It was beautiful beaches we longed for and that is exactly what we found on the east coast. Adam made a typical hulk-like recovery from his bout of TD to put in 210km over the next 2 days. This landed us in the ex-backpacker town of Cherating Beach, a place that you can tell used to resonate with the sound of drunken poms, but that now vibrates with the sound of clunky Malaysian scooters and bass pumpin’ car stereos.
After 120km in the saddle we couldn’t hit the South China Sea fast enough and when we did, we felt relief in all the right places. The water was so warm it was like jumping into a bath and that is where we stayed for the next day and a half, while the salt water worked wonders on our aching muscles and saddle sores.
The following 2 days were spent lolling our way through small shanty towns with seemingly randomly placed wooden shacks in amongst endless coconut palms, all with million dollar views and all with the token half naked kids running amok. When these 2 white guys on fully-loaded bicycles rode past, some of them went categorically bananas.
At some point along the way, Adam realised he only had a few days left of his holidays and he hadn’t had a holiday yet (we’d been having an adventure). So after much toing and froing he managed to convince me to put the bikes on a bus to travel the 120km to Kuala Besut, the gateway to the Perhentian Islands.
The Perhentians are Malaysia’s ‘showpiece islands’ and for good reason. The sun burns long and brightly, the interior consists of lush green jungle, the sand is Englishman white and the water, various stunning shades of turqoise and clear as glass.
So what did we do there? The only thing we could or wanted to do; found a patch of sand sometime in the late morning and migrated from it to the ocean repeatedly until dusk. However, despite all this natural beauty, the highlight was definitely a bowl of swiss muesli with milk each morning, the only cereal we’ve had for the entire trip. I miss my Weet-Bix.
After 3 days of this and with Adam looking like he should be thrown into a pot of boiling water and sold for $80/kg, we got the boat back to the mainland and Adam subsequently jumped on a bus bound for KL where he’ll return to the land of cereal, readable menus, pubs, the Swannies, angry drivers and of course, work.
And with that, I’m officially solo.
I had a fantastic time with Ads and am stoked he was able to start the journey with me. We got on like a house on fire and it’s just as well since we had to share just about everything, including a bed every night. I can assure his girlfriend, Emily, that his snoring has subsided somewhat, going from the level of jet engine at takeoff to freight train in a tunnel.
Thanks for coming Ads, I’m going to miss you mate, but I reckon you’ve got another leg in you – India ’08!
As for me, I rode to the far north-eastern city of Kota Bharu and had planned to take the train through the unstable parts of Southern Thailand, but a recent increase in the level of violence has caused me to change my course somewhat. I don’t mind the occasional bombing, but once beheadings begin, I’m out. I mean, that would really hurt. And these are no longer isolated incidents, they are almost daily occurrences that have caused many governments, including my own, to upgrade their travel warning for the area to the most severe level.
As a result, I will travel from here back to the west coast where I’ll be able to safely cross the border into the land of smiles, about which I’ve heard nothing but good things. Can’t wait.