Thursday, 1 April 2010

South Thailand to Singapore!

After a good finish of Thailand and a massive last dose of noodle soup, we crossed the border into Malaysia!
Quite a noticable change in culture and general scenery. The most prominant was the large number of muslims in Malaysia.
The (roadside) food is also quite different, in Thailand we were mainly living off sasuages, and bbq'd meat and noodle soup, which is all very cheap. But here it's also roughly the same price but our main meals consist of a plate of rice and decent serving of good quality free range chicken! (together costs about 60p for a meal!).
We've powered ourselves off fruit a lot of the time, as it is a good, cheap, VERY tasty and efficient and broadly available way of getting places quickly. A common lunch time meal we have is a large amount of fruit such as 3kg of mango's or a big pineapple each, which have seemed to be the most effective way to get good energy.
We have also been drinking about a litre of soya milk each per day as it is cheap, and is avaible EVERYWHERE here. And it's a good source of protein.

We had a LOT of headwinds in south Thailand and north Malaysia, and they made it quite tough for us at times, not so much physically, but more psychologically, they demotivate you and make goals seem less achievable and generally make you feel a bit low, but it was always only a short term thing when it happened! You forget all about it when you get rewarded with amazing views and fruits etc.The west-to-east road was probably the toughest leg of Malaysia, while we were doing that bit it was the hottest weather, and this road crosses the tough Malaysian mountain range which is carried south from Thailand (which we'd already gone over in Thailand when we came from east to west). And also another big challenge was the fact that this area is so desolate. There are very few villiages (or even ANY houses) on the west-to-east road and we having to carefully plan our supplies of food and water.
We have been doing a lot of jungle camping and what can i say... its pretty sweaty.
My (Mohan) synthetic antarctica sleeping bag wasnt really designed for the Malaysian jungle, and i found when I lay on it it would be a big sponge of sweat after 10 min.
But we have acclimatised to the conditions as much as our genetics will take us I think, we always sweat in the tent when we sleep but it's lessened and we have learnt to deal with it.
After the long west to east cycle, we followed the "no.3" road all the way down the east coast of Malaysia to Singapore!
This road was very nice, and we had plently of good swims in the sea and we were also occasionally blessed with a tailwind after all the headwinds we were suffering up north.
It went reasonably smoothly, the main low points (which we're laughing over now but were pretty tough at the time), were all tent-related.
We got caught in a storm one night and ended up sleeping in a cafe entrance without the tent - which was a big mistake as we got completely eaten by various tropical and hungry insects - mainly mosquitos! and we were too hot to cover ourselves with our sleeping bags to stop them!
The worst experience we had was when we camped on the beach and there was a HUGE storm which started at midnight. Huge puddles formed in the tent and we decided it was the right move to retreat to the only bit of shelter which was the beach hotel we were camped near, in their terraced reception. We took our valuables which we didnt want to get wet and a few bits like a towel each and ran to the reception in our boxers which was about 200m away. We got SOAKED, and then were welcomed by a HUGE swarm of hungry mosquitos.
They tucked in well and we soon were stuck on what to do, we were determined to not pay the 7 quid each for a room and make it to the morning. We hung around helplessly trying to fight mosquitos for about 2 hours and then the rain finally reduced to light showers, and we decided to retreat to the wet, but insect free tent.
We poured the swimming pool of water mostly out the tent and the rest just at the foot of the tent so only our feet got soaked, and we put lots of layers down to absorb the water and lie down.
I pulled out my battery powered speakers which my sister got me for my birthday (thankyou!) and plugged in the mp3 player to try and make us at least a bit happier.
Unexpectedly we both managed to get a couple of hours sleep!
We got up early the next day and left the scene we never wanted to return to after a night of torture!
We had an amazing breakfast at a roadside restaurant about 20km away and that lifted our spirits and we actually ended up doing an alright distance!
If you've followed our route on the map, you will see that we've zig-zagged around a bit, this IS for a reason. We were lucky enough to meet someone in bangkok who'd cycled all around the Malaysia/Thailand area many-a-time and he advised us on our route, aparently south-east Thailand (the coast) is very built up and not a pleasant cycle, and the west on the other hand is beautiful, and the east coast of Malaysia has big, deserted beautiful beaches with cycle-perfect quiet roads. Which we all found to be true. It was definately a wise move!
I took a photo of his 1985 map which had his drawings of good routes highlighted on my camera before we left, and we enlarged the photo, and printed it off at a net cafe in colour so saved buying a map of Malaysia and it worked well!! Only a few things have changed...
So from now, we are going to stay in Singapore til the 7th in the VERY KIND hospitality of Jo & Chris Harrison - Finns stepdads sister and family.
Finn will be flying back to England where he will work for the summer and then head to Manchester Uni, and I will fly to Australia to look around and decide what path I'm going to take in life from here!

Some photos! -

jungle river

snoozing buffalos

a big, dead snake

beautiful sunsut

sunset on road

beautiful jungle hills
The beasts we had to cycle over in the distance!
a muddy jungle river
more hills
a nice road
finn and our beautiful bike
storm clouds forming!
A big jungle ant claiming his dinner..
nice big armoured thing
where we camped one night when we anticipated a storm (under shelter).
My eye infection which is now better (I got it checked out and given medicine FREE, due to a friendly Malaysian Doc)
Our bikes having a rest and admiring the view
A perfect midday energy booster (3kg of amazing mangos)
A nice, deserted beach we camped on - east coast of Malaysia.
The sketchy bridge we had to cross over after the storm we were caught in on the beach - you can see the high water levels!
cycling on low tide sand
Our bikes perched waiting for us to finish a midday dip.
under cover in some nasty rain we had earlier today!!

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