15 MAY 2012
DAY 410: SADAO THAILAND – KOLA SALA MALAYSIA
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 16:45 – DISTANCE: 92 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 30
I still had a few thousand Bart left over so I took it to the bank to change. They only directed me to the back of a chemist shop. How strange you can’t change your money in a bank! Money changed I headed for the border, just 15 km away.
It turned out to be a fantastic border to cross. It took a whole 4 minds to cycle up to the Thai customs to get stamped out and to get in to Malaysia was just a stamp as well. No paper work and no money. I wish all the borders were like this. I am so glad I didn’t bother going to the Malaysian embassy in Bangkok to get the visa in advance. That would have been a waste of time. As soon as you enter Malaysia there is a tourist office. Here I picked up a map of Malaysia and other helpful brochures. So glad I couldn’t buy a road map because from 50 km to the border I had been going into every 7/11 or service station. With the tourist office map no need to buy one now. There is only one road from the border and it is the highway. The roads in Malaysia are very good.
I took the highway for about 50 km before pulling off and visiting Alor Setar, the old capital city. I had a quick look at some important buildings such as the old Mosque, the clock tower and the 250 year monument. After a flying visit to Alor Setar I headed west to the coast. In two days I have gone from the East coast of Thailand to the west coast of Malaysia. From watching sunrises to watching sunsets. Getting to the coast there was no beach to find……..just a sea wall that went for miles and was built to stop the rice fields from flooding. As I cycled along the gravel and sometimes muddy wall I passed through a small fishing village.
I got far enough away from the village before I camped. Some young guys found me………….then disappeared coming back again with food and drink. They had come to smoke marajuana………….which they did. From the sea wall were mud flaps that went out some way to the start of the waves. To the South was an island and strangely leading to the island was a 2 km long bridge. Cows and goats came wandering past my tent.
DAY 411: KOLA SALA – PENANG ISLAND
START: 6:45 – FINISH:17:45 – DISTANCE: 116 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 50
It was a rough night on the sea wall. It was so hot in the tent and I couldn’t sleep. Was sweating a lot and it was uncomfortable. There was thunder and lightning all night and 3 very heavy rain storms. The wind and the rain all came at once. At one point I had to rush up to put the fly back on the tent. I had visitors in the night. Two motorbikes with 4 guys. They passed me once and then came back for another look. This happened 3 times before they moved on. They said hello…and asked me if I was alone…………….I am reluctant to say yes………..This morning I continued along small gravel roads until I got to the bridge to the Island.
I discovered it had been built because the island contained a large gas field. The king subsequently said no they couldn’t extract the gas yet and had to leave it for generations to come. I cycled the 2 km over the bridge. There were lots of locals fishing. Reaching the other side the road just stopped and was only jungle. For so long I have been using the two pin plug. So it was a rude shock to discover UK plugs………………what a shame I threw out my UK cords a long time ago……………I should have done some more research. I am now on the hunt for some adapters. It rains a lot and it is heavy rain as well. Twice today I have had to quickly seek refuge. I got back on the highway which wasn’t much fun……..so I got back off it as I made my way to the ferry terminal. Here for 50 cents I was able to get the ferry over to Penang
which is a UNESCO world heritage site. But from the boat you could only see a stream of high rise buildings. Getting off the ferry you instantly got a great feel stepping into the old town with its many colonial buildings inherited from the British rule. I was going to camp in front of the old fort………….But after meeting some fellow tourists discovered there were some very basic but cheap hostels. So that is where I have ended up.
DAYS 412, 413, 414, 415, 416 & 417 PENANG – REST DAYS
Day 412: wow…………I had never heard of this place until I got to Malaysia. It is only by chance that I came here. Already I know I am going to need a good few days to explore. Luckily I have time……….I am staying in an old colonial building from about the turn of the century. The old town is a mixture of stunning buildings restored to their formal glory, while others are a little rundown or in complete disrepair.
It all adds to the wonderful character of Penang. Completing the Penang world is its people and the food they bring. It is so nice having a whole lot of new food to try. Malaysia is 90 % Muslim. But on Penang there are churches, temples and mosques. It has its quarters or streets – Indian, Chinese. Malay, Armenians…………..people have come from all round the world.
