John Clark’s Kuala Lumpur to Singapore Review
Day 287 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Rembau, Malaysia – 96km
Our friends from the Rotary Club; KG, Jason and Ling Lee joined us at our final buffet breakfast at the Park Royal. They were also keen to wave us off wearing our new yellow cycling jersey they had designed and made for us.
Before we hit the road we had an interview with a reporter from The Star newspaper, adding to the already fantastic media attention we’d received in the Malaysian capital. The reporter also had a photographer with her and he was a keen cyclist himself and provided some insight about the trip to Melaka.
We packed up our bikes in the driveway of the hotel, all of us in our new jerseys. Kathryn had a puncture – bad timing – but once it was repaired we all lined up with Lloyd, GM of the hotel and the Rotarians for a group photo and then we took off. The photographer led the way on his motorbike, taking pictures as we negotiated the traffic and also ensured we didn’t make a wrong turn!
Our ride didn’t get off to a great start however as Aaron and Tim both had problems with their hubs. Problems they notice after only 1km on the road. I tried my best to fix them, however they are so worn-out I knew sooner rather than later they would be unrideable. I was having problems of my own; my chain is so worn along with the cogs on my drive chain that I can’t apply any force as I pedal. So to avoid my chain slipping I was forced to ride in a really easy gear all day with my cadence higher than ever.
The six of us pulled into the only sizeable town on-route, Seremban, and found a bicycle shop. The mechanic took Aaron and Tim’s hubs apart and replaced the bearings. It was all he could do really but it should be enough to get them through to Singapore where we have loads of new parts arriving. To fix my issue I have to replace everything so with four days of riding until Singapore I was praying my bike would make it.
In the evening we reminisced of our time in KL; such an amazing level of support from some fantastic people. We also played Uno where Kathryn had her first victory. We all knew about it too as she celebrated hysterically. Then we got to bed in the very basic Rembau Hotel which only cost the equivalent of $20 for the six of us. Karina’s room only just fit a tiny single bed and as I had laughed so much when the owner showed it to me he gave it to us for free.
Day 288 Rembau, Malaysia to Melaka, Malaysia – 64km
We purposely woke early as we wanted to spend the whole afternoon exploring Melaka, a town many Malaysians had spoken highly about. We even managed to knock off 15kms before breakfast, where we ate a very Indian influenced roti and curry at a road side restaurant.
We stuck together again enjoying the pleasant ride as the road curled and undulated through more palm plantations and through forest areas that offered a nice shade cover from the hot Malaysian sun.
Just as the Star’s photographer explained we hit some challenging hills as we headed towards the coastline. One climb was very steep, close to a 10% gradient. Half way up this one Kathryn had to stop as she almost brought up her morning roti, but thankfully it didn’t get that grotty (sorry).
After a ten minute rest she was ready to ride again and an hour or so later we reached the heritage listed coastal town of Melaka. Our early start paid off as we arrived around 1pm so we spent the afternoon exploring China town, climbing the Portuguese fort, walking through the Dutch graveyard and then relaxing at a riverside café. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant, in China town, in a Malaysian town and the multi-cultural experience continued when the Indian waiter asked where I was from, I replied Australia and he responded ‘Ah, G’day mate… You look like Ricky Martin’. We all laughed hysterically assuming he meant Ricky Ponting.
In the evening Kathryn’s travel credit card was swallowed by an ATM! It caused a moment of panic although she simply had to cancel it and begin using the spare one, so inconvenience was the only consequence.
We then visited Lonely Planet’s number one thing to do, a jazz bar called Honkey Tonks. Once Again, I’m not sure how the voting works but when there’s a fort from the 16th century in town how a run-down dive of a jazz bar gets the number one spot just baffles me! Although they did play the football and we watch Manchester Uniter beat Liverpool.
Day 289 Melaka, Malaysia to Batu Pahat, Malaysia – 109km
Aaron, Daniel and Karina left very early to attempt the 235km journey from Melaka to Johor Bahru (JB). I was disappointed I would miss out on the challenge and a new record but after inviting Kathryn to join us on the ride it would have been a little rude for me to leave her on her last couple of days on the road! So Tim, Kathryn and I stuck together and would ride the distance over two days as planned.
We couldn’t leave early as Kathryn needed to call the bank – in Australia – to ensure the lost card was cancelled. In fact we got so comfortable we didn’t hit the road until 11am but we did travel at a good pace, arriving at our first drink stop after 30kms at 12.15pm. As we pulled into the service station Kathryn fell awkwardly as she dismounted and finished the fall sitting on her bike which lay on the ground. Tim and I both laughed as it looked hilarious.
