Home            malaysia - aug/sept 12
 
4 September 2012

Did you know – Malaysia borders Thailand, Singapore and on the island of Borneo it borders Indonesia and Brunei.  The land coverage is a total of 328,657 sq km.  The highest point is Gunung Kinabalu on Borneo at a height of 4100m.  There are 4 main ethnic groups with Malay being the biggest at 50.4%, Chinese is 23.7%, Indigenous is 11%, Indian is 7.1% and other at 7.8%.  Muslim is the official religion with about 60% of the population being Islam followers.  The rest is split between more than 5 other religious groups.  The 2012 population estimate is 29,179,952.

Our first day in Malaysia and we had to stop for a while to miss a massive downpour.  Taking an early break wasn’t such a bad thing, it meant we could get some early brunch of pork steam buns called ‘pau’ and some dim sum to keep us going for the day. 

Our first destination after Johor Bahru was Pontian, a small coastal town on the west coast.  It is amazing the difference in the road conditions, comparing Malaysia and Indonesian roads.  So far, the traffic seems very different to the madness of Indonesia.  We found a nice little hotel on the waterfront - nothing spectacular, but pleasant enough. 

It was also time for some cleaning and maintenance on the bikes, mainly the chain.  It takes a little while to clean the chains.  We have some degreaser with us, which makes it a lot easier, but it is still a time consuming and little bit dirty job.  After an hour or so, Mandy’s chain was almost like new.  Mine on the other hand was worn out.  This after only about 2,000km on the chain –I’ll be lying if I say I wasn’t disappointed.  Some people get about 5,000km out of a chain, some up to 10k km.  Luckily, Mandy’s chain is still ok, it must be because I’m so much heavier than her and my load is also a bit heavier.

Our next few days were pretty ordinary.  We had some good riding on quiet roads which makes such a big difference. There were some heavy rains at times, but just long enough to have a little rest stop.  We eventually made it to Muar, where we found a nice little Chinese hotel with a very sweet old lady and her brother running it.  They spoke perfect English, and they were very willing to share some of the history of the place.

We left the Chinese hotel in Muar following the old lady to a place where we could get our favourite breakfast, roti canai.  It is almost like a flaky pancake with some nice curry sauce (normally a mild lentil curry sauce).  Our destination for the day was the Unesco Heritage city of Melaka.

We had a great day cycling, even though it was raining a lot, but we enjoyed the cooler weather.  We came across a massive bicycle (you can see the photo on the homepage), and we also found a very old Portugese well from the colonial day.  It is still a working well with the local village getting some of their water from it.  The villages in the area seem to be mainly fishing orientated and we found what looked like a brand new jetty area where it was time for a nice tea/coffee break again - lots of men lazing around, waiting for the right tide before they head back out, cats scavenging for leftover fish and monkeys grooming themselves in the nearby mangroves.

We managed to find a great guesthouse for a very good price in Melaka, close to the Chinatown area and decided to book ourselves in for at least 3 nights, seeing that there is a fair bit to see and do here.  We somehow always find the local curry house and finished off a very nice day with some excellent tandoori chicken and mutton curry, just what the doctor ordered.

We had a nice lazy stay in Melaka, visiting some of the sites like Jonker Street, St Pauls, Stadshuys and Sultans palace.  Rest days and sightseeing days unfortunately also means planning and ‘working’.  The ‘working’ part being writing for the website; clearly by the frequency of the last few updates the ‘working’ aspect hasn’t been so great.

We were quickly approaching Kuala Lumpur, probably only 3 days riding away.  We started off on the final stretch to KL by staying on the coast, heading to Port Dickson area.  Our planned route had to be re-planned after we got told to turn back at the entry to an army base.  Luckily we only had to backtrack for 1km or so. 

We actually timed it ok for a change and found a nice spot to rest around lunchtime.  Lunch for the day was the trusted 2 minute noodles.  The scenery made up for our lunch – we stopped at a small seaside village and found a table and chair in a nice shady spot, with fishing boats and nets on the beach in front of us.

The Port Dickson area was the typical beach area close to a big city.  Not too clean and lots of stalls selling all sorts of tacky things.  We left our hotel early and couldn’t find our normal roti canai breakfast, but did end up in a McDonalds for their breakfast muffins.  It’s a good thing I had a double sausage and egg muffin, because it turned out to be a long day, 95km for the day.  Our options were very limited for finding a place to stay.  We saw one potential camping spot but it was very busy with day trippers and we weren’t sure when or if they would pack up and leave us to pitch our tent.  We eventually found a nice place with a big room – to top it off; we had another good curry house just around the corner from us.

