About Itisha Ismail and Simon Werren
The outdoor adventure as experienced by a local girl named Itisha
It was over coffee in Kota Kinabalu when Itisha decided to challenge herself to cycling and the outdoor adventures. Could be described as a “creature of comfort” Itisha’s idea of exercising is taking a “walk”. And her definition of “walk” is in the comfort of the air conditioned malls (for hours and hours)!!!! Speaking of malls, she spent years working at Starhill Shopping Center in Kuala Lumpur where she was attached to one of the renowned French fashion house. So it comes as no surprise if she keeps frequenting the malls during her free time. Doing her “walk”!
She then moved to Australia to further her studies. Itisha graduated from a Master of Business Administration with specialization in International Business in 2005 from University of Southern Queensland. Right after graduation she worked with Australia’s leading telecommunication service provider as a retention specialist. This gave her the exposure towards areas of customer service and most of the time dealing and solving the issues faced by “unhappy” customers. Quite simply, solving their issues made her feel a sense of utter satisfaction!
Itisha returned back to home ground where she worked as a recruiter for a few years. Fast forward and now back to the coffee story in Kota Kinabalu, she surprised herself by cycling about 65km on the first day of her mission. This was after not being on the saddle for more than 15 years!! It was achievable! And she truly enjoyed something that was out of her comfort zone. It was after this episode in her life that she decided to join Simon to build Bike and Tours. Having always had the passion for the tourism industry, Itisha’s role at Bike and Tours would cover areas of customer service and relations with the locals in Sabah.
Simon's adventurous travel across continents on a bicycle
Simon comes from the quaint town of Luzern. His passion to travel, to meet the locals and to understand their culture has seen him exploring some of the most remote yet beautiful places in Europe, Central America, Africa and especially Asia.
Simon's educational background in hotel management has led him to work for a few years in some of the renowned hotels and schools in Switzerland. Driven by his passion to explore the world, Simon made the decision to travel from Switzerland to South Africa by bicycle in September 2010! His brother Philipp who shared the same interest also decided to join him on this journey. They received mixed reactions from family and friends when Simon first announced this idea to them. Some were supportive and some said that they were simply crazy!!!
- However, packed with almost one year of research and preparation, they took up the challenge and pedaled their way to the promising regions of Africa!!! There were times before the journey took place when Simon thought that he would not last on a bicycle for a week! On the second day of his cycling journey (before crossing the San Gotthard in Switzerland), a group cyclist requested to take photos of them as they said it is not an everyday event where they would meet someone who would cross the two continents with the humble means of transportation – the bicycle!!! It was at that very moment that everything became so clear; it was that very moment that even after months of research and preparation gave me the shivers whether this idea was feasible or not!!!! It was not too late to turn back but he chose to continue and to overcome the doubts he had. One step at a time, slowly but surely. The sky is the limit and anything is possible!
After more than a year, 21 countries and 23,000km later, the brothers reached Cape Agulhas – the southern tip of Africa bares witness to their achievements. It was possible to cycle for such long distance. Having cycled across these numerous countries, they came to realize that the best way to see and explore a place, to meet the locals and interact with them was with this humble eco friendly mode of transportation – the "uncomplicated" bicycle. For further information on the brothers journey do visit www.brotherscycling.com
About Bike and Tours
Experience Cycling with Bike and Tours in Sabah
was the meaningful experiences gathered through accumulated years of
traveling that led me to start, Bike and Tours in Borneo Sabah
(Malaysia), together with my wife Itisha. During my travel in Africa,
I find that cycling benefited me in terms of physical stamina and its
flexibilities to maneuver from one place to the other. This ecological
aspect of traveling with a bicycle has also given me the privilege to
stop every once in a while and appreciate the wonderful mother nature.
