DARWIN TO BRUNEI - 1/6/04
Well after 5099k's, 54 hrs & 16 mins. in the saddle and a max. speed of 140km/hr, with a moving average of 94km/hr. (Isn't technology wonderful!). I can finally put the GARMIN 60C GPS away until Singapore.
At Darwin airport I happen to start a conversation with a couple who are on the same flight with me to Brunei, he happens to be the brother of David Lang, who I had met previously at the first Australian meeting of H.U. at Ulmarra in NSW. David and his wife Cheryl were an insperation to a lot of people at the meeting. Check out there story on H.U.
Mal runs an Aboriginal Settlement in the Kimberley region of West Australia, called OOMBULGURRI, I asked them could I visit them sometime on my travels, they said no problems, just give them 2 weeks notice, so they can get permission from the local ondiginous owners!
BRUNEI THE DRY PLACE (No booze in Brunei) - 2/6/04
Well, If you got duty free your ok, the smallest and one of the cleanest Asian countries (outside of Singapore). There is not many tourists around, they seem to use the place as stopover to Europe or Borneo, were it much cheaper.
The locals don't pay taxes and don't seem to work too hard, the local Prince appears to own most of the buildings, he has so much money, he just builds mosques and hotels layered with gold for the hell of it.
Since I was in Brunei for a couple of days, I decided to do a couple of tourest things, so equipped with binoculars,water bottle, raincoat and hat, off we go by boat into the deep jungles of Brunei looking for the elusive Probosis monkey, after about half an hour motoring along the might Brunei river, we slop at a clearing to cat a glimse of the wolds largest monkey, with those big noses. Apparently the male is the only one with the snoz, and the longer it is the more girlfriends he has! The locals call these guys Fat Dutchmen, because of their fat bellies and big snouts, so much for colonial supremacy.
Anyway we finally got a look at a whole bunch of them swinging in the trees, they sleep in the branches overhanging the river, because they have a tendacy to fall out of bed and waters softer. Well, as we were observing our distant cousins we motored around a bend and bloody housed appeared, we hadn't left the city! The guides threw us a bullshit story about how reclusive the monkeys are, and here they are living new to a subdivision.
I wasn't impressed with Brunei, perhaps if I had more time in Borneo, it would have been different.
ON TO SINGAPORE - 4/6/04
Well, just an over crowded Asian city, over priced, over regulated and I couldn't wait to get out of there. Oh, its clean!
I got accommodation at the YMCA Metropolitan, which was clean and handy to the business area, at $70 a night, around middle of the road for Singapore. As I had 3 days before Doris arrived, I just walked around doing more touristy things, the Zoo is ok, so is the War memorial.
Finally monday 7/6/04 arrives, so its off to shipping agent to arrange to get Doris out of the container.
BE WARNED! Singapore is notorious for paperwork in volumes. They have inherited the worst of the British Empire. I t has been well documented in H.U. but you have to experience it to believe it.
9.00am sharp at shipping agent, fork out $10 for a taxi, then $45 for the shipping agent, off to the Port Authority by taxi, another $10, pay the Port Authority $2 for a pass, then go and find the bike.
Doris was released from her container, and we were reunited and on our way, only as far as the customs gate, were I was informed I need insurance from the AA. Another $10 taxi, and another $170 from my wallet, then back to the Wharf, yep another $10 taxi. get the Carnet stamped, and I am on my way to get Doris serviced at Performance BMW. These guys are very professional, and did a good job.
However I lost another day because of beaurocracy gone mad.
PREPARING TO LEAVE SINGAPORE FOR MALAYSIA - 9/6/04
I finally got away from the hotel at 9.00am, fist destination the Jahor border crossing,into Malaysia.
The roads in Singapore a quite confusing to a visitor, and of course I got lost, around in circles I went, until a friendly biker on a Honda Gold Wing helped me out and went out of way to show me the way to the border, he actually went there so I could follow him.
This is the second biker who went out of their way to help me, make sure you ask guys on big bikes, their usually older, not the young idiots that run around on 125cc 2 strokes, they have just no idea, suffer from NFI desease, NO F---G IDEA.
Getting out of Singapore was a lot easier than coming in, took about an hour total a both borders, remember what your mother taught you, always be pleasant to the Police and smile and shake their hands when leaving. On to Johor, and guess what, my luck had run out with the weather, because of a dirty big typhoon over the Phillipines, I got utterly pissed on and lashed with gale force winds, it wasn't cold so I persavered and rode the 180k to MALAKA, managed 120k/h on the expressway with a few cars passing at about 160k/h.
I booked into a backpackers lodge, reccommended by 2 bikers I met at the BMW shop in Singapore.
It's called KANCIL GUEST HOUSE (Mouse Deer in Malay). Give the owner Daud a ring on 06 281 4044 or check his web site out on www.machinta.com.sg/kancil/
He is a biker and has security around the back for your bike. Single room rm18.00, breakfast rm8.00. Bloody good value.
MALAKA is an historical town going back 400 years with the first Portugese Traders, it's worth a couple of days stop over, and the owner of the guest house can really spin a yarn about travel, keeping the young back packers intregued for hours, I'd better not say to much, I may corrupt their innocent minds!
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.
1 whiskey : $5A
1 beer (pint) $6A
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