I had a great but very tiring day walking the street and admiring the architecture and peering into the shops to see the small businesses at work. Like stepping back in time. I visited the Fort Corn Wallis………….built when the British first arrived and the state museum which gave an excellent overview of the island
Day 413: I have never been to a snake temple. There is one here on Penang. It used to be in the jungle…………..but has now become part of the urban city with expansion. It was free to get in so I thought it would be a good outing for the day.
Entering the temple…………..I am blind as a bat. I was looking around. Very nice. I saw a sign that read « Don’t touch the snakes they are alive and poisonous ». I looked up and in front of me were 4 little snakes curled up on the altar then I saw another 4 and another 4………outside in the garden the trees were all so full of snakes………..you had to look hard to see them because they blended in so well. I wonder how many snakes I have passed unknowingly when walking in the jungle. Cashing in on the $ the temple had some large 15 kilo pythons you could get your photo taken with. After the snake temple I got the bus to Kek Lok Si temple. Largest Buddhist temple in SEA. Climbing the stairs I passed a pond full of large turtles before reaching the pagoda.
I then climbed to the top of the pagoda for a very nice view of the city. While at the pagoda I met some students travelling and they asked me to join them. We caught the 100-year old funicular to the top of Penang hill for an even more spectacular panoramic view.
We walked for 1 hour along the ridge. Saw a wild monkey. Appetite worked up I stayed with the students and we drove down to the food market at Gurney. I got to try some very nice food.
Day 414: I heard the botanical gardens were nice…………….so around lunch time Mary from the UK, Jess from Slovenia and I were heading in the right direction. Penang botanical gardens didn’t turn out to be quite how I pitched them. No pretty flower beds but a road and trails through the jungle to the top of Penang hill. We started walking up on the very steep road. The road was full of monkeys. We were lucky we had a lot of tree cover which made the hike very pleasant. Half-way up we left the road and joined the trail. We got a little lost and ended up underneath the funicular.
We tried to find the path to the top but instead continued to divert away. We still got some very nice views. In the end we came down the other side of the hill weaving through the hill side crops and in and out of the jungle. In the end we came out at the bottom of Kek lok Si temple………….and after a good few hours walking we all slept on the bus back to town. Hungrily we ate in the local food market near the hostel before trying to find the Chinese opera. Instead we found a Muslim wedding. Shame we had already eaten as we were invited in. Penang at night is very nice with its prominent building well lit up and looking splendid.
Day 415: After all the walking yesterday, the day before and being a very hot day………..I decided to do very little…………I just spent the day chilling in the hostel. I was sitting out the front of the hostel working on my computer when I say that crazy guy with the big knife from the hostel in Bangkok. What a small world. I was going to say hello and I waited for him to turn his head but he never did. But I got to look at him long enough to know it was definitely him. Wow at least he’s not staying in my hostel………….that would be too creepy.
Late afternoon when the temperature had cooled I took a walk down to some of the old jetties and walked out among the old houses built on it. I stopped and tried a Malaysian dessert. A little strange but nice……….I did eat it all. It consisted of frozen ice crushed and covered with things like jelly, corn paste, bean paste. Raspberry syrup and some other items.
Day 416: There is a national park in the far north of the island. I was going to camp here. But in the end I just did a day trip on the bus because it is only 25 km away.
There are a few trails and I decided to take the 5 km track out to the lighthouse. The trail runs along the stunning coast and is in the jungle as well. The trail was lovely and shaded. Nearly as soon as I started I saw a Water Montour which soon scurried away. Many times along the way I spotted monkeys watching from the trees. Reaching the 170 year old lighthouse you were able to climb to the top for a nice view. A storm passed and I could listen to the thunder and watch the rain cloud pass.
Continuing back it was raining a little but the cover from the forest kept me dry. The 10 km round trip tired me out and I slept on the bus back to town.
Day 417: There was another walk in the national park I fancied doing. So this time I took the trail that went over from the east side to the west side. The trail cut through the jungle raising up before heading back down to turtle beach. Named so because it is the nesting site of many sea turtles.
