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Ride TalesAn easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world.
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Interesting post which shows it's possible on small bikes. Did you have some Durian and Satay when in Malaysia?
I grew up in the jungles of Borneo and know the Cameron Highlands area well.
We have tried durian a few times and can't say that we like it! The sweet kind is better than the bitter kind but they are both pretty awful (to us at least!) Satay is delicious, of course, and definitely more accessible to our tastes. If you haven't noticed, we travel mostly to eat!
I am really looking forward to reading your summary. Your setup was really sophisticated from the get-go so it will be interesting to see what you would change on your next trip (if ever). You guys have a lot of travel experience and it shows!
You got me hooked with the pic of the little DS. Don´t leave us hanging too long!
Sorry for another long absence, returning home has been much more of a shock than I ever expected. I have found that it is hard to even think about our trip on many days, I miss being on the road that much. We just need to win the lottery!
55/30 Ride to Cameron Highlands/Ten Months on the Road
Not knowing what was going on today, Re and I decided to get an early start (for us) and were up by 7:00 am. We'd had a good sleep – between the relatively cool air and continuous rain overnight... It was not raining when we woke up, but the house was surrounded by a dense fog. Visibility was no more than 25 feet. Our original plan was to tour Bukit Fraser today and go on some of the hikes, but considering the amount of rain overnight, hiking seemed out of the question. We made the decision instead, to head back to the Cameron Highlands in hopes of drier weather and trails.
After showering, we packed our bag and generally kept quiet until we heard other people moving about. A little while later, we stepped out and were invited to have breakfast with the family. After a yummy breakfast I looked outside to see that the mist had receded and decided to load the bikes. As I finished getting everything strapped down, it started to rain. Since Philip's plans involved hiking as well, they decided to wait to see if the rain stopped.
We joined them on the porch for pictures and an amazing spectacle of moths.
The outside light had apparently been left on last night, and it consequently attracted the most amazing assortment of moths we've ever seen.
Some were nearly three inches long, some looked like leaves, others were spectacular colors, and there were, literally, hundreds of them.
Around 10:00 am, the rain nearly stopped, so we said our goodbyes and hit the road. With the stoppage of the rain, the mist returned. It was pointless to try and do any sightseeing on Bukit Fraser this morning since visibility was so low.
Instead, we made the ride down the hill, through the fog and into the eventual clearing. The ride down was nearly as much fun as the ride up (except for the wet pavement). I would love to return with a supermotard someday and just ride up and down the hill a few times. Near the bottom, the sky cleared and turned sunny as we rode toward the E1 (the North-South highway). We rode the E1 north to Tapah, where we exited for the ride to Tanah Rata. This too was a roller coaster of a road but with slightly worse pavement. At the Tapah exit, my GPS said it was 19 miles as the crow flies to Tanah Rata, but that by road it was 36 miles – it's a twisty road.
Another highlight of this part of the ride was a large reservoir that was flanked by mountains. We stopped for a short break and a couple of pictures. After strafing a thousand apexes, we finally pulled into Tanah Rata and rode directly to the Twin Pines, where we'd stayed before.
We had a late lunch of coffee and fried dough and then went back to the room to check email. We got two bits of news; one that Ronnie had come down with the flu, and the other, that Ian (The BigFella) had arrived in Georgetown. It seems relatively dry here, so maybe we'll do some hiking here tomorrow and head north the next day. After spending some quality together time, we went out for a late dinner with a couple different kinds of nasi goreng (fried rice) and tomyam soup. The food was delicious, but you know you have a toothache when it hurts to chew rice. After dinner we grabbed some s and returned to the room to celebrate ten months on the road today.
140 miles in about 4.5 hours. Bikes are running well, no obvious permanent damage from the missing axle nut.