It was so hard planning our route into Kuala Lumpur.  The authorities are very good at building big motorways with almost no regard for smaller vehicles, let alone bicycles.  I thought the route we planned was on quieter roads, but we misjudged it a bit.  The one road turned out to be very busy with loads of trucks.  We also had to go on some of the highways.  We’ve spoken to some local cyclists before and they all told us its fine to go on there.  Still, a scary thought to be cycling on the hard shoulder of a highway.  We did see some mountain bikers coming on at one section, but going the opposite direction to us.

Our highway stint was almost 10km and it was a lot harder than anticipated. The traffic was good, not busy at all, but it was undulating.  It looked easy enough, but was hard on our legs.  We also had to manage some big junctions on the highway with traffic whizzing past.  We eventually got off the highway, thank goodness, but the closer we got to KL the more hills we came across!

We got to China town in no time and found a great hostel where we checked in for 4 nights as we had to apply for our Thailand visa and we had arrived on a Saturday.  Everything seems more expensive in KL, our room was just a room with a shared bathroom and the food seems to be double sometimes triple the price we have paid elsewhere – I suppose that’s what it’s like in a capital city full of tourists. 

Our time in KL was spent mainly applying for our Thai visa and updating our website.  We did venture out to do a bit of sightseeing as well, reminiscing over our previous visit here with Craig in 2006.  We also finally managed to scrape enough courage together to try the stinky Durian fruit – it’s certainly doesn’t taste as bad as it smells and in actual fact we are quite used to the smell now and its actually not that bad at all.  The fruit is quite creamy and almost a bit fatty.  I think we’ll give it another try to see if we actually like it or not.

Well, the good news is that we got our Thailand visa without any problem. We handed our forms in on the Monday with the passport photos and some hard cash and were told to collect the following day.  Couldn’t have been any easier – I must say, I am really looking forward to getting to the coastal areas of Thailand.
 
 
 

11 September 2012

Did you know – The Sri Marathandavar Bala Dhandayuthapani Alayam temple (that’s a mouthful) is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus in Malaysia.  About 120 years ago, a road was being built from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan. Many trees were felled to make way for the oncoming road. As one particular rudraksha tree was being cut, the tree began to bleed as if it was wounded. Many of the workers observed the bleeding of the tree, and immediately stopped work. Immediately one of the Hindu workers went into a trance, and declared that the tree should be spared. A British supervisor who was entrusted with the construction of the road refused to this suggestion. Suddenly, a child miraculously appeared on the trunk of the tree and disappeared into this mysterious tree. The British supervisor was overcome with amazement and changed his decision. The road was laid away from the tree and the rudraksha tree was spared. An old man who is believed to be a Murugan devotee planted a Vel at the base of the tree. After that, the tree became sacred and many of the Hindu workers started praying at that shrine.

Our 4 day rest stop in KL was good for us, besides from it being more expensive than the rest of the places we’ve been too.  Our ‘exit’ route out of the city was a lot better than when we came in.  We managed to avoid the big highways, but were still on some major roads.  Once we hit the outlying areas of the city it became a bit quieter.

Most of the routes out of KL to the north and west meant that we had to cross some form of mountain range.  We decided to take the old route towards the Genting highlands – a climb of about 700m over 10km.  It wasn’t too bad and the scenery was really nice, cycling through some of the jungle areas with lots of noisy birds and monkeys – the one monkey even wanted to play with Mandy, lying flat on its stomach in the road playfully slapping the road as she came past on the bike.  All of this made the climb a lot easier - the downhill off course was excellent.

Our stop for the night was the small town of Bentong.  We were strolling around looking for some more massage oil for our weary legs when we came around a local Chinese pharmacy and were shocked to find them shaving a rhino horn for medicine!  We weren’t sure if it was rhino as it looked far too small but that’s what they told us when we asked them.  We wanted to say something to them, but what can you say, really…it certainly won’t come close to stopping what they doing.

We decided to leave a bit later the following day because we only had 35km to go.  Before heading off, we went to the local market looking for some fruit and snacks to take with us, when we came across a small stand selling turtle meat, right there, out in the open.  Not sure if it is an illegal practice or not – nevertheless, not something you want to come across first thing in the morning.

It was very hot by the time we left, and the temperature was quickly above 35 degrees.  It probably wasn’t our best decision so far on the trip to only set off after 10 in the morning.  I’m sure we won’t be doing that again.

