Malaysia | Tanah Rata - Ipoh - Penang - Langkawi | 31st May '15 to 9th June '15 | 8949km
We timed our arrival at a temple beside the long and fairly boring road to Georgetown very well, just as a Hindu festival was getting to the good bit. An extremely affable chap called David had offered us a place to kip and told us to meet him there. We took a fairly ineffective shower and changed into our most respectful clothing (thank you Tengku for the Malaysian warrior threads!) and followed the crowd to the river. Trying to cool down, we looked on as the body piercing commenced, drums were beaten and women danced and swayed in a trance like state, only to be released by a firm thumb press to the head by the priest. Several boys were pierced with hooks to their backs and held upright by ropes. They had spears through their cheeks and apparently felt no pain as their mates danced deliriously around them. As they were shepherded back to the temple to perform a fire walking ceremony, we headed off with David to sample his mates toddy, a type of wine made from the sap of the coconut tree (Flora wasn’t keen) and fell asleep very quickly.
The next morning we decided to chill out with David who had plenty of interesting stories about touring in the UK, US and Europe. He took us back to the temple for lunch and we sat chatting as tens of enormous metal vats where hauled over. As outsiders, we were made to feel extremely welcome. Banana leaves were laid out and a selection of incredible vegetarian curries dolled out, washed down with rose flavoured tea. After a much needed lie down to digest and avoid the midday sun we left, escorted by David on his scooter through the back roads and along a yet to be opened motorway all the to Butterworth. As per unusual by about 4pm, everything went dark and it tipped it down.
In Penang we wandered the backstreets for a few days and took pictures of people taking pictures of people stood blocking the thing they came to take a picture of. We stayed on the floor of an apartment where two sisters lived with their adorable Mum, famous for her spring rolls. She makes the pancakes with a wet dough that she slaps against the hot pan, only leaving a wafer thin coating, serious tekkers. Auntie spring roll and the girls spent an evening trying to help Flo work out how she was going to ask for veggie food once we get to China - with difficultly it seems! Although we had no idea at the time, they casually introduced us to a Lithuanian artist friend, who we later learnt was actual Ernest Zacharevic, the guy responsible for Penang’s now infamous street art! We posted our tent (which we’ll probably never see again) and some other cold weather gear to Hugo at our Hong Kong HQ, figuring we’d ride lighter for a few months while accommodation was cheap and it was essentially too hot to camp.
We did our last bit of island hopping on a dingy ferry up to Langkawi. We’re sick of ferries now as in most cases, having the bikes gives anyone with a bit of authority the chance to try and extort money from you, despite the fact that many other passenger have suitcase bigger and heavier than our bikes. On Langkawi we chilled out with a super relaxed Canadian, Jamie, and his Japanese wife Ryoko. They treated us to lots of duty free beer and the use of there scooter. Jamie had ridden from Canada in his early twenties and stopped in Langkawi when he ran out of money, and has been there ever since. He has two gorgeous VW campers which together we decided he’s going to drive back to Europe when he retires, maybe. For us, Malaysia was definitely about the people and the food which we're sad to leave!
Days in Malaysia - 20 days, 11 days riding
Distance ridden - 1244km (8949km in total)
Days over 100km - Six
Longest day - 9h37mins and 136km up to Tanah Rata
Favourite drink - Tea Tarik, duty free beers
Daily roti consumption - Unhealthy
TV interviews - One
Warrior selfies circulating Malaysian social media - too many!
Punctures - Two, one each, bring the trip total to six. Luke's back tyre has worn the most, so we swapped it with Flo's front, the least worn. Exciting stuff.