This year’s drive is particularly special on many counts. On top the fact that this was my first time attending Tri5+ and being part of the organising committee, we were celebrating the Mazda Miata’s 30th Year Anniversary so it had to be a memorable one and it definitely was… For me at least.


Entire plan of the week-long trip was like just like any other convoy – drive, eat, sleep with a little bit of activities and sight-seeing here and there and not forgetting, getting to know each other a bit better every day. We were divided into groups with a lead car and sweeper car to ensure the safety of everyone as well as for ease of communication.


So, the trip started off with about 70 over Miatas, although some were not able to stay the full 7-day length of our outing. As the days progressed, the more meals we had together, the more time we got to sit down with each other, the less awkward pauses we had, the more comfortable we got with each other, the more we got to know each other.

I was so in love with how raw these people were. We often think those that own “these type of cars” are stuck up assholes which I do not disagree, some are but most are not and that was portrayed endlessly throughout the trip.


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Cars do more than just connect us from A to B. In the case of Beng’s MX-5, it has connected her to people she wouldn’t have met otherwise.

A few Mazda MX-5s turning up on our usual weekend drives is already a sight that could cure blindness, but turning up on a ramp into the sight of 70 over MX-5s is utterly euphoric. Beyond the spectacle of the occasion, it gives me a sense of belonging, to be a part of this #dropthetop family of 2-seater roadsters. Society painted cars like the MX-5 as impractical choices, but two years of owning the Miata have filled me with nothing but pride.


It is through this common feeling of pride and camaraderie that Miata owners from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand come together every other year in what we call the Tri5 drive. ‘Tri’ means it’s a combination of these 3 countries that go for a drive. This time we added a ‘+’ because we had the pleasure of hosting not only the Thai guys but owners from the Philippines that flew in all the way just for our parade around Sepang Track during our last day of Tri5+.

Looking back and reminiscing during the trip, small random snippets pop up in my head. The random times where we just opened up our bonnet to check if everything under hood was alright and others would flood over to see if help was needed. There was once where we were all stopped at a petrol station for refuel and one member by the name of Jimmy asked another, “is your left hand free?” as to which the other, Francis replied “ya, why ah?” and then Jimmy proceeded to turn his back and said “help me scratch, please… I cannot reach leh” to which I burst out laughing (is this even a surprise anymore).

There were exchanges of car stories, life lessons and personal experiences. No doubt there was a slight language barrier between the Thai guys and us but that was never an issue – we powered through with sign language. We got to know about the car culture in each others’ respective countries as well as how pricey it is to maintain such a car in our neighbouring countries. Me as a Malaysian, I should never complain. Ever.

I vividly remember the morning we departed Desaru, Johor towards our next destination. That morning we were all gathered in the parking lot for a group photo and just spending time talking to each other. It was at that time I decided to take a step back and take a mental image of everything that was happening in front of us.

Members randomly talking to each other, taking photos of each other and together and just being in the moment with one another. One of the many things that make me appreciate cars. We can all have differences in opinion and in colour and in languages and in political views but at the end of the day, everyone comes together for that one thing in common – the love of cars. And thing is you do not even need to be a pro at cars. You can just love any aspect of it – be it driving, the machinery behind it, the mods, the design – ANYTHING… And with that, we connect.


The one more memory from the trip that I would love to share with you guys reading right now if you would spare me the time is when our Miata broke down. Out of nowhere, while driving along the trunk roads from Johor to Melaka, the clutch decided to give way. There was no pressure felt, no gears could engage and we were forced to stop by the side of the road.

Lenny and I were the lead car at that point of time and we had to ensure the safety of our convoy and that we did not hold them back so we told them to go ahead without us but Francis from Singapore decided to stay back with us. We were far away from home, but because every savvy Singaporean motorist maintains their cars in JB, Francis was very well versed with the people we needed to call and the workshop to tow it to. Thank God for that!


We waited about 2 hours for the tow truck to come and then drive about 30 minutes to the workshop where we had to wait for the diagnosis by the mechanic. We then found out that we had to get a new clutch pump because ours was busted but this part was difficult to find and needed a few days or even weeks if we ordered. It was around 5pm and we were on a race against time!

Frantically, we called everyone we knew to ask if they had any leads. Most shops were closing soon and the leads that we got were at least an hour away – we weren’t going to make it! All of a sudden, we saw this motorcycle pull up to the workshop and pass the part to the mech.


Sadly, it was a no go but hang on just a minute, the mech was walking in and out, using his tools to do what he can, fitting it in the car, trying out the clutch, repeating this action multiple times and to our surprise, it worked… It finally worked. At 8pm, we were on our way to go meet up with everyone else at Melaka.


Through the waiting around, the calling, the driving around, the entire time, Francis accompanied us. He also had a plan B as well as a plan C for us. He actually got Jimmy on standby to come down from Singapore to pick us up from Johor and head all the way down to Melaka so that we could rejoin the group.

It was at this point where I felt that these are the kind of friendships that I will take to my grave. That despite dementia(touch wood), I would tell my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren bout. It is through these hardships that we as human beings find out who our true friends are. It is through these experiences that we as human beings remain grounded. It is through this all that we as human beings remain kind.


When I first got my Mazda MX-5 Miata, there were people that were happy for me but there were those that question me… “Why?” “It’s not practical” “It’s a 2-seater” “worth it meh?” that even I questioned myself sometimes…


But here I am telling you, if I had the chance to go back in time and redo my car decisions – I wouldn’t have done it any other way. No amount of moolah would be enough to experience what Lenny and I experienced. The kindness that we found, the friendships we made, the memories we created.


As in a scene in Indiana Jones “I chose… wisely.”

Words & Photos Beng