Raub to Kuala Lipis was again a fairly hilly day for us, but it was overcast, which helped and it even started to rain a bit.  The best way to get rid of rain though is to get your rain gear out. As soon as we did this, the rain stopped.  Kuala Lipis is not a bad little town.  Not too much going on; we did decide to have a rest day here though.  Finding a hotel was also hard work, because of some short sharp hills in the town.  Our hotel of choice was off course at the top of one of the hills.  We got there on a Saturday afternoon, and not a lot was going on in the area we stayed in.  We did find a popular 24hr curry house with some nice food.  We got stuck there for a bit because of a massive thunderstorm, but did manage to see the second half of our rugby game against Australia.  We didn’t get up to anything on our rest day, besides from resting and walking around a little bit.

We try to choose our rest days very ‘strategically’.  Kuala Lipis to Jerantut was going to be a tough day.  I think the total distance was about 70km or so, but lots of little hills.  You recover quickly enough from one hill when enjoying the downhill after the climb, but in a blink of an eye it’s time for the next little bugger of a hill.  This went on for most of the day, and we could feel we had a good workout by the end of the day.  One particular steep hill was slowing everything down to almost standstill pace.  All the trucks were struggling up in first gear and this poor little 4x4 Suzuki was having a real hard time.  There was something wrong with the engine and all you could see was plumes of white smoke after going for 20 meters or so before he had to pull over.  This happened a few times, but he made it up eventually.  Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it looked, I managed to get up the hill, but Mandy had to push the last bit.

We’ve also been seeing a few more dogs on the road.  In normal circumstances, a man’s best friend, but in cycling terms, one of your worst nightmares.  For this very reason, we decided to get ourselves a nice little bamboo stick each to carry with us, stowed in a nice ‘easy to reach’ place, to protect our ankles from unwanted attention.

We finally also figured out what the big grey buildings are all over the place. The locals (probably mainly Chinese) build the building to use as nesting spots for the birds responsible for the nests they use in bird’s nest soup.  They always have recordings of birds playing 24/7 to attract more of the birds to the building.

The following day from Jerantut to Maran was less hilly, but it was still a very hot day.  We saw numerous signs for this Indian temple and eventually got to it.  The temple is important in the Hindu religion and lots of pilgrims flock to it each year.  Because of its location, they also cater for the pilgrims to stay there if they want and the also provide free meals to anyone visiting it. 

We decided to stop and have a look around the temple.  It is built around a very old tree and nice relics and colours.  Just as we were about to leave, a local told us about the free food.  We followed someone round and had some vegetable curry and rice and sat chatting to a local doctor.  Tiro told us about the area and also the local indigenous people.  The indigenous people get housing from the government, but still choose to live in the jungles.  They also still have their traditional beliefs that a big family is best. Tiro told us about one specific family where the mother was expecting again at the age of 51, this being her 15th child, ouch!!  

It was late by the time we got back on the road but luckily we only had about 20kms to the next town.  Once there we asked around for a hotel as we couldn’t see any signs – the only option was a resort with cabins on the river but there was no one there.  We finally managed ask a local to phone the resort for us and they sent someone out – in the pouring rain.  It was quite a nice resort in a pleasant setting, but it rained most of the night.  All we could do was to make a dash to the local eatery around the corner.
 
 

28 September 2012

Did you know – The Malaysian flag (Jalur Gemilang  - Malay for "Stripes of Glory") comprises a field of 14 alternating red and white horizontal stripes.  The upper left corner (blue) is called the canton, bearing a crescent and a 14-point star known as the Bintang Persekutuan (Federal Star).  The 14 stripes, of equal width, represent the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal government, while the 14 points of the star represent the unity between these entities.  The crescent represents Islam, the country's official religion; the blue canton symbolizes the unity of the Malaysian people; the yellow of the star and crescent is the royal colour of the Malay rulers.  The red symbolizes bravery, strength and valour and finally the white symbolizes peace and honesty.

Kuantan to Chetaring beach was our first bit on the east coast.  Our research on possible routes all suggested that the east coast road should be a bit quieter.  Our first day on the road proved completely different though.  The road was very busy with lots of trucks, maybe because of the port in the area and it seems to have lot of industry in the area too.

We looked at most of the places in Chetaring for a nice place to stay.  The Lonely Planet guide book suggests that this is one of the nicer beach areas on the east coast, but to be honest, it was a bit disappointing to say the least.  We did however find a nice wooden chalet near the beach facing a big pond which was filled with big water lizards.  It was time for a few rest days again and also for some maintenance on the bikes.  Well, nothing major, just cleaning the chains and making sure everything is still in good order.

