US. So, when I heard the concept for the show that HISTORY™ was working on, I jumped at the chance to audition. To me it was like a free chance to take an adventure on a motorcycle. I worked on an audition tape with some friends back in California and sent it in with all my fingers and toes crossed. I didn’t think I would actually get a call saying that I got the job, so when I did I was shocked and so thrilled! Now I have my fingers crossed for another season, I want to go on another adventure!
Why Malaysia? What’s your favourite thing about it?
Asia is the part of the world I have explored the least, and there are so many sights and cultures here to experience. Malaysia seemed like a good place to start because its size is reasonable to explore while making many stops along the way. I didn’t have to worry too much about long rides in between my destinations. I have so many favourite parts… driving a Formula car in Johor was so thrilling, sleeping on a houseboat and swimming with hundreds of fishes on Lake Kenyir was so cool, stuffing my face in Penang, Extreme 4x4 in Ipoh was exciting but also exhausting, and riding the bike up in Fraser’s hill was so much fun!
Which was your favourite state to explore, and why?
That’s tough! My first thought would be Penang because I love eating and there was such delicious food there! Also I love the colonial architecture, and staying in The Straits bon ton shop house. I also really liked Pahang, because of its size there were so many places to see there and it’s also the state where I got the most of my long distance riding done. I loved riding through the windy roads in the hills, staying at Eight Acres an eco-friendly resort in Raub, and having a bonfire on the beach in Cherating.
You used to work on a fashion stylist, and eventually ended up travelling on your bike across the States. Both are such different things to do, what was it like making such a jump?
I’ve gone through a few careers – photographer to stylist to producing apparel and all the while bartending on the weekends to give me the freedom to follow whatever my heart desired next. I got the travel/adventure bug while growing up in Europe traveling at a young age. When I moved to the States to go to school and start work, I went for a long while without traveling, and I started feeling a bit claustrophobic. So I mixed my love for motorcycles with my love of traveling and left my jobs to head West across the States to find something new.
How did you begin biking? What do you love most about it?
I decided that I wanted to get off of the back of my boyfriend’s bike and get one of my own! I took a class to learn to ride and I bought my first bike – a 1973 Yamaha XS650. It was a great vintage bike with classic style. I love the sense of freedom riding a motorcycle gives you. The speed that you can move through traffic can give you a bit of an adrenaline rush. I also love that it keeps all of your senses engaged. There’s no falling asleep behind the wheel like in a car. Also it makes me feel like a badass!
What were the most exciting and unusual things that happened while on your road trip through Malaysia?
I rode some extreme 4x4 in Ipoh and that was a blast… That is until we got stuck in a 6-feet deep hole and flipped the truck over while trying to winch it free! It was a long day trying to free the truck while enduring the heat, but for the pros that I was with, it was just another day of fun.
The most unusual thing was probably jumping into the water in Lake Kenyir with hundreds of fish that nibbled at me all over! The fish were big and were all over me even getting stuck in my life vest, it was such a crazy feeling and I couldn’t help but scream feeling their slimy bodies against my skin, haha!
What was the most valuable lesson learnt from this experience?
learned that there’s no sense in being intimidated by riding through a country
so different than any place I’ve visited before. I know that I definitely stood
out from the crowd and people looked at me everywhere I went, but even with the
language barrier, the locals were so friendly and helpful. This trip gave me
the confidence to want explore even more places I once thought might be too difficult
Anything you want to tell
travellers who want to go off the beaten track like you did, and discover the
less-seen areas of Malaysia?
I would advise they meet up with a company like Big Loud Rides that specialize in motorcycle tours through Asia. You can choose to take a group on one of their organized tours or you can get advice from them on what routes to take though the areas you want to explore. They can even help prepare you for what to expect from road conditions to traffic, and help to recommend places to stay. They helped me plan my route through Malaysia. And, prepare yourself for riding in the heat! Drink lots of water!
What’s next for you? Any plans
to bike through somewhere else, perhaps for a new season of Ride N’ Seek?
It’s time to get back behind the bar and make enough money to buy a new bike and plan my next journey… I’d love to do another season of Ride N’Seek somewhere else in Asia!
Ride N’ Seek premieres on 10 June on the History Channel (on Starhub channel 401 and in HD on Starhub channel 455), and airs every Monday at 10pm.