Day 281 to 287 – Malaysia

Enter Malaysia.
Day 281 Nipha Thani village to Kuah,Langkawi.
Sunday 10th January

Restless nights sleep due to faulty air conditioning unit, we had no control buttons which meant it came on until the room was freezing, then turned itself off until the room was baking and then clicked back on again, a real pain.

We were up and on the road by 8.30am, we stopped for our last breakfast in Thailand before setting off for the border. The border crossing was the easiest and quickest yet, we simply showed our passports and were waved through, without realising until much later in the day we jumped forward an hour in time.
Gary; We are time travellers! how impressive is that. But if you look at it another way it means it took us an hour to travel 100 meters (the distance between the thai and Malaysian border posts).

The second part of our ride was to the ferry port so that we could go to Langkowi a Tropical Malaysian Island recommended to us from a couple we met from Kuala Lumpur.

The ride to the ferry port was uneventful, we stayed on the main road, as we passed menus and billboards it was good to see that we remembered some of the Malaysian language from our time in Kuala Lumpur, including the words for hello and thank you.

At the ferry port we stopped at the first desk to be told the next ferry would be the following morning, we were slightly confused as we had read on line that they ran on the hour, she must have recognised our confusion and suggested we try the next service provider. As she was showing us where this was located she remembered that the ferry had already gone, so she simply shrugged her shoulders and told us to return the next day. Gary was not convinced this was the case so we rode our bikes to the sea front and low and behold people were getting out of cars with their luggage and were clearly getting ready to board ferries that day. We stopped and asked at the desk and as we had thought the ferries did indeed run hourly. We can only imagine the first stall we had stopped at was for transporting cars. No harm done we simply booked our seats and checked the bikes in as cargo full cost £12.

The ferry took longer than I expected and unfortunately we were confined to our seats so didn’t get to see the views of the island as we approached. Once on dry land we had a quick look on the internet for accommodation but eventually decided to check in somewhere local for the night and make plans for the following day. We also had the blog to update and post and as it was already 4.30 we quickly checked in and went in search of a decent wifi connection (the hotels was rubbish). After wandering around trying to find a bar, we gave up and went into one of the bigger hotels. The area we stayed in was mainly muslim and most of the restaurants including the hotels do not sell alcohol. In the bigger hotel the wifi connection was much better but not super fast so we decided to order some food, which was rubbish, both meals had prawns on the top and they were served with their heads, tails and skin covered in very greasy breadcrumbs. I managed to eat most of my meal but Gary really struggled, it was one of the worse meals we’ve had for a long time.

Once the blog was on we went in search of a bar so we could do some further research but ended up back at our hotel which much to our surprise sold beer in a shop adjacent to the reception. Along with a small bottle of beer we both had a slice of cake but neither of us enjoyed them very much as the meal from earlier in the evening was not settling well in our tummies. We both ended up taking indigestion medicine before bed.

From the little bit of research we got to do there seems to be quite a bit to do on the Island including a sky walk, a mountain climb on the bikes, a 3d museum and possibly some snorkelling in a marine park.

Day 282 Langkawi, Kuah to Cenang
Monday 11th January
cycled 33 miles

We slept really well and didn’t get up for breakfast until 9.00am. Breakfast was included in the hotel room cost, I wasn’t expecting much so was pleasantly surprised when we were presented with a help your self buffet which included Western food, Malaysian and Thai. I opted for the rice and eggs whereas Gary had a little bit of everything.

It was only 13 miles to Cenang beach but 38 miles if we went around the island so we decided to cycle around the island and book into one of the beach resorts in Cenang. We stopped at a craft fair/museum but we didn’t stop long, we also stopped at a black beach resort, before heading off to the sky bus and sky walk which are the main attractions on the island.
Gary; the beaches on the North are really quiet, not a soul on black sands beach, there is another more popular beach up in this area but most of it is claimed by some exclusive resort hotels.

We had a bit of lunch before going on the sky bus (A cable car to the top of the mountain) it was the same type of buffet as yesterday and I had morning glory and rice, Gary had chicken and rice both meals came to less than £2. The island is a little tax haven so everything is cheaper than the main land, well at least it should be. The sky bus and sky walk were amazing, you could feel it rocking in the wind, the views were spectacular and more than made up for the fairly dull ride around the island. On the sky bus on the way up we shared a car we three lads from Malaysia and they were genuinely scared of the height it was quite funny to watch. I was really impressed with Gary he usually can’t resist rocking the sky buses but he was remarkably quiet and supportive.

Once back on the ground we cycled to the beach area we had been told it would be quite rowdy but it was more like Clacton on Sea than Ibiza. We checked into a simple run down motel and went in search of beer and food. We struggled at first to find a bar as there didn’t appear to be any on the beach, but not to be deterred we headed up to the main road and found a reggae bar with a couple from Tees side at the bar. We chatted with them for about an hour before venturing off and finding some food. We both fancied an Indian but the food was naff, when will we ever learn.