As you do, you speak to a lot of people, and while we were there we met a Dutch couple who had moved to another hotel due to their noisy neighbours.  We had a very nice chat with Annet and Henk and we decided to have some dinner with them that evening at the place they’re staying at.  This turned out a great decision as we had some ‘normal’ food again for a change and it was very nice.  Nothing like a good lasagne to get you going again - they also insisted on paying for our dinner, their reasoning, well they’re only on a 2 week holiday and we’re on the road for such a long time so will probably need all our pennies.  Henk and Annet, a big thank you for your kind gesture, it was great meeting you and hopefully we can meet again in Europe somewhere.

 Our first impression of the east coast route was luckily short lived (for now).  Our route from Chetaring to Dungun was a good, flat road.  There wasn’t much along the way in terms of accommodation, so we decided to push on to Dungun.  This place is definitely not in the guide book, for good reason too.  Our hotel was ok (only a couple in town), but that was all we could get excited about.  There were a few nutcases walking around, adding to the already dodgy feel of the town.  There also only seem to be Malay food in town, no Chinese or Indian food in sight.  We really miss the Chinese areas in town; you’re bound to get good food there.

Dungun to Kuala Terengganu was luckily another good road along the coast.  We now try to have more frequent breaks during the day too, one of which is our morning coffee/tea break with some added snacks.  On this occasion we managed to find a nice spot on the beach on a very quiet small road.

Kuala Terengganu was a major step-up from the previous town we stayed in.  You would expect this too, seeing that is the province capital.  We were very pleased to see that this town had a China town – we set off in the general direction of it and popped into a Chinese temple on the way where a very friendly man told us about the temple. 

Terangganu to Penarek was going to be a short day but when we got to our destination there were no hotels around so we decided to carry on a bit where we found a great little place right on the beach but it was full!  It looked like the local fire brigade booked out the place for some sort of training thing, so we had to carry on even further.  We eventually found a place right on the beach, it wasn’t too bad, but we were the only ones there.  The people were very friendly though and we had a nice chat with the manager that evening while having dinner.  She had to make a special trip to go and get something for us to eat.  We thought it would probably be a good idea for us not to have breakfast there the next morning because it will waste too much time, besides we both got the feeling that there won’t be anyone around when we would want to leave.  We stopped from some breakfast soon after leaving the place and had one of our best breakfasts so far.  This was more traditional Malay breakfast Nasi Lemak (coconut rice), fried egg in a spicy sauce and Jacques also had some nice spicy grilled chicken – it seems that chicken is the Malay alternative to bacon for breakfast.

We’ve been to the Perhentian Islands before on our previous visit to Malaysia, but decided that we would go there again.  The ride to Kuala Besut where we had to get the speedboat from was good. The morning was fairly cool due to the rain over night but it soon heated up by the time we got to the coast.  We managed to arrange with someone to leave our bikes locked up in their shop while we visited the Perhentian Islands as there are no roads on the islands.  We were quickly ushered to the ticket office and then onto the boat with our many bike bags – must have looked a sight! 

The 20km boat trip to the island was only half an hour.  It was just as beautiful as we remembered it to be!  We ended up getting ‘reasonable’ accommodation although the setting wasn’t the best but we didn’t spend a lot of time there so it didn’t really matter.  For some reason, the local people just can’t grasp the idea of throwing rubbish in a bin or keeping the area clean of filth.  Stagnant water, smelling like sewage with rubbish and empty bottles all over the place, and this is close to the walkway where all the guests come past to the reception area.  Not really the best first impression of the place.

We were staying on Long beach but there is a little walkway across the island to Coral beach which is a lot smaller but just as nice.  We found a nice place to enjoy the view and a very large mars bar milkshake.  After a day of relaxing and swimming we found a great spot for burgers and sat with our feet in the sand sipping cold beers and enjoying the setting.

We got back to the mainland after a few relaxing days on the island.  The next 4 days were going to be a challenge again. We were to cross over the mountain range in the middle of the country again on our way back to the west coast.

Our first day back in the saddle was good.  We stuck to the smaller roads which makes it so much more enjoyable. Our day from Kuala Besut to Tanah Menah was good.  We eventually found a little hotel with extremely small rooms!  The rooms were so small that when we got our bikes in we couldn’t both be standing in the room at the same time.