By 2:00 am, we knew we weren't going hiking today. Shortly after we went to bed, the sky exploded in thunder, lightning, and torrential rain. It flat poured overnight, and the deluge continued for hours. We woke up to huge puddles of standing water and an overcast sky. We walked out for breakfast and considered our options. Everywhere we looked it was muddy, so hiking didn't sound like a reasonable option. Between my sore tooth, Ronnie's flu, and Ian's arrival in Georgetown, we decided to scrap our plans and head back to Georgetown today. My tooth has gotten so sensitive that whether iced or hot, coffee hurts to drink. Now I know that something has got to be done. We decided to get on the road as soon as possible to hopefully avoid any of the afternoon rains that seem to be popping up.
After breakfast we jumped in the shower and I then got to work on the bikes. The air pressures have been holding fairly well. For some reason, I have started checking fasteners every day again, and while the oil level is good, Re's smells like it could use a change. We heaved the bikes off the center stands at 9:30 and thumbed the starter buttons. Re's Symba roared to life, mine made that funny starter solenoid sound. Dead battery. Fortunately, I could resort to the kickstarter. I guess it's time for those new batteries we've been putting off buying. Once we were underway, it was an easy but busy ride from Tanah Rata to Kampung Raja. After that, the tourist and agricultural traffic seemed to disappear, and the ride back to the E1 was perfect. We were greeted by bright sunshine, cool temperatures, crystal clear air, stunning mountains all around, and a neverending succession of fourth gear sweepers. This morning's ride reminded me why I love riding. It truly was an amazing ride, and I wished I could bottle it to save for later. Re pulled up alongside part way down with a huge smile and let out a big whoop.
Too soon, that part of the ride was over, and we were back on the E1, slowly making our way northward at 45 mph. Again, the ride through Ipoh was beautiful, but just north of there, the rain started again. While never heavy, the rain continued on and off for the next couple of hours, all the way to Georgetown. By the time we made it back to the bridge to Penang, the rain had mostly stopped, but it was very windy riding across. When we were near Ipoh, Re had called the Star Lodge to make sure they'd have a room for us. When we arrived, we were able to quickly unload all of our gear back into G5, our new, usual room. They were surprised to see us again so soon, and honestly, we were too. We ran out for a quick bite to eat and then came back to the room to clean up.
We texted The BigFella later on and met him at his hotel around the corner around 7:30 pm. Ian introduced us to his KTM 950SE, and I have to admit to some serious bike envy. After that, we introduced him to our bikes on the way down to the Corner Bar. After a couple of rounds and some story swapping, we adjourned to Kapitan for tandoori chicken and naan before returning to the Corner Bar for a few more. We had a great time, laughing and talking until late in the night, so much so, that I almost forgot about my tooth.
170 miles in about 5.5 hours. The bikes are running great, but it was a strange sensation to be riding that “fast” for that long. I think I even saw 50 mph at one point!
After roti for breakfast, Re looked online for a recommendation for a dentist here in town. She knows my love of visits to the dentist and took it upon herself to get me there. She found a recommendation for the Adventist Hospital Dental clinic and was able to get me in after lunch. For the rest of the morning, we did some shopping, including buying oil for an oil change. After a lunch of pork and rice, we went to the hospital, where the dentist looked at my tooth and said I should take antibiotics for several days and come back on Monday to see what the real damage is. I left with a prescription which I was able to fill at the hospital, and we took the bus back to the guesthouse.
We got a text from Ian around 4:30 and met up with him shortly thereafter. We took some pictures of the bikes together. Afterward, we headed back to the Corner Bar (the real name is Antarabangsa Enterprise, but that doesn't roll off the tongue quite as easily) for a few pre-dinner s. Later, we walked over to De Tai Tong for dim sum, and then back to the Corner Bar for the evening. The highlight of the night was the “18-year old” Chinese man, Lim, who sat with us for a while. He was quite a character and had us all in stitches. He was actually born in 1930 in Penang and had lots of good stories. He finished the evening by telling Re some rather salacious stories, complete with hand gestures! Look for a special report from her soon.
After breakfast, Re and I worked on some writing and posted some pics this morning. Today is the King's birthday, so many things are closed. After lunch, we removed the top cases from our bikes, since we won't need them on there until we get back to the US. While we were on our ride a few days ago, I gave Re a hand putting her bike on the center stand and thought I felt a wiggle from the rear rack. Sure enough, the welds from Cambodia had cracked in several places. Yay. Another thing to put on the “to do” list. The rest of the afternoon was pretty lazy, mostly spent talking with people around the guesthouse.