So for the tours that Bike and Tours creates, cycling will be the major
means of discovering the beauty of Borneo Sabah. However, as a traveler
myself, I would also find satisfaction through mountain climbing, jungle
trekking, snorkeling and diving to name a few.
traveler myself, I may be constrained by a certain limit of time. Before
you know it, you are back at work!!!! As such I would like to make the
most out of my travel without being stressed over where to go, which
route to take, which hotel to stay, what’s the best way to get from
point A to Point B and the list continues……..
Having all this in mind, Itisha and I spent some months in Sabah on the island of Borneo to conduct our research. We cycled from the cities to the kampung (village) areas, spoke to the locals and international travelers we chanced upon during our stay in Borneo Sabah. We thought of different types of accommodation such as hotels, homestays, guesthouses and campgrounds for our future travelers. Having gathered sufficient information and experience during this research, we have encapsulated the findings into carefully thought of routes, accommodations and activities that would suit your liking. So come cycle with Bike and Tours in Borneo Sabah.
The formation of Bike and Tours is an idea that was generated after I traveled the globe on the two wheels! As I left Switzerland in September 2010 on my bicycle, I didn’t really know what to expect. The only thing that was clear was the direction, heading namely to the south.
In Spain my brother Philipp joined me, which then saw us getting on the ferry from Malaga to Melilla in the continent of Africa. What a feeling, we were finally in Africa and we have the whole continent right in front of us!
We were curious about the people, the natural environment and of course the wildlife! After many wonderful encounters with people from different walks of life and viewing hands on breathtaking scenery as we cycled for more kilometers, it became more and more apparent that the desire to do the something beneficial for both the environment and mankind. With that in mind Brothers Cycling for the World was born. This small foundation is supported by sponsors and currently running three projects in Africa (see www.brothercycling.com). (Today, Bike and Tours is a proud sponsor towards the projects and activities that Brothers Cycling are involved in).
After pedaling the same bicycle pedals for more than a year we accomplished our mission to travel most of the African regions. As we set foot in Cape Town, we were two very happy men!!!
This journey gave priceless experience and made me realized that traveling by bicycle is one of the best means of transportation. Traveling with the bicycle is not only Eco-friendly but also gives you the opportunity to quickly communicate with the locals, it gives you the opportunity to stop by the roadside and smell the flowers, it gives you the opportunity to feel the wind blowing on your face & cooling you down after a challenging uphill, it gives you the opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, it gives you the opportunity to hear the chirping of the birds, it creates curiosity when you hear rattles or see something moving in the bushes, it gives you the opportunity to hear the flow of the river and the list continues. Above all, it gives you the opportunity to travel in a timely manner that allows you the time to appreciate the nature. When we created tours for Bike and Tours, we placed a lot of emphasis on the above features are included for our guests to experience.
What I have seen and accomplished during my cycling travel makes me eager to share this unique experience with others. I feel the need to create a travel experience that includes different sort of activities such as cycling (of course), river cruise, hiking, trekking, spending a night in the jungle, diving, swimming and snorkeling. The travel needs to be diversified and exciting!!!! With Bike and Tours in mind, Tisha and I have spent some time in Borneo, researching and experiencing it firsthand for ourselves before creating the best possible trail for the first trip which we are happy to offer to you!
While crafting the tours for Bike and Tours, we put great emphasis and consideration on the following points:
- Stress-free travel from one place to the other
- Valuable and insightful experiences with the locals and the natural environment
- The travel should have a direct/indirect learning effect on subject matters such as culture and environment
- Opportunity to various sporting activities such as snorkeling, diving, hiking, climbing.....
- And of course experience on the local cuisine to tease your taste palates!
Bike and Tours will continually strive to develop combination of exciting and adventurous travels for you which will surely remain as an unforgettable encounter with this wonderful place called Borneo.
Eco Tour Adventures in Sabah
Quite simply- Sabah is the great escape from the hustle and bustle of the typical city life! Besides the fact that it is politically stable and has good infrastructures, it is also the haven for eco tour adventures! Sabah encapsulates a multitude of adventurous experience and activities.
