Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 59 - Today, big bikes, tomorrow, Thailand.

Well, I can't believe how fast the time flew on the bike. The 10 days just shot by so very fast and tomorrow I head to Thailand.

Today I met Faizal and Tore (the guy he took on his guided 5 day tour) and we went first to a couple of bike accessory shops and then to the largest bike shop in south east Asia .... And boy was it big - it had every type of super bike you could imagine as well as every type of Ferrari car you could imagine. I only got a couple of photos, but the one that stood out was this one .................

...and this one ...

Yes, that right, its berthas cousin, a twin coloured c109 just like her. Now bikes are very expensive here because of the tax ... Bertha would cost about 85,000 ringit which is about $35000 - roughly double her cost in new zealand.

I had a moment of sadness as i hoped she was okay tucked up under her cover back home. She would have had such fun on this journey. Next time, no matter how much it is or how difficult i'm bringing her with me. Just for me, i put one of her below .....

Oh ok.... One more....

Below ... Tore, "Big Nik" (one of the owners of the shop.) and me.

A couple more of some of the bikes on display ...

Lots and lots of Ducatis....

And then to top off a bike looking day today, walking back to my hotel, a motorbike cop was trying to sort out the traffic ....

I decided that instead of catching the train i would fly to phuket as its only an hour and a half and then i can put my feet up and relax for a few days while organising the Thailand leg of my journey, so tomorrow afternoon I fly out and say farewell (for now) to malaysia.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 58 - smelly poo, windy roads and the 32nd floor

Having stayed the night last night in the middle of Cameron Highlands, I had a relaxed morning as it was only 200 odd km's to KL to drop Burtie off. Setting off late morning I had to change trousers as I had had a run in with some kind of animal poo on the road yesterday which had done a great job of covering half the bike, the right leg of my jeans and my right shoe. I was hoping that the heat would dry it and then I could get rid of it, but with the moisture in the air, all that happened was it got smelly! So now I'm back in KL I need to find a laundry a.s.a.p. I am in fact contemplating chucking them away and buying a new pair in Thailand because I have lost a bit of weight and I need to put another couple holes in my belt as I spend half my time pulling my pants up because they want to fall off. Anyway, that's all a bit personal, but there's the smelly poo part of this blog entry :)

Leaving Cameron highlands heading towards KL I was greeted with brilliant windy roads and could have been transplanted back to some of our roads at home. Check out the photos below.

YouTube Video

After about 100 odd km's of this I then rejoined the main north south motorway which is three lanes either side and has a speed "limit" of 110km's. Now to many drivers here this means 150km's an hour so you need to keep your eyes peeled, but is a bit of fun in itself for a while.

Amazingly I found my way back to Faizals office where I dropped the bike off, had a bite to eat with him and then was brought back to the hotel where I have booked in for two nights (the same one I stayed at before). Now, if you have been thinking about doing some riding in Malaysia, Faizal and Malaysian Motorcycle Getaways ( ) are the people to see. Shoot me an email if you've got any specific questions.

Good bye mr blue burtie ... Thanks for the good times...

Now when I arrived back at the hotel, I don't know whether it was because I was served by the big chief of operations, or whether it is because I am a returning customer, or even if he took a bit of a fancy to me, but I am now ensconced on the sub penthouse level (32) in a one bedroom apartment with free wireless Internet and breakfast thrown in, and all for a very very reasonable rate. Yay!

The view from the room ....

The plan from here is - 1.go to laundry, 2. Catch up with Faizal for lunch tomorrow, 3. Book a ticket to fly to Phuket from here on Friday (tickets are very cheap), 4. book some accommodation for a few nights in phuket so I can acclimatize to Thailand, 5. sort out a motorbike for my travels and 6. hang ten in the touristy part of the country while the general election takes place.

I have to say that I have throughly enjoyed Malaysia, and yes, it's been damn hot, but the people have been great and I have had a real insight in to the lives of people right around the country.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Day 57 photos and video

Not really a swimming river ... :)

Along some real back roads...

Don't mess with the logging trucks :)

On the way to Cameron Highlands ... Incredible roads...

From tonight's hotel...

YouTube Video

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 57 - woohooo, it's a racetrack...

I am having problems with my Internet connection and can't upload my photos. I will have to do them tomorrow in a separate post.

This morning dawned and after a deep restful sleep, a hearty breakfast, a shower and a shave, I was ready to go. I felt like a new man as the shower in the room was especially good.

I again studied google maps carefully as I was heading from Kota Bharu towards Cameron Highlands but I wanted to take a couple of back roads to get to the spot where it began. And boy, did I take some back roads. One of them was very rough in bits and I was again stopped twice at police checkpoints but both times the police just said hi and waved me on. I found some great scenery along the way as well as some huge logging trucks that took up the whole road.

I also managed to get some kind of sting from a strange bee looking creature on the side of my head while I was traveling along one of the most remote pieces of road surrounded by dense bush. I had visions of getting an allergic reaction and collapsing in a heap in the middle of nowhere so the next person I saw I stopped and comically tried to explain I had a sting and was it super poisonous. Well, she just laughed so I gathered I would be okay so carried on :)

After turning on to the Cameron highland road I was immediately greeted with the most amazing road. Just like a race track the corners were gentle and continuous. Raftn, if you are reading this, I thought of you - you would have been salivating with excitement at the thought of you and your triumph heading round every corner. What was even more amazing was that I had the road basically to myself. It was some serious motor biker fun, I can tell you. In fact for pure riding joy, it's again right up there. It makes me wonder what it will be like tomorrow when I head down the other side and back to KL where I will drop Burtie off to Faizal then start to organize the next leg of my journey.

I am currently sitting at the hotel enjoying an overpriced beer watching as the rain pelts down. It literally started when I pulled in so timing couldn't have been better.

Tonight I have a bit if planning to do. I have nothing organized from tomorrow onwards so need to make quite a few decisions. I am really looking forward to heading to Thailand where I am hoping things will be cheaper as I have spent more than I would have liked to in Malaysia as things, although slightly cheaper than new Zealand are not super cheap.

My current plan is to stay two nights in KL then head firstly to Phuket for a few days r and r while I organize a bike. I also want to take a few days chilling as the Thai elections are this Saturday and there is an expectation that there may be a little trouble so maybe sticking to the Phuket area while things cool down could be the order of the day.

I thought by now I may be ready for a few home creature comforts and company, but to be honest, I have met so many interesting people along the way who have shown such friendship and kindness that this could just be a life changing experience. I have just found the whole experience so freeing. It is a real privilege to travel and observe people going about their everyday lives. I have found people to be warm and friendly in Malaysia.

The other footnote i want to add is how lucky we are in new Zealand with our space and smaller population. One of the many other areas we are lucky with are our beaches. It is so evident here that any development in these areas needs to be done with much consideration otherwise pristine areas just become mini cities with pollution, filth and over zealous building. Our planners (Robert) need to be very aware of this.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Day 56 - Into the jungle I go

Waking up this morning in Penang I noticed a bit of noise outside and peered out the window to see torrential rain, however, what seems to be normal here, within 20 minutes the rain had gone completely.

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.

I'm back!

 Somehow I managed to log back in after a mere 8 years away from the site! I have so much to say, and so much to add, however, just logging ...