From the stop we began a fight with a strong headwind which was against us for the remainder of the day. By the time we reached our lunch stop in Muar after 60kms we were exhausted. We had a chicken with rice meal which was delicious and then we saddled back up and continued on.
Unfortunately after only 10kms Tim began having trouble with his left crank. Our bikes are really starting to fall apart as we approach 17,000kms for the trip. His crank is so worn it doesn’t grip anymore, instead just spins around without powering the chain. I spent 10 minutes or so repairing it. I also transferred some bolts from my bike to his to help repair it. Thankfully this worked although it made my bike feel even worse than before! At least we could both continue on. The thought of new parts and a service in Singapore made it far more bearable.
Kathryn decided to take the lead role upfront into the wind. She tackled the last 20kms and admitted she was absolutely exhausted. I think she had also just realised how much of a benefit her regular slip streaming position had been for the last month or so.
Day 290 Batu Pahat, Malaysia to Johor Bahru, Malaysia – 128km
With a big day scheduled to reach JB we left fairly early after eating at a local restaurant for breakfast.
Dark clouds covered the sky which was a nice break from the regular hot sun and it was nice not having to lather ourselves in sunscreen for once. The down side was that it began pouring with rain after 20kms. We stopped quickly to put our IPods in our bags but continued through the rain which stopped after 15 minutes.
We then began heading inland, returning to the provincial number one highway where we had to make an emergency stop for Kathryn who desperately needed to rinse out her socks. Tim and I both found this amazing. Tim explained to Kathryn why we found it so strange ‘Never have we stopped for something like that before, if we did we’d never hear the end of it’. Very true.
Once she was happy and laced up we continued south towards JB, our final city in Malaysia. All went smoothly, the three of us sticking together over the hilly terrain and even more palm tree plantations! The only annoying thing was my bike. After giving Tim my bolts my bike had become even worse. I couldn’t accelerate from traffic lights or push a hard gear up hill. Instead my legs were spinning like crazy in granny gear!
After a solid 95kms we stopped at a McDonalds to seek shelter from a massive storm that broke out. Malaysian rain is so impressive, within seconds the gutters are flooded from the thick rain drops.
From here we cruised into JB. Following directions from Daniel, who had managed to reach JB with Aaron and Karina the day earlier, we found the Embassy Hotel. A fantastic effort by the three of them to complete 235kms in one day, however I will be very keen to out do that in Australia!
For dinner we ate at a hawker market before having an early night as we were meeting a member of a Singapore based cycling club, ANZA, at 5am!
Day 291 Johor Bahru, Malaysia to Singapore City, Singapore – 48km
The six of us managed to get ourselves out of bed at 4.30am to meet Mark from the Australian and New Zealand Association Cycling team (ANZA). It was great of him to cycle across from Singapore to JB to meet us. Funny enough though he was from England!
So the six of us with Mark crossed out of Malaysian immigration and then onto the causeway in a sea of thousands of motorbikes. Loads of Malaysians work in Singapore and the daily snake of motorbike lights was quite a spectacle, although cycling amongst it was pretty hairy! We reached the other side and entered our 25th country for the trip and also officially completed our mainland Asia leg.
Once in Singapore we met up with about forty other members of ANZA who, all dressed in their eye catching yellow jerseys, rode with us into the city centre to Asia Square where we were welcomed by office workers, photographers and players from the Singapore Wombats Australian Rules Football Club that had organised the morning event with The Exchange bar, located at Asia Square. We loved the welcome! There was a massive finish line poster on the ground and a stage set up with a big back drop with Ride2Rescue across it. Each of us were called on stage and we thanked Cameron and Rooster from the Wombats for organising the event and also Steve who manages The Exchange Bar.
It was an especially great morning for Kathryn and Karina who had successfully completed their ride from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Singapore! They celebrated at the finish together and will certainly celebrate a little more in the coming nights. From Singapore they are both flying to Vietnam for a holiday; Karina heading to the north, Kathryn to the South.
The ANZA team all took off as they had to get to work and unfortunately we didn’t see them again while in Singapore, although they really did make our arrival memorable. They actually have an ANZA club in Melbourne so I’m sure we’ll meet up with them once we reach our final destination. They also gave each of us some new drink bottles and some ANZA riding gear which was very timely for us and very generous of them.
After a great breakfast at Exchange, getting to know Cameron and Rooster we rode over to Little India and checked into the Prince of Wales Backpackers where we had been provided complimentary accommodation. We were originally going to stay at the five star Pan Pacific but it fell through at the last minute! It was shattering when Aaron and I visited the Pan Pacific to collect the bike parts we had sent there, the lobby was huge!!