In the jungle there were many pretty butterflies whose colour would change drastically when they flew into the beam of the sun. Next to the beach was a special lake. One of only 19 in the world where the water is half seawater and half fresh water. Last night in Panang I went for dinner with English Mary and Slovian Jess. We found a good Indian place. There is some good variety in Malaysia with food due to the ethnic spread.
DAY 418: PANANG ISLAND – KUALA KANGSER
START : 7:30 – FINISH: – 18:15 – DISTANCE: 132 KM -RIDE TIME:7H 10
I want to get to Kuala Lumpur by the weekend. Should really have got there tomorrow so I could go and get my Indonesian visa on Friday. That’s not going to happen. I ended up spending too much time in Panang. Its about 360 km or 3 long days cycling The sun rises here at 7 a.m. And I just got up and left. Headed straight to jetty and got the ferry back over to the mainland. Decided I would take the old road rather than the highway……………even though the highway is busy. It may have been better because the old road was a real pain. It was busy.
There were 100 sets of traffic lights and I stopped at most of them and sometimes the hard shoulder would disappear as well. It was hot and sunny as usual. Drinking lots………….stopped a few times for a cold drink. Didn’t feel like eating. Around lunchtime I stopped and was kindly given 2 free iced coffees by the Chinese owner. After lunch I had a good hill to climb. I was knackered when I got to the top. I stopped in the service station at the top. Then the rain came so I had a much needed sleep. It was 4:30 p.m. when I finally got going again. I pushed on to do another 20 km before stopping in a service stop and I have put up my tent in front of some closed shops. 8 p.m. and the place is now dead. Today my gears have packed up again. After 18,000 km I changed everything in Saigon, Vietnam. Now just 4,000 km later I need to do it all again. The crank must have been a cheap fake.
DAY 419: KUALA KANGSER – SLIM RIVER
START: 7:00 – FINISH:19:00 – DISTANCE: 169 KM – RIDE TIME: 8H 42
I got the 5:30 a.m. wakeup call with the good old call to pray. That pretty much signaled the time to get up. Because as soon as they had finished at the mosque they started to open up the shops. By the time I got out of my tent.Tables and chairs were out and groups of men were having breakfast. As I packed up no one said anything to me. They weren’t very friendly at all. Usually I would be invited over for a coffee……….but there was nothing.
I just packed up and left. 40 km on I got to Ipoh where I stopped to visit a Chinese temple built into the side of the hill. Entering the temple you enter a large limestone cave. You can climb up inside the cave to get a slight view of the city. In the grounds of the temple were ponds of fish. One pond had a 7 foot long freshwater fish from South America. There were many monkeys in the grounds of the temple.
They were a bit nasty. One snared at me ………..so I snared back and lunged at it. The monkey got the better of me because it stood its ground and then came for me……..so I turned and ran…………….last thing I want is to get bitten by a monkey. In the afternoon I came across another cyclist from China. I cycled with him for the afternoon. He kindly shouted me an iced coffee and a bottle of cold water. We cycled to late in the day. Was going to get a hotel…………..but even the budget hotel was 50Rm………….my whole daily budget. So I left the Chinese cyclist and headed on looking for a camping spot. I ended up camping in a field opposite 7/11 and right next to the highway. Lights and traffic noise led to a disruptive sleep.
DAY 420 : SLIM RIVER – KUALA LUMPUR
START: 7:30 – FINISH:12:30 – DISTANCE: 80 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 24
5:30 a.m. I got the call to pray again and it started to rain as well so I stayed a little longer in the tent. But not too long because I am eager to get to Kuala Lumpur. I want to arrive at a decent time and not be rushed into finding somewhere to stay.
Monkeys are so common in Malaysia now………..that you just see them on the side of the road. The cars don’t bother the monkeys………..but when I come past they are off. Before getting in to the centre of KL I had some big hills to climb……………My gears are slipping so badly I needed to get off and push. Again there was often no hard shoulder which meant you had to concentrate a bit more with all the cars whizzing past. No time for day-dreaming. The last 10km in to KL was pretty harrowing. 4 lanes of heavy traffic. No hard shoulder and cars whizzing past. I was so relieved to finally get in to the centre. I headed to the backpacker area of China town. In big cities you pay more and get less. For 18RM I got a dorm room with no windows and the only lights were little night lights next to each bed. It means the room is mostly always in darkness. The dorm was ok when you compared it to the toilet and showers because they were bad. And the rest of the place is a dump as well with loads of people hanging around smoking.
