First Trip to Malaysia

26 June 2009

So my bumblebee has been with in Singapore for a couple of months now, but work has been crazy so no chance to explore.  Apart from the stop-start traffic in Singapore that is.
Until today.  I took the day off and headed to Malaysia to get some speed, some miles and some unpaved roads under my belt.

I left Singapore at 9.30am via Woodlands checkpoint. I figured it would be quiet going into Malaysia at that time, and I was right.  Lots of dedicated bike lanes - but no white bit of paper (we'll come back to that later).

I followed the roadworks and occasional sign until I hit the E2 North/South Expressway.  Two lanes in either direction, good tarmac and reasonable manners from other people on the road.

My GPS kept screaming about the speed limit - 110kmh.  That's 70mph, yet another hangover from the colonial days . There was the occasional lunatic going at 200kmh, and most of the little scooters toddling along on the hard shoulder at 30kmh.

Lots of rest areas along the way, but I stayed on the E2 until Yong Peng, where I stopped for petrol and a coke.  I filled up 14 litres and it cost something like RM25 which is almost free.  I have to come here more often!


From Yong Peng I took the Hwy 1 then J150 to Bekok and carried on...the tarmac becomes broken tarmac, then occasional gravel.  Then mostly gravel.

  Then  the gravel runs out too.

  Sandy/gritty roads all the way, complete with deep gorges where the rain water has washed the road surface away.

  I was totally in my Simon Pavey moment.  Up on the pegs during the tricky parts, razzing along at a steady 70kmh, slowing down for the corners on account of the loose surface and lack of experience and confidence.

Of course, there are people living out here also...and the kids have to get home from school somehow.

Now, I thought I was doing pretty well with my little 'off-road' excursion...

  ...until dad and son on a little scooter come pootling past. Obviously they do this every day, risking life and limb.

You can see from the photo that in Malaysia (and often in Singapore) there is no need to wear any kind of safety gear.  No boots, helmet, jacket or gloves here - the power of sunshine will protect you.

  Of course, I am sweating my ass off inside my mesh armoured jacket, kevlar jeans and knee protectors and Tech3 boots. I feel a right ponce.  But also slightly glad after taking a couple of corner a little hot and musing on the consequences.

Out here theres little chance of an ambulance, and you can't call the need to be self sufficient and sure that if you do come off you can still ride afterwards.  Similarly, any problems with the Bike...well there ain't no BMW Assist out here.

About 5kms short of Sg Selai, the sky turned black and I could see lightning in the distance.  Not wanting to be riding on this surface in a downpour of biblical proportions, I figured it was safest to head back to civilization.

I made it nearly as far as the E2 again before the sky opened up on me, so I stopped to put my wet weather gear on.

Thankfully, the temperature dropped to about 32 C, so it wasn't too uncomfortably hot.  But the can it rain here.

An hour later I was 40kms from Tusa and able to stop long enough to take the wet stuff off.

Passing through Passport control leaving Malaysia, the guy kept asking for my white card.  I had no idea what he meant.  Apparently, you're supposed to fill one out when you enter why did nobody ask me to on the way in?!?  After telling him I didn't have one several times, he caved in and just let me pass.  Can't see that happening in the UK.

The last hour of the trip was the worst.  Singapore passport control goes like this:
  1. Stop at booth
  2. Remove gloves
  3. Remove helmet
  4. Remove cashcard
  5. Pay toll
  6. Pull forwards then put gloves/helmet back on

Now, you'd expect that at passport control.  The bit that makes me mad is that 20 metres around the corner you have to...

  1. Stop
  2. Remove gloves
  3. Remove helmet
  4. Have temperature taken to make sure you aren't carrying the pig flu
  5. Put gloves/helmet back on

Kind wish they could have taken my temperature at the same time as the passport check, right? But with Singapore's typical efficiency, the passport clerk probably isn't certified to use a thermometer.

Then, to really make my day, a few meters further on I have to stop and go through the whole routine again for customs to inspect my wet gear and empty coke cans in my pannier.

Anyone that has traveled the AYE at 5pm on a Friday will know its quite a demoralizing experience.  My adrenaline high from some excellent biking in Malaysia was quickly damped.   I can't even filter (lane share) with the panniers on, that 800GS is a wide-ass bike!

But all in all, a good first trip to Malaysia, I promise I will have to go more often now.  We're lucky in Singapore to be so close to such excellent biking roads and off-roads, I must make more of my time here.


About This Blog

I had been saving for a ST1300 for a long time, as it was clear that my Deauville wasn't up the task.

In November 2007 I saw pictures of the F800GS and ran to the dealers to place a deposit.

On 13th March 2008 I took delivery and have never regretted it.

On 13th April 2009 my 800GS joined me in Singapore for a new life and adventures...

This is my F800GS Blog.


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