Worth the ad-van-ture? Malaysian couple quit full-time jobs in Singapore to travel in a $21k campervan around Asia

Worth the ad-van-ture? Malaysian couple quit full-time jobs in Singapore to travel in a $21k campervan around Asia
PHOTO: Instagram/Okoktravel

It's the dream for many to quit their hectic jobs and live a slow-paced life with plenty of freedom. 

And this Malaysian couple actually turned that fantasy into a reality. 

Meet Jiaxuan and Weihan, both 27, who transformed a secondhand van into their home on wheels. 

The couple purchased it in October 2021 after a year of planning

"This is a big decision to make, considering finance and our own life," the couple had shared in an Instagram post after they secured the vehicle.

"Many thought we are crazy but we are not. We are just ordinary people looking for something that really matters to our life, and we try to make it work."  

They used to run the rat race in Singapore

In an interview with Malaysian publication Weirdkaya, the couple shared that, prior to living the van life, they moved to Singapore from Malaysia to work after graduation, with Jiaxuan working as an accountant and Weihan as a food court manager. 

They also said that while they had higher incomes in Singapore, the long working hours made them mull over their life decisions. 

"I didn’t know what my goals were, and there was no sense of satisfaction," Jiaxuan told the publication.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, their working life suffered even more and Weihan's bonuses were even affected. 

It was during this time that Jiaxuan developed an interest in tiny homes on wheels, and she would avidly watch YouTube videos of people transforming their vehicles into campervans. 

"That’s when I really started thinking about the future," she told Weirdkaya. 

After the pandemic, a campervan experience she had in Australia further encouraged her to take that leap of faith. 

So, she and Weihan eventually quit their jobs in October 2021 and bought their van. 

It also happened to be their first-ever vehicle purchase, which made it all the more exciting. 

They pumped $21k into the van alone 

After they got their van, the couple started work on it to transform it into a home. 

In total, they spent RM75,000 (S$21,400) on the van and renovations, they shared in a TikTok video in November last year. 

The couple also documented the entire process on their social media channels. 

[embed]https://www.tiktok.com/@okoktravel/video/7053414106853821722?lang=en[/embed]

Initially, they assumed that it would take around three months to convert the van into a campervan. 

However, the entire process stretched across 10 months instead. 

"The process was fraught with difficulties, leading to numerous arguments and demanding a significant amount of physical effort," Jiaxuan told Weirdkaya. 

But finally, after months of gruelling hard work, their van was complete. 

Adjusting to van life

It's been about a year of living in a van, and while it comes with lots of flexibility and fun, there are problems they have to solve too. 

For instance, managing the space in the vehicle. 

Apart from clothes, they have to make room for food, cooking necessities and cleaning tools, the couple shared in a TikTok video in November 2022. 

These also have to be secured and situated in the right place so that they don't fall when the vehicle is moving. 

While their van has solar panels and a 400Ah battery bank for power, they also have to ensure that all their gadgets and electronics are charged before a long trip in case of emergencies. 

Finding a campsite to park the vehicle is another thing they have to constantly worry about. 

Sometimes, it can be quite difficult to find one, especially in the city, Weihan shared in a separate TikTok video in February this year. 

They also have to consider the cost of the campsite, which can be quite pricey. 

Most of the time, the couple try to park near a residential area or police station for safety. 

But so far, it's been a pretty safe adventure and the couple have encountered plenty of welcoming people. 

They hope to explore more of Asia and beyond

Since they've gotten the van, they've used it to travel around different parts of Southeast Asia, documenting their trips on their Instagram account

For example, within Malaysia itself, they've explored a floating market in Kelantan and connected with some Chinese Muslims in Crystal Mosque in Kuala Terengganu. 

In a post on June 11, they shared pictures of their trip to Laos. 

"It [has been] almost three months since we hit the road, from Malaysia to Thailand, to Laos.

"All I can say is, I am so happy to live this life! It is the best time of my life, and more to come… thank you for everyone who supporting our journey," they wrote. 

They also told Weirdkaya that, in the future, they have plans to go to New Zealand, China and Europe. 

AsiaOne has reached out to Jiaxuan and Weihan for more details. 

ALSO READ: 2 Singaporeans travel the world in camper van

melissateo@asiaone.com 

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