Malaysia – mixed feelings….

June 1, 2013 in Malaysia, On the road

DSC_0134We look back onto our three weeks in Malaysia with mixed feelings. Did we like the country? This question is difficult to answer: we had some fantastic experiences there, but at the same time also some moments that were definitely not amongst the highlights of our trip.

We crossed the border from Thailand to Malaysia near Beton, which lies in the inland. Most people usually prefer the main border crossings on the coast. Our first impression was that the roads were in a fantastic condition and the verges better kept than some parks at home. The traffic was much faster than in Thailand, which was not really surprising considering the excellent roads.

When we reached the east-coast of the country, near the city of Terrenganu, we experienced a little culture shock. This area was very conservative and strictly Islamic – no chance to get a beer here on the countryside – and the hotels were either expensive upper class or dirty holes. Things were stolen out of our room – nothing important, but it made us sad and angry. It was the first time that something was stolen from us during our whole trip! We know that it must have been the hotel staff that went through our luggage, but we could not proof it. Unfortunately, we were forced to stay at this terrible place for a few days, because Heike’s 650 stopped us here with broken front wheel bearings.

Unfortunately, it was too difficult to organize the spare parts in the remote area, and we had really enough from this depressive spot. So we decided to put the bike onto a transporter and to drive to Kuantan, the next big city. We were invited to stay with Heike & Stefan there, a German couple – and something to look forward to. Unfortunately we got more problems on the way when the clutch cylinder of the 1150 quit its job – not that we didn’t already have enough problems…. In Kuantan, we could organize the spare parts for the 650 and replace the bearings. However, the clutch cylinder had to wait. We could only fix it temporarily, and hope that it would last until Kuala Lumpur, where we would hopefully get the spare parts.

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In addition to this rather frustrating start in Malaysia we had also a time problem: our carnet de passage would expire in two weeks, and we had to export the motorcycles then. But we also wanted to see more of Malaysia, and we still had to organize the visas for Indonesia.

Nevertheless, we decided that we had deserved a little holiday on Tioman. The island is a paradise for snorkeling. We could swim out to the coral reefs directly from the beach. Amazing, how many fish we saw: barracudas, clownfish, pufferfish, rays, parrotfish … and massive corals. The huge monitor lizards came up right to our bungalow, and immediately behind the beach the dense jungle started.

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Unfortunately, we had to leave this little paradise after two days. We crossed the Malayan peninsula, and went for a short detour to Melakka with it beautiful old colonial architecture. From there we headed to Kuala Lumpur, which we reached just when the clutch of the 1150 finally gave up completely.

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Luckily, we could order the parts in Kuala Lumpur. In the meantime, we organized the visas and explored the city: China Town, Little India, some huge shopping malls, and the stunning Petronas Twin Towers.

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From Kuala Lumpur we headed to the Cameron Highlands to explore the fantastic curvy roads through the beautiful landscape with tea plantations, vegetable- and flower fields. Due to an average altitude of 1500 metres, the temperatures in this area were really enjoyable, and a very welcome change from the tropical heat. Unfortunately, we had also a lot of rain there. It rained so much that we were stuck at the guest house for one day, because the road was flooded, and the water was so deep that we could not ride through.

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Our last station in Malaysia was the island of Penang, where the motorcycles were loaded onto the “onion boat” to Indonesia. On the last day of the validity of our Carnet des Passage, the motorcycles were exported.

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In general, Malaysia is a fantastic country for motorcyclists! The people are absolutely crazy about everything concerning motorcycles. The toll roads are free, there are special lanes for motorcycles to go around the toll stations, and everywhere places are marked, where you can shelter from the rain.

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Travel infos

Money: Malaysian Ringgit – 1 Ringgit is approx. 0.25 EUR. ATMs are available everywhere.

Fuel: Good quality (95), available everywhere, and very cheap: 1 litre costs about 0.40 EUR.

Motorcycles: Probably the easiest country in South-East Asia to organize spare parts. Workshops for big bikes exist in the bigger cites. Motorcycles don’t have to pay on the toll roads.

Roads: In excellent condition – earth or gravel roads are really difficult to find…

Hotels: A little bit more expensive than in most countries in South-East Asia. There are big differences regarding cleanliness and prices depending on the region. In some country-side areas there is not much choice.

Visa: We got 3 months when we crossed the border – no formalities, no money, etc. – very easy and straight-forward…. !

Traffic: Rather well-regulated – they stop at traffic lights, stay on their lanes, and on the motorways it feels like in Europe. Driving is generally a bit faster than e.g. in Thailand.