KL to Penang, MALAYSIA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by chiko, Jun 14, 2009.

  1. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

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    Location:
    Houston, TX
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Be sure to show us where you go.. lots o' pics..

    :lurk
    #2
  3. Indochine

    Indochine 'Bikes are OK, but . . .

    Joined:
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    Oieeee. Can't wait for this one! :thumb If I may make a request, please include some food shots. And, ya know, some of :icy wouldn't hurt :wink:

    Ride Chico ride!

    :lurk
    #3
  4. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

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    I made it to penang. For those of you wanting to see the local food i have attached tonights dinner. Total cost for the plate, less tiger beer, 5MYR or ringgit as known locally. You can do the conversion offline but for a rough but skewed reference, coke costs 1.5 MYR. 660ml Tiger beer was 11MYR. Still working on the full trip report but tonights dinner was just too classic.
    Whole fish, soya, rice and veggies.

    Attached Files:

    #4
  5. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

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    My routes and favorites.
    I was not very impressed with the overall quality of the map I bought from Garmin City Navigator NT Malaysia and Singapore.If I had done better research, here I would have found a link to these.http://www.malfreemaps.com and http://www.malsingmaps.com/portal/ While in country I found that GPS units for sale there were using MalFreeMaps and getting free unlimited download updates as the maps are all created by contributing users.

    Attached Files:

    #5
  6. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
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    My day starts on Saturday at 7am to begin my motorbike tour of Malaysia. I have arranged a rental with www.ridemalaysia.com.my for 10 days self-guided tour on a Kawasaki Versys 650. A good choice for this trip, although they have larger bikes available, including an R1200GS and an RT. I have decided to break the trip to Penang into two days and just try to make it to Ipoh on the first day to take the pressue off. Feizal has arranged to meet me between 9 and 10am. I had visited the office earlier in the week to settle all the payment arrangements and knew where to go basically and locked the destination into the GPS. I am already fully geared up with mesh jacket and overpants that I had brought with me. The cab driver was unclear on the exact destination but I assured him I knew where we were supposed to go. He laughed a good bit when I showed him the Zumo and my memory supplement.

    There is brief safety orientation that Feizal gives about what to expect on my tour. Feizal also advises me that he will be able to guide me out of town from his office to Kuala Salangor. The tour package includes motorbike of your choice at various rates, Givi tailbag, and combination liability insurance and tax card. I need to carry a passport, regular US driver's licenses, and this tax card. Feizal also give me his business card to call if anything should happen. Foreign based DLs are good for 90days as is the no visa requirement for entering Malaysia.

    We go out to collect the motorbikes. Feizal encourages me to tool around the parking lot for several minutes to get acquainted with the bike. Which is a good thing because I dumped it in the second corner. The Versys is much lighter than my R1100GS and I got no feedback from the steering and down I go. I manage to pick it back up and Feizal arrives to check on me and the bike. No damage as it landed on frame sliders. This is an excellent beginner bike if you have long legs. So I spend some serious time in the lot making sure I can do tight circles and figure eights for about 15mins. "Barge" from Malaysian motorcycle getaways will also be attending the introductory ride and rides sweep as Feizal guides me out of town. Driving on the left side for the first time is very easy while following his lead. I try some lane sharing like all the locals on they way out of town, especially when pulling up to traffic signals. I am not as agile as the scooters at cutting thru taffic. The Versys is much bigger and I am carrying generic soft Givi saddle bags that I had brought with all my stuff for my 10 days out.
    We ride about 70km from the office to Bukit Melawati along trunk road 5 near the straights of Malacca. Bukit Melawati is the remains of a fort previously used to defend the mouth of the Selangor river. At the top you can see the cannons aimed at the river in the distance, a Muslim moon observation point, the lighthouse and feed the monkeys.
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    The dark monkeys are tame and you can feed them green beans that they sell to you at the top. They also have "bad" tawny colored monkeys that are not so tame. I had seen these earlier in my trip at the Hindu Shrine Batu Caves on the north side of KL. The dark monkeys are nice but will take the beans right out of your hands so you have to feed them one by one. I dont think they would scratch or bite. I wondered how the feed hawkers were protecting there much larger stash of beans for sale.
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    One is protected by a small yellow rubber snake. The other hawker uses a pair of sun bleached stuffed toy tigers. Monkeys are not afraid of people but they are scared of toys.

