Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Tight curve, windy road, sharing it with bicyclists, sedan cars and tour buses was along this 45km, descending from 1000m above sea level down to the actual land. There wasn’t any rest station along this road except for a touristy waterfall halfway. Something was grinding in my stomach as soon as we set off from Teoh Yong Meng Nursery. I tried all ways to dissolve the pain using all methods I could think off. Looking at the narrow curves, the bushes available were along a deep gradient downhill.
The pain comes and goes. I told Sam about it and she had the same pain.
It must be last night dinner, the coconut curry at the Indian restaurant. The accusation towards the dinner would make us better, it didn’t. After turns and turns, the only hide out was behind a big rock along a flat road by chance. We did it there.
Wait, did I mark a waypoint on my GPS?
Our objective for the day was to attend the presentation from Simon and Lisa Thomas in Shah Alam. We wanted to see them as we had many friends in common inside Facebook, also, would like to hear them sharing. Why not wait for them to come to Singapore? I know that it is not an easy task for other non Asian riding their bike into Singapore. Other than the usual document the have, they will need produce the following at the customs/immigration of singapore:
1) international Circulation Permit. Can be processed at the Automobile Association of Singapore. (How are they going to produce this document where they have not entered Singapore? Most of them parked their bike in Malaysia, take public transport to the Automobile Association of Singapore to purchase that piece of ICP, then take it back to Malaysia, then they ride their bike over to Singapore with that paper. That is absolute nonsense and not travel friendly!)
2) To produce certificate of insurance. ( motorcycle insurance in Singapore is expensive. These companies does not sell 1 or 2 week’s insurance duration. They only sell a ONE YEAR insurance. Or even they sell the 1 week insurance for our foreign friends, they will charge at a ridicules price.)
3) Buy an Autopass at the custom office. Does that covers the ERP charges in Singapore?
4) If any overseas bikers stay at my house, they have to purchase the $16 season parking or $0.60 for half day parking.
The reason for international bikers to come to Singapore is to ‘mark attendance’ or to get their bike repaired or to get their bike shipped out, usually to Australia. Do you think they want to ride the famous Orchard Road, 99 turns @ south buona vista or take a picture with the Merlion and their bike?
So, knowing that high chances of them not coming to Singapore, Sam and I went to look for them and attended their 2-3 hours presentation which they were doing it for free.
One of the most rewarding part by attending their presentation was meeting up with someone that had always given us encouragement and support during our 2 and half years round the world trip. We often contacted each other via Internet because he had been following our blog.
---Amzah, it’s our real pleasure to be able to meet up with you.---
The fruitful presentation ended around 1130pm and we will try to arrange Simon and Lisa Thomas to come to Singapore for a presentation… thou up to date, those guys weren’t very keen. Will try our best mate!
Not knowing where to stay at Shah Alam, we traveled as fast as Hope Too could, to the south, about 150km. It had been a long time that I had not ridden in the night. I had little confident. Looking at the mirror, I couldn’t guage how fast the vehicle behind me was coming at the speed. If I were to over take the slow truck in front, I need to consider Hope Too’s capability, even we were at our max speed of 120km. I do not know when will the engine oil be emptied. Sam was real tired. The seat is killing us. We need a place to secure Hope Too, good shower, air conditioned, clean and affordable. After 2 hours, we reached:
N2 11.318 E102 15.526
RM$64 at weekends, RM$54 at off peak seasons.
The next day, June 12, we wanted to feel about staying in a ‘funky’ hostel like other back packers did.
Discovery Café and Guest House
3 Jalan Bunga Raya, Melaka, Malaysia. Tel: 06-2925606
N 02° 11.779’
If you gonna check in on a high season, make a reservation and ask to stay at the same building as the café is. Our room is the best: room 6 at level 3. If not, the bike will be parked securely at the café office and will be lead opposite the road to another shop house that turned into hostel. Option B will be good if you mind the daily live music at the café.
Generally, it is clean and the facilities were up to our standard of living. Hope Too was parked in the compound and in the night, dogs guarded it. We tried coming back very late in the night and no way we could get near the bike within 5 meters without the dogs barking. Then the caretaker woke up and minded the situation.
The Nepalese receptionist was friendly, helpful AND understanding. This place truly has a taste of Malacca. In the daytime, it is two streets away from the touristy area. In the night time, it is along one of the many food stall street.
