After bidding bon voyage to my bike, I took a quick flight across the Malacca Strait to Kuala Lumpur, and met up with my girlfriend Ghighi, who is joining me from this point on and had shipped her bike directly to Kuala Lumpur – but first, a quick exploration of the city was in order.
The strong Chinese influence in Malaysia is evident.
What better way to quench the appetite worked up on the walk than with delicious street food?
With stomachs satiated, we walked through the expat area towards the Petronas twin towers.
Once at the base of the towers (a large, Western shopping mall), there was a complex lightshow on display in the fountain.
The next morning we set out to retrieve Ghighi’s bike from the dock, with her having cleared most of the paperwork and customs formalities while waiting for me to arrive.
Ready to roll again.
The only issue was that we had to get to Penang, some 400km away, to pick up my bike the following day – and between us we had two very large backpacks full of all our gear. The poor bike laboured under the weight of both of us and our luggage valiantly, although the first effort at securing it all only lasted a few hundred metres.
Eventually Ghighi had to wear one of the packs, and try and mount the bike onto the tiny amount of seat left between myself and the other pack, and balance the heavy pack while holding on as we whipped up the freeway at 110kph. Once thing I will say about Malaysia is that the roads are in significantly better condition than Indonesia. They’re also very convenient for motorcycles, with a complete extra lane on most freeways dedicated for bikes, as well as a bypass lane for the toll booth – that’s right, bikes travel free.
On arrival in Penang we met up with Przemek at the famous Mr Lim’s office, and I left Ghighi to arrange a hotel while I sorted out my bike. We took the ferry across to the mainland, including a view over the 13 (!) kilometre long bridge out to the island.
On arrival at the dock, after the usual sitting around while the agent does all the running around for us, I was pleased to see our bikes securely locked in a cage – but less impressed to see that they’d broken one of the handles off my pannier lid, obviously where they had tried to use a tie-down strap. Przemek suffered a broken indicator stalk, so nothing show-stopping, but still annoying all round.
A few last shots while awaiting final clearance from the warehouse manager – Mr Lim on the right.
With a shade over 6000km covered since leaving Australia, it was time for a quick service on the bikes – off to a local workshop who kindly let us use their space in return for buying the oil through them.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering Georgetown, soaking up the atmosphere of this world heritage listed area.
With a rest day planned in Georgetown, we farewelled Przemek who was travelling ahead, with a plan to meet back up in Chiang Mai Thailand before crossing Myanmar together. We spent the morning at the Blue Mansion, formerly the abode of Cheong Fatt Tze, a famous Chinese businessman and diplomat around the turn of the 20th Century – known as the “Rockefeller of the East”. This gorgeous mansion was completely restored in 1990 after having fallen into complete disrepair, and now functions as an expensive hotel and restaurant, as well as running guided tours.
Continuing with the Chinese theme, we stopped again to explore a nearby Taoist temple.
Georgetown has dozens of these ironwork installations, explaining anecdotes about the street or local area from the city’s past.
Out of many things, Penang is also famous for its street art, so we went hunting.
A few more of the sights around town.
In the evening we jumped on the bike and headed around to Batu Feringghi, a popular beach on the north coast. Dinner on the beach, watching the sun set.
With lightning and thunder flashing ominously on the horizon, we raced back to the hotel, arriving just as the first heavy raindrops began hammering on the visor.