We finished the evening sat on some bean bags on the beach watching the stars and listening the the sea whilst doing a little research on the internet. It had been a lovely day but Gary had felt a little weary so we will probably spend another day in the area tomorrow.

Day 283 Cenang beach
Tuesday 12th January
rest day

Neither of us slept very well, bloody air conditioning units, they’re either too hot, too cold or just too noisy. We didn’t end up getting up until gone 10.30am!! Once we’d had breakfast we decided to spend a lazy day by the beach. We managed about 1 1/2 before we needed to get out of the heat, it was far too hot to just laze around in and instead we headed for a bar to do some research on flights back from NZ and route planning for the next couple of days.

We hit the beach again in the afternoon for another hour and then spent some time in the room chilling before going out for dinner.

Dinner ended up being a kebab at the end of the night, as we met up with Mark and Sue who we had met the previous night. We had a really good evening with them they’d been discussing our trip during the day and had a lot of questions for us as they’re thinking of doing something similar. The conversation flowed so easily we hope they keep in touch so we can follow their adventures. The conversation flowed a little too easily as it had gone 10.00pm before we even thought about food. The kebab was an easy option but it was horrible, I had a vegetarian one, but it was still really greasy yuk.

Day 284
Wednesday 13th January
Cenang beach, Langkawi to Alor Setar
43 miles
Gary; I set off in the morning with Ginette, but by the end of the ride had a hungry monster to try to tame.

We started the day with an ice coffee from the mini mart with the intention of having breakfast at the ferry port. We hadn’t fractured in that the 13 miles to the ferry port would be a lumpy 13 miles so when we arrived we were starving (Ginette with the hollow legs was starving). Fortunately we had time to buy our tickets and grab something to eat before boarding.

As we waited for the ferry a guy from England came and talked to us about our trip he was backpacking around South East Asia with his girlfriend for 3 months. No sooner were we on the ferry and Gary got talking to some men who had been on Langkawi to look at some property and they talked pretty much none stop for the journey. It is great that people are interested in our trip but it feels kinda of strange having so much interest in what we’re doing when we have either been in areas without our bikes i.e. Krabie or in areas where the locals do not speak very good english, so although they’re interested the conversation is very limited.
Gary; the three Malaysian men had all been to America for part of their education somspoke extremely good English so e managed to have a good conversation

Once off the ferry we cycled the 28 miles to Alor Setar I was hungry when we arrived and should have got something to eat but I thought it was a little early so waited, which was a big mistake. Gary picked up on the fact I was hungry and took me to a shopping mall but I didn’t want to eat there and said I could wait, I was wrong, I tried to quell the feeling by having a soft fizzy drink but about 1/2 hour later I was really hungry and needed food. I have felt hunger before but the feeling I get now when I haven’t eaten for a while is all consuming my whole body seems to shout out for food and I can feel myself getting more stressed every minute I have to wait for food.
Gary, Ginette turns into the angry bear in the locker room and needs food to turn her back into a human, well at least a semi allien-human.

Fortunately we had met a man whilst we were drinking our drinks and he advised us where to go for a quick snack, I wasted no time going there whilst Gary stopped to take some photos. (Ginette was on a food mission, like a dust storm shooting up the road) The area has got some amazing architecture including a lovely white mosque (Masjid Zahir), a telecom tower ( Alor Setar tower), a three tired tower (Balai Nobart) and a clock tower.

After I had fed the monster inside of me I could join in the conversation Gary was having with the guy who had served us (At this stage I was able to take her muzzle and lead off), he apparently had worked in the UK in Leeds and had recently returned to Malaysia to earn some more money and help out his family as his father was ill but he wanted to travel to Melbourne or Perth. He made some interesting observations about the UK mainly our benefit system and said he would not return as he felt people had become more disrespectful in the last few years. His english was not great and some of his comments were misinformed but it was good to talk to him. We didn’t stop long as we wanted to go up the telecom tower and watch the sun go down.

The telecom tower was a little disappointing although the views were good the shop was closed as was the rotating restaurant. We were the only people on the observation floor and it felt a little eery so we didn’t stay long and instead decided to go to the shopping mall for a wander around. We were only passing time but enjoyed a McFlurry before going back to the mosque to take some photos of the mosque which was lit up beautifully. As we returned to the hotel we could hear thunder and see lightening in the distance, hopefully there will be a big storm during the night and it will be a bit cooler tomorrow. The temperature was up to 39c on the bikes which was s little too hot for me.

Gary; It is good to be back in a muslim country to hear the haunting melody of the call to prayer to the mosques, the down side is trying to find a shop / cafe that serves beer. It would appear that Malaysia has many well educated people with some very good English so it is great to be able to communicate with the locals.
Day 285
Thursday 14th Jan
53 miles
from there to here

Woke later than normal but Gary was still snoozing so I had a sneaky peek at Facebook before waking him.

By the time we had packed up it had gone 9.30 so we decided to hit the road for a couple of miles before stopping for breakfast.

