Where we went
Biked through Singapore and on to a boat to Malaysia. The Malaysian customs process was the most laid back we've ever encountered - we had to ask around to find an immigration agent to come and stamp our passports. After that, our first impression of Malaysia wasn't so great as the area we landed in was a petrochemical complex - big exhaust belching trucks and bleak landscapes for the first 15 miles or so. We finally found a town and headed towards the first hotel we saw that looked decent. It ended up being a nice place to stay and the attached restaurant was amazing - the spiciest tom yum soup we’ve ever had, plus a great black pepper chicken and vegetable dish.
We biked up the coast and quickly left the industrial area. Most of the day was spent riding near the coast along a relatively quiet road with views of palm trees and a few houses. Every once in a while we also caught a glimpse of the turquoise ocean just a few hundred feet to our right.
Work! It’s getting close to the end of the month, and there’s a lot of work left to do before the next MarcyMoji sticker pack is out, so we took two days to stay in a larger hotel room where Marcy could spread out her painting supplies.
We got a late start, and ran into some rain showers. Thankfully there are lots of places to shelter by the side of the road - we have rain jackets and waterproof pants, but sometimes it's just nicer to take a break and wait out the rain. We also met another guy on a bike tour - the first time we've ran into another biker in SE Asia! Alexis is from Montreal and biked across Canada before flying to Bali to begin biking through SE Asia. He's taking a similar route to us - heading up the east coast of Malaysia before crossing into Thailand and then into Myanmar.
The hilliest, windiest, and longest day so far. Overall it really wasn’t too difficult, but Marcy and I are still getting back in shape after such a long time off the bike. We also ran into another bike tourist - Armando is from Italy and has been biking around the world for almost 30 years. In that time he's ridden more than 1 million kilometers, and has been featured in several newspapers (he had photocopies of the articles at the ready). He doesn't carry a phone or any other means of communication with him so he asks people that he meets to email his son back home and let him know that his dad is ok. Around sunset we arrived in Mersing, a tiny town whose main draw (for us, at least) is a ferry to Pulau Tioman, a tropical island just a couple of hours away by boat. We inhaled some delicious Malaysian food and passed out early.
Off to Tioman island! We slept in and then headed over to the ferry terminal to buy tickets. Turns out there's only one ferry on Sundays and it leaves at 5pm so we spent a few hours sitting in a cafe, working on this newsletter and scrolling through photos of the women's marches all across the world, feeling both incredibly proud of everyone who attended as well as a little sad that we couldn't be there. As for the ferry ride, I pray to the lord that I never have to experience anything like that again. We’ve apparently decided to head to Tioman during a particularly stormy period of the monsoon season during which the seas are very angry, making for an incredibly rough ride. On top of that, our bikes and panniers were thrown onto the bow of the ship and not lashed down, meaning that they felt the full force of the waves as we were knocked around. Anyways, it’s an adventure.
What we listened to
- Marcy - Devouring the podcasts ‘ Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin ‘ and the Sarah and Vinnie radio show.
- Andrew - The new Bonobo album, The Odd Tape by Oddisee, Beats ‘Best of 2016’ playlist for poppy goodness on the bike.
What we watched & read
- Finished “Kon-Tiki”, a book about a group of men who sailed from Peru to Polynesia on a raft made of Bolsa trees in the 1940s. Honestly, this makes our trip look like a day at the beach. Definitely leaves you with the feeling that ’they don’t make em like the used to’. 👍🏻👍🏻
- Finished "Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah, his autobiography about growing up in apartheid South Africa. A unique and often hilarious look at a disgusting time in South African history. 👍🏻👍🏻
- Started “Born to Walk”, a Christmas gift from my mother about "the transformative power of a pedestrian act".
- The Crown on Netflix, a biographical series about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
- The ‘ Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear ’ audiobook by Elizabeth Gilbert, a guide to living your most passionate creative life.
- Tales by light, a documentary series on Netflix that follows around various adventure photographers.
- Nixon, by Oliver Stone. Frighteningly relevant these days.
What we ate
What we learned
- Languages: Singapore has 4 official languages, with 20 spoken widely in the city. The US has around 320 widely spoken languages, but no official one. India has over 138 languages with more than a million speakers.
- Visa stuff: Malaysia offers a free 90 day visa to all US citizens. Thailand offers a free 30 day visa to US citizens, which can be extended for 1400 Baht, or about $40.
- 'Kopi o' means 'coffee without sugar' in Malaysian. Overall, the Malaysian language shares a lot of words with Indonesian, making it pretty easy to pick up as we go along. English is also widely spoken throughout Malaysia.
- We’re planning on spending the next few days finishing up and releasing the next MarcyMoji pack, then getting back on the road. We were planning on continuing our journey up the east coast of Malaysia, but we’ve just been told by our host on Tioman island that the flooding to the north of us on the mainland is awful, and that we need to find another route through Malaysia if we want to avoid getting stuck and/or evacuated from a flood zone. So, maybe we’ll head to the west coast!
If you're interested in supporting our adventure, please check out the MarcyMoji app on the App Store. Additionally, if you use the links above in the 'what we're reading section' to purchase a book from Amazon, we get a small percentage.