    From Kuala Selangor, Feizal and I are going to part ways. I get on the main road headed north to Teluk Intan where I should go see the leaning tower.
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    "Trunk" roads in Malaysia are every bit as good as the FM roads and US highways I am used to back in Texas. A good part of road 5 was fully divided two lanes in each direction so you dont even think about driving in the left lane. At intersections I have to remind myself, tight lefts and wide rigths. And only wide rights seem slightly odd. Days later as I record this, its just different strokes.

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    From Kuala Selangor my first destination is Teluk Intan where I should check out the local version of the leaning tower. Not quite Pisa but its leaning. It was not on my route through Teluk Intan and I didnt see any signs for it so I had to double back to find the town square.

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    From Teluk Intan I head along the river (sorry, no name on my map or Google Maps) road 109 to route 5 on the way to Ipoh. Feizal has recommended 109 as nicer than A18. There are typical Malaysian houses on stilts along the way but nothing worth stopping for.
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    The approach to Ipoh is my first encounter with the police checkpoint. Feizal had warned me about them and what I needed. I was mindful but I really thought it was a "just in case" warning, but I would not actually need it. Over the course of the 10 days I, and everyone else on motorcycle, was stopped twice and for a third time I was waved thru on just random checkpoint of motorcyclist only. The police must have had 30 scooters and my motorcyle pulled over. I ignored what was happening to the queue of cars. The officer was perplexed by my Texas DL but eventually sent me on my way. I asked "hotels this way" and they nodded approval. Very friendly encounter. In Ipoh I just pulled up to the first fancy hotel I find to see if I get afford it.
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    In this case Syuen. No problem. I get a modest room for less than RM 200. I never spent more than RM 250 for any of the hotels I needed for this trip and the most expensive in Kota Bharu was the worst. In the basement I see a number of full motorcycles but I dont recognize any obvious riders inside.

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    #6
  7. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

    Joined:
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    Nice Versys! That bike is comfortable with lean angles. Even the guys in the background are antigogglin. :lol3

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    Cool location.
    #7
  8. ClearwaterBMW

    ClearwaterBMW The Examiner Supporter

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    enjoying this very much
    great pictures and descriptions
    i can't wait for the next installment
    thanks for taking us along on your journey
    we really appreciate it
    #8
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Beautiful ride, keep it comin' please :lurk
    #9
  10. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
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    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Sunday I figure I have an easy jog to Penang and decide to explore a bit around Ipoh. I plan first to visit Gua Tempurong (Cave) and then "Kellie's Castle" which I had seen a sign for on the way to Ipoh and its in the Zumo.
    Cave photos suck because I dont have a steady hand but it was large and impressive and better than what I saw in Budapest. Ticket price RM 6 for the 40 min tour. There are many more activities here including a several hour long wet tour that I was not prepared for. There are no significant or dramatic stalagmites on the tour I saw. Just rocks.

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    The compound for Gua Tempurong also has camping and an motocross circuit. I did not see any activity there on a Sunday.
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    Next stop is Kellie's Castle near Batu Gajah which was a fun tour.
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    The tree looks like a bear, I am advised by the ticket seller.
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    Tickets less than RM5. The tour is self guided and I am accompanied by a group of teen agers. The girls are impressed with my 5'11" height but I am no taller than the tallest boys there. But I am wearing boots.
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    This temple is seen in the distance from the top of Kellie's Castle
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    From Kellies Castle I head on to Penang.
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    In peninsular Malaysia, motorcycles are exempted from all tolls with a special bypass lane. The only toll I had to pay was to enter Penang but not exit, across the Georgetown bridge and it was only RM 1.40. Sometimes the bypass lanes is simple as in this picture. Other times it winds around behind the toll plaza.

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    When converted to US currency 1 ringgit is only about 33 cents but to them it feels about like $1 or a bit less. RM 50 feels about like $20 as its what the ATMs kick out. RM100 is only slightly uncommon and readily accepted at petrol stations.
    From Kellie's Castle I head north on road 76 past Lenggong on the long way to Penang. From the maps 76 looks to be very impressive but I have a short cut planned across A6 in case I dont have time. GPS is turned off to save battery. I drive past the entrance to A6 while traveling north past Lenggong and totally missed Lata Kekabu waterfall. I stop at a rest station several kms up the road and the people there tell me that I missed the waterfall and the turn off and that I need to head back. So I turn the GPS back on and head south for A6. I watch the GPS carefully and see the marks in the road for a turn off but they lead straight into a local market with about 30 stalls. Still on the bike, I pulled into the market among the stands and ask the gentleman, Is this the road. He responds something like the road to where. I say "Penang" and he points off into the distance and some gravel and says the road is that way. Great, not real interested in gravel roads right now at probably 3PM and far from my hotel.