Finding a decent place to stay for the night is always testing, especially after a long day on the road.  When you arrive at the town you plan to stay at, you try and find out how many hotels there are in a certain area and then start looking at the rooms to see what you get for your money.  Sometimes you’re lucky and the first place you look at is good and cheap.  Sometimes you’re not lucky and look at loads and all are as bad as each other, and sometimes you only have one option, take it or leave it.  Another thing is that most of the hotels have lots of steep stairs.  A major challenge for us to get the loaded bikes up the stairs, but I think we managed to find a way to do it.

Looking at the map or the next few days, we saw that there weren’t too many towns on the crossing over the mountain range.  The town of Jeli was a possible stop for us before we had to tackle the 1000m+ climb over 20 or 30km.

When we arrived in Jeli after 45km riding, we asked at the local police about accommodation further on, the guy said that there’s nothing for the next 50km or so.  With that in mind, and not wanting to tackle the mountain in the afternoon, we decided to stay put for the night.  The town of Jeli is in one of the more strict Muslim areas of the countries.  So much so that they have signs all over town showing the woman the correct way to cover their heads.  A very serious matter to them, but a bit over the top, don’t you think?  Anyway, each to their own, that’s how they live.

After a good night’s rest, we were ready for the hills.  The cycling gods were on our side again – thankfully it was overcast for most of the way with a bit of rain.  We climbed and climbed, got wet in the rain and then dried out again until eventually we got to the top of the mountain – just over 1000m above sea level – we did have a great view from the top.

We weren’t sure were we would stay for the night as we had heard that the resorts at the lakes down in the valley were very expensive so we had a late lunch, got a few things from the shop, topped up our water and started heading down the mountain towards the lakes.  About half way down the hill we saw a little road side restaurant and shop where we stopped to get out of the heavy rain.  We asked about accommodation and he said it was pricey at the lake and that we could camp right there at his restaurant if we liked.  A very kind offer indeed and we decided to do that as it was already late and still raining lots.  We pitched our tent behind the restaurant, had a quick meal and crawled in the tent for the night.  It had been a long hard day and we had also clocked up 3000km!

We didn’t sleep much in the tent as it rained most of the night.  We’re not camping enough to get use to the ‘noise of camping’.  It normally takes us at least 3 or 4 nights of continuous camping to get used to it again.  Luckily it was dry when we packed up the tent (although the tent was still very wet).  We had a short downhill today and a bit more climbing but the hills were steeper than what we thought they would be and it was raining as well.  Around lunch time we decided to stop for some noodles and to get out of the rain a bit.  The rain didn’t really stop so we headed back out into it for the short ride into the next town of Gerik.  Gerik is not a bad little town, and for some reason, all the accommodation was very good.  Nice and clean with good size rooms, and all very reasonable.  As usual, we looked for the Chinese food hall.  We found a nice little place, with only one person able to speak a little bit of English.  We understood each other and managed to get some good food for the night.  The next day was very sunny and hot so we decided to dry the tent outside the hotel on the pavement – it dried in no time at all.  We also managed to clean the bikes a bit – they were filthy from all the rain and muck on the roads. 

We were ready to tackle the road from Gerik to Baling, getting up at our normal time of 7am, to be out the door by 8am.  The weather had other ideas though - not a great start today as it was raining when we were ready to find some breakfast.  Thankfully it eased up a little while having breakfast and was ok by the time we were ready to go.  We had some more big climbs again, but the scenery was stunning – it was so lush and mountainous and made the climbs a lot easier.
 
 
 
01 October 2012

Did you know – Palm oil production is a major contributor to the Malaysian economy.  Malaysia, together with Indonesia produces 85% of the world’s palm oil.  Palm oil is the most efficient oilseed crop in the world.  One hectare of oil palm plantation can produce up to ten times more oil than other oilseed crops.  The average oil yield per hectare, per year is 4.14 tonnes.  Palm oil was the highest consumed oil in 2011, global consumption was 49 million tonnes.  Palm oil is used in foods like cooking oil and margarine.  Palm kernel oil is used in non-food products like soaps, detergents and toiletries.  Malaysian palm oil accounted for 26.2% of total global trade.  In Malaysia, oil palm plantations make up 71% of agriculture land or 14.3% of total land area.

We never planned to go from Baling all the way to Alor Setar.  The plan was to stay in Gunung, because the day was going to be relatively hard with lots of small hills.  The scenery was very nice and the road wasn’t too busy, although it did get busy through some of the smaller towns we came across.

