By bike through Malaysia part 3: Thunderstorm-country

Roberto takes an instant shower. Fortunately without curious audience.

Roberto takes an instant shower. Fortunately without curious audience.

Country: Malaysia and Singapore

From Klang to Singapore

Lesson learned: Find shelter before the thunderstorm begins

Laughed about: People who run from the rain as if they were made out of sugar

Most wonderful miracle: The five-star karaoke restaurant

Food we ate: Seafood, fried rice, sushi, German breakfast, pizza

Greatest challenge: Finding Mickael and Julien in Johor Bahru

Days on the bike: 6

Kilometers cycled: 468.41

Average Kilometers per day: 78.07

Total Kilometers cycled till Singapore: 13882.09

Total days travelled till Singapore: 775

By bike through Malaysia Part 3

We rewarded ourselves with a very cheesy breakfast Pizza before we hit the road again. It was a short way to go to the German Malaysian Institute (GMI) in a town South of Kuala Lumpur, but since we wanted to avoid the city traffic we rather cycled some extra kilometres.

Cycling Malaysia

Cycling Malaysia

Anyway we left late, had another long tea break and soon sunset was near and we had barely cycled half the way. We continued nonstop until the last bit of daylight was gone. If it was dark anyway, we could as well have dinner.

After 72 kilometers we reached Bangi, where Mirjam and Natalie were already waiting for us. We fell straight into the bed and slept until late.

The GMI was an institute for Malaysians who want to study engineering in Germany. We had a presentation planned there for the following day and we spent the day in the library preparing the last updates. The presentation went well and one of the students had planned to do a long bike trip for a while. He will start this winter for a “short trip through Malaysia” before he will set off one day to discover other countries.

The GMI students and us

The GMI students and us

We spent the following day with Mirjam, her colleagues Julia, Natalie and Max and Apit, who had a meeting in Kuala Lumpur and came over to see our presentation. It was the third one that he joined and I was surprised that he did not fall asleep.

Mirjam made us feel like home and since the GMI is situated relatively close to the airport, we will be back before we fly over to Australia.

Roberto’s visa was going to expire soon, so we needed to make a move. Those who follow our blog for a while will know: we did not leave as early in the morning, as we planned to. But how could we if Mirjam prepared this delicious breakfast full of energy?

Power-breakfast with Mirjam

Power-breakfast with Mirjam

The way out of town was hilly and rather green. It was rainy again. Often people wonder why we cycle in the rain. If we cycle under the sun we are wet of sweat. If we cycle in the rain we will be wet of rainwater. I personally prefer rainwater rather than sweat.

In the evening a big thunderstorm came up and soon the lightings were directly above us. We had unsuccessfully been searching for a place to pitch the tent – or better even, a safe place with a rooftop – and with every thunder and lightning I winced. In the end we decided to have a tea and see what will happen. That was a good idea, because the street restaurant’s owner Mad Azuan offered us to camp under the rooftop.

La Noche con

It was not windy so we were fine with some rocks and stones instead of tent pegs

When the tent was ready, the thunderstorm was over. We had dinner, watched a documental about Filipino rooster fights and waited for the air to cool down. At 9.30 pm we climbed into the bed, just to be back in the restaurant with a big icy tea an hour later. The air inside the tent was so humid and hot that sleeping was impossible. After midnight it had cooled down enough for us to hit the hay.

Mad Azuan, his wife Rozma and their son Iman accompanied us for breakfast and we had a great and early start in the day. We stopped at the first gas station to have a shower and wash our clothes before we continued the ride. It was hot and dry today but we had learned that the weather can change quickly in Southeast Asia in October.

Mad Azuan, his wife Rozma and their son Iman

Mad Azuan, his wife Rozma and their son Iman

The day was exhausting, there was no shade, many short but steep hills and I was in a lazy mood. For this part of the route I had done my homework well. Not only had I written down the name of the roads that we were to follow, but I also wrote down the names of all towns and cities on the way. We changed roads a couple of times and always knew that we were on the right track. Since we were in a hurry and we knew that we would be back, we cycled around the beautiful town of Melaka as well. That was a pity because as we would find out later, our friends Bärbel and Johan, who had been cycling very near to us for the past 2000 kilometers, were staying in Melaka and we took a road only 15 kilometers away from town.

Roberto takes a shower at a gas station

Roberto takes a shower at a gas station

When we reached the coastal road number five, the hills suddenly disappeared and we rode on a rather flat road. As usual we were surrounded by palm oil fields and rubber trees. The wind was blowing into our backs and I did not feel lazy at all anymore. In fact I could have continued for hours. But the sky behind us turned grey and black and when we heard the first rolling of thunder, we decided that if was probably better to look out for shelter.