Day 292 Day off in Singapore City, Singapore
It was another early start as Daniel, Aaron and I had an appearance on AM Live, a morning chat show on Channel News Asia. Kathryn and Karina joined us as they wanted to see the studio and our performance!
We actually rode to the studio and my bike was used as a prop while we chatted to the hosts about our ride and the cause. They also showed some video footage and pictures of us on the road in what was a really good interview. The appearance was set up by the Wombats and was a great opportunity for us to raise awareness. Click here to watch the interview!
Straight from the studio Aaron, Daniel and I cycled straight to BikePlus, a bike shop recommended to us by ANZA. We dropped off our bikes along with our new parts and left them in the safe hands of the Kiwi mechanic.
While we were there Tim stopped in to collect his bike that was worked on the day earlier. He was on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Jakarta to begin the Java leg ahead of us. He had sent his family the wrong dates for our arrival in Bali and since they had all booked flights to come and see us he now has a race against the clock to reach Bali in time to see them! We’ll see him next in Bali where he could have possible had ten days off before we get there!
In the evening we all visited the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino together. It’s an incredible piece of modern architecture although all the shops were way beyond our budget. It’s well known that this Sands Casino makes more money that it’s equivalent in Las Vegas. What we did enjoy was the spectacular sound, light and water show on the marina. With the city’s skyscrapers as the backdrop the lasers and lights project perfect images onto the high pressure water features. It was very impressive!
Day 293 Day off in Singapore City, Singapore
With nothing planned during the day I took the opportunity to catch up on some writing. I also finalised our photo slideshow and presentation for the function which had been organised by the Wombats and Exchange in the evening.
Finally the evening came around. We had been excited for this event for weeks and it had finally come! Daniel and I rode the girl’s bikes to Exchange as they had decided now that they had completed their journey they would auction the bikes off to help raise money for Ride2Rescue. Unfortunately it started raining so Daniel and I arrived wet!
When we arrived we were blown away with the set up. There were eighteen tables beautiful presented, a stage with a large screen and loads of sporting memorabilia presented for auction.
We met with Cameron and Steve who were managing the evening. Thankfully our slideshow worked okay and once that was running people began arriving.
In the end 180 people attended the event. A few were through the football club; players and sponsors. Then there were also companies that had just heard about the event and decided to become involved. Cameron had also managed to arrange two guest speakers; Bindu and Eric.
Bindu, the Asia Pacific Policy Director at the International Centre for missing and exploited children, provided an incredible insight to how and where children are exploited and also how her organisation returns a child back to families, countries or foster care. She was sat on my table too and she was a very nice lady to chat to. Eric works for Sisha in Cambodia, an investigation organisation that literally conducts raids to save children after thorough investigation. He had some incredible stories and really brought to life the reality of various child trafficking situations. When we were in Phnom Penh, Cambodia we met Eric’s boss, Steve who had spoken of Eric so it was great to meet him.
Then it was our turn. We gave our presentation which we are slowly becoming much better at. We also allowed more time for questions than normal and this proved a good move as loads of good stories came out that we don’t normally talk about!
Then the auction took place. I helped out by wearing a yellow dress, showing off the memorabilia to all the tables. Not sure if it was how good I looked in a dress but we ended up raising almost $20,000 for World Vision! This was a brilliant result for the evening and we thank the guys at the Wombats, especially Cameron for organising the event.
After the event came to an end the footy lads presented us each with a Singapore Wombats Guernsey before taking us out on the town.
Day 294 – 17th February 2012 – Day off in Singapore City, Singapore
The Wombats are notorious for their drinking amongst other South East Asia footy teams and now we know why! We were all struggling this morning!!
Making things worse was that we had to change hostel locations from Little India to the Boat Quay area. We didn’t mind too much though as it was free accommodation and the Boat Quay area is in the centre of the city and an incredibly picturesque spot.
In the afternoon we returned to Exchange to collect some things that we left. Steve then took us up to the brand new Pure Fitness health club that is located above the restaurant. The place was immaculate and had every piece of fitness equipment you could imagine! I was blown away. I’ve worked at and visited a lot of health clubs before but this topped them all. We met Ron who showed us around and he sounded keen to promote Ride2Rescue through their indoor spin classes, so that’s something I look forward to following up.
In the evening we met up with Cameron and Rooster for one last beer. They are two great blokes and we owe them a lot for the hard work they put in to ensure our time in Singapore was not only a success but loads of fun!
Also down at Boat Quay, Aaron and I filmed a short thank you video which we posted on Youtube for the Rock2Rescue event which was taking place in Melbourne. It has been organised by Tim’s parents, Noel and Jane, and is sure to be a big success. We are all looking forward to hearing how it went.