A few days out I messaged Zoe a Chinese local who I was given as a contact. She came and meet me at the hostel after work and we went out for some Satay chicken and made a plan for the weekend as she has kindly offered to give up her time and show me around.
DAYS 421, 422,423 & 424: KUALA LUMPUR REST DAYS.
Day 421: my local contact Zoe picked me up at 8 a.m. Whilst waiting in the 1st floor lobby,
I watched drunks passed out and sleeping in shop doorways and other undesirables pass by. To be fair they are not Malaysian but mostly Indonesian drug addicts. I am definitely in a dodgy area of town .
We had a full on day, firstly going out of the city to Putra Mosque. The largest mosque in Asia. Built next to a large lake it is in a very nice setting. Heading back to the city we stopped for lunch and Zoe introduced me to some nice local food . We then headed 70 km North East of KL up into the Genting Highlands. To get to the top we took an awesome cable car that hung high over the jungle and gave us a great view until we moved into the cloud. In the middle of the jungle on top of this mountain, the draw card is Malaysia’s only Casino and everything that goes with it – flash hotels and restaurants, shopping plazas and a theme park.
Day 422 was another touristy day with Zoe. She picked me up again and we went in the morning to Batu caves, which houses a Hindu temple. There are 275 steps to get up it and you have to pass the aggressive monkeys wanting food. I saw one young girl have a plastic bag ripped out of her hands by a monkey and she was left screaming. The cave itself is a massive cavern with a large hole in the roof. I am desperate to get my gears fixed to enable me to move on. Zoe kindly took me out of the city to find some bike shops. We found three. Two were closed and the one that was open was no good. It will be fun trying to find the bike shops again tomorrow.
They are about 15 km out of the city. At least I have some idea. Zoe has been giving me a fantastic personalized tour of KL. This evening we drove 70 km out of the city to the Firefly park. Here we took a night boat trip to see the thousands of fly flies that sit in the trees along the river’s edge. It was really good………..they seem to all flash at the same time
Day 423: I got the Indonesian Embassy experience. To get in you must wear long pants and shoes – no flip-flops. I did my homework so I knew this. Got there at 8:30 a.m. to find chaotic scenes of people everywhere. I entered the Embassy to find about 500 people in a hall queuing up. Straight away I thought this isn’t going to be good. Lucky that queue was only for Indonesians applying for a new passport…………. It took just over an hour to submit the visa.
I then shot back and cycled out on the busy highway to the bike shop. Got a little lost did 25 km instead of the 15. I rang ahead so there were no surprises. 700 Rm later my bike was good to go. It is such a relief to have it fixed. I was stressing a bit for the last few days.
Day 424: I did a bit of a walking tour this morning to take some photos of some of the very grand buildings left over from the British era such as the old courthouse, post office, town hall. Then it was time to go back and pick up my visa…………………..Thought it would be just a formality……………..I had to wait 45 mins before they handed me my passport. The Embassy was just as busy as the day before……………
DAY 425: KUALA LUMPUR – MELAKA
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 20:00 – DISTANCE: 155 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 55
It is hard to motivate yourself to get going when you know you are going to have a difficult ride out of the city. Just after 8 a.m. I joined the heavy city traffic and headed South. I got straight on the E2 motorway.
It was a bit hairy and intense with the constant lane change to avoid the off ramp. After 1 hour I had travelled 13 km and then the rain came. I dived straight into the nearest service stop and then spent the next two and a half hours in KFC waiting for the rain to stop. Come 11:30 a.m. if I was to get anywhere I had to get going again. The bike was running well after its trip to the bike shop and with the good road surface in 5 hours I did a 120 km which then gave me a real chance of reaching Melaka in a single day.