We met a local cyclist on a training ride during the morning too.  He was going to opposite way to us, but was coming back our way again.  He could speak fairly good English, so we agreed to meet up 5km down the road at a petrol station for a nice cold drink.  It was good timing too, as it was approaching midday and we could feel the sun beating relentless on us.  It didn’t take the local cyclist long to meet us at the petrol station – after all, it is a bit different for him on a racing road bike weighing no more than 6 or 7kg probably, compared to our pieces of lead of 40 – 50kg.

For the rest of the day, nothing really exciting happened.  We got to Gunung (where we wanted to stop for the night), but decided to keep going to Alor Setar rather, the capital city of the district.  There was nothing going on in Gunung and the one hotel we came across was a bit dodgy too. Alor Setar was another 35km on top of the 65 hilly section we already had under our belts.  We stopped for a quick cup of corn for some energy – it is sweet corn they do on an open fire and then scrape the kernels off into a cup before it gets drenched with what seems to be a warm, sweet milk.  It was a long day after all of that, seeing that we did just over 100km and we were pretty tired by the time we arrived.  We decided to spoil ourselves and checked into a swish hotel for two nights – it was great!

We had a good rest day in our posh hotel - we spend most of the day lolling around at the hotel – we were pretty knackered from the last few days of riding.  We did venture out a few times during the day for the essential food and snacks to get our energy levels back to normal.  On our evening outing, we were walking aimlessly around town looking for a place to eat. For some reason this part of the town closes early and finding good food at night was quite a challenge.  It wasn’t long before an elderly Chinese man asked if we were looking for somewhere to eat (we must’ve looked desperate). He confirmed what we already knew, that this part of town is dead at night, even the rats find it hard to find food here….anyway, he gave us some directions to the Chinese area and offered us a lift there.  We politely declined the offer of a lift, as we wanted to see a bit more of the town and also wanted to look at the mosque on the way there.  Just as we arrived at the mosque, he came past us in his car and called us over, insisting that he’ll take us to the Chinese food court.  We couldn’t say no this time and agreed.  Once at the food court, he asked us what we felt like, and helped us to order it, making sure we get what we wanted.  To top all of this off, he also insisted on paying for our meal.  We tried to persuade him that it wasn’t necessary, but he was having none of it.  We spoke for a few minutes while waiting for our food to arrive, and as soon as we got it, he was gone - just like that.  Kindness of strangers still exists in this evil world of ours – to the elderly man, thanks for the dinner, it made our day!

We weren’t sure which route to take to get to Thailand.  In the end, we decided to go from Alor Setar to Kuala Perlis, where we could get a boat to Thailand.  This would save us a days cycle and we would also avoid the Hat Yai area and south eastern areas of Thailand where it’s a bit dodgy at times with insurgents and rebels (whatever you want to call them really) setting off random car or road bombs.

We found a very nice and quiet road next to the sea which took us most of the way to the port area of Kuala Perlis.  We weren’t sure about ferry times to Thailand (there are loads of ferries going to Langkawi on a regular basis from here) though.  It turns out that there are no actual ferry going to Thailand, but you hitch a ride with one of the cargo boats.  This was fine with us, seeing that the guy was ready to leave – he just had to load a few crates of fish first.  Immigration stamped our passports and took electronic finger prints; we loaded our bikes and jumped on. That was it, leaving Malaysia was a piece of cake – we spent 41 days there and cycled 1,683km.  The boat trip cost us 25 Ringgit each, and it took us about 45 min to get to Thailand - not a bad deal.

Final thoughts; we’ve were in Malaysia before, about 6 years ago and stayed for about a month.  We really enjoyed it then and we really enjoyed it this time around as well.    We really like the fact that there are 3 distinct different cultures here, Malay, Chinese and Indian.  This makes it more interesting culture wise and also the added bonus of a lot of different food to try out.  I don’t think we ever got bored of the food in Malaysia. The roads are good for cycling; the road users are generally good and gave us a lot of space too.  I can’t recall any major incident where they behaved like idiots on the road.  The people are really friendly and will generally leave you alone (unlike Indonesia), but they are also more than willing to engage in a conversation or help out if they can.

One of the major drawbacks is the weather.  We didn’t have a lot of rain, but it was always very hot and humid. Probably not a big problem for the average tourist, but definitely something to keep in mind if you’re going to cycle there.  I suffered from some cramps a few times, even though we drank litres and litres of water. I’m glad Malaysia was part of our trip, it was really an enjoyable country to see and cycle in.