January 09, 2005 GMT
Twin Towers

I'm awfully impressed with Malaysia.

I've checked in to the Marriott in Kuala Lumpur, and the security card for the hotel car park is specifically for motorcycles and designed to hang on the handlebars or mirror stalk.

On the motorway, there's a sign showing an umbrella and a bike by most bridges and in some other places. This means you are officially allowed to come on to the hard shoulder and behind the bridge support to either shelter or get into your wetties. There's a small gap in the Armco for this purpose, and hard standing provided. In the absence of a bridge there are shelters.

There's no toll for bikes, of course, and a neat little go-round is provided at each toll plaza.

Petrol is around 20p a litre.

Roads are rather Spanish, driving verges on the Italian, and it's odd to ride through tropical jungle where the wildlife drowns out the noise of your tappets.

Instead of being pasted on to the ceiling, the arrow pointing to Mecca is discreetly taped inside a drwaer, and prayer mats are available from Reception.

As I rode down through Thailand (route 4 is the only road) I passed through the narrowest part - just under 11km from the east coast to the Myanmar border. I passed lots of Red Cross trucks, and there was a positive jam of them at the Phulet/Krabi turnoff; and there were still more further south, heading for Phnangna and Malaysia en route to Indonesia.

A number of people have mentioned that thay thought it was rather in bad taste for people to continue their holidays, surfing and sunbathing on Phuket island. Well, what would you do? You've just started your holiday, you can't go home as flights are full of injured and bereaved, you can't do much to help as you'll only get in the way of the professionals; so, sit in a hotel room feeling sorry for yourself, or carry on your holiday? As well as that, the only income most of the
locals have in the affected areas is from the tourists, and if you don't spend your money there they're going to be even worse off than they are already.

Malaysia is full of Landies, mainly S3s but a fair number of Defenders and later, especially in the mountains.

Thurs 6th - Bang Saphan N11 12.506 E099 32.372
Fri 7th - Hat Yai N07 00.405 E100 28.177
Sat 8th - Tanah Rata N04 28.260 E101 22.753 altitude 4721ft
Sun 9th - Kuala Lumpur

Last night at Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands was great. The road winds for 30 miles, rising from sea level to nearly 5000 feet, through tropical rainforest and, higher up, the tea plantations. Stunning ride there and back (notwithstanding the fact that it was pissing with rain yesterday afternoon). Another one to add to the list of the WGBRs.

And as you approach KL on the motorway, you come over the crest of a hill and there are the Petronas Towers in front of you. Screech to halt, pic.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at January 09, 2005 08:14 PM GMT

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