Cycling into Malaysia
As some of you may have already guessed, Sam won the debate (or at least Shanna conceded) and, despite the fact that we were coughing, blowing our noises and making far too many toilet stops, we set off for Malaysia.
A few hours, a couple of Vita-milks, a big bottle of drinking yoghurt and some freshly squeezed orange and pineapple juice's later and we we'd cycled across Singapore. Soon we were nearing the Singapore border checkpoint, and wondering just how, on our bicycles we were meant to get to the border. So far, despite the oppressive heat, the day had gone fairly smoothly, but now there didn't seem to an answer to just how we were meant to be able to get ourselves and our bicycles across the border.
Everywhere we looked there were signs for cars or trucks only, so we decided to ignore them and simply rode down one of the car lanes when suddenly a narrow lane lane appeared from out of nowhere. There was a small barrier separating the two lanes and traffic flying around us in every direction so we made a quick decision to jump the barrier, lifting our 40 and 50 kilo bikes over the wall, just missing the motor bikes flying around the corner. Where did all these guys come from I wondered aloud; we had barely seen any motor-bikes in Singapore until now... maybe they had all decided to converge upon this one particular lane at once...
Riding into the checkpoint we wondered if they'd let us through, but fortunately Singapore was happy to be rid of us bicycle riding types, and we were processed and sent on our way without question in less than a minute. Riding through narrow lanes we came to the bridge that joins Singapore to Malaysia and riding across we realised we were in a kind of no-mans land until we reached the Malaysian checkpoint, almost a kilometre away. Here they were a little more surprised to see two Caucasian travellers on bicycles with bags all over them and here also, but this time with a smile, we were quickly ushered through the checkpoint and into Malaysia. Interestingly no-one on either side was interested in checking our bags, which was great as it meant we didn't have to take them off our bikes.
In Malaysia we soon realised the motorbikes were back, and we were greeted as soon as we entered the country by a freshly (from what I could gather) smashed up bike on the side of the road. This is going to be fun I thought. However, we soon found to our pleasant surprise that most drivers in Malaysia are more aware of our presence than Singaporeans (who often don't seem to know you exist), and in particular the truck drivers gave us a pleasantly wide berth. After finding our way, buying maps and figuring out the road system it was getting late, so we began searching for a hotel room, the cheapest we could find. Sixty dollars ($20AU) later and we were carrying our bikes up three flights of stairs through a dimly lit mosquito infested room.
That night we had our first real Malaysian cuisine. After the meal we both decided that if all Malaysian food was going to be this good, we were going to enjoy riding 1200 plus k's to Thailand more than we could have ever imagined...
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Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia