April 24, 2006 GMT
Going North!

After all the months of careful preparation, we finally left our house in Melaka five minutes before the landlord was due to move back in, stuff packed everywhere, hangovers on board.

We'd still heard nothing about the RoRo ferry we wanted to catch from Penang to Indonesia but had decided to head North to visit our friends in Ipoh, Brett and Christine, and watch the motocross race on Brett's track. From there we could easily get to Penang to see what the ferry status was. We would also be near the Thai border as our visas are due to run out on Sunday 30th April, so it would be easy to head out of the country if we couldn't get to Indonesia.

It all felt incredibly unreal, as if I was in a dream. We said bye to the house, our home for the past 7 years, the deck and the sea. My cat came to bid us farewell, having found her way back home. I took her back to her new home at our neighbour's (twice - new name, Houdini) and then we set off, our friends Nicki and Chris waving madly behind us.



One km down the road the speedo decided to pack up after years of faithful service so we stopped and Hame attempted to fix it.


An hour sweating by the roadside gave me a chance to think about what on earth we were doing, I was a bit nervous, excited, scared, bewildered all at once. It had been such a crazy week of 'to do' lists and farewell parties (about 10 of them) that we'd not really had time to think... standing by the roadside it sank in a bit. A man by the name of Joseph appeared with a rag for Hame to wipe his hands on. Joseph was wearing a t-shirt with the logo for a motocross ride in California, I explained that we were in Hour One of a round the world trip, and that we were headed to California, amongst other places. As I told him this it began to dawn on me what we were doing...

Speedo fixed, we set off again, only to see the needle drop. Hame said it was too hot to stop again and fix it (as usual it was about 35 degrees) and that he'd fix it in Ipoh in our friend Brett's workshop.

As we rode it still felt as if we were off just for the weekend, we chatted down the intercom and sang very badly and soon covered the 150km to Sungai Buloh, near KL. At this point I turned around to see one of our bags (the one with all the stuff in that wouldn't fit anywhere else) sliding off the back so I yelled at Hame to stop. We pulled up right outside a KFC to fix it then decided we may as well stop and eat (am developing a worrying addiction to burgers after a couple of weeks of not much in the fridge).

We arrived in Ipoh a little physically and emotionally shattered, but a good night's sleep sorted that out. The next afternoon we all headed to the track to catch the end of the race and catch up with some friends. More farewells.

It is Monday 24th now, and we still have not heard about the ferry. As we don't have a carnet we cannot safely ship from any of the other ports; this particular ferry operator has an arrangement with Indonesia to temporarily import Malaysian registered bikes without a carnet so it's ideal for us. It's been running since August last year (Penang to Medan) but two months ago we were told the service had stopped for 'three weeks' - we've both been in Asia long enough to know that three weeks can mean anything!

If we can't get the ferry we'll head North to Thailand and make a new plan from there. One possibility is to air freight the bike to Australia and miss out Indonesia altogether, but we don't want to do this. Fingers crossed, we'll get some good news today, or head to Penang tomorrow and speak to the agent face to face. While at the track yesterday we met a guy who has a bike shop in Penang and said he may be able to help. I never realised, not being a biker, how many networks of bikers there are in the world, and how all bikers will help other bikers in need.


Posted by Emma Myatt at April 24, 2006 04:28 AM GMT

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