Friday, June 29, 2012

There can be only 1!

Cooling down, chilling out, relaxing, getting away from it all... That's how we liked to think we've spent the last week or two. Wether it be taking the time to sample juicy strawberries and tea in the Cameron Highlands. Getting up at 5am to watch a plethora of exotic birds in front of our hotel in Frasers Hill or riding the bikes past a magical lake along a deserted highway... Although what didn't really fit into the mix was the craziness of the Genting Highlands. Alas from Genting, we met some incredible friends. Certainly worth braving the thousands of internal tourists, expensive food and 'interesting' accommodation.

Crusing north from Cherrating on the East coast of Malaysia we made great pace north by heading inland. Its been a bit of a gamble sometimes as we've been told the coast road is the good choice. Yet sometime the traffic and limited coastal views make the inland road seem a nicer option.

 As we continued to our evening goal of Kenyir Lake, the pace and lovely winding road begged to be not stopped now. So we kept pushing forward and through 'the lake' as the GPS was telling me. Little did we know at this point that the road (local name of the LPT) was officially not open yet or designated to be usable. No dramas in using it though, there was the odd landslide that had taken big chunks out, but these all had bypasses already routed.

Finally after a big day in the saddle (compared to our normal 150-300km ride legs) we made camp in a budget hotel in Gua Musang. Staying in the 'new town' that was 2km down from the original town we dined on possibly the most evil creation currently known to western man in Malaysia. The Roti John. Which is a soft baguette roll fried in an egg and then filled with shredded chicken and beef with extreme helpings of mayonaise and sweet chilli sauce. Forcing my body to consume such a demon I knew that my nutritional values has surely dropped a rung from earlier years. 'Shock the body' I used to say... Yeehaaa, take that body!

In a strange way it probably helped power me for my solo spelunking that was on the cards for the next day. Clarissa was still getting over her 'welcome to asian food' stomach issues which had been hounding her for the last week or two. So she rested in the hotel and did some facebook and reading.

The cave was a beauty. An entry slit that required a side shimmy for the enterance was the tightest part encountered. Unhappy with the thought of getting stuck or getting lost underground I've put the reins on going to deep/crazy with these caves we've been too. Alas it was a massive multi-cavern, both in length and height.
Also something that was a surprise was the great climb above the caves to the top of the limestone mountain. With the flat sides and height of the mountain it certainly made me want to jump!!! With a base jumping rig on my back of course. Something that's on the bucket list...

It was high up there! Even found a strange inverted mushroom at the top!

Eager as hell to get into the mountains for both the riding (Neil) and the cool weather (Clarissa) we pushed on. What a magical ride it was too. Over three hours or so we climbed up from sea level to 2000m through some really nice (and cool) scenery. Watching as the palm plantations began to change into fruit/vegtables/flowers/tea occurred quiet quickly as we ascended into the range.

After finding a hotel off the main road (very busy/noisy) we realised we were in for a treat food wise. The local produce and cuisine proved to be too good to leave early so we chilled out and explored over the five days we spent at Twin Pines guesthouse. 

No fan or A/C needed here in the cool weather. Exploring things such as the mossy forrest (think Avatar) and tea/strawberry farm was really a change in the Malaysia scenery pace. Including going on a jungle trek that was just a bit too intense for my poor Clarissa. She's sure to be a bit scarred from jungle trekking for a while.

It was certainly the time to meet overlanders in the Cameron 
Highlands though. Initially we met a bloody strong pom, Jilly, riding her pushbike through the traditional overland route from the UK via the 
middle east to Singapore. Wow. Made me feel a bit silly talking about riding hills when she was peddling up the crazy things. Clarissa and I really enjoyed our chats with Jilly. A real worldly character and a real gem lending her PC to help me when our macbook shit itself. Best of luck Jilly. Dominate the peddle powered systems wherever you may roam! 

Also we ran into Ian, Australian (not to be confused with Austrian!). Riding his monstrous KTM 950 Super enduro. He was riding with two local Malay bikers, Ronnie and Vincent. Very excited was I to stumble on a big KTM and a couple of local scramblers. We conversed about our riding in Malaysia and he really made me green of his amazing adventures through East Timor/Indonesia. Ronnie and Vincent were absolute gentlemen and we do hope to catch up with them before we leave. Malaysia will soon be on everyones adventure riding itinerary Ronnie – don't forget that!

South we travelled. Through some more riding bliss toward Frasers Hill. A bird watching paradise that luckily for us was hosting an international bird week! Our hotel was interesting, our first official 'resort'. Maybe it was a resort some years ago, not quiet unto the standard these days. Either way, sitting literally out in front of the lobby at 6am proved to provide this rookie 'birder' more fancy birds to watch than you could poke a dried cuttle fish at. We left the next morning riding down the wild road. Single lane, one way traffic of pure hairpins down the hill. It was the same on the way up also! My pace is in check as I stop frequently to ensure Clarissa is doing fine. These roads are very taxing on a new rider on such a monster of a bike.