6/3 Writing and Racing
Re continued yesterday morning's theme by writing and posting to the blog. After lunch, we went to the bookstore, where Re bought some Chinese brushes and ink, and we bought a copy of the movie, “Totoro.” Since it was Sunday and the awning across the street was free, we took the opportunity to change the oil in both bikes. There seemed to be a lot of clutch material stuck in the oil screen, hopefully it is left over from my old clutch and not from the new one! I also gave the swingarm area of my bike a once-over and didn't find any permanent damage. Then it was time fore Moto GP. I spent the next 4.5 hours watching all the races live, before heading out for dinner.
6/4 The Dentist
I didn't particularly want to get up this morning, since I had to return to the dentist at 11.00 am. The tooth that's been giving me a problem already has a crown, which means the next step is a root canal. The good news is, the antibiotics seem to have done an excellent job of clearing up the sensitivity. This morning I made a point of chewing on that side of my mouth, and it was virtually pain free. While I waited around and fretted until it was time to go, Re got out a rag and soap and washed both our Pelicans and Ortliebs in preparation for our flight next week. Too soon, it was time to go back to the dentist. He spent about 15 minutes poking around, spraying water and air, and having me bite on chunks of cotton. His advice was to leave it alone for now and worry about it when I get back to the States since the pain is essentially gone, and he's concerned about finishing the process before we leave. In one way, I was relieved to not need a root canal today, but on the other hand, I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me in the next month or so.
After lunch we walked down to our local motorcycle shop and bought new batteries. I checked my battery the other day after my bike wouldn't start, and sure enough, it was low on water again. Considering that we have refilled our batteries with tap water at least three times so far, we thought it would be better to return with fresh batteries that we promise to treat right this time. We also got them now since they were a good price. A genuine Yuasa YB5L-B battery is just under 13 USD here. Back in the room, I started filling them with acid in preparation for installing them tomorrow.
6/5 Rack Repair/Leg Shields
We seem to have hit a rainy period in Malaysia, since it rained heavily overnight, and we in fact, woke to flooded sidewalks this morning. Re braved the rain to get us breakfast, and then we worked on a bunch of emails until the rain stopped. I removed Re's rack (heh heh) and went off in search of a welder, while she pulled off the leg shields from her bike in preparation for a lettering job. I had to walk around for a while to find a welder to fix the rack, but eventually found someone to do the job. It was a little more expensive here, costing 5 USD, as opposed to the dollar or two elsewhere. After I got the rack reinstalled, I found Re in the middle of her lettering job, which is looking pretty good.
Here are a couple pics of the finished product.
After the leg shields were reinstalled, we headed out for lunch and to see, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” It was raining again, so watching a movie sounded like a better idea than installing batteries. After the movie was over, we collected the tools and other things we will need to ship in the crate with our bikes, since tomorrow is crating day. Dim sum and a couple of s finished up the day. We are both definitely bummed that the end is near.
We were glad to see that it wasn't raining this morning, so after breakfast we got to work installing the new batteries in our bikes. For some reason, everything fought us today. I don't think the bikes want to go home either. We had to get our bikes to the crating company by 11:00 am, so we hit the road at 10:15 for the ride across the bridge and into Butterworth. Once again, the airline insisted that we drain all fuel from the bikes, so we've been riding around, virtually empty for the past several days. Before we got to the bridge, we split a liter of fuel between the two bikes to ensure we could make it. It began to rain lightly just as we reached the bridge, and it continued for the final five miles of the trip. We located the crating company easily enough, and soon had rolled the bikes into their warehouse.