    So I drive through the market, the narrow width not the entire length. Of course everyone is giving me lots of strange looks but with plenty of smiles. I cross the gravel and find the road.

    Between 4pm and 6pm its going to rain in peninsular Malaysia. Not every day but almost.
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    Looking out over the A6 road into the valley below. Photo's dont do it justice.
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    On sunday it rains along most of my way across A6 and I decide to wait it out at the Shell station in Batu Kurau for a couple hours. I am low on petrol anyway. A6 was a great road to ride and I really thought I had discovered something but it pales in comparison to later roads that I got to ride here. This particular station was really hopping busy. I got a few pictures in but I had to take off before my final planned picture of me with the guy pumping gas taken by the girl. They were just to busy and focussed on their work. Petrol was a little thin to come by in this part of Malasia and Batu Kurau was not on the optimal route but I was low on fuel on a new bike and just starting my adventure and the rain was really coming down good.
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    The sun was setting as I drove across the Georgetown bridge to my reserved hotel. Zumo lead me right to the hotel, Copthorne Orchid, and I checked in after dark. I would have been on plan to get in before dark if I had not waited so long for the rain to stop in Batu Kurau. It was a great two days and I had 7 more to look forward to.

    MALAYSIA is a fantastic place to go motorcycling. I have not ridden in Colorado or ridden the dragon but this place is amazing. Its super-nirvanna if you are really into palm tree plantations. But its going to rain. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate wet weather motorcylcling. Sunday I resolved to just keep the rain gear on my Givi soft side cases so I would not have to mess with them later. Frog Toggs worked great, they did not even ride up too much and leak into my boots. I bought a new set of Frog Toggs to prepare for this trip as my last pair had worn out. The new set is stronger than my last pair and I am only disappointed that they are a dull brown color instead of my preferred bright orange. Alpinestar waterproof SMX boots were waterproof. I highly recommend to come here on a motorcycle vacation but be well prepared for rain and how your gear really works. One of the waterproof rain jacket for for the Givi Side cases ended up self-destructing when ridden for many hours and I had to duct tape it back into shape. I had not used this setup before this trip and I took a RM13 penalty for it to have all my clothes washed. Malaysia is not particularly hot or unbearable by Texas summer time standards. July Houston is hotter than Malaysia normal. August Houston is hotter yet. Later in the trip when I went to the highlands I was cool and used the Frog Toggs just as a windbreaker. Warm July in Malaysia does not mean summertime. The sun is going to set at around 7PM anyway. The roads here are not lit up after dark like in the US and I preferred to be in town or eating dinner by dark.
    #10
  11. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Houston, TX
    By Monday I have been riding for 2 pretty long days as decide to take an easy day and see what the resort has to offer and see some of Penang. RM30 breakfast buffet at the hotel was unremarkable and never repeated again. I tried the Spa and massage for the first time. Only RM100 for 60mins. It was OK but not my thing. I learned I am not very stressed. So off to see Penang hill then Kek Lok Si

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    Cars leave every 30mins.You switch cables cars about half way up, to take a track that is less steep.
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    Total trip time is right at 30mins. There is a trail to walk all the way up to but that is not for me.

    When arriving at the top there is a very nice little park and touristy stuff to see plus the vistas of the island.

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    Georgetown bridge can just be made out in this photo but it was much clearer in real life
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    It was pretty hazy for most of my time in Malaysia. Many people attributed it to slash and burn clearing occuring in Indonesia. Visibility was often poor but I never smelled much like smoke or pollution. But I live in Houston so my nose is probably impervious now.

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    On the way down, it was clear that the car going up and the car going down are tied to the same cable and the weight of the down car is helping to lift the other car up the hill.
    Which is kind of scary when you think about it.
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    Next stop was going to be Kek Lok Si, a very impressive Hindu Temple in Penang on top of the hill. I blew the turn into entrance and continued following a car up the hill to see what was at the end of the road. It couldnt keep climbing forever. At the top I found Air Itam Dam, a very nice little reservoir for the public water supply. Locals also come up here to use it as a jogging track.

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    I went back down the hill to explore Kek Lok Si. I arrived around 5:30 PM and the facility had already closed but I had a nice look around from the very impressive parking lot. They are undergoing a major new addition of a very tall statue that is mostly blocked by scaffolding in the photos by damn impressive in real life.

