Goodbye Malaysia – Hello Indonesia Part II

Arrival in Tanjung Balai; Getting lost on the way; Beautiful Lake Toba in Northern Sumatra

Early morning we left Malacca heading direction Port Klang. When we arrived Martin with his Honda CB400 was already at the meeting point and shortly after us Nick and Kanchan arrived on their BMW GS 1200 Adv and as well our agent showed up. Still we all were not sure if the ferry will go and if everything will work out… and we were all really nervous ;-)

Having some breakfast we were discussing the upcoming procedure and the papers which we would need. Nick and Kanchan did not have the Visa yet so unfortunately they had to stay in KL. Now only Martin and we were left… and we drove to the port. Sascha and Martin left with our agent to get the paper at the customs done while Kerstin was waiting with the bikes… chatting with all the people passing by… Finally it was time to pass the customs with the bike – no problem at all! We parked the bike in front of the ferry and were taking of the gears. And faster as we could look the ferry guys lifted the bike down the stairs and onto the boat! The ferry trip took 5 hours. The people were incredible friendly and we had to take pictures with everybody. As soon as we could see the land coming we went on the deck, chatting with the captain and what we could see was already very different to Malaysia and we were soooo exited!

The landing was as easy and quick as the loading – thanks to all the helping hands on the Indonesian side as well – and a few minutes later we were standing in front of the customs. Again Sascha and Martin were busy with the papers and Kerstin outside with the bikes and the luggage surrounded by half of the village. Not much later the custom procedure was easily done with friendly smiling people. We put the gears on and left in the dawn. Now we had to find an ATM, a gas station and a place for the night. Driving through the darkness direction center through a mad traffic on a dirt road we stopped at the gas station when a woman was asking us what we are doing here and if we would need help. She introduced herself to us and told that she is working for the government in Sumatra. Afterwards she was leading us to a hotel where we could park our bikes safely and spend the night. As well she offered us to come back the next morning and accompany us to the police station to get our police letter written and stamped. How great is that!

So happy we were!!! We left to a shop to get our well rewarded beer! Inside the shop we accidently met a guy from the police who immediately offered his help to us… HELLO INDONESIA WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDLY AND WELCOMING PEOPLE!!! Tired but very happy we were enjoying our beer back at the hotel when a hard rain came down…

The next morning we got up early to check the bikes before we would go to the police. Ida came like promised with her friend and all together we went to the police station. It took a little while to explain what we need but thanks to Ida they understand what we asked for. We were waiting and chatting to all the police guys and at noon we got our letter– hurray!

Now it was time to hit the road! As the first destination we chose was Parapat-Lake Toba in the north together with Martin. Unfortunately our GPS was broken and we were tired a bit. Actually we were not taking attention enough and we went the wrong way, south… what we noticed after 150km in 4 hours! The traffic here is crazy, mad, horrible,… overloaded trucks, minibuses, pickups, betschas (tuktuks), bikes… and all driving like there is no tomorrow!

Nevertheless we all still wanted to go to Danau Toba which is a 1707-sq-km, 450m-deep lake 900 m above sea level and set in the collapsed caldera of an extinct volcano. The gasoline is really cheap and we just lost a bit of time… and now we chose a different road over the mountains instead of taking the ferry from Parapat. The next morning we left early and very soon the street became more narrow, the traffic less and as closer we came to the mountains the landscapes and villages became more and more beautiful. Now we were all enjoying riding the bikes most of the time above 1400 meter above the sea. Absolutely breathtaking it became when we were driving down from Tele direction Pulau Samosir, the volcanic isle which is connected to the mainland on this side by a narrow isthmus. It was clear: this place is worth to drive to even though we had to make a few km extra ;-)

In Tuk Tuk we found a real lovely place at the lake side to stay in one of the traditional wooden houses. There is a little tourism around but the whole region has seen busier times – before the Tsunami in 2004 it was a major holiday destination but these times are gone now. The people are warmly welcoming you and you feel more or less adopted. The next day we met a Kiwi who organized a pig on a barbecue at his friends place, a local guy and they invited us to join in their home place. We had a great evening, laughing, dancing, singing, eating and drinking all together. We found a place to relax, meeting people, to catch up our updates and paperwork, to explore the surroundings… and we will stay a couple of days… Anyhow we ordered a spare part for our GPS to be delivered to friend of us in Medan. It will take a few days to arrive…

What we have seen and experienced so far here in Indonesia within this few days is just great and lovely and we are very excited already to explore more!!!

