25 August – 1 September, 2013 – Before we had even arrived on the island Johan told me that he only wants to stay two nights as he had had enough of so many days in a row without moving on. Well, we ended up staying more than a week for several reasons.
First of all the main town George Town, another UNESCO World Heritage, is extremely beautiful. The city center is an open air museum with old heritage shop houses from the late 19th century to the 1970s. The houses are influenced by European, Indian and Chinese styles. The city is a mix of beautifully restored shophouses, ruins, modern high-rise buildings, horribly and cheapishly restored houses, a lot of street art and street food. No way to see even a small part of this in just one day.
Bike art and more:
On 29 August we started our first attempt to leave. As coffee addicts we couldn’t leave Georgetown without having a cappuccino at our favorite coffee shop. As the owners were keen cyclists as well and Johan told them about our spokes issues they were recommending a good bike shop in the city and we decided to go there before leaving. At the bike shop we made another decision. As our spokes were starting to rust and hence break, we got them all replaced on both rear wheels. While getting the bikes repaired one of the shop employees drove us to another bike shop selling clothes. Our shorts started falling apart and as it is so difficult to find good shorts in this part of the world – even more so for me as women are not really sportive in Asia – we got quite excited when we saw they were selling Skins. A very expensive but extremely good brand as well. We both bought two new shorts and couldn’t wait to wear them.
By 3pm the bikes were ready but as it was really late now we decided to stay another night. This time we called David, another Warm Showers host, who lived about 15 km away on the other side of the island. We rode there and were welcomed by David’s big smile. He is very famous within the cycling community and everyone just calls him the cyclist hunter as he has hosted more than 1,000 touring cyclists and backpackers. Really amazing. We even knew some of the other cyclists who stayed with him. He is now living in a very small and basic room which he happily shared with us. We had dinner with three of his friends, one of them another cyclist from Singapore and spent the rest of the evening in his little room drinking and joking.
After an Indian breakfast the following morning we said our goodbyes and started our next attempt to leave. However, Johan caught a cold and wasn’t feeling well. By the time we were back in town, once more at our favorite coffee shop, we decided to stay another day for Johan to be able to rest a bit more. John, the nice guy from Singapore, was staying at the Pedal Inn, a hostel in a beautifully restored shophouse and we decided to go there as well. A very good decision as we were able to chat a bit more with John who in the meantime also organized private accommodation for us in Singapore. We are so lucky that we so often meet the right people wherever we go! Thank you John for all your help, we are really looking forward to meeting you and your cycling friends in Singapore.
It took Johan two more days to recover, we spent most of the time at the hostel, didn’t notice much of the Merdeka celebrations, which took place on 31 August, when Malaysians commemorate their independence from the British rule.
Happy Merdeka, Malaysia!
25 August – 1 September, Penang Island: 45km
Total distance cycled: 15,509km of which 267km in Malaysia