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    The camera just finished eatings its batteries so I didnt get any great shots. Carry spare batteries in pouch, I remind myself.
    #11
  12. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Feeling fully rested now, I head off for one of the great sections of my trip, the Cameron Highlands. My colleagues and Feizal advise me that this is one of the great attraction areas of peninsular Malaysia and I was very excited.
    I start off from Penang and decide to again try the A6 road toward Lenggong. I had enjoyed that road a good deal on Sunday and it would be better today as it wasnt raining, I was refreshed, and I would be climbing into the valley instead of descending.

    I left Georgetown before the banks opened up so I stop in the first big town I see to get more cash. I am pretty sure these are photos of Kubu Gajah and they have beautiful town and a proper bank branch.

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    The ATM didnt not like my ATM card becuase it didnt have a SIM chip inside of it. Malaysian cards now all have security chips and they thought mine was quite odd. But the staff inside was very helpful and I left with RM800 which is some pretty serious cash for here but I didnt want any further troubles.

    Leaving Kubu Gajah
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    A6 road, this time in sunshine
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    Becuase the rain is gone for now I find a lovely waterfall crossing the road that I had missed on Sunday while barelling through the rain.
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    The Market is no longer here on Tuesday and the road dumps me right onto 76.

    I drive south for a bit remembering that I had passed Lata Kekabu the first time on Sunday and I didnt want to make that mistake again. Its on the map but not on the GPS. I pulled into a town just off the main highway and I meet the first Malaysian on my journey who doesnt speak English.
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    He tries to be helpful anyway and I buy a couple bottles of water and sit down for a break. I see a mosque up the hill from his store and walk over there to see if someone can tell me if the waterfall is still south or if I have passed it again. Two gentleman are there and one has good English and tells me its still about 10km down the road past the lake.

    Then I start to see the signs and I should have seen them on the way up. When riding in Malaysia expect road signs, not billboards. There are very few billboards and none are for local attractions.

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    On the way up to the waterfall I met Sahil and his mates who are having a nice picnic and he offers to be my guide and says its dangerous.

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    But we have a nice chat on the way up to waterfall and of course its a park, not dangerous at all. He justs wants to meet new people and practice his English which is very good.

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    I offer him RM10 for his excellent guide services and he refuses. Seriously. I had to insist he take the money. I learn later that is not small money to people in his situation.

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    On the way out, I ask Sahil is this the dangerous part, when the snakes are going to come out and bite me, now that I have taken my boots off. No snakes but I saw some pretty good sized lizards.

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    Lata Kekabu is a very nice little park facility and the folks here come to swim in the stream and have some nice picnics. It wasnt very popular today but looks like it could host some pretty big parties.

    Back on 76 headed south.
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    I bypassed Kuala Kangsar where I am recommended by Feizal to stop and see the first Rubber Tree and the royal palace. I am headed for Cameron highlands.

    The new road from Simpang Pulai (south of Ipoh) up into the Cameron highlands is the best motorcyling road I have been on in the whole trip. I have no pictures, I was having way to much fun and there was no good place to turn off anyway. Mostly too much fun. Tight sweepers, not as tight as I thought looking at the GPS and map, I being conservative and I am alone in a rural area far from home. Traffic is light but I do each corner betweeb 90-110 kph indicated. I checked the GPS on the way home and the speedo is running +10 on straightaways.

    Kg. Raja is at the top of the hills and I stop for dinner and decide to head back. This is a mistake as I will learn.

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    The Chinese gentleman running the restaurant doesnt speak English and this place is just for locals. So I just look at the board and point to the most expensive thing on the menu at RM7. I dont know what it was but he was out of it. His son or a younger staff person comes out a few minutes later and he has very good english. He asks what I want and I dont really know what they have so I just say for him to pick something. He recommends pork and noodles and I say OK! It was ok soup. Noodles, yes. Pork blood, I think so. Maybe some cut up liver and pork rinds. I ate the soup, drank my coke, chatted with the young guy awhile. He was closing up the restaurant, I guess this is more of a lunch crowd. The area around here was not very pretty and was just wharehouses and trucks and stuff for produce processing.

