31 January 2010
Singapore – Pontian Kecil
After a rather costly 2-day excursion to Singapore, we beat a hasty retreat back to Malaysia. It was an easy route through the suburbs, and we made it to the North of the island in good time. It was a Sunday morning and therefore lots of cyclists along the road, all wanting to have a little chat on the move – one guy even thought we could do the 250 plus k’s to Melaka that day (perhaps he overestimated his pace, or, more likely, he’s never been to Melaka).
The border crossing between Singapore and Malaysia is easily the largest, most sophisticated, and busy immigration check point I have come across so far.
We cycled through the city of Johor Bahru on the Malaysian side and along the Straits of Johor on our way North to Kuala Lumpur. Soon we found ourselves back along the West Coast of Malaysia, what a relief. In the seaside town of Pontian Kecil we found a room and bunked down for the night.
1 February 2010
Pontian Kecil – Batu Pahat
Another surprising day. We met up with Penny and Keng, two Malaysians whom we met in Iran nearly 2 years ago. They drove all the way down the road looking for us and then proceeded to buy us lunch.
When we reached Batu Pahat they were waiting for us and took us to Penny’s sisters flat where we could stay. It was a rather up-market flat (referred to as a “condo” around here), with all the mod cons and a soft bed and hot shower - we felt like the king and queen of Malaysia. That evening they took us out again to a real “steam boat” restaurant. There one can sit around a steaming pot of soup and cook your own food, nearly like a fondue, but instead of cheese it’s soup.
2/3 February 2010
There is just no end to these people’s generosity. We were fed and taken to the local bike shop and temple; we literally had to refuse to eat anymore! In no time at all, however, it was dinner time again and we ate and drank again!
We also stayed the following day lying on the sofa and watched movies, all things I haven’t done in past 3 years.
4 February 2010
Batu Pahat – Malacca
Penny decided to cycle with us to Melaka and arrived early morning on her brother-in-law’s bike and dressed like a pro. We set off at a leisurely pace. Although the road was flat it was still a hell of a long way for a non-cyclist. Penny hung in there and cycled all the way to Melaka, she is now officially known as the Iron Lady! Keng (who is currently at flying school in Melaka) cycled out to Muar to meet us (about 30km out) on a strange looking bike he borrowed from a friend. On our way back he started cramping and we had to stop at the local clinic for some rubbing cream – it must have been real good stuff because it took him the rest of the way.
We arrived in Melaka old town and although Penny was tired and terribly sunburned she was still in high spirits. Keng, who knows the place like the back of his hand, took us to an Indian restaurant which served some of the best Indian food I have eaten in a long time. Thanks Keng!!!
5 February 2010
We walked around colorful Melaka and visited some of the historic sites. Melaka is a blend of Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese architecture. The town is especially colourful at this time of year as everyone is frantically preparing for the Chinese New Year. Houses are being scrubbed and cleaned and new decorations put up. The streets and shops are adorned with red Chinese lanterns, dragons and lion heads. The shops are stocked with all kinds of interesting foodstuff, especially for the New Year when food seems to be at the centre of the celebrations.
6 February 2010
Malacca – Port Dickson
It was time to load the bikes and leave our friends and our luxury life behind. We followed the coastal road, but lost it from time to time. Just before Port Dickson we spotted a wonderful campsite. It was on the coast with lots of trees, a toilet and shower and it was free!! Paradise. This euphoria did however not last long. I got attacked by fire ants and came out in huge lumps burning and itching like crazy. My feet, hands, under arms burnt like it was on fire!! I did the equivalent of a bad break dance, moaned and groaned while sweating profusely and at the same time having cold shivers. Wow that was a scary experience. Fortunately Ernest still had some anti histamine tablets (which he’s carried with him this entire trip) and after an hour or so things started calming down. ???.
7 February 2010
Port Dickson – Banting
It was once again 11h00 by the time we left our campsite. So it was another short day on the road, with plenty of small fishing villages along the way. We stopped every now and again to drink green guava juice at stalls along the way. Once or twice we also had to hide from the rain and it was therefore late by the time we reached Banting. We took the first room we could find just to be attacked by bed bugs, what next???
8 February 2010
Banting – Kuala Lumpur
I expected to battle through heavy traffic into the city, but not only was it a shorter ride than expected, we also found ourselves on a dedicated bicycle / motorcycle path leading right into the city centre. The path followed the freeway and came complete with its own road signs. What a pleasure that was, now tell me why can Cape Town not have something like this.
We headed straight for China Town where there was said to be cheap accommodation to be had. Soon we had a room, not to pricey, central and clean. No bed bugs this time.
9 February 2010
It was time to apply for our Indonesian visas, so early morning we were off to the embassy, using the KL Monorail for most of the way. Unfortunately I only got one month instead of the two I was expecting, but apparently one can extend it once over there. It was extremely expensive at 170 RM for the visa - at least it was quick and I could pick my visa up the same day. Ernest could not enter the embassy to apply for a visa, as he was wearing shorts (not allowed).