---The night of Malacca. All these photos were taken by Samantha's Mobile phone: HTC Desire S.---
---the 'Lok Lok' stall. it is a mobile food stall. the platform on the picture is actually the back of a truck.---
---the view from our guest house.---
Whenever we visited Malacca, Crystal would always be mentioned in our story.
The first night, she wanted to bring us to a Portuguese settlement and have some Nonya-Portuguese food. It was closed on a Sunday. The second night, we went again at 6pm. It was closed but she managed to call up.
Papa Joe came a few minutes later on his scooter. It was a restaurant cum bar. Bar has only a long table and behind the long table is where the bartender, Joe, works. His wife was in charge of the delicious cooking in the restaurant but was on leave that day. So we ordered the almost similar food from his neighbor and were brought in to the bar.
The Portuguese came to Malacca in the 1500s and were considered the very first few immigrant of Malaysia. They lived from then till now in this settlement, being part of Malaysian. The perks that the Portuguese descendant has are almost equivalent to the Bumi Putra of Malaysia. Now the state of Malacca had declared this settlement as a heritage area.
---Not sure about this Restoran De Lisbon, never visit.---
Joe is about 70 years old. He is dark looking and if he has not told us about his genes, he
looked as ordinary as any other Malaysian. Joe has his own entertainment team, which perform Portuguese culture dance and music. If there were large group of tourist coming to his restaurant, he would perform for them. It was a cozy chat with Joe. He showed us some old photos and of some special visitors that came to his restaurant. One of them was Singapore’s ex-president, late Mr Wee Kim Wee. Joe is so famous in this settlement and news about the presence of these intimate Portuguese descendants in Malacca alarmed the present day Portugal in Europe. Portugal invited Joe over to visit Portugal and got to understand more about the descendants in Malacca.
More people joined in. Andrew De Mello, a musician, would looked much like an American Red Indian if he were to be in the costume, especially with his long hair and tattoos. Papa Joe’s son came in too. He looked exactly like a Chinese man in his mid 30’s as Joe married a local Baba-Nonya lady. An Indian doctor sat at the other side of the bar talking to Crystal, a regular couple just to drop by to chill out with everyone and a fisher man that would speak his heart out to everyone in the bar. Except for the couple and the Indian doctor, all of them could speak Portuguese.
Mid of June, the settlement will have a festival similar to the Carnival of Latin America, Fiesta San Petro.
Most of them were Catholic.
After I had 8 mugs of beer and was about to order my last beer, Joe took the guitar and sang, just for the few of us. The moment he open his mouth and the first phase of Portuguese song came out, the notes did not went into my ears but it vibrated me on every hair on my body. My eyes looked at him with his passionate love for music and life while he was singing. My nose wanted to breath more of the Portuguese air created in this small litter pub. I was certainly very touched by his singing, his character and of course, the beer. There is no technology on this world that can record or express my feelings at that time to you.
I asked Joe:
So many things had happen and you are such a famous person. Do you have any dreams?
Joe paused for a while, looking at the air and he shook his head:
No, or maybe, yes, I want to live happily, like now.
After drinking the beer at Papa Joe’s, there isn’t any more place i
n Asia that we can taste a true, cold, fresh beer, not even in Singapore even Papa Joe served Tiger Beer.
---From the left to Right: Joe, Joe's son, Me, The Fisherman, Samantha. They are all Malacca Portuguese. The Fisherman said: if many of us, we are Portuguese, if me alone, I am a Portugoose.---
I wonder if they do the Siesta.
N 02° 11.026’
Our 10 days trip ended shortly after Malacca. We drop by the police station at Kluang and I visited the police inspector. As soon as I entered his room, he remembered me, which we last met 4 years ago. This young inspector is still at the same office, same desk, same position and same post but he got married, had a baby and gain much weight. The same story as any police inspector would tell me about my stolen Hope.
If we find, if we find, we call you. This number ah?
I asked in English if there is anything that we, the bikers from Singapore, to help them solve bike thief or syndicates of vehicle thief. I don’t think he understand my sentence. 4 years ago he quoted to me that everyday there are about 80 motorcycles stolen in his district, not state, not nation but just in that district! Do we see any improvement? Maybe 75 bike per day now. He told me that they suspected some syndicates stealing my bike. Oh, so that is what he has found out after 4 years, suspecting that some syndicate stole my bike. Well, that is an improvement and some results. Maybe 4 years later when I visit him, he would say that they had confirmed these syndicates were around his district.