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    Fearing more of this, and the late hour, I again ride that most awesome road back to Simpang Pulai and bang up the E1 to Penang. Again I arrive crossing the bridge right around sunset and pay my RM1.40 toll. I am ready this time but I recall I pulled into the "Touch-n-Go" lane and had to back out and go to a cash booth. I hadnt noticed those the first time thru. The locals didnt seem to annoyed at my mistake.
    #12
  13. mcc66

    mcc66 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    forrestfield, western australia
    Great reading so far, looking forward to finishing reading your ride report. Have been interested in doing a trip with Ride Malaysia, good to hear of your experiences with them.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Michael mcc66 :thumb
    #13
  14. ksawatsky

    ksawatsky n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
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    Greenville, Texas
    I grew up in Malaysia, and although it certainly has changed in the last 30 years, much of what you've show in your pictures is familiar! Thanks for doing this and I look forward to reading the rest of the ride report!
    #14
  15. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Oddometer:
    63
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I am about halfway way thru my adventure now and I dont really feel that I have given my base camp, Penang Island, a fair shot so the only agenda for today is to ride around the island and take in two sites. The first will be the Snake Temple, already in the GPS and the second is Lata Titi Kerawang (GPS) or Lata Tiki Kerawang waterfall (map). Also in the GPS. Easy.

    Zumo takes me right to the site but there is no snake temple. Just average to crummy apartments. So I ride on for a bit, still no temple. So I seek some local advice and pull into a snow car wash. I regret having no pictures of this encounter. I pull into the car wash and ask to have the bike washed. The young men there are really suprised that I am asking for this. They are quite amazed as the "super-bike" and have a great time with it. There enthusiam is tangible but I advise them "Just dont drop it". Like I had, I was there to get the mud washed off from a previous spill in the wet grass at 2 kph. I am really there to find out where this snake temple is but I hate using businesses to get directions and then not at least taking some minor part in there core business. While waiting for the bike to be washed I chat with the other guys there that are carefully washing an SUV. We chat a bit about what car washes cost in US and I say a basic hand wash in Houston goes for about $25 but it can run $100 or more for a full detail. I still have no idea what this is going to set me back but I dont care and everyone is having a good time. They are amazed at the amounts I am talking about and easily convert it to local currency. I drink my spare water, have a cigarette and just generally chat, in English of course. I dont know anything else. About 20 mins into the wash and while playing with the GPS, I reveal my real intentions about trying to find this "Snake Temple". They guys there no where it is but dont know how to use the GPS to pinpoint its location for me so that I can be on my way. So they offer to guide me there exactly on their own scooters. We all have a good time. Finally the bike is done. I have layed way to many cards on the table and I ask what this the bill is. RM5. Less than $2 for two teenage, but on the upper end of teenage guys, to wash the bike. I say this is ridulous and offer them RM20. They refuse. RM5. WTF. On reflection I am thinking to myself I should have told them, "if some white guy pulls into the lot you start out at RM50 and negotiate from there. Settle around RM25 and everyone is happy". How can you dicker when the opening bid is RM5?

    So then two guys mount one scooter and lead me off to the "snake temple" as a bonus. We ride for several KM, GPS is off and I start thinking to myself, "OK this is it" we are going to turn into some dead-end alley and I start keeping a close eye my my escape route. Of course they are riding Malaysia normal, with lane sharing, lots of u-turns, and scooting to the front at each light. Me and the versys are struggling to keep up. Guy on the back make sure that I dont loose them. While riding and planning my escape I struggle with "why are they going to jump me and not take the RM20 that I initially offered." Instead we make a big U-Turn. Totally normal in Georgetown traffic and pull right up to the snake temple. They point vigorously and then ride off. WTF. So I park and go see the snake temple. I mark the spot in the GPS favorites and its 3KM off from what the map already had.

    In other post I have read, Malaysia is on a big anti-corruption scheme but this seems way over the line. I am a total dumbass mark. I dont care. Why are they not taking advantage of this? Its un-American.

    Snake temple (my nephews and all young boys like snakes):
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    The snakes are basically lethargic and you would think they were dead or fake but everyone assures me they are real and just content. Something about the incense and they only get active at night.

    In the souveneir shop I find a vendor offering to make names on rice. The perfect motorcycle adventure souveir for my friends and family as it packs so small. But alas the person that does that is not in today and I have to settle for T-Shirts.

    If you are coming to Penang for a motorcylcling adventure its beautiful but get here quick before they straighten all the roads.

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    Obama is not the first to think about infrastructure upgrades as economic stimulus. And sadly roads are more about transporting commerce on lorries thank they are about tight twisty's and overlooks. At least these people are doing something about it. Fortunately for me there are limits and the roads revert to something closer to the natural lay of the land.

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    Hwy 6 is even twistier than the GPS would have you believe and the pictures cannot reveal it.

