22 September – 6 October, 2013 – We took the morning ferry back to mainland Malaysia and other than me getting sea sick the day passed uneventful. We only continued cycling the next day, this time on streets with a shoulder and without much traffic, but mostly through rolling palm-oil plantations. That evening we pitched our tent on the beach, as such very romantic and scenic, however, the soaring heat and no fresh breeze at all left us sleepless most of the night. Temperatures in the tent wouldn’t drop below 30 degrees Celsius all night even though we didn’t bother putting up the outer tent. The next morning we discovered that our kitchen pannier was taken over by hundreds and hundreds of ants. We lost the battle over the muesli but won it over the oats. Thanks goodness for our Tupperware! Bulky but most helpful against nasty insects!
After cleaning up the kitchen and killing as many ants as possible we continued on the most boring stretch in weeks. Long straight streets along scrub or palm-oil plantations against the wind and no distractions such as villages or animals for about 50 km, despite the odd tapir warning sign. Of course we wouldn’t spot a single tapir, we wouldn’t even spot monitor lizards anymore, most likely this area is even far too boring for them! By lunchtime we arrived at a village and put up camp at a beach resort. At dusk a wild pig family visited us and the pool and at night the close-by open air karaoke bar would feature the worst singers we’ve ever heard until after midnight!
Despite another bad night in the tent we had packed up everything by 9am. Thanks goodness as within 10 minutes it started to rain cats and dogs. The rain would become less during the morning but only stopped at around 3pm, exactly when we arrived at the ferry terminal. But we didn’t bother too much as we were looking forward to our next destination: Singapore, country number 17.
At the ferry terminal in Singapore we were welcomed by four keen cyclists: John, who we met in George Town and who organized private accommodation and many other things for us, Matthew, who only works on Tuesdays, Denis, Matthew’s friend who doesn’t work at all anymore and Rahim, another touring cyclist. A great bunch of people with whom we would spend a fantastic time in this country. We cycled into town, mostly through a park and on car free paths, had drinks and some snacks at a hawker center, cycled to the condo of our host Ching-Hua and had dinner with Ching-Hua, John and Thomas, another (motor)cyclist who would later offer his house for Johan’s birthday party. This was day one in Singapore.
Day two in Singapore: Picked up by Matthew to cycle to a famous breakfast place to eat Roti with Rahim and Denis. We cycled through a beautiful residential area and saw many nicely restored Chinese shophouses. On the way back we took a detour through the coastal park and discovered ‘Brotzeit’, a German restaurant. We spent lunch with John and ate famous chicken rice. In the evening Ching-Hua invited us and her family to eat delicious sea food at another nearby restaurant. We cycled 15km.
Day three in Singapore: Johan had a hangover from two beers the evening before (!!!) and we decided to take it easy that day and go to bed early. At lunch John told us that Matthew would like to take us out for dinner at Brotzeit, an irresistible invitation. We spent the afternoon on Arab street and were picked up again by Matthew at 6.30pm.
Day four in Singapore: Another hangover spent at home until 3.30pm when Matthew and Denis came around for a cycling tour through town. Around 6pm a few more people joined us and we rode along Singapore’s nightly skyline through the financial district and back. Of course there was dinner as well. This time at a hawker center between skyscrapers. We cycled 51km.
Day five in Singapore: Restday! Desperately needed…. And enjoying the luxury of a kitchen, a sofa, a washing machine and a clean bed without worrying about bed bugs.
Day six in Singapore: Picked up by Matthew and Denis, by bike of course. It was slightly raining but as we started the day with a Kaya breakfast and soft boiled eggs it didn’t really matter. By the time we resumed cycling the rain had disappeared. We went criss-cross through town on a so called city off-road ride, within minutes I lost my sense of orientation, but it didn’t matter, we had two great tour guides cycling with us. We had a coffee and snack at a coffee place on Arab street followed by lunch at an Indonesian restaurant. By now you might have noticed that spending time with Matthew and Denis was mostly about riding and eating. They wanted us to try all the delicacies there are in Singapore. We cycled 48km.
Day seven in Singapore: No cycling, but a lot of talking, for lunch we met two other cyclists from Switzerland who had been cycling for almost two years already.
Day eight in Singapore: Korean lunch with Matthew and Denis and then cycling through more residential areas, through parks, on undulating roads, to fresh water reservoirs, we walked through a jungle and cycled back through more parks. In between we got to taste yummy desserts. We cycled 61km.
Day nine in Singapore: It’s Johan’s birthday. German breakfast at home, lunch with John and Thomas, some shopping and chilling before the party begins. And a bottle of red wine for Johan, something he’s been yearning for since we Europe.
Day ten in Singapore: We’re moving to John’s and Mei’s place and rest again together with a grumpy cat. We cycled 5km.
Day eleven in Singapore: Big plans for a bike tour but it’s heavily raining so we visit the Asian civilisation museum instead. Very nice, but tiresome, we’re still hung over from Johan’s party. In the evening we had our farewell dinner and got to try more unusual but yummy food.
Day twelve in Singapore: Bike tour to Island Ubin, early start and late return. A wonderful day. And yes, we met for breakfast at the ferry, had a big lunch including wild boar and ended the day at another hawker center with desserts and Murtabak. In exactly this order. We cycled 70km.
Day thirteen in Singapore: Time to leave! Unfortunately. But not without having had a 7am breakfast with Matthew and Denis. After breakfast Matthew would guide us out of town on quite roads and at the border Thomas on his motorbike would take over to guide us through Johor Bahru! We had such a fantastic and memorable time, met so many and so lovely people.
We put on weight too!
Thank you John! Thank you Mei! Thank you Matthew! Thank you Denis! Thank you Thomas! Thank you Clare! Thank you Ching-Hua! Thank you Johann! Thank you Kian! Thank you Kelvin! See you all in Europe!
25 September, Tg. Balau – Singapore: 52km
26 September – 6 October, Singapore: 271km
7 October, Singapore – Pekan Nanas: 79km
Total distance cycled: 16,956km of which 271 in Singapore and 1,408km in Malaysia