Rd to Singapore

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February 7th 2014
Published: June 21st 2017
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The road from Mersing to Singapore was interesting to say the least... sh*t I know how to scare myself!!! I'll keep this blog brief but for me it was one of the most fascinating, interesting and scary journey's that I've had. It started off well with a plan to sick to the coast route of south east Malaysia as much as possible but like everything I do on a whim, it proved extremely challenging.

It started off well and I managed to find my route out of Mersing towards Kota Tinggi which was pretty much on the main route, but although a fast road I didn't have any dramas. After 50km or so I managed to find the coastal route I was looking for although I then proceeded to get lost a couple of times on dead end tracks in the middle of palm oil plantations but thankfully I was pointed back towards the right road by local people. One road in particular people coming the other way were signaling me to stop and turn back, they obviously knew I was on a dead end route however it was fascinating being in tiny villages which gives you a real insight
into local communities and life of the plantation workers. The roads once again were full of danger warning signs for elephants and taipei's which I always find a bit worrying although this time after getting lost and not quite knowing where I was (i.e. no map, GPS etc.) I ended up having to camp up for the night, exhausted with the heat and the fast roads, plus being a bit disorientated and ended up camping in one of the plantations as sunset approached.... eek!!!!

I found an empty hut which I thought would be safer for me overnight and wheeled my bike in when the road was quiet to ensure no one would see where I was going, I didn't fancy any visitors in the middle of the night checking me out and quickly went about setting my tent up for the night. My first encounter when clearing an area for my tent was with a scorpion which I bravely swept out of the hut and carried on setting up, I was too tired to even make any dinner and just crawled into my bed once ready however, fear wouldn't let me even close my eyes for what seemed like eternity.

Elephants were in my head the main worry, I had visions of being trampled on during the night, or them being attracted to food or just the unknown, but the noises outside meant my head was working overtime! I could hear elephants in the distance as well as the taipei's snorting about outside and as evening closed in I found I was too scared to even take a peek outside the tent to see what was roaming around.

Around 9pm I had had enough, I decided I would pack up and try and find human contact however I also knew it was madness getting back out on the road with all these animals wandering around. More than a few deep breaths later... I managed to settle my pounding heart and go with my decision of camping and crawled back into my bed which was the safest bet. Surprising enough I think exhaustion took over and I was relieved to actually get to sleep right through until morning, still in one piece...phew. After a quick pack up I got back out on the road and only after maybe 7-8kms came across a stall selling food and decided to stop off.

I ordered noodle soup which was tasty with mee noodles, prawn, egg and vegetables and while eating I was joined by a lovely couple Bob and Em who ended up inviting me to stay at their home for the night and participate in a Muslim house blessing type of ceremony as their guest. They were shocked that I had camped in one of the plantations and although I told them my fears, Bob warned me in no uncertain terms that my main concern should have been from the 'cobras' which fill these plantations as well as wild cats, and deep in some of the plantations they also have tigers! Guess I'll not do that one in a hurry again!

Bob and Em previously had homestay facilities which they stopped once Bob retired and it meant I would be sleeping in a yacht ‘tree' ship for the night which turned out to be a completely unique experience. I followed their car maybe 5km to their home and was delighted with the accommodation. I got showered, changed and put on long pants and a top with sleeves to cover up and before I knew it I was out fishing in their lake with a couple of their friends who had arrived. Bob built the lake and has stocked it with tiny fish, and built the tree'ship' from a yacht which is his passion and plans to build more.

Although a different type of fishing I was delighted to catch not one but four fish all in around one hour, and they were all congratulating me on my fishing skills at being able to hook and land them. The other guys despite fishing on for another couple of hours between them I think caught another two fish between them, my fish were cooked and served up in the afternoon before the ceremony started and I was invited to sit with the family and friends, (Malay, Chinese, Indian and Arab) eating with my hands same as them, and enjoyed rice, vegetables, fresh fish plus some fried chicken... a feast.

For the blessing ceremony the Muslim ladies all started to arrive and I think there must have been around 50 of them ranging from young to old, and fascinated, I watched (tried to join in) with the ceremony and prayers to bless their home. The ladies all sat cross legged in the main room which had been cleared, they had bottles of water sitting in the middle of the floor and all read from their ‘Yasmin' prayer book, singing and chanting until finally their ceremony was complete. Afterwards they all ate together and I was pleased to get a photograph with them before they left which was a lovely memory after my day with them.

Bob and Em invited me to join them for dinner in the evening where they took me to a local restaurant, providing another one of the fish I caught to be cooked along with local food with their friends and son, and they showed me around the village of Tanjung Sedili. Bob owns a couple of fishing boats and is a keen fisherman which is part of the reason he built not only the river at their home but the yacht‘tree'ship. I can't thank Bob and Em enough for their kindness and hospitality and by the time I left the following day after being treated to breakfast again, I was like another adopted family member.

I traveled south along many beautiful beaches where I saw local fishing and continued onto Desaru beach which was stunning. Wide, clear white sands with only local tourists visiting and after talking to a lady at one of the stalls I was invited to camp up at her house for the night, although I declined as I was wanting to make it to the south coast of Malaysia for the ferry to Singapore the next day. On the beach the locals all sit in the shade of the palm trees, and I was in stitches at three young girls who were wearing party hats over their headscarves and were in party spirits carrying on, singing, dancing with each other along the beach and looked like they were having a ball. Its fun to witness because you don't see this in western tourist areas and I always feel extremely privileged by the journey I'm on.

The weather is extremely hot which makes the journey unbearable at times, at one point I took refuge at a fruit stall and struck up conversation with the couple running it. Its funny, you always get the 40 questions when you stop... Where are you going? Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have any children? What age are you? Etc.etc. And before I knew it the girl from the stall is trying to set me up with her friend who is all up for sorting my unmarried, child free status right, starting that night if I would like ha ha... they're not slow! Although this would mean me converting to Muslim and being a 2nd wife, they dont seem fazed... and thankfully the banter is all in fun, and I've had another one off experience, even taking to holding the fort at the stall for them serving passers by when they stopped (although they didn't quite know what to make of me).

I arrived at Kampung Sungai Rengit late afternoon after maybe 120km and decided to find a room for the night and check out the local market which was bustling, a few of the stall holders saw me arriving by bicycle and in the evening when I went a walk round were asking me where my bike was... You think you come in unnoticed but that's never the case, the jungle drums swifted beat around town until everyone knows your business. It was a nice town and I was relieved to finally make it to the south coast where the sea is ablaze with cargo ships, and I'm excited about getting to Singapore, it seems a very long journey I've been on to get here.

So the last 30km to the ferry port leaves me sitting until mid afternoon before one of the ‘bum boats' leaves for Chiangi in Singapore and the start of another new country and new experience for cycling. Malaysia has been very friendly, kind and generous to me providing one off experiences which I have been privileged to have taken part in, and an eye opener with the different animals and an education on the oil palm plantations which cover the country although I don't for a second fancy their job.

Next stop Singapore which will be my seventh country by bicycle, I've clocked up around 11,000km so far, long may I have the strength and will to continue.

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