Goodbye Malaysia – Hello Indonesia

These will be definitely a longer reading as we have experienced a lot within the last 2 weeks. Therefor we divided it into two parts. Ee hope you enjoy sharing our adventures and the pictures we kept for you!

Goodbye Malaysia: Port Klang, Kuala Lipis, East Cost, Chini Lake, Malacca… working out our ferry to Indonesia

When we arrived early morning at Port Klang we had difficulties to find the meeting point with the agent and we turned up late. Finally we met but he was telling us the Ferry just left! Bad luck? Destiny? Anyhow we took it as it was! At least we met the agent personally and we could talk about the details for the ferry which is supposed to go one week later then. And we had the great opportunity to explore a little bit more of Malaysia…

For us was clear we want to go back to the mountains. It was already noon and we left immediately direction north east. It was a quite long and boring ride but in the end we reached Kuala Lipis shortly before it turned dark. We found a hotel where we were surrounded from a group of Chinese and a group of Indians within seconds. One of the Chinese businessmen invited us spontaneously for dinner and we spend a nice evening together with his wife and friends.

After a relaxed breakfast we drove further north. Leaving again the main road and we were driving along small villages passing waterfalls and we ended up in Tanah Merah before the usual night thunderstorm started. Now it was time for the beach and we went over to the East Coast. We choose the road going directly along the seaside and from there we were sometimes driving 2m narrow streets under palm trees along the beach through the villages. Over here, shortly before Dungun, we found a nice place to put up our tent directly at the beach and we spend the night at our fireplace watching the lightening around us and breathing fresh sea air.

Following the coast direction south we drove until Pekan, where we turned back to inland. The aim was to reach a nature park at Lake Chini. Again we just arrived before it turned dark and we put up our tent next to the lake. On the landing stage we were watching the stars and the lightening which were again surrounding us from all directions. It really seems we carrying a “hole in the clouds above” with us ;-) Sitting there we had a nice conversation with a family from Port Klang. And later on they just passed us a delicious dinner which we were enjoying together on the landing stage. So enjoyable!

Of course we kept in contact with our agent all the time to get news about our supposed ferry departure date and time; sometimes everything just change in a minute. He confirmed the boat will leave on Thursday and we decided to go to Malacca where we arrived on Monday evening. Time enough to get sorted our things before we leave to another country: laundry, copies and printings of all papers we will need, exploring Malacca and meeting up with another couple 2up who wants to catch the boat to Indonesia, Kanchan and Nick. Now we were already three bikes hoping to go over to Indonesia on Thursday (Martin is prepared and waiting in KL).

Anyhow we really enjoyed Malacca! We found a lovely Guesthouse in Chinatown with a rooftop overviewing Malacca with a fresh breeze and parking the bike with video surveillance in front of the hostel. Malacca has a very own spirit which we really liked: nice lanes, multicultural, open minded very friendly people and reasonable prizes all around. Noon at Tuesday Kanchan and Nick arrived and we could exchange the status about the “ferry news”. At around 8pm we were looking for a place for dinner when suddenly our agent was calling and informing us the ferry will go already tomorrow. WOW! What to do? Is it makeable? We decided YES!!! Dinner, back to the Guesthouse, packing and putting the alarm clock on 5am we went to bed late with a much exited feeling… Will we really go over tomorrow to Indonesia???

Second part will follow within the next 24 hours…. We promise!

Welcome to Malaysia …

… Historical Georgetown-Penang; Gunung Stong; Cameron Highland…

Crossing the border was a quite easy job. Thailand said “good bye” to us with a heavy rain shower at the borderline and the paperwork in Malaysia was done quickly under a sunny sky – except we had to go back to the ATM at the duty free shop to get Ringgit for the motorbike insurance… and then: Welcome to Malaysia!