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    Despite what other have posted, I have found the car drivers in Malaysia to be extremely disciplined about lane markers out on rurals roads. One Mercedes/BMW did take some liberties while driving quicker than I was prepared to, and I let him pass. But he only broke boundaries when he had a pretty good sight at the road ahead. Lane markers in town when everyone is moving the same direction is a different case. Scooters use lane markers as guidelines. Overtaking lane markers, everyone better know what they are doing.

    In the NW corner of Penang island you are greeted by Lata Titi Kerawang. I drove right past it. If you see a bunch of vendor stalls and cars parked, stop and see what the interest is. Its probably not just produce.

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    Past Lata Titi Kerawang there is a lovely fresh water reservoir that they have dammed up to prevent all the rain water from leaking into the sea and they you get the lovely views of Batu Ferringgi.

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    and then bang on home to the Hotel Copthorne and some nice dinner.
    #15
  16. AdrenalineRider

    AdrenalineRider FuzzRides

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    243
    Location:
    New Delhi, India
    Amazing :D pics:1drink
    #16
  17. madf

    madf Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    622
    Location:
    Barcelona
    Great trip, thereĀ“s a nice twisty road going up to Genting Highlands. Wished I had my bike when I was around.
    #17
  18. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Oddometer:
    63
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    After visiting Cameron Highlands on Tuesday, I conferrred with Feizal and he said I should keep on going and also see the sights around Tanah Rata and take the south road 59 out of Cameron back toward KL. To do this in a day I wont be able to wander trunk roads around Ipoh and take the national NS expressway E1 straight to Simpang Pulai. Again I ride the great north road up into Cameron Highlands. Again its too much fun to stop and take pics. On to Tanah Rata. Up in Cameron its cool and wear my Frog Toggs as a windbreaker over the mesh. First only cool place I have been in Malaysia. Tanah Rata is a proper touristy type town for both local and international visitors looking to escape the heat. On reflection it would have made a better base in Central Malaysia than Penang did.

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    South of Tanah Rata the agricultural area near the roads are more fully developed and there is touristy type tea house where I pull in to get more pics.

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    Then we get into a proper set of switchbacks with sharp 180 curves and elevation drops. Zumo claims 50km from the tea house south of Tanah Rata and Tapah back at the main expressway. The steep switch back dont last very long but after that its nothing but sharp curve then short straight away then sharp curve as you follow the contours of hill that has been pushed up out of the earth.

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    About halfway through you are greeted by Lata Iskandar. Having already blown past the waterfall on Penang I keep my eye out and stop first at a smaller waterfall before.

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    Some men are doing some civil engineering projects so I check there progress. I am concerned its down in the jungle near where they are working but I find its later just up the road a short bit near the stalls.

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    Arriving at Iskandar around 4PM, I can figure on rain soon and Malaysia doesnt let me down there. It starts to drizzle while I am ready to leave Lata Iskandar and manage to duck into the stalls to put on the Frog Toggs. The remaining road is just as good but I have to be more careful with rain. I soon arrive back at the expressway near Tapah and head back to Penang. Again I arrive on the bridge as the sun will soon be setting but I stop to take a few quick pictures on a pull off on the bridge.

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    #18
  19. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Oddometer:
    63
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    On the return trip to Penang on Thursday evening 3 July, I have decided that I have seen enough of Penang and resolve to just ride around the border. I didnt make it all the way up to Perlis in the far northern tip. And I dont have time to make it down to Johor but I resolve to drive the expressway up to Alor Star and then down to Gerik and over to Khota Bharu. My preparation research indicates that route 4 from Gerik to Khota Baru is supposed to be the best motorcycle road in Malaysia and having ridden in Cameron Highlands I am expecting great things. From Khota
    Bharu I consider taking route 8 through the mountains and instead decide to take route 3 down to Kuantan and take in the seaside. Perfect for the 4th of July. Sunday, from Kuantan its and easy jog back to KL and to end the trip. I have to be back at the office on Monday.

    I discuss my plan with the wonderful Chinese gentleman who serves Tiger in the food court. He has very specific advice. Go see the Museum of Rice in Alor Setar and you need a permit to visit Pedu Lake, which you can get in Alor Setar. I explain that I would rather see the rice paddys for real then a 3D electronic version of them and I ask, "Do I need a permit just to ride the road along the lake?". I dont need a permit to ride the road and he should know becuase he was part of the work crew that built the dams that formed Lake Pedu to be formed, back in the 60s.

