As we’ve already mentioned we caused quite a stir on a recent visit to Malaysia when we took our bike gear with us, borrowed a bike from a family member we know over there and did 1 days riding around the island of Penang and 3 days riding in the Cameron Highlands. The area is one of the hilliest in Malaysia and the highest points are over 5,000ft. It is also home to Route 185 – a real must for motorcyclists and up there as one of our top ten roads to ride. The total length of the road is nearly 200 miles but the section we rode was over 35 miles of curves and bends through lush green landscape and not a village or town to interrupt the flow of the ride.
On our way to the Cameron Highlands we met up with a group of Kawasaki Riders who were out of a days ride-out. They had a VN900, a Versys 650 and Versys 1000’s in the group and we met Jack and Jill (and no these were not nursery rhyme characters!), who had been riding their orange Versys 1000 for over a year. They’d added a slightly higher touring screen but no other changes and they had the same view as us with regard to comfort of the seat and excellent fuel range.
Our next Kawasaki encounter came at the end of our ride of Route 185 in Simpang Pulai. Given the temperatures had risen to 34 degrees we’d pulled over at a local café for a cooling drink and a leg stretch and met a group of 9 Kawasaki riders who were about to take the ascent into the Highlands. They clearly had a passion for their bikes which ranged from Z1000SX to Z800 and Z750’s all immaculately presented and some great colour schemes….
Their grasp on the English language was far better than our Malay, however, talking all things bikes is a great leveller and we were very glad to have met such a great group of riders. We are certain they would have enjoyed Route 185 as much as we did.
If you want to see what Route 185 is like you can visit our YouTube page and watch a short film we uploaded there recently….. we hope you enjoy 🙂
We promised you an update on the remainder of our visit to Malaysia so here it is! We thoroughly enjoyed our time on two wheels in the Cameron Highlands as we described in our last blog, but our encounter with motorbikes did not end there!! The majority of bikes in Malaysia are less than 150 cc and are clearly the “workhorses” of the country with everything from chickens and eggs to gas bottles and the weeks shopping being transported around 🙂
Their ingenuity when it comes to riding holds no bounds even if one of the bikes runs out of fuel it would seem that someone will be there to give a helping hand (or in this instance a foot!!!). It did not end there either as the next one we saw required not one but two to assist him in reaching the next available fuel station….. (We are not sure this would wash back here in the UK!).
There are motorbike shops dotted all over the island of Penang, and not only the lower range of bikes – it would seem that the larger touring and sports bikes are also popular in Malaysia – we had to ask ourselves “How many bikes can you get in one small shop???” when we visited HotBikes – makes for a great display but does not exactly give the customer much opportunity for having a sit on and try out for size etc 🙂
We spent some time looking at the accessories and clothing – understandably, given the climate, we saw a lot of vented clothing on sale. Many of the brands we are familiar with in Europe were also over there – HELD equipment, Dainese and Alpine Stars to name but a few. It did make us smile to see that some of the clothing had thermal liners – when the temperatures range between mid 20’s and high 30 degrees it seems to us that there would not be too much call for winter gear (now isn’t that a nice thought….). One thing they do have in common with the UK is rain (albeit warm rain!) and they have it covered for motorcyclists should a storm come through whilst you are on their motorways – under many of the overbridges there is a dedicated lane for motorbikes taking you off the road to shelter until the storm passes through. They also have dedicated lanes for bikes at the toll booths on their main routes, it does seem you are riding on a footpath at times !!! but whatever the route it means that motorcycles are not charged to use the motorways which we felt was a very good idea.
Unfortunately we did not have more time riding in Malaysia on this visit – just means we will have to go back sometime to explore more of the country and who knows with Thailand on the border we just may have to visit there as well – as they say “watch this space”!!!
How best to describe our second visit to Malaysia? Words such as “beautiful”, “chaotic”, “amazing” and “crazy” come to mind! The weather is glorious at this time of year as we arrived at the tail end of their rainy season with temperatures ranging between 24 and 35 degrees – slightly better than those being experienced back in the UK at this time….. 🙂
Your senses are heightened wherever you go here, there initially seems no order about things here but then we talked yesterday with a couple from India who say that life in Malaysia is extremely organised when compared to their country!!! They recommended we visit India next to experience the real meaning of the word “chaos” 🙂
We’ve been fortunate to ride a motorbike over here for 4 days of our trip and as everywhere the common bond between motorcyclists has been very evident. We spent three days in the Cameron Highlands riding (amongst others) Route 185 and having descended into Simpang Pulai we met a group of Kawasaki riders who were about to head up into the hills. They were fascinated with the fact that we had come over from the UK, brought our bike gear and were riding over here. Having ridden Route 185 we told them how much we’d enjoyed the flow of the road, the bends which continued for over 50 kilometres and is up there in our top ten of roads we’ve ridden so far.
Last time we visited Malaysia we rode only on the Island of Penang, and revisited some of the roads this time around. It may only be a small island but all of life is crammed on to it. We certainly couldn’t imagine riding back in the UK or Europe and encountering monkeys crossing in front of us or have wild dogs chase us…. There is certainly a lot more traffic on Penang than we experienced in the Cameron Highlands but well worth riding around if ever you find yourself in Malaysia.
We’ll update you on the rest of our travels in Malaysia in the coming days before we return back to the UK, we’re looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country……..