From the airport I got a taxi for 50 Ringits to Kimberley hotel. The taxi driver was an Indian guy who had been driving taxi’s for over 20 years. He was a likable character with plenty of stories to tell. He was telling me how he doesn’t need a GPS to guide him as he knows Penang like the back of his hand. I found this quite amusing as we ended up phoning Kimberley Hotel to get directions. We got there in the end.
Day 83 Tuesday 25th November 2014
The next morning I packed my gear and walked ¾ km to Flash back Homestay.
Day 84 Wednesday 26th November 2014
Today I set off with Soo the owner of Flash Back to get my Thai visa sorted at the local travel agent. I should get it back Thursday. I’ve been to Penang before but it looks more modern and cleaner than I remember. Maybe it’s because I’ve just come from Indonesia.
Alana has been dealing with Heidenau Singapore on my behalf to get some K60 scout tyres shipped to Penang. John at Singapore Heidenau was apparently very good to deal with. These tyres are lasting really well. I won’t need to put them on until I’ve been around Malaysia.
Day 86 Friday 28th November 2014
I met Mr Lim at his office and I cruised off to the customs office on the back of his scooter. We had to catch the ferry to Butterworth which is across the bay. We got the carnet stamped in and got the customs paperwork done then headed over to the warehouse to collect Winston. He was caged when I arrived. It was great to see there was no damage and to be reunited.
I took Winston in for a check up at Fast Bikes Penang. They are the Triumph dealer here. The fuel gauge has not been reading correctly for the last two weeks. When the tank is full the gauge reads a couple of bars down from full. They plugged the diagnostic tool in and loaded a new program. They also reset the throttle bodies and whipped the clutch out. The rings are quite worn and they are seeing if they can replace these under warranty. The bike only has 17000km on it so the clutch should still be good.
It was time to head off and do a loop of Malaysia.
Winston burst into life this morning and purred like a new bike. The fuel gauge is working accurately again and things couldn’t be better. But oh yes, they are. The roads in Malaysia are smooth, flowing and once you get out of town uncongested. I was able to easily sit on 100 plus km/h for the whole day.
I headed south east to the Cameron highlands. The Highlands sit 1524 metres above sea level and the temperature is around 22 degrees Celsius. This area is known for its tea, strawberry and flower production. A couple of weeks ago they had some major flooding. There were still signs of landslips and some of the covered nurseries had been washed away by a swollen river. ,
Some of the car drivers seem to be self focused and the speed signs seem to mean nothing to them.
It was nice to be on the move again. The weather was kind, only a few rain drops.
I finished the day in Kuala Lipis.
Today was a GPS problem day. I headed off from Kuala Lipis. In the city centre I approached a detour, the GPS recalculated so I merrily followed the route. (It took me through many Palm plantations. There are lots of these in Malaysia. The palms are used to produce palm oil. There is some controversy over this as rain forest is removed to make way for these plantations.)until I noticed I was just on the other side of Kuala Lipis. I had done a 45km loop and was almost back where I started. I then headed to Raub which is south east. I had lunch there and then headed to the Elephant Rehabilitation centre. On the way out of Raub my GPS sent me to a road that didn’t exist. The only route there was, was via Kuala Lipis so I ended up going 80 plus km back. By the time I got to the rehabilitation centre it was near the end of the day and only open for another 45 minutes. I decided to call it quits and go there tomorrow. It opens at mid day.
I received some good news from Daniel at Fast Bikes Penang. Triumph has agreed to replace the clutch under warranty. Good on ya Triumph.
I was up late today. I was in a room without a window and when I looked at my watch it said 6:30am so I decided to doze a bit longer. When I next looked at my watch it said 6:30am. I checked my phone and the real time was 9:50am. My watch had stopped. No problem as the National Elephant Conservation Centre ( Kuala Gandah) didn’t open until 12 and it was a half hour ride.
I had parked my bike outside the hotel on some tiles. The owner showed me where to park it the previous night so it would be covered by his CCTV camera. When I went down to pack my gear in my panniers the bike was surrounded by tables and chairs and a hot food cabinet. The tables were full of people having breakfast. The roller door was up and there was a bustling restaurant in full swing. Needless to say it was a little uncomfortable. Just then the owner of the hotel popped out from around the corner and asked me if I wanted breakfast. He owned the restaurant as well. I stayed for breakfast and then headed off.