Come 6:30 p.m. I was in Melaka or at least Melaka Sentrial. I figured sentrial was for centre. In fact it was for shopping centre about 4 km out of the city. I then got a little lost trying to find the real centre and ended up in a residential part of town. I stopped and asked a group of Malaysians for directions. But none spoke English. But one lady went and rang the doorbell of a house across the road and a Chinese girl who spoke perfect English came out. I explained I was looking for Ringos foyer hostel. She got her computer out and found the directions. She then said she would get her dad to drive me. I showed them the bike and in the end it was decided I would follow behind while they kindly directed me to the guest house with their car. They were such a great help. I had already been directed one way only to be directed back the same way and was feeling rather frustrated as the sun disappeared. I was exhausted after finally reaching the guest house around 8 p.m. and after 155 km.
DAYS 426,427,428,429,430,431,432,433&434: MALAKA – REST DAYS.
Day 426: Thursday. Ringo Foyers guest house is great. Only 4 beds in the dorm. Nice kitchen and common rooms and a roof top terrace. It is nicely located just on the edge of Chinatown and the rest of the old town which has a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch and English Buildings.
I am going to enjoy chilling here for a week while I plan the next few months of the trip through Borneo and Indonesia. I did a few hours of planning in the morning and then fellow backpacker Tanya from Ireland and I wandered through Chinatown over the bridge to the Dutch quarter and then up the hill to the old church come lighthouse in ruins.
There was a great view from the top and the breeze was refreshing. The owner of the hostel is a cycling enthusiast. Howard took a group of six of us out for a city cycle tour and local dinner. We cycled along the river which was really nice. We had dinner in a square with only locals.
Day 427: Friday – again I spent the morning planning. In the afternoon I caught up for some lunch with Christelle from France who I met on rabbit Island in Cambodia about 3 months ago. There is a night market in the old town on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. It was lively and we had dinner by eating our way from one end to the other.
Day 428: Saturday. Heard there is a nice island just off the coast of Melaka and that is where I am heading with Uli from Germany and Becky from the UK. After reaching the jetty, we joined the huge line of locals for the 20 minute journey out to the Island. After debarkation we started to circumnavigate the island by foot. Mixture of beach, jungle trails and road. We were the only westerners on the entire island. Most visitors were Muslim Indians on a pilgrim to some of the shrines. We visited these along the way. The island is not huge and we got round in 3 and half hours and finished with a swim. Even though the tide was out and the water was shallow we still managed a small dip before going back.
Day 429: Sunday – When I got to Melaka I had no idea what the plan was going to be and after a few days I still don’t. Well I do have a part idea. A few people have asked me if I am going to Borneo. Hadn’t conceded it because it’s not really on the way. Well great thing about this trip is I can make changes and instead of my initial plan of Sumatra, Java, Bali etc………..Timor. I am going Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo, Brunei, Indonesian Borneo before hitting Bali and continuing to Timor. Planning is difficult because so many boats are needed.
To break the computer time down I headed out in the afternoon with Uli to little India where we ate good Indian food on banana leaves and after we walked for miles along the river.
Day 430 – Monday: There is now no-one in the hostel from when I first arrived. I am still not in a hurry to leave…………….I have to clean my bike first. When that will happen I don’t know.
Today’s outing was with a German girl to the Chinese cemetery. The largest outside China. In the heat we wandered up and down the hillside cemetery which is mostly in ruins. In the evening it was again out on the bikes for the hostel tour.
Day 431 – Tuesday: I have been here a week and except for the day I went to the Island, I haven’t left the hostel before 10 a.m. But that’s not to say I am lazy because I am always the first one up at 7 a.m. and make the most of the hostels free breakfast while using the internet.
I have been meaning to get out early to take some nice morning photos. So when Nuria from Spain appeared at 7:30 a.m. to do just that I joined her. Three days ago she was in New Zealand after spending 3 months there. We ended up going for a good 3 hour walk. We passed a quiet Chinatown and the old Dutch square before heading up to St Paul’s church on top of the hill. The light on the stone was very nice. Though over the city there was already a haze. We found 3 very excited guys counting coins while emptying out the crypt. We then went down the other side of the hill going through the 1600’s old Portuguese gate before walking back round to the river.
