486.5 kilometers in 5 days of cycling
2,427.8 kilometers so far!!!
Day 35- July 9, 2015- Jerantut to Temerloh
Cycling through the middle of Malaysia was definitely a different experience from cycling along the coast. We were glad we had chosen to leave the coast for our last week in Malaysia. The terrain was a little more varied with some rolling hills and the occasional jungle thrown in there, all surrounded by palm oil forests of course.
Also now that we were further from the North we were noticing more diversity i.e. Chinese people who would keep their restaurants open all day. All of a sudden we didn’t have to rely on our hotel to give us breakfast and peanut butter and jelly by the side of the road for lunch. These previous staples were replaced by Chinese noodle soups and overly-sweetened tea.
Mike got his fourth flat tire on the same tire in about as many days today. We either weren’t changing them properly or he was getting really unlucky, but something wasn’t right. After some closer inspection we found that his rear tires treads were almost completely worn down. Any debris on the side of the highway could pierce through that, and they were. So we rolled into Temerloh looking for a bicycle shop. So far it had been easy to find bicycle shops in even the smallest towns in Malaysia and Temerloh was no exception. He got a new tire, a new tube, and we found a place to sleep. That tire got no more punctures for the rest of the trip.
That night we were taken out to dinner by a Malaysian guy who was studying at a university in London and was just home for the summer break to make some money. He took us to an apparently famous fish restaurant to break our fast, answered a couple of the questions about Malaysian and Muslim culture that we had after cycling here for two weeks. These are the kinds of interactions you get to have when the language barrier isn’t as much of an issue, which it isn’t in Malaysia.
Day 36- July 10, 2015- Temerloh to Bahau
This was one of those days where we had one road we could take, there were no other options that would have helped us avoid this pretty miserable stretch.
We spent the day cycling up and down seemingly endless rolling hills along a road that was made for one purpose – to connect palm oil plantations to the rest of Malaysia. We shared the road with trucks and lorys carrying huge logs and palm oil berries all day. It felt like with every new hill we climbed they just creeped closer and closer to us. It was a long, hot, exhausting day.
The highlight of the day, and probably one of our top 5 highlights of Malaysia, happened around the middle of the day when a police car pulled Mike over, only because they wanted to take a picture with us! We doubt that they see many cyclists come through these parts.
Day 37- July 11, 2015- Bahau to Melakka
Today was more hills also, but this time they were going in our direction. 100 kilometer days go by much faster when you’re easily cruising downhill into your destination which also happens to be one of the coolest places you have stopped at in Malaysia.
The last 20 km before getting into Melaka were back to large 4 lane highway with lots of traffic. We found that if you just stick with the motorcyclists (are there are lots of them) the cars will respect your space. We rolled in, found a great guest house: Tony’s. It was right in the thick of the historical district and a perfect place to start our weekend off in Melaka!
Day 39 and 39- see SIDE TRIP TO MELAKKA
Day 40- July 14, 2015- Melaka to Batu Pahat
Our guest house in Melaka was known for its breakfasts cooked by the owner himself so we weren’t about to skip one of those, which gave us a later start time than we wanted. This day was another flat relatively uneventful day of cycling.
We cycled past tons of marshes and farmlands that had small paved footpaths winding through them. In the morning we took a couple of these that looked like they were going in direction we wanted them to go in, and so ended up doing an extra 10 kilometers of backtracking when they dropped us off in the middle of nowhere – typical Malaysia. Still today for the first time in Malaysia there were a couple of side roads that kept us off the highway, it was probably because of a higher density of people living along this part of the coast.
When we were on one of the country highways we got two free bushels of rambutans from a generous stranger on a motorbike. All in all, a really nice day.
Day 41- July 15, 2015- Batu Pahat to Gelang Patah
Unlike yesterday this day kept us on the highway the entire trip. It was a long day, we started later than we wanted to, and couldn’t really afford to waste time back tracking on backroads. This last stretch of Malaysia was different than the other parts we had cycled in. We were going through large beautiful suburbs filled with massive houses that connected larger port towns. There was clearly some money down here. After all, we were getting closer and closer to Singapore, and we figured since Singapore is such a small and expensive country it would only make sense for people to live in and commute from cheaper Malaysia.
We arrived in Gelang Patah around dusk hoping to find some hodgepodge of a city with a few cheap guesthouses. Instead we found a series of new developments that were probably going to be the sprawl of Singapore in the next few years. We almost didn’t have enough money for one of the few hotels in the area and had to bargain to get them to let us share a single room for a slightly reduced price. This cheap bargaining mindset might not have been the one we wanted to enter Singapore with, but hey, what are you gonna do?