Apparently, there had been some miscommunication between the forwarder and the crating company, since the craters were under the impression that we were simply going to drop off the bikes. We explained that no, we would remove the front wheels and handlebars ourselves and get the bikes ready to go. We had explained all of this to the freight forwarder and also specified the size of the crate we needed based on our last three shipping experiences. The crater apparently didn't receive this message, since he assured us that there was no reason to disassemble anything, they would just crate everything up as it was. I then explained that if we did that, the freight charges would increase between 600 and 1000 USD. After that, he understood why we were trying to minimize the size and left us to work. Over the next hour, Re and I disconnected the batteries, removed the front wheels and fenders, unbolted the handlebars, and drained the gas from the carburetors. The foreman kept walking around our bikes skeptically, measuring with a tape measure, while looking at the measurements we had given him, and shaking his head. Once the bikes were disassembled, we popped them off the centerstand and let them sit on the rear wheel and the bottom of the fork legs. It was then that he realized that yes, they would fit in the crate we specified and smiled. Unlike other times we've shipped the bikes, they had not begun building the crate, but they got to work once they agreed with our measurements. The big boss came out and said it would be several hours until the crate was finished. He said to just show him how we wanted the bikes tied down and to leave anything else we wanted to put in the crate with them.
We waved goodbye to our Symbas and gladly accepted the offered ride to the ferry terminal. We had planned to walk the 1.5 miles to the bus station, but considering the rain, the ride was appreciated. Riding on the ferry back to Georgetown, we were both pretty bummed. We were pedestrians again, and crating the bikes means that we are really going home in a couple of days.
Back on the island, we stopped for lunch and then walked back to our room to clean up and exchange some calls and emails with the freight forwarder. Later in the afternoon, we received a text from the crating company that included a photo of our bikes already in the crate. The one bit of good news we got today is that this company uses an engineered wood, so our shipment doesn't need to be fumigated before heading to the US. This saves us 250 ringgit (80 USD). We spent the rest of the afternoon looking for hotels in the LAX area before heading out for dinner.
12 miles in about 30 minutes. It's strange to look out the front of the Star Lodge and not see our Symbas.
We covered 8,170 miles each in southeast Asia and used 150 gallons of gasoline, for an average of 109 miles per gallon. Re-jetting my bike made a dramatic difference and except for Cambodia, the fuel quality seems much better here.
After breakfast, we spent most of the morning replying to emails and finding a hotel near the LAX airport. Lunch was a bit sad, since we are now counting down our final days and having to decide which restaurants we must visit again before we leave. Today we went for another banana leaf meal at Sri Ananda, and it was yummy as usual. On the way back to the room, we hit the ATM for another stack of cash, since we will need to pay for our shipping on Saturday.
The forwarder doesn't accept credit cards, so we need to come up with 6,715 ringgit (2150 USD) in cash by then. I also picked up a new Phillips screwdriver, since my other one was damaged.
We spent the rest of the afternoon working on ride reports and uploading more photos. Later in the evening, we went out for wonton mee (four ringgit/1.33 USD per plate) at the hawkers' stalls on Chulia Street. This was accompanied by a couple of fresh fruit juices each. Re's new favorite drink is nutmeg juice, while I tried the honeydew juice. Delicious, and only 1.5 ringgit (50 cents). We are going to sorely miss cheap food. After dinner, we walked to the mall for one last movie. “Prometheus” just opened today, and it's a movie we've been looking forward to seeing. The fact that it was 10 ringgit each (3.33 USD) made it all the better. We are really going to miss Malaysia.
Mr Chew is one of the men who work in reception at the Star Lodge. We've gotten to know him fairly well during our stay here, spending many afternoons chatting with him about his life in Malaysia and the six years he spent living in the Washington, DC area. Chew was born on the Chew Clan Jetty, which extends into the water between Penang and mainland Malaysia. The Clan Jetties are where many Chinese immigrants lived and worked after they arrived in Penang. The most common jobs for the immigrants were either as fishermen or stevedores who worked loading and unloading the cargo ships at the port. Chew was actually born and spent his first seven years in a home on the Chew Jetty and offered to give us a tour this morning.
After breakfast, we met Chew and his wife, Christina, who then drove us to the jetty and showed us around. While most of the fishing and stevedore jobs have long since disappeared, many people still live in the houses on the jetty while working on land.