It was very pleasant walking along the river. There was no- one around. Part of the path is a boarded walkway which cuts through the mango groves. Here we saw a small Monitor Lizard which got us very excited. It was in the water and had its head resting on a log. Our excitement got even higher when we came across a big, big Monitor Lizard. It was awesome watching it gracefully and slowly move its way through the mangroves. In total we saw about 10 Monitor and 4 were of good size.
After a little break I attempted to clean my bike. I got as far as turning it over…………………tomorrow, tomorrow. Little India for lunch we then explored some different parts of Malaka:
the old Dutch cemetery, which actually only had 5 Dutch graves and 33 English. For a change, we then walked down the river to the sea. We were greeted by rocks and mud flaps. Along the way we visited the Customs museum which was actually free and very interesting. It contained lots of banned and confiscated things such as clothing with verses of the Koran printed on them, naked statues., endangered animals and items that had be used to smuggle goods such as a suitcase with fake bottom, hollowed out shoes and a book. Tonight’s hostel cycle tour was a ride out to a night market out of town. We cycled through a nice little village on the way. Except for us the night market was totally local. We grabbed a whole lot of food before taking it back to the hostel to eat.
Day 432 – Wednesday: I am now at the real crossroad of my trip trying to get a final plan together. It is proving difficult. I was all set in going to East Malaysia and very excited about the adventure that lay ahead exploring Borneo. But after further investigation it seems there is just no public boat linking Malaysia’s two main Islands. There has not been much luck in finding a boat to Australia either. Seems like there are only two freighters: one from Singapore to Perth and that would mean I missed cycling the whole of Indonesia. The other Tiwan to Melbourne and I would miss the whole of Australia.Three of us, the hostel owner and his cycling club of between 30-40 people went out for a night ride.
In total we cycled about 25 km out of the city. On main roads, small roads through little villages and off road around plantations in the dark. My light was rubbish. In the plantations we stopped to look for Dorian. Asia’s favourite fruit. We found plenty and the knife came out and we all had some. It was a really good ride. First time I have cycled with such a big group. Going fast and so close to each other was different. I was sure there would be a crash.
Day 433 – Thursday: I finished cleaning the bike. It’s time to move on. I also had a very productive day planning my Indonesian route. But it has somewhat changed again because there is no way to travel from West Malaysia or Singapore to East Malaysia by boat. So I will be heading to Sumatra after all.
Day 434 – Friday : This morning I went to the Melaka hospital. This visit was the result of what happened on day 416 to when I was in the Penang National park. On returning from my walk out to the lighthouse. I decided to take another trail which would head to the other side of the island. After only going a short way I came across a swimming pool with a stream running through it.
I thought great fresh water to wash off the salt water from my previous swim. I continued to follow the trail and a short distance was a A4 paper sign stapled to a bridge. I went over to have a closer look and was struck by horror when I read the words WARNING LEPTOSPIROSIS. HEALTH HAZARD. SIGN OF CONTAGIOUS DISEASE. FRESH WATER STREAM POSSIBLY POLLUTED WITH BACTERIA. KEEP AWAY FROM RIVER BANK OR DOING ANY FRESH WATER BASED ACTIVITIES. IGNORANCE OF THIS WARNING IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.
I guess you can understand the alarm this caused me. I went straight back to the hostel and had a proper shower. I then googled Leptospirosis to find out a bit more about this contagious disease. It is better known as Weil’s disease and is transmitted to humans who come in contact with infected water through open wounds or water entering the mouth or nose. Symptoms are………..aches, rash, strong headache. Vomiting and 7 day fever. Having the disease can result in damage to kidney and liver or even organ failure resulting in the need for dialysis. The cure is a stint in hospital.
Incubation period is 4-14 days. So for the last two weeks I have been keeping a close eye on my health…………..looking for any signs. Recently I have had aches…………….but cycling I get them all the time. A rash……………………..I have had heat rash on and off since I got to Thailand. Then 3 days ago I woke up with a sore throat and yesterday I was feeling a bit sick with fever and the chills which has made me feel a bit nervous and stressed. So instead of cycling to Singapore today I went to the hospital for some advice and peace of mind because I don’t want any surprises while I am in Indonesia. In all it wasn’t a bad hospital experience. I saw a doctor who spoke good English very quickly. My pulse was normal and my temperature was normal. The doctor said there had been a few cases of Leptospirosis and that it was highly unlikely I had Leptospirosis because I should have showed symptoms within a week. I feel a lot better now and reassured I am ok.
