With just a week’s notice, Radek’s brother Michal decided to pay us a visit in Malaysia. As he would only stay here for six days, we decided to rent a car to make the most out of his time here.
When in Malaysia, to get the real Malay experience, you obviously opt for the locally made car “Proton“, also coincidentally the cheapest option. But, (unfortunately) when we picked up the car in Penang, we got upgraded to a Toyota Vios. In about four hours we drove to KL airport, to pick up Michal. Driving in a left hand side vehicle took some time to get used to. But after about 20 times of accidentally wiping the windshield instead of using the indicator light, we were starting to get the hang of it 😉 . On the first day we covered 528 km, from Georgetown to Melaka.
The following day we took the ferry to the “mysterious” island of Pulau Besar Melaka. We wondered around the deserted island and stumbled upon an enormous resort. The gate was open so we sneaked inside. To our surprise, the doors of the appartments were unlocked so we could also peek inside the buildings. We found perfectly finished rooms, fitted with AC’s, bathroom, closets, even running water. The only thing that was missing in these rooms were guests… Legend has it, that the island is haunted. However, later that day a regular visitor offered us a more plausible explanation. Many Indian Muslims come to the island to pray, as they believe that Pulau Besar Melaka holds strong spirits. After their numerous protests, the government funded resort stopped accepting guests. We wondered, though, why they still maintain the 18-hole golf course on the island, and why they monitor crack formation in the walls…?
Later that day we drove to Bekok. We managed to get there just before dark, to have a quick swim in a small waterfall. Bekok is the gateway to Endau-Rompin National Park, one of the oldest tropical rainforest complexes in the world. The next morning, we trekked through this jungle, with a beautiful waterfall halfway the trip to cool down. As a souvenir from this trekking, we all got a few leeches on our legs, but apparently, that’s good for cleaning your blood…
From Bekok we took the scenic route through the endless palm oil plantations to Mersing. Here we found a gorgeous beach with two juicy coconuts, just screaming to be cracked open. We also met Ute and Eddy, a German couple who is on a year long cycling trip through South East Asia!
The next day in Mersing we tried to convince a fisherman to take us to some islands around the coast. However, on Friday, a day-off for Muslims, work has to be finished by 12 o’clock, and therefore he refused to take us along. So, we drove down further to Desaru beach, to end up in Johor Bahru later that evening.
By this time, Michal tried the delicious food, swam in the blue water, and trekked through the green lush jungle, so the only thing left on the list for a perfect holiday in Asia was a massage. We went for a traditional Thai massage just outside the city center of Johor Bahru. Fully relaxed after the massage we jumped back in the car and let the navigation guide us back to our hotel.
However, the navigation wasn’t quite working along and was yelling 3 different directions at us at the same time: “Go left”, “Go right”, “Make a U-turn”. Not sure how, but I managed to end up on the motorcycle lane, and of course the police was there to witness it all. They pulled us over and asked for my driver’s license and passport.
Us: “We’re so sorry but we left everything at the hotel…”
Police: “How can you drive around without any papers?!”
~ A few minutes of apologising later ~
Police: “Okay, just pay the fine for driving on the wrong lane and we can let you go for this time”
Us: “Do you accept credit card? We didn’t bring any cash…”
Police: “No, we don’t. Let someone bring you the cash.”
Us: “We’re sorry but that’s not an option, we don’t know anyone back at the hotel who could possibly bring us the money.”
~ Some more discussion ~
Police: “Well, okay, for this time we let you go. But good luck with explaining you don’t have a passport at the immigration later on”.
We thought immigration? Why? But whatever, let’s just go before they change their mind. Relieved we get back into the car to get to our room. Only to find out two minutes later that we were actually at the border crossing between Malaysia and Singapore…!
Here the whole charade of explaining our situation started again, but we were also confronted with another problem. We couldn’t turn around anymore, and had to pass through a gate. However, to pass that gate you need a “Touch-n-Go” card, which we didn’t have. We also couldn’t buy one as they only accepted cash payment.
But then the immigration staff, the people who always stamp your passport with a big smile (not), did something very kind. They collected the money for us from their own pocket, so we could buy a card and pass through the gate! Extremely grateful, we were finally able to get back to our room for a good night’s sleep after an eventful evening.
On Saturday morning the time has come for Michal to fly back home, and for us to return the car, which marked the end of our 1200km roadtrip through Malaysia.
PS: Petrol is very cheap.. 1,5 RM per liter, equaiting to 25cent. Road toll is quite expensive and car hire fees too.