I’ve reached Ipoh, north of Kuala Lumpur and although it feels like I have not done all that much walking, a lot has happened.
I spent a few days in KL in order to have time to get a longer visa for Thailand. It was easy to get, just involved standing in line, paying RM 110 and waiting 24 hours. There were a lot of people applying for visas so I can only surmise that tourist season is getting nearer…
Walking around in KL was interesting, I found this guy having a shave using the mirror on a scooter. Maybe not all that strange but it was not his scooter and it was in front of a busy restaurant, on a highly trafficked street.
There is a lot of construction going on and there were several fences made out of a reflective, plated steel sheet. Great for strange selfies but would have been even better for some real portraits. Unfortunately I was to lazy and on my way to the Thailand Embassy to do something with it.
There are some great graffiti style paintings around town, but I believe they are commissioned, not “real” graffiti.
In the never ending struggle of trying to become a minimalist, I packed some stuff into a parcel that I sent to Stockholm. Not the first time I have sent something back and I am going to have to do some serious sorting and thinking about what I need when I have my little work break in Stockholm. A lot of stuff I have discarded is warm weather equipment, so I will need that in the future. That’s one of the great things about the warm climate here in Asia, at least were I am, you need only a minimum of clothing.
I stayed at the Submarine Hostel in KL, recommended by Magnus, and this is Max, the very helpful manager. I then headed back south a little bit to spend 2 days at The Basikal, a warm showers/bicycle shop run by Akmal. I went there to meet up with Olivier, the french cyclist that I met on the way to “Singapore”. We got in touch by email and he wanted me to come visit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we had a lot to talk about and secondly, he said that there was a surprise waiting for me.
The surprise turned out to be Terje, the Norwegian long distance cyclist that I had met in Spain 10 months ago! I had told Olivier about that when we met on the road and by the strangest of circumstances, when Olivier turned up at The Basikal, there was Terje. As you may recall, when I met Terje in Spain, he had been travelling on his bike for 16 years, so now it is closer to 17. But that is not the whole story, he has been travelling for closer to 23 years, just the last 17 on a bike! I spent some time talking to Terje, over lunch and coffee, and the stories that he tells are amazing. It seems that he has been everywhere and done almost everything.
Both Olivier and Terje had to do some work on their bikes and although I sometimes feel a bit envious when long distance cyclist wiz past me on the road, it was great to just relax and watch other people working. My new backpack did not need any fixing!
On the first day I was there, Terje and I went to the local “Chinese” for lunch and we had only just managed to arrive when it started raining. It did not look to bad from inside the restaurant but when we headed back we quickly discovered that it had been a major thunderstorm and had caused some serious damage. Trees and sign posts felled, roofs blown off and big party tents blown away.
On my last evening at The Basikal, both Olivier and I gave small talks to a group of cyclist about our projects. It was very interesting to listen to Oliviers talk. He is trying to cycle, sail (and paraglide) around the world, all on the surface and without using any motorised transport. Check out his website:
After leaving KL and finally starting north again I reached Batu Caves on my first days walking. I decided to play tourist and visited the temple, looked at the monkeys and even took a tour through the limestone caves.
The tour was through the Dark Cave, and it’s not called the Dark Cave for nothing…
At the end of the tour the guide offered to take group photos with our cameras and although I was there on my own a group of Australian girls were quick to offer to be part of my group.
Since then I have slowly made my way north, walking past markets and enjoying the slow pace. It’s necessary to take it easy because of the heat and humidity. Although it is nowhere near as hot as it was in Texas, because of the humidity, it actually feels hotter.
I ran into another very interesting guy the other day as well. His name is Hamza and he has been travelling for 6 years. He was working with security in France before he left, and if I understod correctly, he just finally had enough of all the violence and decided to do something more constructive. If you read french, then you can find out more here:
We talked about all sorts of stuff and eventually started talking about where we sleep. I mentioned that Terje had recommended using a hammock and that I was thinking of trying to find one. Hamza quickly started digging through his trailer and gave me a “Ticket To The Moon” hammock that he did not use. Great name! I’m looking forward to trying it and finding out if it is a viable way to camp out. One of the things I sent to Stockholm was my tent, so the hammock is a great addition.
I also finally had a haircut. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but just never got around to it. Then, the other day I noticed that I was walking past a small and ancient barber shop and thought, “What the heck”. The barber was just as ancient and spoke no english but he did a good job. Cheap to, RM 8 or about 18 SKR (USD 2.40).
I even got to try out the hammock a couple of times. There is usually a rain storm during the afternoon and I often find that I have to seek shelter in a bus stop or one of the many rain/sun shelters that line the road. A very comfortable way to wait out the rain.
It’s not always easy to decide what to eat and especially in the smaller towns, the only way to communicate is through sign language, but it always works out in the end.
Something that happens to me at least twice a day is that somebody stops to offer me a ride. They are just not used to a middle aged white guy walking along the road here (it was the same in Thailand). It’s not always easy to explain that I want to walk, but people are friendly and helpful and it is an opportunity to meet locals. Like this very friendly man who stopped and said that he was on his way to his farm but he would be happy to give me a ride to town first if I wanted.
Tomorrow, Sunday, I intend to start continue on my way north. My next goal is Georgetown and I hope to get there in 5 to 6 days. Once there I will take a few rest days and see if I can get both some photography and writing done.
Until then, I need to keep walking!