We did not find anything until we reached the town of Muar, where we rented a simple room nearby the river. As we found out by the following day, Acid, a fellow warmshowers-member lived in Muar and had offered us weeks ago, to stay at his place. We just had not remembered the name of the town.

Gourmet Sobre la Carretera

The seafood-karaoke restaurant was closed by the next morning so instead we had this for lunch: Nasi Goreng with chicken and vegetables

At night we got hungry. We had not bought any food, so we just walked around through the suburb. The only place open was a karaoke-street restaurant. Why not?

What an amazingly lucky pick. The food (fresh stingray, shrimps, squid, and coconut-rice with peanuts and anchovy) and drinks were served in such a beautiful way and tasted like in a high end restaurant. But we paid less than 3,50 € for food and drinks for two.

We rode through the sun again and arrived in a thunderstorm again. This time we picked another street side restaurant with a big parking lot to camp. And again we tried to sleep, but the air would just not cool down. Lightnings and thunders were very close but not a drop of rain reached the floor for an hour. So out again we chatted with the waiter Wan, who had been working in the Caribbean and was planning his next work abroad. He was a great photographer and a very clever guy and before we even knew it, it was nearly 2 am. Well, at least the air had cooled down.

Idyllic cymping spot. But from the other side ...

Idyllic cymping spot. But from the other side …

... you will see the McDonalds.

… you will see the McDonalds.

By the following morning I opened the tent door and the first thing I saw, was the McDonalds on the other side of the street. Roberto had been hungry for a cheeseburger for days and I wanted to use the wifi. We felt guilty but yet we entered. They did not have any normal burgers yet, so while we ate two too expensive egg-breakfast-burgers we found out that the wifi was not working either.

Open 25 hours a day, 8 days a week

Open 25 hours a day, 8 days a week

The neighboring building was a 25-hours Indian food restaurant with normally priced food (also burgers) and wifi. We should have known better.

The day passed slowly, we were back in the hills, around us nothing but palm oil fields and monkey families searching for a new home. After a long day we ended up in a very cheap hotel let either per hour or per night. We chose an entire night. The staff was very friendly and so were the other visitors. Some families were staying in our hotel as well so we knew we were not the only ones who just wanted to get rest and a shower.

Drink special: white and black spiders. Unfortunately no pink ones, those are my favorites.

Drink special: white and black spiders. Unfortunately no pink ones, those are my favorites.

We left quite early because we had a date with two French cyclists at 12 pm at the border. Still we had to hurry and ride like crazy in order to make it in time. We were 20 minutes late. We wanted to arrive with our host Akira in Singapore between 2 and 3 pm, so we hoped that the other cyclists would show up soon. It was after 2.30 pm when we finally met them. There was no way we could cross the border and cycle 25 kilometers to Akira’s place in 30 minutes. But Akira was fine with 5pm as well, so we could have a quick coffee with his last visitors Mickael and Julien and tell them everything there was to know about Malaysia and Thailand.

Eventually Mickael and Julien made it to Johor Bahru

Eventually Mickael and Julien made it to Johor Bahru

We raced into the border and got interviewed by a young woman who must have been new to this job. She kept asking questions with a voice that she could probably hardly hear herself. We did not understand a word. I tried to calm myself down because she could have misinterpreted our hurry as nervousness and those who are nervous may have something to hide.

So we patiently answered all questions, got back on the bikes and rode like the wind to Akira’s place, where we arrived 20 minutes late again. We were terribly sorry, but Akira did not seem to mind. We have met him through warmshowers and he was one of those people who radiated calmness and peace at the first sight. I could never imagine him angry or even losing his face. Nevertheless he has the black belt in Judo. He smiled to us and welcomed us to his beautiful apartment. Akiras family lived in Japan but he moved to Singapore for his job, so now he can only see his wife and daughter every once in a while.

By the following day Akira would take us out for Japanese dinner

By the following day Akira would take us out for Japanese dinner

Akira had a work dinner and after half an hour he left us – who he barely met – alone in his large Singapore-apartment. Every time again we are surprised on how much people trust in us, in society, in the good in humankind and in well-behaved travellers. We took a shower, had a walk to the nearest Subway and slept early.

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  1. Hector says:

    Riding under thunderbolt storms must be scarery!

    • admin admin says:

      Hello Héctor,
      yes it was indeed. Especially when the lightnings came really close. Usually we would have just searched for some rooftop to wait it out, but it was getting dark so quickly and we hoped to find a place to spend the night quickly. I hope we won’t have to ride through a thunderstorm eve again.
      All the best from (now sunny) Malaysia,
      Annika

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