MALAYSIA: 06.03. - 11.04.2005

Route: Tenah Merah, Kuala Besut, Pulau Pehentian Besar, Cherating, Kuantan, Johor Bahru, Melakka, Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown

Distance Bike:  1688 Km   Ascent (in total): 3400m 

Preface: In most of the countries of Southeast Asia the state religion is Buddhism, but not so in Malaysia. The state religion of Malaysia is the Islam. Compared with the most countries of the Middle East, the woman are quite free in Malaysia, although they normally also have not to wear a scarf. Malaysia is a multicultural society, with the Indians and the Chinese as the strongest foreign groups. Like in Singapore, although not as successful, all these different groups live quite peaceful together. For us the best of this multicultural society was the great cuisine. Everything was available from the traditional Muslim dish, to a Chinese soup to the delicious Indian bread (Nan). The roads are pretty good, and most of the time we even had our own line (the emergency line). Camping was also no problem. For traveling by bicycle Malaysia is a great country, and there are many things to see and to do (snorkeling, diving, national parks, mountains, beautiful beaches,)
Pulau Perhentian: Our first destination in Malaysia was the island Pulau Perhentian. After a two hours rough boat trip, we arrived on Pulau Perhentian Besar, the bigger one of the two islands. And this island was really great: lonely beaches with white sand, and coconut trees for the shadow and an impressive underwater world. Of course there was neither a supermarket or a small shop, but just some guesthouses and some restaurants. Robinson Crusoe would have loved this place!
Snorkelling: Just some meters away from our Guesthouse was a very beautiful riff for snorkelling. Thanks to the snorkelling equipment we bought in Bangkok, we had the chance to snorkel the hole day round. And it was really great! Besides the normal fish you can find at any riff, we saw some sharks (black tip fin), some blue spottet stingrays, some clownfishes (the famous "Nemo", from the Walt Disney movie), a big green seaturtle and some barakudas. We tried to take some pictures with our camera, but the autofocus couldnīt manage it. So we just have the picture we made from the boat.
Diving on Pulau Perhentian: Having finished my first diving course in Thailand succesfully I of course wanted to dive also in Malaysia, and so I made two dives. Together with Uda, our divemaster, me and two other divers went under water. Besides a morea eel, some kingfishes and a queenfish we also saw some really big fishes I wouldnīt like to meet on a dark narrow road. But the absolute highligt of this dive were two huge black blotched rays (the disk oft he ray had a diameter of about 1,5m without the tail!!!!!). Suddenly they came straight towards us, crossed diektly in front of our eyes, made a U-turn next to us and disapeared in the ocean. The two Rays were accomobined by a big scool of kingfish, following them like bodyguards. On our second dive we went to a pinnacle in front of the island and again we saw many fascinating animals: Bamboo Sharks, diffrent kinds of rays, some morea eels, on giant morea eel (diameter of 40cm!!!), a big schools of barrakudas and 2 giant triggerfish. The two giant triggerfish started to attack us, but we were able to defend us with our fins. Besides the great feeling to "fly" through the ocean also the underwater world is absolutely fascinating for me. Whilde diving or snorkelling you can observe so many diffrent wild animals, even not swimming away from you, like otherwise it is only possible in a zoo.
Batik Malaysia: So far I always thought, that batik is the name for the colorful "Hippi"-textile. In Malaysia batik means, that the textile got a pattern while it was somehow made coloured. Besides the classical "Hippi"-batik also silk painting is called batik. In a cultural centre in Cheranting we had the oppertunety to see the making af a traditional malaysian Batik. Athe the beginning the artist painted a picture with melted syntetic wax (paraffin of colofonium) on a white textile. Then he took the textile in a fixing fluency and afterwards in the color (classically: dark blue). Now the superfluos colour was washed out of the textile with water. The last step of the process was washing out the wax with boiling sodawatwer. For a good artist, it takes just some minutes to make a beautiful batik.
A monkeyīs job: We also saw a show with a monkey picking coconuts. The monkey was trained for picking coconuts in a special school in Thailand. There the monkey learned to distinguish between a young and an old coconut, and to pick the demanded quantety. After the monkey got its order he quickly climbed the palm, picked one young and one old coconut and returned immediately to its boss. For its job the monkey got served a fresh coconut and drank it with a straw. The monkey was quite friendly, but wen a tourist came to close, while it was drinking its coconut, the monkey bare its long teeth.
Islam in Malaysia:  In Malaysia the state religion is the Islam and were were really looking forward to see a muslim culture in Southeast Asia. First we were amazed from the futuristic style of the mosques. We also were really happy to see that the woman, altough also forced to wear a scarf, were quite free. Diffret to the Arabic coutriesthey were working on the market and in restaurants, and they were allowed to ride a bicycle or a motorbike. The women also behaved totaly normal (als normal as the man) while having contact with us and especially me. Additional we also had one of the best things of all muslim countries: no drunk man driving a car, truck or bus!
Huge Cycle-riksha: Although our boat is now back in Germany, we still had too much laguagge, so we decided to change to a bigger bicycle with more space to store our luggage. Because our "new bike" is a little bit toooooo big, we now have to share one bicycle: Nadine is steering while I have to pedal.
Kuala Lumpur: Like Singapore Kuala Lumpur (KL) is one of Asias upraising industrial cities. KL is not as clean and organized as Singapore, but the Skyline ist also very impressive. Also the public transport system is very modern. The subway for example is driving without a driver below the city, and at each station the doors are opening on their own. I didnīt feel comfortable in this ghostlike anonym subway. But on the other hand it ist very busy and chaotic on the roads, and Little India and Chinatown are everything but not an oasis for relaxing. We had a windowless box like room in a chomfortable guesthouse with the charme of an old French villa. Because we had to apply for our visa for Australia we nearly stayed one week in KL and we really enjoyed this busy city.
