For those of you who were holding your breath since the last blog post: the bike did arrive in Penang, Malaysia the day after. And since then I have made it to Bangkok where I am working my way through a long to do list of various things that need solving for the second half or so of the trip. Will tell you all about that in my next blog post once I am done here in Bangkok.
I’m about 10,000km in now, out of ~24,000km total. But because I am done with Indonesia (which takes ages to cross due to a combinations of poor roads, crazy traffic and all the ferries between the islands) I am actually more than half way in terms of estimated driving time. But I’m not going to celebrate until I am half way in distance terms, which will be somewhere in eastern India.
But enough about that, let’s start when I picked up my bike in Penang in Malaysia (where I did in fact celebrate a little bit that it’s all land from there on).
Day 44 – arriving in Malaysia: Technically I already arrived in Penang, Malaysia the night before but today is when the bike is scheduled to arrive in Penang. I stay in George Town on Penang island close to the office of the shipping company I am using (Mr. Lim at Cakra shipping), so in the morning I walk over to the office around 10am to check on how and when I will get the bike back.
I make my way to the office, find Mr. Lim and then everything just happens. I jump on the back of Mr. Lim’s motorbike and then he takes me around all morning. To customs to do the first round of import paperwork for the bike. To a local canteen for tea break. To the harbour to find the boat. And there it is, the bike, safe and sound just like I left it. We wait for the crew to unload a few tonnes of sweet potato before they can get the crane to my bike and lift it off the boat. Then Mr. Lim takes me back to the harbour entrance, does the last check with customs for me and then I am all good to go.
Bike arrived together with tonnes of sweet potato
So I head back to George Town and spend the afternoon exploring the old (and UNESCO listed) colonial town centre. It’s really nice! Penang was one of the main trading outposts of the British empire in the region next to Singapore, and it still has lots of very well maintained buildings from that time. And being one of the main cultural destinations in Malaysia it also has great food and cafes, which I made sure to take advantage of in celebrating the last water crossing of the trip.
Checking out some old colonial buildings in Penang
Celebrating that it’s all land from here onwards
Day 45 – leaving Malaysia for Thailand: After a slow morning in Penang packing up my things and preparing my Pakistan visa application (which the plan is to do during my stay in Thailand) I hit the road around lunch time and make it up to the border in a couple of hours.
After having spent more than a month crossing Indonesia on roads of very varying quality it is an absolute pleasure to find myself on wide, well maintained highways with at least two lanes in each direction and very limited traffic through all of Malaysia. So I set the cruise control to 110km/h and just sit back and relax for the 200km or so between Penang and the Thai border.
Day 46 & 47 – making my way up to Bangkok: For the first time in weeks, I have a somewhat modest 6 hours per day schedule to cover the almost 1,000km up to Bangkok. It is such a pleasure to ride on big, good roads with very little traffic after more than a month in Indonesia. Along the way I stay in Songkhla and Chumphon, both towns along the Gulf of Thailand coast. And because I had such a relaxing schedule I took the time to stroll around in the mornings, have a slow breakfast and then make numerous coffee stops along the way.
The roads in Thailand
On Saturday afternoon I made it to Bangkok, which was always supposed to be the major pit stop of the trip. Like I said I have a long to do list here, including things like getting the bike serviced, organising my permits for Myanmar and catching up with some old friends. I will update you on how all of that went when I am done here in a couple of days.
Finally made it to Bangkok!