Today I had some of the best riding so far on this trip. In fact I would rate some of the roads today up there with the best in the South Island.
I had been tossing up as to whether to make the long trip across the country at the top of Malaysia to the coast and Kota Baru or whether to go directly to Cameron Highlands. I decided to head to the coast and I am so pleased I did. I had an awesome riding day today. It was even worth the sore bum as Burtie is not nearly as comfortable as Bertha. In saying that he handles superbly on the twists, you just need to be wary with the use of the breaks.
In Penang these guys were tootling along deep in conversation while riding ...
Heading over the bridge again....
Now this is a good use of available space i reckon.....
I studied google maps this morning carefully as it was going to be a bit of a mission to navigate the first 100 or so km's through the maze of roads, but as it happened it wasn't too bad. I basically found my way off the island and stuck to the north south highway. I did overshoot my first turnoff, but really just added on another 40km's or so. The road signage is really good and as long as you pick a couple of main places to remember and the numbers of the roads, ultimately you head in the right direction.
In no time I found myself on some really back roads heading towards Gerik where I would pick up the west east highway no 4 towards the top of Malaysia. The back roads leading up to and this highway turned out to be the highlights of the Malaysian roads so far. I have also found the locals in some of these more remote areas to be incredibly friendly with nods and smiles when I try to use my limited Malay. Every time I stopped for a photo or smoke most locals going past would wave and smile and give me a friendly nod.
It must be quite a site when a hot and sweaty short red faced man takes off his helmet and smiles profusely while saying good morning and thank you over and over in malay. :) I can't even imagine what it sounds like with a thick kiwi accent - the funny thing is, sometimes I struggle to get myself understood in English !
On the west east highway It was mostly one lane each way with extended passing lanes on either side. I see what Faizal means about sticking to the left because some of the local drivers and not terribly good at sticking on their side of the road, and some of the passing maneuvers would make the strongest man quiver.
I had one "moment" when a large tour bus coming the other way as I came up over the brow of a hill decided to turn in front of me to access the entry to the stalls as the top of the hill. Burtie coped admirably with my defensive swerve maneuver and we missed the bus, or rather, the bus missed me. :) it wasn't actually that close, it just felt like it.
This took me through some thick jungle and up in to the mountains and passed a huge man made lake called Temenggor which was created when the Temenggor Dam was built. The other huge advantage of course was that it was noticeably cooler as I was higher up. Both Burtie and I enjoyed this road immensely.
I even enjoyed being stopped in the middle of nowhere by the police who were checking id's. The chief seemed more interested in where I was from and the fact I was traveling all around Malaysia. I was also flabbergasted at the size of the guns his team were holding. Interesting for one who is not used to the police carrying guns let alone submachine guns.
The road looped through the mountains and I stopped a number of times just to soak in the tropical scenery.
About 80 or so km's out of Kota Baru, the roads returned to the usual hustle bustle that I have grown accustomed to.
For you trike lovers out in internet world.....
Tomorrow i head back toward kl, probably to cameron highlands as i need to get the bike back on wednesday. I will be sad to say goodbye to burtie. There is something so incredible freeing about being on the bike.
I have lots of planning to do for the next few days. The thai election is this weekend so i will probably stay around phuket for a few days until there is a sense of calm or otherwise. I am quite excited about the Thai leg of my journey. Here in kota baru i am actually not far from the border. In fact, i have a thai tv channel on at the moment so i can practice some of my thai.
A long but very satisfying day on Burtie.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.