Thursday, 11 August 2011


Malaysia! It's crazy!

I'm in Johor Bahru, or more correctly, in the outskirts near Skudai. I managed to find my hotel after fighting with my GPS to enter addresses (oh and getting batteries, more on that later). I've since learnt that Jalan means road, and a lot of streets are just numbered.

Getting through Immigration was no problems. But make sure you try to find a customs officer before you leave to get the Carnet signed in. Also, you'll need to show them how to fill it in. They had done a stack before, but they must have a large staff rotation.

Protip: Before leaving Singapore make sure you top up on ringgits.

You'll need ringgtis at the toll booth on the Malay side of the second link out of Singapore to pay for a touch and go card (the only place in Malaysia a motorbike has to pay a toll). Or, you can do what I did and keep trying to give the operator Singapore dollars of which he will eventually accept, but it will cost about twice what it's worth (lost S$20 on that one). Also, don't expect the first places you see on the side of the road to have ATMs, some can take cards but with a minimum of 20RM (so, ~$7). Now I have an extra 4 AA batteries I didn't need. Also, it's handy to have a GPS that will find the nearest ATM, but make sure they are charged... At least I have 4 extra now.

On the expressway to KL it's 6 lanes, almost no traffic and 110km/h. Some of the 125/150cc bikes they have here will only do 70ish and they all run up the side of the expressway. I saw monkeys trying to cross the road too!

Now traffic. It's a free for all here. Like most places you only notice the bad drivers of course, but there are proportionally more here. Bikes/scooters are everywhere and just dive through traffic on the move (same as citylink in Melbourne really), but cars will end up doing the same. You just gotta remember to concentrate on the traffic and not look at the sights. I've seen a car parked in a lane on a freeway, they were just going to the shops and felt that was the best place, so that was ok. Tailgaiting is about as bad/common as Melbourne. If there's any free space in front of your car then it's time to see how fast it goes of course. Luckily a lot of these people can't afford fast cars, or bikes.

But... It doesn't take long to get used to it. I ended up in the city area with 4 lanes of traffic trying to barge through and survived! I'm sure a lot of people die out there and it's probably skewed towards being someone elses fault however.

The Hotel (Euro Hotel)
I was a bit worried about this area when I rode into it. It looks really run down but I think that's just the Malaysia way. On the street behind this one lane of the road is closed because there's just too much rubbish in it. But I've later discovered that this is actually sort of upmarket area. It's right near Bukit Indah, which is a big shopping centre, along with Tesco's and Giants just near by. There are many beauty salons along here (can't say I tried any) and they have all the upmarket electronics and white goods, and then furniture and mechanics thrown into the mix. There's also a McDonalds,, a Dominos, a Pizza Hut and a KFC here.

The room I'm in has no windows, and smells of very strongly of smoke, but it has a flushing toilet, and it's clean, and they have toilet paper, and I did have to move to a different room tonight for some reason (this one smells less). But this is probably quite expensive for local standards.

The Road

I'm close to a motorbike shop. They even had a z750 in there for some reason and it was 65000RM (more expensive than *.au). Everything else was the 125/150cc scooter things they have here.

Tomorrow I'm off to try stay somewhere on the south western side of the peninsula. I can't find a lot of info on places down there, the lonely planet guides pretty much miss that part of Malaysia. Also google maps doesn't show a lot of detail. I've discovered there are places to stay in Kukup, but not a lot more info on the surrounding areas.

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