Our first destination was Penang. It was not that easy to find a proper accommodation. The places where we could park our motorbike safely were rare and hart to find within all this small lanes. And to be honest we were a bit surprised about the standard which was offered for prizes which seemed high to us in comparison to all the other countries in SEA where we had been so far… In the end we found a nice clean place where we spend two nights in a dorm room and explored Georgetown and wider Penang. It is impressive indeed to see this multicultural place with all kind of temples and shops. We really enjoyed exploring as much as we could even though we had several rain showers in between. As well we met incredible nice people on the road, like one family from South Thailand who went for a weekend trip with their 7 kids aunty uncle…  they introduced us to several different fruits which we did not know yet and passed us in the end a big bag of them. One fruit is called “ramputan” – rampu means hair and this is how they look like: a green red ball full of hair ;-) and they taste is just delicious!

After Hat Yai and Georgetown we were a little bit “city sick” and we were happy to go direction north east to the mountain area! At this point we like to mention that the people over here are extremely friendly and open minded – they are welcoming us wherever we stop, always very interested and waving if we pass by. Quite often we get asked if “we could make a picture” and in the beginning we got it wrong: we thought they want to have a picture of them, but no! They always want a picture together with us on even though we meet them while hiking without the bike… this make really smile and feeling “welcome”!

All in all we spent 4 days up the mountain area where we chose mainly the small roads crossing zigzag up and downhill, several times up over 1500 meter enjoying the fresh air. Our first overnight stop we had at the Gunung Stong (National Park) where is the biggest/highest waterfall of SEA. When we asked for accommodation it was clear that it is too expensive for us. But we were allowed to put up our tent next to the reception, using the bathroom facilities and got hot water for our morning coffee all for 5 RM  (1.25€) per person. It was the full moon night and we spent the evening watching the moon and listening to the sound of the jungle. In the morning we prepared for a hike up to the top of the waterfall. It was raining the days before and the jungle trail was really muddy and slippery. Additional it was hot already, the humidity extremely high and the trail got steeper and steeper… and suddenly Kerstin recognized a lot of blood in her tracking sandal: To make it short: after one hour sweating like hell we decided to turn back. Perhaps we are not in the best hiking condition anymore ;-)  But being back at the bottom of the fall we really enjoyed the bath in the nature pool together with some families who arrived meanwhile!!! Kerstin`s food: nothing to worry, just a scratch and lot of blood which had to be washed off.

Our next destination was Cameron Highlands of which we heard only good things: great motorbike roads and gorgeous views. The ride to go there was lovely but when we reached the Cameron Highlands we were actually shocked. The whole area was looking like a huge greenhouse and the traffic was awful. OK it was weekend but never the less along the streets you see either plantations and greenhouses or hotels, resorts and gift shops. This was definitely not what we expected!!! We continued south and spent the night in Tanah Rata as it was late already.

 

… Cameron Highlands; Frazer`s hill; Kuala Lumpur

The next part of the track direction south out of the Cameron Highlands was much better, but still touristic. We chose to go back to the more remote mountain area and left direction Frazer`s Hill. THIS was a real GORGEOUS RIDE!!! Shortly after Kuala Kubu Baharu we were nearly alone on the street and the road led uphill more and more into the jungle with more and more turns. Directly before the gate entrance to the Frazer`s Hill we found our „dream house”! Actually we planned to stay there for the night as it was called “Gap Resthouse” and we were hoping to find a cheaper accommodation in there. But the place was empty! We had a stop never the less and started to explore the place. SO INCREDIBLE BEAUTIFUL IT IS!!! Located in the milled of the jungle with a hanging bridge in front where little monkeys were hanging and jumping around. The condition of the house is quite good and it was clear: If we would have money we would immediately start to run this place!!! Perhaps… one day…

Behind the gate a tiny narrow one way road was winding up in turns over turns uphill – breathtaking!!! We were lucky with the weather as well and had beautiful views over the mountains. Reaching the top we were looking for the campground which was supposed to be at the waterfall. The night before there was a big storm and after we passed a big landslide we got stopped by a big tree which was lying across the street. Unfortunately they do not have real “traveller accommodations” up there. It was already 6pm and we decided to stay overnight and checked in the cheapest hotel we could get to enjoy the beauty up there and as well the ride down the next morning without a rush.