There is still no Hope around.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
View 2011 june travel part 1 in a larger map
We set off from Johor Bahru on a lazy morning where the sun is hiding behind the cloud. After a rice dumpling breakfast, loaded our luggage onto Hope Too and started the journey to the end of Malaysia. We decided to leave the digital camera at home.
It was the first time Hope Too went on a trip without his aluminium side panniers. Instead, it was replaced by 2 saddle bags which was previously tied to the front crash bar. It contained 2 sets of heavy duty rain coat, engine oil, chain lubricant, pad lock, and a spare rear tube. Hope Too finally got his front wheel bearing, steering cone bearing and front suspension oil changed from a proper mechanic at Planet Motors, Joemac’s recommendation. Thanks to Joemac who accompanied me through out the servicing. We had a tank bag and a top case with some books, lots of battery chargers, and the usual travel bag. So this time Hope Too is less bulky and I have to pay lesser attention on the side clearance.
Traveling the first 100km along the north south highway to Yong Peng was a stress for Hope Too as he was cruising at 110km/hr and at times had to reach 125km/hr to over take slow moving vehicles. We detoured out of Yong Peng and roll on for the country road up north, till Segamat. At 1130hrs, we had our rm$21 lunch at the clay pot bak kut teh restaurant. We wheel locked Hope Too, brought in our tank bag and the GPS. The fears of loosing our belongings are still around. Restaurant comments: food could have been less salty and the price…but it is a good rest station as it is situated at the North of the town and right side of the road. I am missing my Airhawk as my backside is aching much.
This is the first time ever in my life traveling the country road after North of Segamat. We went pass Gemas and reached the state of Negeri Sembilan (the 9th state). It clearly feels that this state is being administrated differently by looking at the environment. The next off our butt stop is the only Chinese shop along the road. I saw it on the right side of the road, applied the brakes, made a U turn and parked at the slope in front of the shop.
It was a hut made of wood with zinc roof. The door opening was facing a slit road and only 4 meters wide. The floor of the shop was built one foot lower than the road. We knew that if it rains, this shop would be a good water collection center. Inside the shop, there was a tall counter on the right with a young Chinese man sitting, looking at his computer screen. There were only 5 tables. We sat at the table nearest to the door and with my hand reach distance, I could knock at Hope Too to wake him up from his afternoon nap. Next to us was an elderly with a rugged looking face and untidy hair. He seems to be drinking his Chinese tea from the pot after lunch.
When I asked for the toilet, I was led to a storeroom. They were very certain that I had entered the toilet. They kept their agriculture equipment in the toilet. It was about the same size as my room in Singapore. There was a basin to wash hand and a portable showerhead. I was asking myself that where am I going to aim my pee at. Where will the pee goes? Shall I do it in the sink or the small broken opening between the floor and the bottom of the wall? I guess this is how the locals did it… and I did it. Hmm, what if I need to do the squatting, release solid waste?
I went back to Sam and had our cold fizzy drinks, at the same time managed to glance everyone in the shop. I passed by the mother washing vegetables. I passed by the sister and brother looking at the lap top screen. I passed by 2 topless elderly man, each sitting at their own table with reading glasses and 2 girls of aged 5-7 years old trying to read a cook book that is about 100 pages thick. All of them had something in common: they were all concentrating in what they are doing and all we hear was the motion of the desk fan circulating the air in the shop.
There wasn’t much traffic along this road. We left the tank bag and the GPS with Hope Too. It was so peaceful and simple being here. No phone ringing, no music, no roaring traffic but just birds chipping and conversation of the elderly with the little girls.
I imagined just by cutting these people by pressing ct-X, and then paste them in Singapore by pressing ct-V, they just looked exactly the same as any ordinary people around us.
I really wanted to start a conversation but I was a little shy as they were concentrating in what they were doing. They don’t even looked at us where we dressed like alien and rode a spaceship. After the sore on our butts had cooled down, we dressed up and get ready to move on. I took this opportunity to break the ice by asking them about the direction to the next town. All of them started chatting as in an online forum. Telling us how far is the next town, in miles. They became very friendly and asked where we came from and where we will be going. I guess they have been waiting for us to start the conversation.
This is the place where Samantha and I met real people with sincerity and welcoming heart. We would not be surprise if they would let us pitch a tent by their back yard. They do not serve first class beverages but the feel is there.
Want to get the feel?