The National Elephant Conservation Centre is free entry and the organisation has been in existence for over 20 years. They have about 25 elephants. It did feel a bit like a zoo with people feeding them and taking pictures of each other with the elephants. I felt sorry for the animals. It wasn’t until I started talking to the rangers that I discovered in 20 years they have returned back to the wild 2500 healthy elephants. Most of them go back into the local rainforest. Most of the elephants were either orphaned or injured before they were taken in. Due to this program the population has increased
I was on the motorway sitting at about 110km and indicated left to go off the off ramp to the petrol station. As I was pulling off the off ramp a car overtook me on the inside at great speed and pulled in front of me with inches to spare. I was lucky he never took my front wheel out.
When I asked at the petrol station if he was in a rush he said nothing. I then asked if he saw my indicator he said yes. I won’t repeat my next comment but I was not happy.
I’ve noticed a few drivers here totally self obsessed about getting to where they want to go and don’t give a damn about anyone else. It appears lane markings mean nothing as drivers use all lanes to go around corners. People in lane three will cut across lane 2 and 1 and cut up any vehicles in lane 2 and 1, of course no indicators are used. I had this happen going up to Genting Highland in torrential rain in first gear corners.
To top off the day when I pulled into the hotel dripping wet it took over an hour to check in. I asked them if they knew what customer services was, they looked at me blankly………obviously not.
Tomorrow can only be better!!
The day started off better than yesterday. The rain had stopped, the sky was overcast and my riding gear had almost dried.
I had to go to the ATM to get cash. Sometimes the ATM doesn’t accept your card so you have go looking for one that will. Today was one of those days, I ended
up going to 6 different banks and ATM’s before I got one that would issue cash. That was two hour of the morning gone.
I headed off from Termoloh east to Pekan. The tourist guide book I have from Malaysia Tourism recommends going to Pekan to view Palau Keladi Cultural village. Within lays the birthplace of Tun Abdul Razak (Malaysia’s second prime minister and the father of the current one.) so I did. After that I headed to Kuantan.
I continued north to Cherating beach. Turtles lay their eggs here and then take off back to sea. No sign of them when I was there. There are lots of resorts around this area.
Further up the coast I pulled over to check out the beach and saw this sign. It amused me because my daughter’s name is Amanda and we call her Mandy or Manda
Further up the coast I pulled into this sweet little place called Marang. There were fishing boats in the harbour and people sitting around in the shade.
Then it was further north to Kuala Terrengganu where I stayed the night.
Kuala Terrengganu is the capital of the state of Terangganu. Terrangganu has many islands off the coast and the main reason tourist come here is for the water activities, notably scuba diving.
The roads were very empty today and most places are closed. Every Friday the men have to attend a mosque and prey. Muslims are supposed to prey 5 times a day.
As I was riding, around 2pm I noticed by all the mosques there were cars left at the side of the street. Three lane roads only had one lane free for traffic. The cars were just dumped. Some with doors partly open some with indicators still going (which meant the keys must still be in them). It was if there was a mad panic to get there in time.
I’ve down loaded the Booking . Com app to my phone which allows me to find accommodation in the area I’m in or want to be in, set some parameters like price etc and it returns hotels, guest houses and any other accommodation you ask for. I’ve booked a few places using it. I also use Google maps app to find addresses. The maps on my GPS have poor selection of street names.
The place I booked today was incredibly hard to find. It took me a good two hours to find it going through heavy traffic, one way streets and detours. In the end I got there.
I have found that Google maps are not that accurate in Malaysia when it comes to finding hotels.
I headed north to Kota Bharu in the state of Kelantan. I decided to take some time out and have a look around. I left reasonably early this morning. The roads are pretty uninteresting and there is not a great deal to see on the way.
