Crossing over from Singapore to Malaysia there was quite a contrast. Singapore is clean, I don’t think that anywhere is as pristine so entering any country after leaving Singapore would be quite a contrast.
Cycling over the causeway from Singapore to Malaysia was great all of the cars were gridlocked and I just cycled by. Entry into Malaysia has to be my best passport control experience ever, no forms to complete, no questions just a 90 day stamp in my passport.
Arriving in Johor Bahru was hectic. Loads of traffic everywhere, so I thought that it would be best to get on the pavement and push my bike and try and work it all out. This was easier said than done as there are no drop kerbs and the kerbs are really high. Also there were posts all the way around the pavement which made it really difficult for me to get onto the pavement with my bike. The posts seems really odd because they were really close together. It makes sense in any city to have posts around buildings to stop ram raiders etc. later on I realised that the posts are there to stop the motorcycles from riding on the pavement.
The roads were pretty hectic and for the first few days I did worry. I didn’t trust my Garmin – I usually never do. He kept on trying to get me to ride on really busy roads which to me looked like dual carriageway. I did a lot of pushing my bike on pavements and carrying her upstairs, I was so grateful that I’d gotten rid of half my gear (my bike is feminine, my Garmin is masculine).
These stairs are a god send for crossing the road, but a bit of a nightmare with a bicycle in tow. Having spent the past few months watching Netflix I can definitely notice that I’m nowhere near as fit as I was when I first started this tour. It’s amazing the difference in my expectations at the start of my tour with regards to my fitness and the actual true reality.
After a few days I eventually finally plucked up a bit of courage and started to ride on the busy roads. They do look really scary with motorcycle riding everywhere and dual carriageways, but Malaysia has turned out to be an amazing cycling experience. The motorists are fantastic. They give me room. They touch their horn lightly to let you know that they are around.
There are even motorcycle lanes along a lot of the route. It was fantastic.
I was in Malaysia during Ramadan so I chose to cycle up the West Coast of the country as the East Coast is more isolated and has a larger Muslim population so to try and find food during the day time would be more challenging. The West Coast is more diverse and food was never a problem.
My route took in both small towns and larger cities. The small cities were interesting because I would sometimes turn up to a restaurant and get stared at. I would have to laugh to myself because I’m sure that they’re thinking ‘what the hell is she doing riding in this heat’ and on some days I would definitely agree with them. My Garmin on some days recorded temperatures of 40 deg C and the heat would reflect up off the ground making it really hot.
I stayed with a few hosts along the way. My first Warmshowers host was Lily in Muar who ran an extremely swish hostel; if I hadn’t had another booking in the next town I may have stayed a lot longer and got really comfortable.
The benefit of visiting Malaysia during Ramadan is that there are loads of Ramadan food bazaars all over the place. Lily took me to one in Muar. There was so much food.
Food is a bit part of the culture here in Malaysia with so much choice.
My next hosts were Khim and Sean. Khim has a Brompton. They had an office space in the centre of Melaka where I stayed for a couple of days.
They were also hosting a couple from Germany; Astrid and Johannesburg. They were cycling south whilst I was cycling North.
It’s been interesting hearing about their recent elections and the discovery that their previous government was very corrupt. Also they have an unfair system where people who are Malay/Bumiputra can get cheaper housing, grants and there are certain jobs in government that will only ever go to somebody who is Malay/Bumiputra. The hope is that things will start to change with the change in government.
Khim and Sean were really shocked/surprised that I’m as old as I am and I’ve inspired them. I think that I was one of their oldest guests and I stayed with someone else who said that he’d never hosted anyone as old as me 😂. Originally I was told by someone who I stayed with that I should call the mother of the house Auntie out of respect and then when they realised my age they said that I should call her sister.
People in Malaysia have been really friendly. One morning someone who was walking past me said Morning! Welcome to Malaysia.