N3 07.125 E102 13.446
The road got winding through the oil palm plantation. Traffic condition was light. It ended at Karak junction and we wanted to de-sore our butt terribly. If we carry on for 2 and half hour from Bentung to Gua Musang, we may not ride in peace but to rush for the last light. So we checked into an rm$55 hotel by chance and requested to park the bike into the lobby at night. The owner was looking at me with big curiosity and I explained to him that our bike had been stolen before in Malaysia. He was very kind to let Hope Too sleep in his hotel lobby without extra charges. Hope Too drank 350ml of engine oil that night.
It was a tiring day. We set off at 0930hrs, ended at 1600hrs and only did 400km. we need a butt massager badly. After dinner, Sam and I took out our books to read and gave up after half an hour of struggle because words that seems to be flying around the pages.
N3 30.739 E101 54.767
Clouds overtaking nearby mountains seen from our window greeted us. I smelled durian in the breakfast dim sum and assuming that it is not very fresh. But the day was made good when we wanted to start the journey, chatting with the elderly sitting at the next table. They started using Cantonese with me and I replied with Mandarin because I had D8 for Cantonese.
The morning ride was welcomed by the perfect morning weather. This road to the north had turnoffs to the few important famous hills in Malaysia: Genting Highland, Bukit Tinggi, Bukit Fraser and Cameron Highland. Our objective was to ride this route to Gua Musang. Indeed, Gua Musang was surrounded by random rocks, as big as a shopping center building. These mountainous rocks seemed to be placed in position artificially or being thrown down to earth from the other planets.
Gua Musang is an important center for transportation from East to West coast. Many traders would come here also because of the railway station. If you intend to stay in Gua Musang with a proper parking space, Hotel Usaha would be the choice.
N4 52.869 E101 57.847
We reached here at noon, took a chicken rice lunch and continue the highway 8 to Kota Barhu, Kelantan.
At 1600hrs, we reached Ideal Backpackers Inn.
N6 07.866 E102 14.545
It used to be crowded here. Chang, the owner told me. Business had been declining. I see that backpackers now stayed in air-conditioned hotels. Being cheap will not be the most important factor now. The air in this guesthouse was heavy because Chang and his family were mourning over his mother’s death, 2 weeks ago.
I shared my story about my mum fighting with Leukemia with him and we had a deep hearted conversation. I understand.
The street outside the hostel is an eating paradise for us! We didn’t go much walking the tourist sites but to eat and drink. At the food center, we made new friends with a Swiss couple traveling in Asia, Sascha and Eveline.
Sleep, eat, slack, rest our butt, eat, read and do some writing. Our day was made wonderful when we spoke with Chang’s father. He had political sense of humor and good social perception. Kelantan state had always had negative impressions from people outside this state or those had not been here before. Also it is a ‘dangerous’ state because they hear stories of Kelantan from those that had not been here before. Kelantan state is under the opposition party rule for 20 years by an Islamic party. Chang’s father, a local Chinese, praised the party for the good that they had done. He also compared the previous ruling party that tried to rule this state for a season and commoners were suffering and the state had been messed up. We walked on the street, we went to Muslim stall to eat, chatted with local non Muslim citizen and everyone was happy, polite, easy going and their conversation was not about complaining the government but of other daily bread and butter topics.
Chang’s brother mentioned that once a foreign biker came to Kota Bahru, he locked his expensive helmet fitted with an intercom microphone on the bike along the street and went off to buy something. When he came back, someone cut the intercom microphone and had stolen it. This foreign biker went to report to the police and guess what….
If he was in some other XYZ state, it would be the same old story. To our very surprise, Chang’s brother said that the police took short time to arrest the culprit and got back the stolen intercom microphone.
So, don’t listen to what other comment about Kelantan State where THEY HAVE NOT BEEN HERE BEFORE. They only hear from the blind and read the sarcastic newspaper.
Chang’s brother drew us a map on getting to a nice and easy route towards south.
The first 120km from Kota Barhu along highway 3 to the South was a road to ride. Somehow I think that this road is designed for bike travel and traffic was lesser. There were many chalets, beach bungalows and small eatery along this stretch. Recommanded!
Our objective was to ride to the touristy beach resort of Cherating and stay for a night. Many Singaporeans came here for holidays due to the nice beach and resort type of lodging. It was our first time coming to Cherating and it was built like the beach town of Phuket/Koh Samui of Thailand. There were various lodging for us to stay and we were so ‘lucky’ to stay in this resort by the name of Riverside Holiday Resort.