Also known as the “Land Below The Wind” (because it is located below the typhoon belt), Sabah invites you to discover the mysteries of its deep emerald tropical jungles. At embracing the first part of the eco tour adventures, put your comfy shoes on and walk your way into one of the rainforests and immerse yourself to the beautiful sights of nature. Spent a night or two in the jungle (yes, some places have accommodations nestled right in the jungle!!!). As night falls, the melodies orchestrated by the “residence” of the rainforest breaks the silence. Be lulled away to this magical sound of nature. In the morning be pleasantly awaken to the soft ray of sunlight meandering its way through dewy green leaves. And the sounds! Ahh yes, be pleasantly awakened to the sounds of chirping birds, laughing monkeys and buzzing insects right outside your window pane!
Your eco tour adventures does not end in the jungle! Sabah invites you to cruise down the second longest river in Malaysia – none other than the Kinabatangan River. Make sure your cameras are fully charged to capture shots of the wildlife in action! This is a place to be for sightings of proboscis monkeys, leaf monkeys, crocodiles, hornbills, kingfishers and monitor lizards to name a few. If you are lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of pygmy Elephants, Orang Utans and smaller wild cats.
Adding to the eco adventures in Sabah, the land below the wind invites you to climb its’ mountainous areas such as Mount Kinabalu. The scenes up the mountain and its’ surroundings are dramatically breathtaking. Those who have the thirst for mount climbing may choose to go all the way up. If mountain climbing is not your cup of tea, then Sabah invites you to its jungle trekking activities, or take a dip at the hot springs that is rich with sulfuric minerals - known for its healing properties; or simply visit the scenic tea plantation! And yes, enjoy a cup of tea or two!
Now what fun is your eco tour adventures without the sun, sea and sand right? To complete it all, Sabah invites you to its gorgeous exotic islands on both its eastern and western coastlines. Pamper yourself to a relaxing day on one of Sabah’s unspoilt sun drenched beaches or snorkel or dive your way to the turquoise sea salt waters to get a closer look at the aqua marine life!
Yes, all that under The Land Below the Wind! What more could you ask for?
Brothers Cycling for the World
The idea to set up this travel and tour company is born out of Brothers Cycling for the World. As such it was a natural thing to contribute part of our profit to Brothers Cycling for the World foundation. In simple terms – we hope that through this funding people, plants, animals will somehow get a better living standards compared to their current situation. Our idea is not just to contribute our support in monetary form but also through job opportunities and ongoing activities/involvement for conservation projects around the world.
What is Brothers Cycling for the World?
Brothers Cycling for the World is a foundation that is created from the cycling journey of the Werren brothers in Oct 2010. It was the brothers’ intentions to transfer their cycling passion to the benefit of others. Through the donation that they received from their supporters, they contribute the funds towards humanitarian and conservation projects.
How does Brother Cycling work?
Simple - you may choose to donate a certain amount for each km they cycled or you may choose to donate an amount at your own will. Though their cycling journey from Switzerland (Luzern) to South Africa (Cape Town) ended in Dec 2011, the project still continues. We are still receiving donations and will put the money to good use.
Who benefits from it?
In situation where we contribute our funding to re-planting activities or farming activities, we would appoint a local individual to recruit and manage the local team for the project.
We are a strong believer in reforestation/ replantation activities. We have made a few contributions towards this sort of projects and would be keen to support other projects as well.
At this stage we are looking into working on animal/wildlife conservation projects and we feel that supporting this project is crucial especially if we want our future generations to have the chance to see the Sumatran rhinoceros, Orang Utan, leatherback sea turtle, pygmy hippopotamus and elephants, and the list goes on.
In the near future we will contribute these funding for other projects in other countries. Should you have any ideas on projects that are similar to the above nature, please do not hesitate to drop us a line on it!!!