I’d booked a night at the Mizwar Inn through Booking . Com. It’s in a handy location within walking distance to most of the attractions. I was thinking I would probably need to stay another night as the day had disappeared and I had really not seen anything. Just then there was a knock at my door and the owner came in with a guy who was upgrading the coaxial cables for the TV. The owner and I got chatting, he was telling me about some of his overseas trips and asked about mine. He was a nice guy to chat with. He was 59 and purchased the hotel a year ago for his retirement. He said I could stay another night free of charge. That was a very kind gesture.
I was up and out to check out the local attractions. I entered the first one (The Royal Ceremonies museum or Muzium Adat Istiadat) into Google maps and set it to the walking directions mode. It was about 1.5 km so off I went. When I arrived at the destination the building was not there. I asked some locals and finally found someone who could speak reasonable English; they sent me back to almost where I had come from. Yes, google maps were wrong yet again.
The museum was small but cheap to get in, only 3 Ringgits, which is about US$1. Then I headed off to the war museum which was again small and only a US$1 to get in. It was mainly photos, with a couple of exhibits on the ground floor. I learnt that the Japanese attacked Malaysia about an hour before Pearl Harbour. Thailand had allowed Japan to attack Malaysia via Thailand. In 1943 the Japanese gifted Malaysia to Thailand in appreciation for Thailand’s help. Japanese and Thai languages were then made mandatory in Malaysia. This lasted from 1943 to 1945
Malaysia is a Muslim country and every day before day break there is the morning call to prayer. All the women wear head scarves and they live and breathe the Islam religion. While I was down by the river I spotted this on one of the hotels.
In Kota Bharu there are cats everywhere, and plenty with only half a tail, might I add. These cats lay about under tables in nooks and crannies, in restaurants, hotels, they are literally everywhere. While I was thinking why this was I realised I hadn’t seen a dog since I left Penang.
Day 96 Monday 8th December 2014
I left the Mizwar Inn after thanking the wife of the owner for their generosity.
When I got to my bike it looked like Winston had been partying at a late night cat rave. The seat was covered in hair and footprints. If I ever come back this way I’m bringing a dog, see who has the last laugh then ha!!
To top things off as I cruised into Gerik I spotted a hotel and pulled in. It was clean and tidy and the right price. After booking In I stood and watched the rain come down in buckets it was raining cats and…….. no dogs. The best days riding I have had in a while.
It was a bit of a chill out day today. Just walking around Georgetown and taking all the history and the beautiful old buildings in. George Town is a world heritage site. There are many cultures that live here, Malay, Chinese and Indian. There are lots of colonial British Buildings. Penang was a major trading port for the British and was established before Singapore.
Day 98 Wednesday 10th December 2014
I took Winston to get his new Heidenau K60Scout shoes fitted at Sum Sun Motors. They have been trading for over 45 years and the owner founded the company when he was 17. They have a huge selection of bikes. They are mainly scooters but did have a couple of Harley Davidson’s and naked Benelli’s.
The Heidenau’s I had taken off still had life in them but by the time I try to find somewhere to ship them it would have cost me more than the wear on the new tyres. They kindly washed my bike after fitting and balancing.
I found out today the replacement clutch had to be sent from England and won’t arrive at Fast Bikes Penang until the earliest Wednesday 17th December. Which means it can’t be replaced here as I’m meeting Alana, Amanda and Emma in Phuket Thailand on the 16th.
I have arranged for the parts to be shipped to Phuket and the clutch can be done when I have my 20k service done at Brit Bikes Phuket.
It seems like a lifetime ago I was with my family; the days are dragging now, a bit like waiting for Christmas when you’re a kid. Roll on the 16th I say!
Day 100 Friday 12th December 2014
I’ve found this little café just around the corner from where I’m staying it’s called the My Own Café.. The staff are really friendly and you get a cooked breakfast and coffee for 9 Ringgits which is about US$2.50. It’s nice to sit there in the morning listening to the Christmas songs playing in the background and looking at the decorations while watching the world go by through the open doors.
A doing nothing day today. I just got a haircut and am biding my time until I head off tomorrow.
Day 102 Sunday 14th December 2014
I walked around the corner to My Own Café for my last breakfast and coffee in Penang. Then packed up and jumped on to Winston and headed for the Malaysia / Thai border.