The ground was nice, sandy pit and Hope Too was able to park 5 meters away from our room door. There wasn’t much vehicle here and it seemed that only 4 rooms were occupied out of 30.
We had a RM$40 room with: fan, attached toilet with natural shower system, retro but moldy sofa that grew million of micro mushrooms, sleeping pillows used since world war 2, mosquito that couldn’t be seen when lights were on, free music till 4am, , free security watch by group of unknown people around the car park until 5am, free natural wake up call by real rooster at 430am and carpark was fully occupied by non guest coming here to look for paid adult entertainment. It was so different as in the daytime and now Hope Too was situated as closed as 0.3 meters away from the vehicle next to him.
There was a nice ‘little Bali’ pub in this resort by the river and live band every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is a very good place to stay for those that want to look for night entertainment in Cherating, get drunk and numb then talk a 20 steps walk back to the room to sleep. Maybe the next time we will stay again in this place only if we have different intension.
N4 07.640 E103 23.536
We woke up only at 10am and want to leave this place as soon as possible as there wasn’t a proper place to have breakfast.
We took a new toll way to the west, exited Temerluh, traveled about 50km to the north on a trunk road towards Jerantut where we had our Chinese chicken rice breakfast at 1300hrs.
N3 56.398 E102 21.904
The next 60km road north of Jerantut to Kuala Lipis was wonderful, like a roller coaster ride! It was built parallel to the historical river and along the valley. Situated at the south of Taman Negara, the world oldest rainforest, that is about 130 million years old, the surrounding is the closest road navigable near to Taman Negara. Else, one has to walk and trek into Taman Negara.
Our initial plan was to ride the same highway 8 to Gua Musang again and turn west towards Cameron Highland till we saw a signboard near Kuala Lipis, it has a turn off towards Cameron Highland. I checked my map and GPS. No road linking to Cameron Highland. Anyway, it’s an adventure. We follow the signboard and the ‘Cameron Highland’ direction disappeared after the next junction. We rode on aimlessly hoping for miracle until we reached a critical junction at Sungai Koyan. Sam seeked direction from a local pump attendance and we looked at the map, there wasn’t any thro road.
Ok, just try, maybe, perhaps, we should trust the local sense rather than technology.
The gas station is at:
N4 13.805 E101 47.895
The turn off is at:
N4 13.266 E101 47.849
This 80km of new road was well built but unofficially announced to the public. We were the very first few to travel! It does not have much traffic and we managed to passed through some of the aborigine communities. What’s more, this new road led us straight to our friend’s (Teoh Yong Meng Nursery) office in Bertam Valley. There wasn’t any prior arrangement to meet Joyce and Joe but their father hosted us for a meal and good chat.
We carried on to our best lodging in this trip at Cameronian Inn, settled down, and walked towards our dinner location. It had been years that I had not been a tourist in Cameron Highland. It had been much developed and even Starbucks had set up a branch here. We sat by the Indian Shop and had our first and last try of the food here. What made our dinner special was a couple sitting beside us. They looked like Indian, but fairer in color. Both of them looked like bollywood actor. They did not speak English, Malay, Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi or any language that is used in Malaysia but we always hear the ‘Z’ sound in their conversation. I winked at Samantha if they were from Iran.
Bingo! They were working professionals in Capital of Malaysia for some years and going to migrate New Zealand soon. They shared with us about the situation in Iran and were surprised that we had traveled in Iran so well and also to their ‘no go region’: Zehedan. I was so ashamed when they shared their experience with the Custom officers of Singapore when they visited Singapore.
Ok, not to mention what happened, someone is watching over what I am posting.
Wonderful cool morning in Cameron Highland and we had breakfast with English Tea and Scone in a peaceful English garden! When we were about to leave, we had an unusual request for the owner of this inn: to provide us ‘red packets’ as we were on our way to visit Joyce and Joe’s new baby. He patiently went back to his room and dug out all the packets he had. We took two of them and found out that there was actually real money in it! Of course, politely, we returned the money to him and took the packets.
We had a nice chat with each other just by standing beside our bike and he share with us why he wanted to stay in Cameron Highland in this small Inn, instead of managing his another business in Australia.
Cameronian Inn is clean and quiet place with an English garden. Sam and I could easily spend another day here to chat with the owner and read a book but we have to set off, meeting Joyce and Joe for a quickie and to meet 2 riders from UK that had been traveling around for 8 years.
N4 28.103 E101 22.444