NORTH THROUGH MALAYSIA
ON TO K.L. (WELL ALMOST) - 14/06/04
I had all the intensions of leaving for K.L. from Malacca on sunday, but unexpectantly the German Bikers I met in Darwin turned up on Saturday afternoon. So to catch up on our experiences since Darwin, I decided to stay another night.
Well, they reinforced the very same problem I had about Singapore, Being German, I thought they would take it in their renowned logical way, noway, they got as frustrated as me.
I left at 9.30am with overcast skys over Malacca, deciding to take the coast road for a more bike friendly run to K.L. I wasn't disappointed, a very relaxing 160k's along the coast through to Fort Denning. However the expressway approaching the City was bloody kaotic, with drivers of all types crowdinding your lane, they assume you are on a 125cc Two Stoke motorcycle, therefore that entitles them the right of way, although Doris is only 650cc she can do a far top speed, so at 130k/h the silly buggers still insist on passing, it is a 110k/h speed limit. Suprise, I sighted a big bike,a K1000 BMW , so I followed him for a while, thinking he may show me the way through K.L., bugger he took off a ring road after 20k.
I persevered in the heat at 120/h, you have'nt got much time to read road signs at this speed, especially in a foreign language. So I missed a turn and ended up on the northern expressway, 10k out of K.L. I stopped for fuel and directions, I had already done 200k from Malacca, I decided to keep going, destination the Cameron Highlands, about 160k north. I stayed on the northern expressway until TAPAH, were I turned off for the mountains, In retrospect I should of kept to the coastal and minor roads, more relaxing and easier on the bike and rider.
THE CAMERON HIGHLANDS ROAD
What a great stretch of winding mountainous road. Just what Doris and I needed after the monotonous expressway, now to get our own back on those bloody car drivers, 180 degree blind corners, resembling the Putty road in NSW and the mountain back roads behind Brisbane. Just keep an eye out for oncoming buses and trucks. Overtakind cars keeps the adrelinan pumping,especially with a heavy loaded bike, but the scenery is breathtaking.
There is a bit of road works before Tanah Rata, so take care.
The Cameron Highlands is equivalent to the Blue Mountains in Australia, cool and crisp air down to 14c in Summer. The bush walks as great with numerous waterfalls and the odd wildlife to see, much nicer than the humidity of the coast.
BACK TO THE COAST - DESTINATION PINANG ISLAND - 17/06/04
After such a boreing road on the last stretch of expressway out of K.L. I decided to take the old No.1 Highway and do a leisurely ride through some provencial towns towards Pinang.
Although I did just over 300k, it would have to be the most harrowing ride of my trip so far.
The amount of trucks on this road is just rediculous, they use this road to avoid paying the toll on the expressway, add the way the locals ride and you have a potential disaster ready to happen.
The No.1 Highway runs through IPOH, a city that may have once been a vibrant town with many colonial buildings, including the Railway Hotel, a grand palace of a building, now a mere shadow of its former glory.
IPOH is cloweded in cement dustthanks to the enviromental vandalism done to the hills, just out of town, the huge cement factory on the outskirts of town dominates the landscape, just like the old steelworks did in my old town of Newcastle. Now I know were all the heavy industry has gone!
Arriving in Butterworth around 2.30pm, after 4 hrs of riding, I was determined to take the ferry so I could shoot some photos and relax. DON'T BOTHER!
Their is one thing about riding in this part of Asia, it is the deminished size of your personal space. Everyone wants every spare inch. For $1.40M, you pay at an efficient toll gate, and on you go, cars first, bikes on as usual, last, little 2 stroke buggers everywere, Doris is twice as wide so I just squeezed her in between a few little Malay guys, and apologise for the bits of paint I have ripped off their bikes from my large Aluminium Panniers.
About a half hour trip and the nightmare begins all over again, a bloody grand prix for 125cc around Pinang, and I'm in the middle of it.
As I hadn't booked in anywhere, I thought of a romantic past, were a grand old hotel from Hemmingways day, would be built off the main road, close to town and on the beach.
Well I found it ! Hidden from view, but with a sign "PARAMOUNT HOTEL", pointing towards the sea, I follow a dirt road for about 100m, a glimse of the sea is all I neaded, turning leftand their it was, a grand vestabule, with a large verandah, just enough room for Doris. This must have been some hotel in its day.
In I walked, dressed in my riding gear, full black armour with my BMW DAKAR Jacket, I must of looked like a Panzer Commander.
A scared little Chinese lady was behind the counter, and before I could say a thing, she said, "you want room? $50.60M, you pay now! Air Con. extra".
"Can I have a look?" I asked.
"Why, they good rooms" she retorted.
I stayed there for 2 nights, the rooms were a bit of a shit box, but the ac worked, and I got a swim everyday.
I t also gave me time to look around Pinangs historical area, including Fort Cornwallis, named after the general who lost the war of independance to the yanks!
Its a shame that the Asians look at history differently than the europeans, they don't have a sense of preserving history or nature as is once was or is. They have to bloody glitz it up then forget to maintain it and take the rubbish away!.
I am off to the Thailand border tomorrow, I reckon I am just about Islamed out. Oh ye, Pinang is way overated, 2 out of 10.
Posted by Tom Forde at June 20, 2004 06:50 AM GMT
1 whiskey : $5A
1 beer (pint) $6A