Thanks to an invitation from Chris and Sally, I had the good fortune to be able to enjoy another overseas motor bike trip this year. On Chris’ recommendation we used Malaysia Motorcycle Getaways (Ride Malaysia) and put simply, we had a great time.
My sons, Michael, Greg and I flew over together and arrived in Kuala Lumpur early on Thursday, 28 July and left our luggage at the hotel we had booked (via the web) in Shah Alam which is the State capital of Selangor and about a 40 minute taxi ride from KL. Shah Alam is a very conservative area and we could not get a drink at either the hotel or any nearby restaurant. To fill in the day, we caught a taxi into KL and took in some sites including the Petronas Towers
and did some walking before returning to our digs, having a meal and retiring early to recover from the overnight flight. Kuala Lumpur is a huge sprawling city – not my favourite city to be honest, but having said that it would have been wiser to have found accommodation in the city itself.
We got up bright and early on Friday morning and arrived at MMG headquarters by 0830 and were greeted by Feizal (the proprietor) and Zahed (Zac) who were to be our guides (and much more) for the next 6 days. We also met up with Sally, Chris and their friend Stephen (from the Gold Coast). The 6 of us (a great size for a tour group) were briefed on events and allocated our bikes in a professional and friendly manner. Bikes were packed, excess luggage was stored and then we hit the road and the fun began. We had no worries at all as everything was extremely well organised.
We had to use some tollways to get out of the city. All the toll gate booth areas had bypasses (very narrow paths)
for motorbikes and scooters which were quite novel compared to anything else I have seen.
We soon got onto more interesting roads and riding.
Traffic in Malaysia can be quite challenging and I still cringe at the extremely close tailgating I saw, even at high speeds. Only the loosest observations
(I didn't understand all the rules but I suspect that parking bay was not being used appropriately)
seemed to be made of double lines and speed limits and overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic (people moved over to make room) seemed to be the norm. The plus side was that drivers expected riders to “filter”, lane split and make their way to the heads of queues and there was no sign of the aggression or road rage we often witness in Australia.
Once off the freeways, the sealed roads were of varying quality, much like many “B” and “C” roads in New South Wales or Victoria and they were fun to ride. The bikes supplied (4 Kawasaki Versys 650s,
a low seat CBR 500 for Sally and a Yamaha Diversion 600) were all in very good condition and great for the task.
Our first refreshment stop was at Fraser’s Hill
(L - R Stephen, Chris, Sally and Feizal)
after a lovely climb up a very winding road to an old style hilltop retreat. After enjoying a cool drink and a chat over our experiences to date, I was confronted by a monkey dining in the middle of the road on my way down the mountain!
We then enjoyed a ride north with a variety of rural scenes and a well timed lunch break
and then the weather forecast came true late in the day’s ride. The normal forecast is about 28 – 32 degrees with a probability of rain from about 4.00PM. It proved true on day one and we joined many other riders under a bridge over the freeway and donned our wet weather gear and spent about half an hour riding in heavy rain before arriving in Ipoh for the night. This city had some lovely tree lined boulevards on the way in. We secured our bikes for the night, changed into dry gear, wet our whistles at the bar and enjoyed a good meal and banter before retiring quite fatigued after riding over 350 km and getting accustomed to Malaysian riding conditions.
In the morning we enjoyed a good breakfast at the hotel, packed and rode a short distance to the Perak Cave Buddhist Temple,
which we had skipped the previous night because of the rain. We then headed east, skirted the Cameron Highlands and stopped at an Ice Cream Parlour / strawberry plantation for refreshment - delicious. There was also a rather quirky display / shop set up there with the latest BMW motorbikes. We then continued east along some fantastic roads with a great variety of sweeping bends and views
before lunching at a very busy (lots of backpackers getting ready to visit the nearby national park) curry house
about half way across the peninsula near Gua Musang. Great food washed down with iced tea. We then continued through rural areas and many palm plantations and stopped beside Lake Kenyir
for a rest and a cool drink.
The day was getting on and it was quite late by the time we arrived at our modern hotel in Kuala Terengganu which over looked the old river port.
(Yours truly approaching Kuala Terengganu)
The bikes were stored and secured. We changed, refreshed and then went out for some great street food and enjoyed some drinks before a wonder around the town.
On Sunday, it was up early, a good breakfast and a taxi ride to the port where we boarded a fast passenger ferry to Redang Island where we spent two nights at the excellent Coral Resort.
That afternoon, Mike, Greg and I hopped on another boat and went off snorkelling. First we visited a nearby beach where a large green turtle had a nibble at my finger and then off to a nearby island to see some coral and tropical fish. Back at the resort we all met up and enjoyed a relaxed chat and drinks. We then enjoyed another excellent meal on the verandah of the hotel overlooking the beach, islets and sunset.
On Monday (a lay day) Stephen joined us for another snorkelling trip to a nearby national marine park which was extremely busy, while Sally and Chris explored the tropical forest behind the resorts. When we met up, they looked much hotter than we did. The resort pool
got a workout that afternoon as did the bar! After a relaxed day and evening with another good dinner overlooking the water we all retired early.
Tuesday morning, it was up before dawn, a tractor ride
to the main beach,
a punt ride
out and then a 1½ hour ferry trip back to the mainland. The bikes were collected from the hotel, packed and we rode west across the peninsula retracing some of that great road.
We then climbed up to the Cameron Highlands, visited a tea plantation
which really was beautiful and then stopped at another good hotel in Tanah Rata.
We enjoyed a walk around the busy town, visited a bar and then enjoyed another meal at a local restaurant.
Wednesday, our final day arrived all too soon. We started off with a descent from the highlands on tight roads and great scenery
which I loved.
Lunch was at another well chosen road side eatery
and then we continued on and rode the spectacular, steep and tight climb up to the Genting Highlands where we enjoyed the coolness of high altitude (1850 metres) for our final break.
(the above photo was sourced from the web)
The descent was even more challenging and then it was a relatively simple run back to MMG base as traffic got heavier.
Each of the 4 days riding was a bit over 300 KM, which may not sound much, but was about right for the conditions and heat and enabled us to do more than just ride. We were fatigued (but in a pleasant way) at the end of each day. All meals and accommodation were included in the cost of our tour. Both Feizal and Zac participated socially and enhanced the group camaraderie. I would have no hesitation in recommending MMG if you want an interesting ride in the tropics.
People were generally inquisitive and welcoming. I would like to thank Chris for suggesting the trip. I really enjoyed the company of Sally, Chris and Stephen and it was a real bonus to be able to enjoy such a trip with my sons.