Petronas Towers: The landmark of Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia as an uprising industrial nation, are the amazing Petronas Towers. The twin towers were finished in 1998 and are with 491,5m the highest in the world. With a Skybridge connecting level 41 and 42, each tower has 88 floors.The footplan is based on a eight-sided star, and each towers five tiers represent the five pillars of Islam (daily prayer, tax and donation, pilgrimage to Mecca, fastening at Ramadan and Jihad the holy war). The costs of the futuristic towers were 1,9 billion US$. The beautiful fasade of the towers is completely made out of steel and glas.
1st Invitation since Pakistan: During the dusk, with us not yet having a place to pitch our tent, suddenly a big thunderstorm came. We had good luck and managed to hide us in a small bus stop, before we were completely wet. Now we were sitting at a dry place, but it became darker and darker from minute to minute, and our chance to finde a place for the night disapeared. We were already looking for a place to pitch our tent during the last 15 Kmīs, but we couldnīd find one, and in the dark night it would be nearly impossible. Behind of our bus stop was the entrance to an Oilpalm estate an so wedecided to ask the guard, it it would be possible to pitch up our tent besides his small hut. The guard made some telephon calls and told us, that we could stay durig the night in the small Hindu temple of the estate. We were really happy about this, because we had a safe and dry place for sleeping and we also had the chance to sleep in a Hindu Temple (so far we slept already in a church, a mosque and in a Buddhist temple). We were still happy about our luck, when the Assiastant Manager of the estate came and invited us to his house. Some minutes later we were sitting, after a refreshing shower and a hot chocolate in our hand in the livingroom of hostfamily and told them about our journey. By the way, the grandfather of the Assiatant Manager came from Sri Lanka to Malaysia. We really had good luck to stay together witht his really friendly family, and because we had no chance to stay together with a family since 9 months ( last time was in Lahore in Pakistan), we enjoyed it twice as much!
Oilpalms: All over the east coast of Malaysia there are huge plantations of palms with huge fruits. From our host we finally learned more about this palms. The fruits of the palms are used to produce the palm oil. The fruits are very big (like 2 watermelons) and 1/3 of the fruit ist the precious oil. The production of palmoil is such a good business, that all the rupper plantations are now replaced with palmoil plantations. On the photo you can see a company producing the oil from the fruits.
David a cyclist from Malayisa: Two days later, we just cycled 15 Km, David suddenly appeared next to us with his bicycle. He introduced himself asone ofthe few malaysian cyclists and invited us to his home. Normally we only wanted to stay for one cup of tea, but David persuaded us to stay overnight. We brought our panniers into the guestroom, took a shower and then went wtih David to explore the neighborhood with his car. So we sawa place where a strong Coconutliquer was produced, to a small fishermen village and a ecompany producing slalty dugeggs (the dugeggs are cleaned and then covered with some salty clai for conservation. Then the "claieggs" are covered with some black ASCHE from burned ricestraw an packed into boxes for shipping. We went back home and at 3pm. David left us to go to work (late shift). He told us, that his wife would arrive in about 30 minutes and in about 1,5 hours a friend of him would pick us up to join the "Hash Run". He gave us his card and dissapeared. When we were on our own we looked closer to his card and the copies of his website we found out, that we are sitting in a Guesthouse. We were quite confused and decided to ring up David. We asked David about his Guesthouse, but he was just loughing and told us, that cyclists wouldn have to pay. The Guesthouse was fare away from the next town and only cyclists are able to find it. We still were quite confused and decided to leave. When we started to fix our panniers to the bikes Davis wife, she arrived in the meanwhile but didnīt care about us at all, asked us about our plans. We told her that we didnīt knew what was going on and that we are planning to leave. Now she made a telphoncall to her husband, and 15 minutes later David was back. Now David told us, that a friend of him had made the website and the visitcard for him and that he is offering his guesthousservice only for backpackers. We still were not really convinced, but we decided to stay. We also had to make the Hash Run!
Hash Run: In the late afternoon one of Davids friends picked us up to join the "Hash Run". The Hash Run is a Running Club, the first club was founded in England. The clubmember meet once ore twice a week, make the run and sit together for some eating and dringking afterwards. Each week the location is different, and the todays run was in a oilpalm plantation on a hill. While the other participats were dressend with the latest running shoes and long socks (against leeches and thorns) we only had our sandals. We had good luck because the members of this clum were all but no profis, and so we were able to walk the entire distance; not the worst idea with over 30°C in the shadow! The next 1,5 hours we were walking uphill and downhill right through the jungle. One of the clubmembers told us, that last week he was running together with a tourist from England and they got lost in the jungle. It was completely dark after 8pm and the other clubmembers couldn find them earlier than 11pm!!! After the run we really enjoyed the small party, allthough most of the food was much too hot (too much chilly) for us. Then a whole army of mosquitos decided to attack us everybody was running to his car after shouting a fast "good bye".
Georgetown: We spent our last day in Malaysia in Georgetown. Georgetown is the first settlement of the British Empire in Malaysia and is the biggest city of the island Penang. Like everywhere in Malaysia there are also many people of Indian origin in Georgetown and so we used the last change to enjoy the great Indian food; especially Nan or Chapatti and Dhal. From Georgetown we took the ferryboat to Sumatra, the biggest island of Indonesia.



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