At night we received the message from another traveller who is waiting in KL for any crossing opportunity to Indonesia that probably in three days a Ferry is going from Port Klang. So we decided shortly to leave the next day to KL. We arranged an appointment at Sunny Cycle in KL to get maintained our bike for the day after…

And this is actually where I am just sitting and writing the update: In the garage of Sunny. I have time to make some more words as you can recognize. Either you like it or you just “fly” over it – up to you J

Sascha is doing the maintenance with the Sunny`s sun – or better saying; he is having a “learning lesson” while observing ;-) A new tire and new brake pads for the front, a new chain and sprockets, new air filter and some welding for our panel holder to strength it. This will hopefully ensure us a safe ride through Indonesia.

On the way back from Frazer`s Hill to KL we did a loop through the mountains of about 350km and we arrived at about 7pm in our guesthouse. We showered and left directly to the KLCC looking for a map for Indonesia. Beside we had a fast look at the Petronas Towers, went to dinner in a curry street kitchen and checked our E-mails as we are still waiting for some papers for the Indonesian customs. At 1am we were just falling in our bed… Today when we are ready here at the workshop we will go to find new sleeping matts because ours are flat since weeks. And hopefully we will have a bit time to go around KL at the end of the day…

So, if we are lucky we will leave tomorrow to Indonesia. Nothing is clear yet, still awaiting some confirmations. It is all a bit in a rush currently, but the conditions to go over to Indonesia are strange at the moment and we have to take every chance to do so. Cross fingers and knock on wood!!!

Back on the road again!

We really enjoyed the time spending in our “temporary home” on Phuket meeting old and new friends… Kisses and hugs to ALL of you!!! But finally the time came we had to say good bye and to continue our journey. At one junction on Phuket we stopped beside a car; the guys inside were smiling at us and passing a little fish snack towards us through the window: Now we were sure doing right –back on road again!!!

Due to Kerstin`s ear inflammation which is much better already we had to skip the planned diving course on Ko Tao. No rush is needed so we decided to make a loop over the north mountain area. We chose little streets and just enjoyed the landscapes while passing jungle valleys and small non touristic villages.

When a thunderstorm came close we started to look for a place for the night and get invited to put the tent in front of a ranger station next to a dam allowed to use the bathroom facilities. It was a hot night without rain but nevertheless a good feeling to be back in the nature… and the next morning after a coffee together with the rangers we continued on the road which looked nice. We passed fruit plantations and lovely valleys – slowly direction south. Close to a big lake we found a friendly place to stay in a little hut just before it started to rain.

We were impressed by the open minded and friendly people all over this area as it is not touristic at all and we had to communicate with our little vocabulary, hands and feet. This is what makes traveling so exciting and what it is all about…!

Leaving the mountains we could escape a thunderstorm and once more we crossed the country to the west coast. South of Trang we stopped in a National Park planning to put up our tent at the beach. Suddenly the sky turned black and a strong wind came up from the open sea… even though it was late already we took our things and left to find a more sheltered place. (It was a bit sad and scary that you can still clearly see the impact from the Tsunami of 2004. We saw a lot of broken houses, some of them some hundred meters from the actual coast line.) Finally when it turned dark we reached a little fishing village surrounded by rocks where we got a hut before the rain started. It looks like we have to get used to the “afternoon thunder-showers”…

Finally it was time getting closer to the Malaysian border. Yesterday we arrived in Hat Yai which is about 100 km north of the border. The plan was to stay just for one night, shopping some things… but: 1st we recognized the next day (1. May) will be a holiday in Malaysia and partially as well here in Thailand 2nd we lost a part of our left handle bar. We decided spontaneous in the morning to stay one more day. As most of the shops are closed today it was not easy to find a replacement, but we did! In a small shop and in our spare screws we found what we needed to fix the handlebar for the time being. Kerstin found Henna and was happy to cover her greyish hair – they had hazelnut brown but the result is a deep black! Hmm, first time such dark hair, so do not wonder on the upcoming pictures: it is still Kerstin ;-)

The rest of the day we will research about Malaysia and the border crossing possibilities to Indonesia which seems to be a little bit problematic currently. Anyhow it is still time for us to gather information about that and for the first: Tomorrow we will enter Malaysia!