The next step on our highland domination tour of Malaysia was Genting Highlands. Doing some googling I had been blown away at this crazy place. An amusement park and monster hotel system built upon a 2000m mountain. This had to be seen to be believed I thought. So over the weekend we did the really touristy thing and rode roller coasters, payed WAY to much for food/beer and slept in a shifty apartment. The main hotel was full. I didn't believe it. 6500 rooms full... Alas it was expensive and we saved a bit by staying in the dodgier part of town.

Notice the wild inside monorail car with its strange theming...

Yes...we had maccas...Big mac tasted the same!

Dammit. I said no banging!

All was not lost though. Amongst my googling of Genting something had caught my sky bound eye. Malaysia's only wind tunnel. What the?
Skyventure in the Genting Highlands got me excited to do some 'freefall' like activities again. See if my 7 month break from skydiving had made my skills deteriorate to nothingness. Needless to say, after about two 10-15 minute sessions in the tunnel all was not lost. Nizam, one of the four original body flight instructors of Genting Skyventure (10 years old the tunnel is mind you!) proceeded to allow me play around and have some good fun in the wind tunnel. 
Nizam and I relaxing after some tunnel time.
Unfortunately the tunnel being 6000ft ASL (above sea level) didn't allow for my big arse to get much lift for sit flying but I certainly tried and had a good time messing around. We even got to watch a team from Singapore do some four way training. Great bunch of guys (and girl!) and very envious of them dirt diving (practicing manoeuvres on the ground) and honing their skills.

Clarissa and I knew that Nizam was golden and was someone we wanted to get to know more. We asked if we could buy him and his family dinner. He lived back down at sea level, in his hometown of Batang Kali. He's been doing the insanely windy 45 minute drive up and down each day to work in the wind tunnel for the last ten years.

We left our apartment in the highlands, including our friendly Nepalese guards who watched over our bikes.

 Going was slow for the first 10 minutes with thick fog making it a bloody surreal descending back to the low lands.

 Arriving at town, we checked into a local budget hotel to get ready for dinner.

Not being allowed to buy dinner, we had a delicious evening of home cooking by Nazim's wonderful wife Azie. Also enjoying the local night market with their kids, Farmi, Farqal and Farham. We finished off the golden night with a dip in the local hot-springs (which were really BLOODY HOT) and then enjoyed the next mornings breakfast at the hotsprings also. It was very sad to say 'cya later' to more great friends.

Can't stress enough how lucky we have been to meet such amazing people here in Malaysia. The hospitality has been unbelievable and really will set the standard when we get to repay the favour in the future at home.
Neil being a girls blouse with the hot underground water!

We've continued our big donations to the economy by visiting Tambun handsprings here in Ipoh. 

We commonly cruise around locally on the one bike. Its just easier...

Even though its a bit unnerving doing the tourist things for me it was actually a bit of fun riding the watersides and relaxing in the 'hot-springs'. The hot-springs are a bit detached from the genuine variety by being based in a theme park but it is really a nice view with the huge limestone cliffs surrounding the area. There's tigers here also on display. 

Rescued from a circus in a state of malnutrition by the 'Lost world of Tambun' parks CEO. Good to see them having fun playing and looking like they were doing well. Also showing some serious sixth sense to get out of the way of a tree that fell over in quiet a powerful rain/wind storm that hit while we were there. There's a petting zoo with all manner of creature although the Marmoset surely was the coolest thing there. 

The hotel Sun Inn was great for a base to visit the water park/hot springs. They even took a photo of us and bikes out side with their state flag and the Malaysian national flag.

We've moved into the city of Ipoh for a couple of nights while we sourced a better camera for the trip. Finding an Olympus ZX-1 model that also had a great underwater case let alone SLR like picture quality for a bargain was gold dust. I've been well disappointed with the picture quality of our old knackered tough camera but with this upgrade hopefully our trip will be a little bit better documented. A hit to the trip budget but hopefully a worthwhile hit. Next week I will do a quick run back to Ipoh to pick up our underwater case when it arrives. We figured this would be worthwhile for our scuba adventures. The pictures below demonstrates that the camera can capture the subjects true form. Hehehehehe.

Some funky creative image manipulation on the camera. 

Hopefully tonight we will catch up for a feed with Ronnie and later in the week maybe Ian if he hasn't trail blazed his way to Laos yet!

Very sorry for the lack of posts. Hopefully you haven't fallen asleep reading this big catch up!


  1. Looks like a truly awesome adventure!! Only a little bit (a lot) jealous.


  2. Anyplace with a indoor monorail is insane and therefore worth visiting.

    1. The indoor roller coaster was semi-worthy. The whole place has a very old/requires new coat of paint feel. I guess if you didn't have the power of your own transport (aka a motorbike) then you certainly wouldn't visit the joint.

      People really only go there to play the casino... The only casino (legal) in Malaysia.

  3. Another great update guys. Truly a magical adventure so far.

    1. Thanks Gov!

      We are already planing Malaysia pt 2 believe it or not... Have to keep reminding ourselves we only just started...

      Ps. tax time for a tool fanatic like ourselves is a fantastic boost for the budget!


Thanks for taking the time to reply :)