Riding in Malaysia – November 2014

After our 3 days at MotoGP in Sepang we went onto the beautiful island of Penang in Malaysia and luckily we have family over there who could show us the sights and help us gain as many experiences as we could in the few days we were there.  One of the things we simply had to do was spend some time motorcycling around the island, it felt as though every twist and turn in the road was taken by someone on 2 wheels and we were keen to get out there and join them.

Having said that it is a completely different way of riding from what we are used to in the UK and Europe……. Malaysian refuge collection!not sure you would see too many refuge collections being undertaken quite like this photo shows!!  And as for collecting fish Collecting fish in Teluk Bahangin the small port of Teluk Behang, this was maybe not how you’d see it being done in Brixham or Fleetwood!

It is obvious from riding around Penang that motorcycling is learnt from a very early age, we saw families riding 3 and 4 up on a scooter, all with huge smiles Family riding– talk about “lunch on the go”, this little girl was well tucked up between dad and mum enjoying hers!

One side of the island near GeorgeTown is very busy with motorbikes and scooters under and over taking to get through the traffic, but as you ride through Balik Pulau there is a much more open feel to the roads which climb out of Teluk Behang passing the reservoir and into a landscape of palm trees and lush vegetation.  The islands coast roadPart of our route took us along an idyllic coastal road with clear blue sea and white sandy beaches around every corner.

The joy of riding a motorcycle is that you feel as though you are in the picture and our senses were taken on quite a journey with the wonderful smells from the salt water of the ocean, Street foodto the aromas coming from the street food – one tip given to us though was to only buy food which is cooked in front of you, the flies certainly like to hang around food which has been left standing!  As we climbed into the hillsides we were treated to the sounds of cicadas and even monkeys calling out from the treetops.

As we entered the towns and villages the hustle and bustle was evident and yet the Malay people seem to take everything in their stride, they always had time to wave hello as we rode passed them and when a rain storm did come in, they would find the first place to pull over and shelter whilst it passes, not for them the European way of riding through the rain……. mind you for them they do at least have the advantage of knowing that within 15 minutes the rain will have stopped and a further few minutes later the heat will have dried the roads out 🙂

We had the opportunity to spend 2 days riding around the island and would have loved to have had more time The new Penang bridgeto maybe try out the new bridge connecting Penang to the mainland which spans 17 miles over the sea and even has it’s own dedicated lane for motorcyclists, but that is something we will have to plan in for our next visit.  We are also looking forward to riding more of the roads on the mainland of Malaysia and we hope to return there soon.  If you do have the opportunity to ride over there we’ll happily share with you some ideas of where to visit and who knows….. maybe it will make a great destination for one our future tours???? 🙂

 

Our Visit to MotoGP at Sepang

There has been a lot happening in the world of DragonMotoTours since our last blog which was back in September following our Wales On & Off-Road tour.  We’ve had a tour to Belgium & Luxembourg and Mid Wales and at the end of the motorcycle touring season we took a break to Malaysia and timed it to arrive the day before practice at Sepang.sepang

The hotel we stayed at was ideally located near the circuit and a short drive from the airport giving us plenty of time to unwind by the pool and chat to all the other visitors who had flown in from various parts of the world to watch MotoGP.  There were a lot of motorcyclists from Australia who regularly make the trip to Sepang and they were able to give us a few hints and tips on how best to get to the circuit which was via transport laid on at the hotel itself and plenty of suggestions where the best viewing points were over the race track.  There were several other people from the UK and Ireland at the hotel and lots of other European accents to be heard.  Some had just flown in for the weekend event whilst others were having a few extra days in Malaysia like us.

The circuit is awesome and having watched it on the TV over several years it was far better in “real life”!  The instant you go through the entrance your senses are woken with live (and loud!) music blaring from all the various merchandise stands you pass. Kawasaki stand Sepang There were several bike manufacturers there such as Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW and Benelli – although the cost of a new motorcycle in Malaysia is considerably more than you would pay in the UK which surprised us.  Having walked through the sales area you arrive at the entrance gate and here you have to discard any drinks or food that you may have in your possession as only that bought within the circuit is allowed…… this is were we thought we might get stung on the prices, but far from it, everything was fairly priced with bottles of water at the equivalent of 60pence GBP and a decent snack meal for 3 worked out at around £10.

We had a three day ticket for the event and for practice day we took advantage of the quiet stands and tested several seating options ahead of choosing were best to sit for raceday.  There was a whole stand devoted to Rossi fans at the end of the start/finish straight and as you can see from the photos below it was soon at capacity ahead of the start of the actual race!

Rossi standBoth practice and qualifying days were a lot quieter than we thought as far as numbers of spectators were concerned but this meant we were able to view from the north and south stands and also from turn 15 where the lean angles are something else, Practice day - whoops...although just occasionally some of the riders did get things wrong!!!  But thankfully  “no motorcyclist was hurt in the making of this picture”…….

For raceday itself, we got there early and sat in the north stand overlooking the starting grid and had one of the big screens directly in front of us to be able to take in all the action as it unfolded on parts of the circuit we couldn’t see.  The sound of the bikes as they roar passed on the start/finish straight is almost deafening and thank goodness for earplugs….. A young Rossi fanthis family certainly knew how to protect the ears of one of the youngest Rossi fans at Sepang that day!

We were lucky with the weather over the weekend, we knew that the rain can curtail races as it takes on monsoon qualities at times, but there was only one rain storm which blew in for 20 minutes on practice day and that was it, perfectly dry conditions for both qualifying and race day which was fortunate for us despite going prepared in true Brit style with our umbrellas and rain coats!!

The racing was spectacular and we saw some fantastic action from Moto2, Moto3 and the GP race itself, but it’s some of the sights and sounds going on around us at Sepang which will stay long in the memory such as the cooking going on in huge woks below the stands sending wonderful smells upto us of satay chicken, garlic and spices and Ice cream sellerthe wonderful ice-cream sellers who broke with the tradition of the British ice-cream van and carried everything around on there motorbikes!

If you ever get the chance to visit Malaysia we would highly recommend you time it to be there for MotoGP and you too can experience not only a great event but the fantastic race circuit that is Sepang 🙂