The roads in the morning were very flat and boring, I was grateful for my podcasts. Gary amused himself by whistling along with the birds and waving to inflatable figures outside of garages. He was a little grouchy as he was tired, hot and his breakfast hadn’t settled. It was very hot at one point we checked the garmin and it was 46 centigrade. Fortunately in the afternoon not only did the terrain change but so did the weather and at the end of the day we were treated to a rain shower. We sought refuge in a cafe I was hungry (I know again!) so ordered a meal whereas Gary still wasn’t feeling so great so ordered some soup. His meal arrived within 10 minutes of sitting down whereas mine didn’t materialise at all. That is probably a little unfair, after 1/2 hour long after Gary had finished his soup the man came to explain the rice had finished but went in search for some from another cafe. He returned about 5 minutes later with a plate of plain white rice and a thin soup with meat in it. I thanked him but asked for the bill.

Earlier in the day we’d stopped for a drink and to find a toilet and as we stopped a man (who appeared to own a pop up cafe) asked us where we were going and started to give us directions as if we were lost. We allowed him to finish before asking for the nearest toilet, we could see signs on the opposite side of the road but instead of directing us these toilets he kindly invited me into his house to use his loo. As we entered the house he invited me to his mum who was kneeling on the floor reading the Koran, she barely batted an eyelid even though I can’t imagine it is every day a lycra wearing middle aged woman enters her house to use the loo. It was a really generous act and if this wasn’t enough he then offered us a free drink, we only wanted iced water but all the same it was a lovely gesture.

Our final destination was a biggish town we had plotted a hotel but missed it on our first attempt so tried a different hotel which was rubbish, as we had already researched the first hotel we doubled back and found it. It was 100% better than the other hotel, so I’m glad we did, The hotel was very grand inside it had an amazing ornate staircase and the rooms were stylishly decorated . I was a little concerned the price quoted was higher than the price on the information sheet in the reception area, I queried this and was informed the price difference was firstly because the lower price was based on single occupancy and secondly the lower price was for public holidays, I queried this and the receptionist explained school holidays and other holidays were cheaper than non peak times, very strange.

We had a chinese for dinner with a bottle of beer from Japan which was most agreeable.
Day 286
Firday 15th Jan
30 miles
from there to Panang

Another late start we both had a restless nights sleep so we didn’t set off until 9.30am

As we were hungry we ate at a local restaurant I had dahl and 2 rotties and Gary had some chicken kebab meat in a roll yuk.

We stopped mid morning as Gary had tummy cramps we’re convinced we’re both changing sex, I eat non stop, love beer and can’t be bothered with small talk whereas Gary is having period pains he’s grouchy and loves passing time with strangers.

A fairly uneventful ride down to the port, the road was flat, it was interesting to note how muslim this area of Malaysia is, it has a very similar feel to Jakarta but with more cars on the road. the only other interesting thing was watching a very large lizard dive into a stream, we’ve seen quite a lot of dead lizards on the road but this was the first one I’d seen alive for awhile, I was so excited that I dragged Gary back to have a look where the lizard had dived into the water but of course by the time we returned the lizard had dissapeared.

We took a wrong turn into the ferry port and ended up cycling up the motorway (the signs were very poor) which meant we didn’t get to stop for a drink before getting on the ferry. We were both very thirsty so were relieved to find a small cart selling drinks on the upper level of the ferry. To get to it we had to negotiate our way round the car park of the ground floor ferry platform (most people stayed with their vehicles as it was only a 15 minute crossing)

Once on in Penang we headed to a restaurant to feed my inner beast, we struck lucky and found a vegetarian restaurant and managed to have two big plates of food and 2 sprites for less than £3.

We had booked our hotel on line and found it easily, it is a little basic but it is clean and the staff were very welcoming.

In the evening we went out to explore the area we discovered a bar called naughty xxxx and had a small bottle of cider each and was a little shock to realise they were £3 each! Realising that our money wouldn’t last the night we went in search of an ATM. We stopped on the way back for another beer/cider and some nibbles in a little courtyard. The area we were in was lit up with fairy lights and looked really pretty and inviting. We didn’t stay out late as we were both tired but agreed we’d return the following night with the camera.

Day 287
chill out day

Again another bad nights sleep grrrrr

Gary’s diary

We enjoyed our complimentary breakfast we walked around George Town, there was a lot to see but at first we wandered aimlessly . We did try to hire a rickshaw to guide us around but the locals English was too poor for us to get any benefit from this. After a morning walking around the narrow streets and little India (a much cleaner version) we stumbled upon a tourist office with a map of an art walk. This walk was great, there were Banksy like paintings and steel sculptures all around the town, too many for us to see them all, we had great fun for the rest of the day finding these art forms especially as some are interactive such as being able to share a swing with some children painted on the wall. We also visited a gallery of optical illusions, we had many a photo shoot in this gallery and spent a fun hour trying out all the different poses that this gallery had to offer.
Our hotel Wifi is poor so we have had to go to three different venues (Ginette: Bars) to be able to put on the photos and update the blog, a bit of a pain but beer is included in the adventure so not all bad.