    I dont really make it into Alor Setar and head east on the road marked K11 on the Zumo. But in this area, the actual road names dont often match up with the references coming from City Navigator Singapore/Malaysia v4.02. Best to just reference the next expected town on the way. Overall I am going to give the Zumo map of Malaysia a C, I will write a summary later, but the first anoyance of the day is the map shows the town that I am heading for is Pedang Terap but none of the signs say that. They all say Kuala Nerang which is a major town. From K. Nerang I head SE generally along the Thailand border torward Pedu Lake. For being the Rice Bowl of Malaysia, I am not seeing a lot of rice paddys. There are some small ones but I dont bother to stop for pics and I am waiting for something major. Traffic on the road is pretty light and then I come to realize why.

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    I was expecting that maybe I would be disqualified from ADVRider as my trip report would all be pavement but the Malaysian transportation department came through for me and tore up K13 on the way to Lake Pedu. I am glad that I didnt take in the museum because this bit is really going to slow me down. Soon it turns back into tarmac and I think, OK that is over. But no. It back to gravel. It goes like this for about 20KM alernating long patches of gravel and long patches of tarmac. They arent just replacing the road in place but they are making major improvements (for lorries anyway). The good news is that I have the road all to myself and even flirt with driving on the right side for a while.

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    In this picture you can still see the old road.
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    Lake Pedu
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    These next two are either Lake Pedu or Lake Muda. I think Pedu. I dont think I am on the old K13 road described on the GPS but instead I am on the expressway that is still a dotted line on the map linking Baling with Thailand.

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    I catch up with some guys that are actually doing road construction and they give me looks of amazement and support. It will probably be completed by the time you get here. Sorry, no pictures.

    Eventually I get back on the old trunk roads header for Sik and then Baling. Along the way the weak rain protectors for my Givi bags have gotten too loose and one decides to shred itself. In Sik I find a great store that offers not just water and cigarrettes. While resting I contemplate my situation and realize this store has lots of office supply stuff and they would have tape too. Duct tape even.

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    I tape the shit out of the bags, even the one that hasnt torn yet just to keep it from self destructing in the wind. So much for my be prepared plan. Next time Be really well prepared. If your rain protectors flap in the dry they will probably self destruct.

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    On the road from Sik to Baling. I guess this is all the rice I am going to see.

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    The under construction road into Baling is even more impressive. Not for the scenery but they are putting up lights like its going to be a lighted expressway. Its all torn up to shit right now. And I dont have it to myself anymore. Lots of trucks and cars fighting the with the still being built road. They are all coming toward me from the south.

    Arriving in Baling. What a background for a rural town.

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    From Baling I head off for Gerik to get petrol and then head onto the much anticipated route 4.

    Notes about Gerik:
    Route 76 into from Gerik from the north was excellent. Everything I hoped it would be when I was coming up from Lengongg but only in the northerly part.

    There is no petrol station where 4 crosses 76. Totally bizarre to see two major roads intersect like that and nothing around. Gerik is just a little ways south of the intersection. Get GAS!! I mean petrol. Gas is CNG here.

    Lots of signs about Litar Motorcross Park in Gerik but I couldnt find it and then the signs petered out. No pics just petrol. Its a major town.

    Tanked up headed for Khota Baru.
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    Here is where the good stuff starts, just past the lake.
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    OK. Whoever said route 4 across Malaysia was the best motorcycling road in Malaysia must have been on a Vulcan, not a Versys. It was nice, every bit as good as the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery was beautiful but not particularly more so than the rest of this country. The road was not challenging at all and generally full of trucks hauling logs. I regret not having a picture of the lorries as I had lots of chances but when I decided I had run out of chances, so did the lorries. But there was nothing worth pulling over for and there were no turn offs. I did see my first snake in the road but he and I were both moving fast so I didnt bother to go back. Six days in and this is my first snake. And I did see a big monitor lizard and I did go back for him but he was gone.

    Just west of Jeli there is a particularly amazing monolith. Gunung Reng. Just found it in Google Maps.

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    It was dramatic. Its not featured on my map book so I dont have a name. It didnt show up in google as "monolith Jeli", I tried. But there was some local camping activity and some signs. I wished I had time to stop and do more photos. There is a run down restaurant from where took these photos. A lot of military guys started pulling up while I took these and had my water and cigarette. Its right on the border with Thailand. But I had several kms to go to reach Kota Bahru and headed off.

