[YEAR 7!] Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Because this has happened to us before, we know exactly what to do. We are going to bypass all the Honda dealerships and the motorcycle stores. They were going to be of no help.

We rode down the street and looked for some kind of shop. No luck, but a garage pointed us to a mechanic next door. I walked past a rusty car in a state of repair and called out to the back. This guy came out to take a look at my broken rack. He had a cigarette stuck to the bottom of his lip which moved up and down when he spoke Malay to me. I don't speak Malay so I was hypnotized by the motion of his cigarette. I broke off my stare long enough to point out the broken bracket. With a nod he disappears into the shop and brings out:

Ummmm... I don't think...

He turns off the blowtorch immediately. The cigarette muttered something in Malay and then proclaimed, "Aluminum".


So back to the drawing board.

Literally. He traced out the bracket with paper and pencil and drew a new bracket

The ash grew longer on his cigarette but never left his mouth as he twisted and formed the metal. Cool! He was going to build me a new bracket just like the Thai metal shop had done for Neda.

Nope. He just built a brace... :(

Because the crack hadn't bent the two halves of the broken bracket, they still contacted each other and provided support. As long as the two halves didn't slip, the rack was still stable. So the mechanic built an aluminum brace and screwed it to the two halves like a cast.

Not as elegant as Neda's fabricated iron bracket, but it did the job. I asked him how much. He pulled a price out of the air: 20 Ringgit, which is $8 CAD. That was pretty expensive compared to the $5 CAD for Neda's custom bracket! I don't think I paid more than $25 CAD for the whole rack itself! But it really highlighted how cheap Thailand is compared to every other SE Asian country.

Well, we got our minor problem solved, and didn't have to spend a lot of time on it. I thanked the long burnt end of cigarette ash at the end of his face: "Terima Kasih!" And we're back on the road!

Just outside of Pahang, we rode by this very interesting Hindu temple

Neda has had enough of the heat. "You go and take pictures. I'm going to stay right here in the shade..."

Inside the temple, everyone had the same idea. Afternoon siesta.

This is the Sri Marathandavar Bala Dhandayuthapani Alayam temple. This is one of the holiest temples in Malaysia and we just stumbled onto it by accident. Marathandavar means "deity of the tree".

Sure enough, in the centre of the temple is a thick tree adorned with yellow pieces of cloth

Legend has it that in the late 1800s, a road was being built from Kuala Lumpur to Pahang. Many trees were felled to make way for this road, but one tree in particular, a Radruksha tree, started to bleed when it was cut. Workers saw it as a holy sign and preserved the tree for worship. Today, that tree is gone, but a replica was erected in the temple and devotees write down their prayers on yellow strips of cloth and pin them to the tree, like prayer flags.

We didn't make it that far today. Jerantut is only 180 kms away from Pahang

The motorcycle repairs and the sight-seeing delayed our headway into the mountains and we stopped for the night in Jerantut. A non-descript town except for a line of colourful shops and stalls in the tourist centre. It attracted our eye and we looked for a place to eat.

Roti for dinner. I *LOVE* Malaysian food! And Teh Tarik, of course...

After dinner, we go for a walk around town. More mosques.
The next day, there are no motorcycle repairs to undertake. No border officials to ply. No beach-side resorts to rip us off. Only mountain roads.

Twist (the throttle) and Shout!

Really, this is the essence of our trip. Sure, we stop a lot to sample the local culture, but at the end of the day it's always about the riding. We've done too many straight roads and too many highways and city streets lately. It feels good to get back to curvy roads again.

As we head north, the landscape changes and tall limestone formations once again rise up around us

Lunchtime at some random town along the way

And they had the best BBQ chicken for a random food stop! I don't think I've had a bad meal in Malaysia yet.

We're entering a part of Malaysia that I've heard a lot of warnings about. But we're going to explore anyway...


I love the picture captioned "An hour outside of Johor Bahru and the city dissolves into a thick forest of palm trees". Fantastic!

And the cigarette guy is great! :wings:


New member
This is the ideal life! I just don't understand how someone can afford to do this for so long and travel so far. I would love to take my jeep across a few continents.
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/308.html

The gas station looks closed.

Our tiny CRF tanks are running out of fuel yet again and I hop off and try the doors to the convenience store attached to the station. Locked.

Strange, it's the middle of the day.

I cup my hands and peer through the glass. Two women in headscarves inside stare back at me and indicate that the pumps are working.

The gas station is open.

When we're finished topping up our tanks, I walk back to the booth and I have to deposit the money in a till that swings open to accept cash and swings shut so the operator inside can take the money - the kind that gas station attendents use at night in dangerous neighbourhoods.

I don't feel very safe.

We are entering the state of Kelantan. I've read that the crime rates here are high compared to the rest of the country. Also disproportionate are the drug usage and HIV+ rates. Some blame this state of moral decay to the proximity to Thailand, where the availability and culture of drugs and brothels contrast sharply to the strict Muslim code of conduct in this predominantly Malay state.

