July 12, 2002 GMT
Curry for breakfast

Hello Mister,

Can't believe it's 5 weeks since I arrived in Singapore. Spent a week there, waiting for bike, watching football, and trying not to spend any money (it's expensive). Met up with my aunt Judy and cousin Tarryn, in town for a wedding, and trying to do their best to boost Singapore foreign currency reserves.

Bit of stress extricating bike from the port (6 hours) taxiing all over town with my fake paperwork to get the right stamps and papers. Everytime I get in this 'beyond my control/out of control' situation my stomach ties itself in knots and I feel like jumping under a bus. As usual everything was alright in the end. I'm never sure how close a call these situations really are. How long do you have to be on the road before you get the necessary serenity to cope with it all?

It was, as always, good to be back on the road. Left Singas in really heavy rain which naughtily stuck around for a few days. Everything got wet and smelly. Tried a few ports up the coast to see if there was an easy way in to Sumatra, meeting up with Swiss overlander, John, who had (and has) the same idea. The sun came out, and as I easily tire of practical hassles I decided to have a bit of a look round 'peninsular' Malaysia (for those of you who's geography is as bad as mine, Malaysia also has a couple of states at the top of Borneo too).

First up was a bit of a stroll in the Cameron Highlands, a big hilly area of jungle, tea plantations, strawberry fields, and cream teas. Watched the world cup disaster, a few of the 600(!) DVD movies on offer at the hostel (camcorder in the cinema jobbies) and got ill on Thai 'whisky'. Met up with John again, and a Dutch couple on BM's (Martin and Jan), and a Canadian (Doris) on a chopper. The Dutchies, John and I hatched a plan to meet up later and hire a banana boat to get the bikes over to Indo. All this will come to pass in a few days (fingers and toes crossed).

Had a great days riding out of the Highlands over to the East coast on a road under construction through the rain forest. The road is a year or so away from being opened, with most of the enormous bridges still under construction. A good mix of fast dirt (watching ahead for the missing bridges) and then steep twisty descents/assents (downs and ups). Got completely covered in red mud (looked 'the buisness', ahem)....

Parked the bike in someone's yard and spent a disappointing few days on the 'very beautiful' Perhintian islands (well, the one island that everyone goes to). Exclusively backpackers, very expensive cans of lager, and strangely no atmosphere. Maybe I was in a mood?

More beach time further south and back on the mainland - much more like it, with a few outings on the bike (with new, ahem, friend) to see caves and waterfalls.

Good twisty roads back inland to Taman Negara national park (allegedly the oldest jungle in the world). Really beautiful. Trekked for 4 days and spent a couple of nights in the woods. Hard going. Bought a machete with a nice leather holder (holster?) for 3 pounds 50p. Lost count of the number of leeches I picked up (trousers and socks were covered in blood), didn't get sick from drinking 5 liters of river water a day, but also didn't see any tigers or elephants. Saw some elephant footprints and droppings, but not quite the same.

I am now in Malacca on the West coast (Dutch/Portuguese/English colonial town, along with the Malay mix of Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Pizza Hut makes it a colourful place) for the rendezvous with the others. It's been a nice easy introduction (apart from the walking bits) to Asia, but definitely time for something more adventurous.

.... but not missing banana boats!

See you, Jason.

Posted by Jason Homewood at July 12, 2002 03:38 PM GMT

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