    Dont trust the Zumo, you need a map. On the way to Khota Bahru I saw a turn off that said Khota Bahru but I just followed Zumo. By this time I had it turned back on as my day was ending and I was not worried about battery life. Zumo turned me down this crappy little residential road that was only wide enough to be one way. I turned back and took the marked road (not on Zumo) which took me right along the Thailand border. Sorry no pictures. It was great to look at but I was feeling insecure. The best answer is to follow the map and take road 129 right into downtown or wander along the border like I did.

    The Kelantan state in Malaysia is more strictly Muslim than most of the country. Check it out on Wikipedia if you are coming here. Notably for me, the recommended hotel New Pacific is halal, which means a lot of things but mainly does not have beer. But the concierge does recommend that there are some Chinese restaurants in close walking distance. This was the most expensive and not the nicest hotel that I found in Malaysia. I have wiped the price from my mind but it wasnt crazy. The hotels single rooms were fully booked because a riding group of scooters had booked up this location as a launching point. I forget the make and model but it was a product only riding group. I arrived around dark, checked in, showered and then went seeking beer and food and bed.
    #19
  20. chiko

    chiko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Oddometer:
    63
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Three die in motorcycle accident. That is the headline I read in the newspaper during breakfast. In a tragedy that I hope can only happen in SE Asia, a teenage boy and his twin sisters, also teenagers, die in a collision. All three are on the same motorcycle that was run into by another motorcycle with three more teenagers on board, nearby their school. The riders on the second motorcycle have serious injuries but survived. None were wearing helmets which are required in Malaysia. A very sobering way to start my planned Saturday cruise down the east coastline. For simplicity my ride plan today is to just ride down route 3 from Khota Bharu to Kuantan. Beyond Kuala Terengganu it rides right along the coast but the first leg is mostly inland.

    Exotic birds at a fuel stop along route 3.
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    Available ocean front lot just south of Kuala Terengganu.
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    You can take brief glances at the beautiful coastline while cruising down the highway but only briefly. Even if there is no traffic immediately ahead, you have to keep on constant watch for oncoming traffic as they overtake slower vehicles and come into the south bound lane. I was going to say my lane but lanes are only suggestions in Malaysia. If you are lucky you can catch a glance of oncoming headlights. If you are unlucky they will be the last thing you see. Riding along in the shoulder helps to keep you alive but pretty much guarantees a car will come by.

    I only saw one group of "superbikes" coming at me all day long and it was Saturday at the beach. Probably 10-15 bikes in all, Hayabusa mostly in the lead and some cruisers not far behind.

    Malaysian cars have not adopted the habit of using headlights as running lights on cars most of the time. If you see a pair of headlights in Malaysia its either night, or a pair of scooters, or really raining hard.

    Terengganu looks a lot like the rest of peninsular Malaysia. Most notable difference was frequent use of Arabic script on a lot of road signs. Everywhere else I only saw Latin characters on Bhasa

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    Pulau Gemia and Pulau Kappas. Jetty boat service is available to visit these nearby islands.
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    Pulau Tenggul near Dungun?
    Another nice lot further south
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    Chalet for RM30
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    This is not it.
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    I am very surprised about how unoccupied the beaches are on a beutiful Saturday afternoon.

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    I saw very few animals in the road while driving through Malaysia but this one was unique. Plenty of cows along the way but these were the only water buffaloe I saw.

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    Arriving in Kuantan I decide now that my trip is nearly over, I splurge a bit on the hotel room. The MS Gardens has no simple single bed rooms available, only doubles. The very friendly chief porter welcomes me into the hotel and arranges for me to have a king size deluxe suite for the price of the double, only RM260. I ask about availability of the balcony for the room so that I have a place to air out my gear and they are able to set me up. They also didnt have covered parking available. Every other hotel I had stayed in had nice underground parking under the hotel but this one had an open lot. But they were very kind and helped me to squeeze the Versys into a small section of covered parking where they kept the commuter vans. I had better parking than the very large shiny Vulcan who was parked nearby but he was too big to squeeze in. Depsite they very threatening clouds that evening, I dont think it actually rained.

    After shower and a very large dinner in the hotel restaurant, I retired to the bar to check internet. There I was treated by an engagement with a local dance group of middle aged Chinese locals who were very keen to keep dancing to stay fit. When the professional musician and singer were taking a break, the dance crew was not ready to stop and fired up the karaoke machine and each of them volunteered to sing while the others danced. They were all excellent dancers and very good singers. The hired professionals didnt even bother to take the stage again for the couple hours I stayed down there. The dancers were all very friendly and came over to chat and invite me to dance with them but I dont dance. I still had a great time watching and taking it all in. This was the most fun evening I have had all week.
    #20