‘We want to see the world while we’re still young’: M’sian couple travels in camper van home on just S$800/month

Couple from Malaysia tours Southeast Asia in camper van home

Most people find it hard to detach from the safety that a physical house provides. But for Lim Kah Xuan and Lim Wee Han, both 28 years old, home is a camper van that takes them on adventures around Malaysia.

Source: Okoktravel on Facebook

The couple used to work for businesses in Singapore until the Covid-19 pandemic hit. It was then they realised that they should seize the opportunity to fulfil their dreams of exploring the world.

“Some might say that we should have saved more money and waited for ‘the right time’, but I didn’t want to subscribe to society’s expectations of when we should be working and when we should be settling down,” said Wee Han.

These days, the couple spend their days documenting their travels on YouTube as “Okoktravel” and making extra pocket money through social media.

Malaysian couple quit jobs in Singapore to live in a camper van

Prior to the lockdowns, Wee Han was a food court manager with Singaporean eatery operator Koufu while Kah Xuan worked as an accountant for a Singapore-based firm.

When the Covid-19 virus made its way into the region, Kah Xuan returned to Malaysia first and was working for the Singaporean firm remotely.

As travel restrictions kicked in, Wee Han continued working and stayed in Singapore.

“Initially, I thought the lockdowns were only for a few months. I did not expect it to last for the two years it did. I was alone here and we were long-distance for almost one year before I decided to quit and go back to Malaysia,” Wee Han explained.

The couple said that the idea of living in a camper van was one that they had for a few years, following a backpacking trip to Australia.

At first, they wanted to earn more by working in Singapore to ensure that they had enough money in their savings.

However, after Wee Han returned to Malaysia during the pandemic, they figured that it was the best time to fulfil their plans.

Spent RM75,000 purchasing & retrofitting camper van for their living needs

Kah Xuan and Wee Han spent around RM75,000 (S$21,204) to purchase the van, a second-hand Maxus V80, and retrofitting it to become their home-on-wheels. This whole process took about 10 months to complete.

@okoktravel 最多人问的,我们花了多少💰? #campervan #campervanconversion #campervanlife #campervanindonesia #camper #camper #campervanmalaysia #camper #campervanmalaysia #camping #vanlife #vanlifer #露营 #vanlifetravel #房车旅行生活 #motorhome ♬ Background – FlyFlyMusic

They admitted that they had some doubts before they embarked on their journey.

Among them were finances, as they had quit their jobs and no longer had a stable income.

But, having been living on the road for over a year now, Wee Han thinks that it is best not to think too much about money as they will just figure it out along the way.

When they broke the news of their decision to their respective families, both sides were understandably concerned over the instability of living a nomadic lifestyle.

Source: Okoktravel on Facebook

Wee Han’s parents in particular had worries about how he was going to survive without a full-time job.

“I explained to them that it’s not like I’m completely not working, since we do make some pocket money from content creation and social media,” he said.

“Since we have some savings we can live on, we just wanted to see the world while we’re still young.”

Began camper van life with RM30,000 after refurbishing vehicle

The couple revealed that they had set aside roughly RM100,000 (S$28,145) for their camper van life.

After deducting the retrofitting costs, they have about RM30,000 (S$8,443.60) left.

These days, Kah Xuan and Wee Han’s total expenses amount to around RM3,000 (S$844.36) per month.

They are able to keep their expenses low by cooking most of their meals instead of eating out, they said.

Living in a camper van is relatively safe, says the couple

Another consideration people might have about living out of a van in Malaysia would be safety and privacy.

To that end, Kah Xuan never really had doubts about it. She thinks that living in a vehicle is relatively safe, in comparison to camping out in tents.

However, the couple still carries out their due diligence and takes precautions such as locking the van and putting up privacy screens against their windows at night.

@okoktravel Van Tour in English Version is ready! 👌 Hope you will like it! 🎉🎉 #campervan #campervanconversion #campervanlife #campervanindonesia #camper #campervanmalaysia #camper #camping #vanlife #vanlifer #露营 #vanlifetravel #房车旅行生活 #fashiontiktok ♬ original sound – okoktravel

Responding to queries on what they would say to those who are afraid to venture to countries that are “unsafe”, Kah Xuan said: “When you travel often, safety measures will come naturally to you over time.”

“Some people might say that a certain country is more dangerous than another, but when you experience it for yourself, you’ll generally find that it is really not as bad.”

Toured all of West Malaysia & travelled to Thailand, Laos & Vietnam

As of this writing, Kah Xuan and Wee Han have driven to every Malaysian state with the exception of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Thailand and Laos.

They had faced some clearance issues with their van in Vietnam, so they parked it in Laos and backpacked there instead.

Wee Han listed Laos as one of his travel highlights, as he enjoyed the natural scenery the country has to offer.

“Laos is not as developed as other Southeast Asian countries, so they still retain a lot of their forests and mountains.”

He continued: “When we spent the night there, I realised just how beautiful the place is. One look across the plains and all you can see are mountains and greenery, it’s unforgettable.”

Source: Okoktravel on Facebook

As for Kah Xuan, her most memorable story involved an incident, also in Laos, when they dropped the keys to their van into a lake.

Wee Han had gone for a swim in the lake. Having forgotten to take the keys out of his pocket, he lost them in the water.

“The lake was about three to four metres-deep, but it’s deepest point was about 10 metres, and the water was not exactly clear so you can’t see the bottom,” she described.

The couple then approached a local for assistance, who dived into the water and retrieved the keys by hand.

“The locals are great at swimming,” Wee Han noted, with Kah Xuan adding that the person who helped them was a tuk-tuk driver.

“Luckily we managed to get the keys back thanks to his help. Otherwise, we’d be stuck in Laos,” she laughed.

Wants to bring future children on their travels

When asked whether they have plans to settle down or at least return to working a full-time job, Wee Han pragmatically responded: “Well, we’ll definitely have to do that when we run out of money.”

Source: Okoktravel on Facebook

Kah Xuan chimed in, saying that they intend to go to New Zealand sometime this year for a “working holiday”, but they do not have concrete plans yet.

As to whether they will be setting up a family of their own, she quipped: “We have given it some consideration, and we thought when we eventually have a child, why not raise them on the road and bring them along on our travels?”

“Instead of sending them to daycare, it would be nice to start them young and give them a chance to explore the world,” Wee Han added.

Also read: S’porean biker tours India to empower women after 44,000km solo trip to Czech Republic

S’porean biker tours India to empower women after 44,000km solo trip to Czech Republic

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Featured image retrieved from Okoktravel on Facebook and OKOK TRAVEL on YouTube.

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