Purely by coincidence today is the opening ceremony of the Melaka 1 month river festival. Our hostel has contacts and we have been invited to the opening ceremony. A group of about 12 of us were given a free riverboat cruise.
The river is very nice with all its lights. Then we arrived at the opening ceremony venue. We had reserved seats just behind the gold seated dignitaries. We all got a goodie bag which had cheeseburgers from McDonald’s among other things which went down well.
The programme consisted of a sail by of many small boats decorated in theme and with lots of lights. There were local performances on the river stage and a massive fireworks display as well. The chief minister of Malaysia was there and at the end we were all lined up to shake hands and talk to some of the dignitaries.
DAY 436: MELAKA – RENGIT
START: 8:30 – FINISH: 19:00 – DISTANCE: 150 KM – RIDE TIME: 7H 40
Finally after 10 days I left Melaka for a 2-day cycle to Singapore. I didn’t return to the Highway but instead went on the coastal 5 road. You feel the sea breeze but you never see the coast. You can live so cheap when you are out of the city. My lunch in the countryside was half the price. In the afternoon I did something to my right knee. A little sprain I think. When I was walking it was ok. But as soon as I started cycling the sharp pain would return. After making really good progress in the morning, this really slowed me down. In the end the pain was pretty strong and I struggled on for a 150 km. Was looking for anywhere to camp. I spotted a side road with a little picnic shelter overlooking a river. I set up here and it wasn’t long before a few locals came along and said the usual. Are you staying here tonight? Its not safe here.
The motorbike gang will come and hassle you. In the end the guy from across the road invited me over to have a shower and gave me a cold drink. I then asked him if I could camp on his front porch. This wasn’t a problem, so I went back and got my tent and carried it across the road. He was a school bus driver and he moved the school bus so it hid my tent from the road.
RENGIT (MALAYSIA) – SINGAPORE (SINGAPORE)
START 7:00 FINISH 16:00 DISTANCE 131KM RIDE TIME 6H56
I didn’t have a good night’s sleep. The porch light and my sore knee kept me a wake. 6:30 a.m. I saw the owner as he left for work. I pretty much got up then and at 7 a.m. I was on my way. There was some loud thunder and lightning about. For 10 minutes my knee felt ok and I thought this is good. Then a very sharp pain arrived. This concerned me because continuing to cycle will just aggravate it. Though later in the day it did seem to sort itself out. I cycled 32 km and then stopped for breakfast. I went to fill my ice coffee glass with the table water. Only to get a scream of NO……………..The water in the jug was in fact water to wash your hands….oop’s. A local in the restaurant did kindly pay for my breakfast.
I took an early turn which took me along a narrow road passing through palm and coconut plantations before I rejoined the main road. Stopped for a fresh pineapple. Midday the rain came……………Normally I am pretty good at finding somewhere to shelter. This time I got drenched. I did stop at Mc Donald’s to spend my last Malay dollars before leaving. Following the signs for the border with Singapore I found myself cycling right up to the bridge and customs point. No time to stop and spend my very last Malay dollars as there were no shops and no time for some more lunch. Before I knew it I was leaving Malaysia. I found myself cycling over a bridge with 500 motor bikes and then I was in Singapore.
Straight out of customs and onto the motorway for about a 20 km cycle in the city. I ended up doing about 35 km after getting a bit lost. The traffic on the motorway was heavy. Making lane changes difficult. I am lucky as through contacts I have a place to stay in Singapore with some expats from New Zealand. All the roads were busy………..even when I left the motorway. When asking for directions, I was told that’s upmarket…………when I got there…………it was flash. Reflections at Keppel Bay is in front of the marina and overlooks Satosa island. This is the biggest upgrade I have had since I started this trip. To think that last night I was sleeping in a tent. I was a little embarrassed turning up to such a nice place a little rough looking but Hayley was very welcoming. Her husband Brett works in the film industry and they have two kids Ryan and Finlay who are 3 and 5. Very quickly I was clean again and on a tour of the complex. We finished off by going for a swim.