Category Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur to Khota Baharu

Short post, catching up.

The last job in KL was getting our Thai visa. Good for only 14 days if you get it at the border, 30 at an embassy. Relatively painlessP1000078

New tires, a seat swop and we’re off north to Thailand, yay
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We take the highway our turnoff to the Cameron Highlands and the oldest forests in the world, they say
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After the turn-off and a twisty ride for 50 miles, BIG trees, super hot and humid
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To the one town up here, Ringlet
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We went for an explore in the morning. The air’s cooler at 5000′ and every valley is cleared for agriculture, small, medium and large-scale
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A great spot
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Immaculate
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Great strong smell from onions as we rode by
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Up to a big plantation
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It’s this, tea. I was surprised, in that clueless city boy way, to find out tea is a woody shrub
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1000’s of acres, just stunning
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Peaceful
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The next day was the border crossing. We’re going the unusual way, up the east coast. Unusual because it’s not the way to Krabi and because this corner of Thailand is involved in a long term war with its Muslim minority
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Descending off the mountains through dense forest
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Back on the plain we pass limestone crags
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There’s a dirt road to the base of some so we go off to explore
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A Hindu temple unexpectedly at the end of the road
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The base
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Later, lunch time. This doesn’t look right
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But these crazy ladies have a fruit stand
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These mostly, rambutan
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Yummy, but a big pit in the middle
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Even yummier! mangosteen
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The next town had sculptures of mangosteen at an intersection, so obviously a big deal around here
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A little further
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Big logging just like at home, comforting we thought
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The daily rain. The clouds build quickly and all hell breaks loose. You wouldn’t believe it
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Then to the border and what a mess. Somewhere in this room is someone with a brutal infectious bug as I was to find out 2 days later. Despite having a visa I had to fill out an entry form for immigration then stand in this crowd for an hour. It was well over 100F and hard work. Then off to customs which thankfully was a breeze
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Then back out, onto Lucinda and through another lineup. Not the quickest
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And into Thailand. An armed crossing, as expected. Very stupid idea to take pictures of soldiers on the job so this is as good as it gets
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to Kuala Lumpur

Exiting Lucinda at Belawan was a little more complicated than expected. As fantastic as Indonesia is, the regulations and paperwork are a nightmare. It takes hours to get simple work done. Administratively the worst country so far.

Lucinda’s boat ride only took a day once she left and we flew Medan/George Town, Malaysia.

We left a few days after Lucinda and paid the fine to the immigration officer at the airport. He counted the bills out under the table, left them under the table, and smiles
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We were staying in Georgetown on the left, below, and Lucinda arrived in Penang, on the right
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And the green dot in the middle shows where in the world this is, the north end of the Malay peninsula
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We meet Mr. Lim (centre, below) at his office then jump on the back of his scooter and head off to customs and immigration over on the mainland. Malaysia is fast, and we’ve processed the Carnet in 10 minutes, immigration another 20
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George Town from the ferry
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Then we ride back over an enormous bridge (see track above). I used Basecamp to measure it and it’s pretty much exactly 5 miles long. Huge and cool.

George Town is famous for not having sidewalks, just trenches, and great street food, which is called hawker food. A sidewalk
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Off to find hawker food, which is done at night
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This must be it
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It was excellent and we ate here each night, mostly stuff I didn’t recognize. I’d point at something that looked unusual or smelt spicy or both. This is the best food I’ve had since maybe Mexico
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It’s a pretty town by day, lots of British colonial history. In fact english seems to be the spoken language. We haven’t done our Malaysia fact reading yet so actually have no idea what’s going on at this point. Usually we’re better prepared but riders say Malaysia’s casual so whatever
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After a few days we head south to Lumut
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It’s a dull drive and we jump off onto a B road as soon as possible, which is still boring. Light industry and palm trees the whole way. The next day the ride to Kuala Lumpur
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Still boring, but there are lilies in the ditchesDSC01067

White this time
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And even lotus
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We see on the GPS that we’re very close to the ocean so take a detour. We cross a bridge and see this
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Egrets in the trees
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So go and park down a side street
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Fantastic
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We walk along the docks and watch a man sort fish while another counts
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The keepers
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The discards, we think
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The view from this station, really nice
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Further along the road, a cow, which I suppose is a reason to stop for lack of another
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A house at the side
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Then down to Kuala Lumpur.

A nice big city, so we wander around and do the tourist thing. The temperature and humidity are moderately high, but not ferocious as they were in Indonesia. First stop, the Islamic Arts Museum. A modest front but a great building inside
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The main hall with inverted dome
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There were various exhibits, this one arms and armour
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Textiles
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And batik originates from somewhere near here, maybe, because they had a lot of it on display
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Ceramics
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The highlight was the book displays. Koran copies from around the world, some 100’s of years old. A few of the most impressive were from Africa
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Great displays
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A medical book
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This is an astronomy book from north Africa
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There was a hall of models. 20 mosques from around the world
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Mecca in the foreground
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And an adobe mosque in New Mexico
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Then, another day, the thing we’ve been looking forward to for a while. This is the base
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Looking up
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Yes, the Patronas Towers! Big Oil, big-ass building. Asian capitalism in its glory, great to see.

A photo off the web
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The tallest building in the world from 1998 to 2004 and still the tallest twin towers at 1483 feet. The foundations were the world’s biggest concrete pour until 2007.

We go on a tour. A holographic tour guide at the bottom
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Up to the sky bridge
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The view from there
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Then up to the top to an observation lounge
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Looking at the other tower. Diagonal pic to show more
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And the view, attractively dystopian
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Then off to Masjid Negara, the national mosque
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What can you say. Perfection.DSC01288

The prayer hall
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A good view from here
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More on Kuala Lumpur soon, but first we’ve got a side trip.

A KL taxi
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