Chew showed us around the jetty, spoke of his life there as a child, and introduced us to some of his relatives. We spent an hour or so wandering around seeing the sights and then later went for a driving tour of some of the non-touristy Chinese sections of the city.
Around lunchtime, Chew took us to the Chinese Recreation Club, where he has been a member since 1972.
The CRC is a grand, old country club located in the middle of Georgetown, which is only open to people of Chinese descent. While there is no golf course, there are tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, badminton courts, a gym, and an outdoor olympic size pool. It is also home to an amazingly excellent restaurant where we had lunch. Chew and Christina are well known here, and we were treated to a great meal and service.
After lunch, they dropped us back at the Star Lodge where Re worked on some blogging for the rest of the afternoon. We finished the night with a late dinner at Kapitan and a stop at the Corner Bar. Since we only have a couple of days left, we are having to decide very carefully where we are going to have to eat.
After breakfast, we walked up to see Ms Goh, our shipping agent, and we paid our money and collected our Carnet documents. After returning to the room we spent the rest of the day getting ready to go. Re gave me a haircut, fixed her broken Rok-strap by stitching it with dental floss, and washed her filthy daypack. While she did this, I downloaded new GPS maps from OpenStreetMap for the US portion of our trip. We also started working on repacking everything for the impending flight, and then went out to do some last minute shopping. Both of our moods are pretty low today, so it was a subdued afternoon.
Later in the evening, we went out for our last dim sum supper and then spent some time with Puus.
Puus is our favorite little cat, whom we've been feeding while in Georgetown. When we met her a couple of months ago, she was just a kitten, but has now grown into a nice, young woman. She is a street cat who lives in front of a travel agency on Chulia Street and was the only survivor of the original litter of four. She is surely another thing we will miss about Georgetown. In an attempt to get ready for the 15 hour time difference between Malaysia and the west coast of the US, we decided to go to bed early tonight and get up early tomorrow.
After our last roti breakfast for a while, Re began to repack our bags again, this time, in earnest. While she did that, I worked on our route from LA up to Oregon and where to stop and stay along the way. Around lunchtime, Re walked down to Jit Seng duck rice and picked up a huge lunch of duck, pork, and rice, which she brought back to the Star Lodge to share with Robert and Chew, our daytime hosts at the Star.
Mid-afternoon, we walked out to see Puus and to give Krishna, the very friendly owner of the travel agency that she lives in front of, a large bag of dry cat food. Krishna is another of the really friendly locals we've come to know, and he is a good friend to Puus too. After that, we walked around town thinking about all the things we're going to miss.
We went back to Line Clear for an early dinner and then went to bed at 7:30 pm.
Sorry for another long absence, returning home has been much more of a shock than I ever expected. I have found that it is hard to even think about our trip on many days, I miss being on the road that much. We just need to win the lottery!
Please don´t excuse yourself, for crying out loud!!
Thank you very much for sharing your outstanding adventure with us.
I have been thinking quite a bit about you guys during your absence ... ending a journey definately needs more strength than starting it. Especially if you did everything right and especially if you did your trip with your spouse.
There are several ways to deal with post-trip depression:
the nicest is , but it could get too much.
A lot of sun, physical activity and difficult sections might also help.
Sorry I missed you guys. I was in Penang April 20 through June 20 and frequent the Mona Lisa in Lebuh Chulia. I am still reading your story and have skipped forward to your Malaysia experience. I will go back and read the rest but I just wanted to offer a bit of advice about your clutch troubles. (BTW I am 71 years young with 53 years of motorcycling in 7 countries so far. Bikes have ranged from 50 - 1000 ccs. Currently I have a Kwaka ER-5 500cc in New Zealand, a Kwaka 125 D-tracker in Thailand and a Yamahammer FZ150i in Malaysia. Saves border hassles!).
Anyway, I read somewhere early in your account that you were using Castrol GTX oil. I believe GTX has a friction modifier that is not suitable for wet clutches. It can cause them to slip and/or jerk intermittently under load. (Personal experience here). I recommend you only use an unmodified oil such as Castrol GP instead.
Just a bit of nonsence from an old fart from the land of Burt Munro and the Worlds Fastest Indian.
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