Dear readers, it’s time to give you the latest news and adventures that have been pending for so long! We had left you almost a month and a half ago, after our visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, where we were able to enjoy the freshness, and drink a few cups of tea (introduced by the English in the nineteenth century) well deserved after our hikes.
After this short stop, we start the week of work on Monday the 26th, by a beautiful descent of 50km! The road is as wide as empty. It crosses the primary forest whose humidity intensifies gradually. We will find some inhabited areas only after 80km, the perfect terrain for us cyclists, the proof being that we happened to meet a Malaysian bike traveler from Malacca down the road! The rest of the day goes quite nicely in the palm hills to the city of Raub (140km total). For beer in Malaysia, you have to aim at Chinese restaurants, the only ones to offer the precious beverage at the dinner’s table!
The next day we leave for Kuala Lumpur. Two options are available to us, and we choose the hardest because it also seems to be the most pleasant. It’s a winning bet because it will be our best day in Malaysia! The climb is beautiful, on a narrow road up to Fraser’s Hill Pass. Everything is extremely quiet, and we are all alone to enjoy the free concert offered by the jungle. We have for only companions dozens of monkey tribes who show us their most beautiful acrobatics as we pass near them. On top of that, a beautiful waterfall awaits us in the descent. In the late afternoon we arrive by the north-east of KL, and suddenly, here we are in the jungle … of concrete! Once again everything is pretty smooth because we pass close to the famous Bathu Caves, a famous Hindu temple located in caves overlooking the city. The Hindu community developed itself as a result of colonization by the English, who brought many Indian workers to the area. The visit made, we cross the city to arrive at François and his family who welcome us graciously for 3 nights! We will spend a wonderful time at home. The days on the spot are spent to visit this immense and hyper dynamic city, a real cultural crossroads between the Malay (of Moslem belief), Indian (Hinduists) and Chinese populations. The transportation infrastructure, the business district (and its famous Petronas Tower) and the huge shopping centers are imposing. However, you can escape KL without too much difficulty for a small getaway on the surrounding heights, and so enjoy a beautiful view and some fairly sporty hiking trail.
Friday, August 30 we leave the city quite late after having made the first meters with Alexandre, 4 years old, on his scooter. Leaving Kuala Lumpur is hellish, the traffic is filthy and suffocating. Fortunately we have seen worse as always! We will have to cycle at least 3 hours to arrive in the countryside. Our goal is to reach the city of Malacca, a former Portuguese counter, then Dutch, and finally English until the independence of the country. As time is short for us to reach Singapore on September 2nd at the latest, we decide to embark on a great stage of almost 180km, which ends at night. We could never have considered this in the beginning of our trip, but after so many months of training, the big days are through without too much harm (except for the buttocks). The city of Malacca offers a beautiful architecture thanks to its history. Around 10pm we still find the strength to walk out of the hostel, because the celebrations for the national holiday (the next day!) are living up the streets.
On this 31st of August, therefore, we will leave later and travel 90km of coastal countryside with some shaded passages, the trees forming a green roof above the road 🙂 We wish to sleep in a Chinese temple that appears on Google maps but, surprise, this one is celebrating also to commemorate the anniversary of its construction. The Chinese community of the region celebrates Buddha with large sticks of incense in this ultra-kitsch modern place (artificial waterfall, statues of grimacing warriors, demons, deities in addition to the traditional elongated Buddha). The welcoming given by some members of the community seems rather cold, so we will head towards a playground not far to camp.
On the first of September, we leave for 120km because we have spotted a small waterfall near the border town of Johor Bahru, which promises a last moment of interesting nature before Singapore. All day or so, we are in oil palm plantations. It’s pretty ugly, especially in the heat … We can easily see that the soil and the rivers are very polluted at the foot of the trees, not to mention that the primary forest continues to be destroyed to give way to new plantations … The debate is particularly thorny because the outright boycott of palm oil would in fact lead to the shifting of the problem to another source of vegetable fats. To limit the breakage, we can all make a small gesture by reducing our consumption of palm oil products or by focusing on RSPO certified products (a palm oil using little or no pesticides and whose crops are not grown at the expense of the primary forest). If you are a true healthy ecologist, you can also simply cut off the fats! In the evening, the waterfall holds all its promises. It is a popular Sunday outing for locals on the weekends, who modestly bath in pants or veil (Muslim religion requires). But at night, we are alone for our last night of camping. Very happy to finish on a good night in hammocks!
September 2nd, we leave for Singapore! The crossing of Johor Bahru is not very relaxing again. After a smooth crossing, we are finally in the city of the future, the checkpoint alone is impressive. Here everything is set like music paper and the flow rate is very high. We still have 50km of crossing all the territory in front of us, which allows to have a nice overview of the country as a whole :). The residential neighborhoods of the towers are very well organized and surrounded by many gardens. Everything is clean and seems to work perfectly, it’s almost disturbing for us after 5 months in the region. The city deserves its nickname Southeast Asia’s Switzerland in any case! At the end of the afternoon, we arrive at the outskirts of the great bay of Singapore, lined with the most beautiful skyscrapers and architectural monuments of renown. In the background stands the business district of one of the most powerful financial centers in the world. It’s time for the finish picture, and we could not dream more photogenic. Singapore is really fantastic, we want to stay there to enjoy its cultural, culinary, architectural, and quality of life in general. We will be hosted by Rebecca and Andre (aunt and uncle of a friend of Leo) in their beautiful home not far from Chinatown. A big thank you to them and to Sheila for their hospitality, which allowed us to have base where we can leave our bikes before going to rest for a month. The adventure ended here, after 5 months on the roads and paths and a distance traveled estimated 8500 km (we will attempt to count soon).
We then spent a month without a bike in the Philippines for Leo and in New Caledonia for Stéphane, in order to recharge the batteries before finally returning home. At this time, we returned to Erstein in Alsace, where we were able to see our family and already enjoy a delicious Choucroute cooked by our grandmother! See you soon for the adventure review and our video of the trip. Thank you all for having followed and supported us during these 5 months!