To combat this affront to their morality, the local government is trying to enforce harsher punishments under Sharia Law.

As we enter Kota Bharu, a huge sign tells us what we need to know about Sharia Law: No Wheelying.

The sign translates: "Guidelines for dignified young Kelantans". It advocates studies, prayer, modesty. Abstinence from drugs, partying, pre-marital relations... and wheelying.

A lot of states in Malaysia enforce Sharia Law under a dual-justice system. It applies only to Muslims and the penalties range from fines to jail-time. However, the state of Kelantan, which has one of the smallest non-Muslim populations (10%) in the country, has been pushing for harsher punishments, including amputations, stoning and death-sentences. This ancient Islamic system of penalties is called Hudud. State law and federal law clash, and Kelantan's push for Hudud has so far been vetoed by the federal government because these penalties go against the Malaysian constitution.

And No Wheelying is an attack on fun itself.

Kota Bahru is not a tourist attraction

We walk through a market which reminds me of the ones in Morocco

Vendors selling all sorts of trinkets and lotions

And copious amounts of fruit!

Everywhere we go, men and women congregrate in separate groups

Under Sharia Law, unrelated men and women are not allowed to co-mingle. I read about couples who were fined for riding a motorcycle together or sitting on a bench too closely. We went shopping for some food and in the grocery stores, there are separate queues for men and women. Even though we were exempt from these laws, we were very cautious not to show any public displays of affection. Then we saw some young couples holding hands in public - they looked local and may have been married, so we relaxed a little.

Handicraft Museum

Near the museum, we saw a lot of people eating on tables laid out in a seating area with buffet-style serving trays of food alongside. There weren't any signs to indicate this was a restaurant, no menus, and not even labels on the food. This was as local as you could get. None of the food looked remotely familiar, so we just grabbed a plate each and started spooning whatever looked appetizing.

No prices labelled, but as expected, the total at the cash register was very cheap (just a couple of dollars between the both of us).

The other tables were segregated into men-only or women-only. We dug into our food and realized we made the wrong choices... :(

Although non-Muslims are supposed to be unaffected by Sharia Law, there have been economic repercussions amongst the ethnic Chinese and Indian populations. Non-Muslim women working at hair salons are not allowed to cut the hair of Muslim men, which impacts their business. Inter-faith marriages are also affected, as well as the children of these unions.

Male shopowner selling women's clothing. Obviously not Muslim.

Groups of men congregate separately from the women
There are certain arts and crafts that originate from Kelantan. One thing I really want to see are the shadow puppet plays, called Wayang Kulit. Unfortunately we were here during the weekday and there were none scheduled, so we headed to another museum to see them on display.

These intricate puppets are made primarily of leather

A light shines behind them and they are manipulated using sticks or buffalo horns

While researching online, I found a modern Wayang Kulit company that made superhero puppets, like Superman and Batman! Cool! Unfortunately, their shop was closed.

The part of the government that is pushing for Hudud under Sharia Law also wants to ban Wayang Kulit because it has Hindu roots. That's very sad, because these shadow puppets are such an identifiable part of Malaysian culture, not just in Kelantan, but through the entire country.

These moon kites, called Wau Bulan, are also another one of Malaysian icons

A stylized version of the kite is even the logo of the national airline, Malaysian Airlines, and it's on the back of the 50 cent coin. It's one of the things I remember about growing up in Malaysia.

Neda finds a nice background for her smartphone

Happy Malay Art!
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/309.html

We're saying goodbye to Malaysia today.

While many travelers take the eastern overland border crossing from Bukit Banga, Malaysia to Ban Buketa, Thailand, we're taking a lesser known water crossing right at the shoreline.

Farewell, Malaysia! And thanks for all the food!

The Malaysian customs at Pengkalan Kubor was simple. A quick stamp on our passports and they didn't seem to care at all about exporting out our Thai bikes. *shrug* Cool.

A French farewell out of Malaysia into Thailand

Waiting for the tiny ferry to take us into Thailand

The aforementioned tiny ferry. It's such a short crossing, you can see Thailand just across the mouth of the Golok River

You pay for the tickets right on the ferry. By the time the ticket lady collects payment, it's time to disembark

Entering Thailand was much more difficult than leaving Malaysia. There were long lineups at the immigration control, and when it came our turn, the official behind the glass scrutinized every page. He was checking all of our stamps to see how many times we've entered and left Thailand, because the government is trying to crack down on Border Runners who illegally live and work in the country, but leave and enter the country indefinitely on Tourist Visa runs without getting a proper work visa.

I was a bit nervous because we had already done a visa run to Laos a couple of months before. But we didn't fit the pattern of someone doing an overnight visa run to return to work in Thailand the next day.

We're stamped into the country and the next step is getting our Thai bikes into Thailand. Which seems easier than it sounds...