As I look out over the the rain swept city of Kuala Lumpur from our eyrie in the executive lounge on the 21st floor of the Hilton Petaling Jaya, I can look back and recall all we have seen and done in the last six months travelling through 20 countries, numerous time zones and over 21,500 km. At the start of this journey in June, Christmas 2014 seemed to be a distant place in time and space. Wind forward six months and we only have a couple of days left before we board our flight to Sydney. We have seen so much, learnt a little, and met amazing people, yet our path is but a thin line across half the world. How many more wonderful experiences exist, just outside our field of view and touch that others can and have explored. We could have spent extra time in the places we visited, let alone all the ones we did not reach. Maybe some of our followers will tread that path someday in the future and share with us the wondrous experiences and feelings that they have.
Winding back a few days, after the pleasure of George Town’s art and deco, we had a somewhat wet ride from George Town in Penang to Kuala Lumpur. Considering that we have now had six days of rain in six months travelling, we have no complaints there, but it does remind me that I need to replace the scratched and brown tinged visor that used to be crystal clear, as the rain on top of six months wear and tear downgrades my vision considerably. We realised fairly early on that the usage we put all our clothing and equipment to since we started equals years of use by an average rider. Maybe we can take the equipment back to the manufacturer after 12 months of field testing and see if they will swap them to benefit from our testing program? Anne’s gloves being a good example as they leave Anne’s hands dark blue every time they get wet.
Our arrival in Kuala Lumpur was less than auspicious, we were refused permission to unload our panniers at the entrance of the Hilton Petaling Jaya and directed two levels down a wet and slippery spiral entrance to a sub basement for motorcycles. Our way into the hotel was via the staff only entry. In all our travels on this trip, we have not been treated as badly at a hotel. A quick firm chat with the duty manager explaining our view of the treatment had two members of staff come to the sub basement, but they need a taxi to get all our panniers and bags back up to the entrance!
First order of business was to get the bikes to BMW for the next service and for them to look for a resolution to Anne’s throttle lag under hard acceleration. We need to resolve this here as it has been and continues to be a risk for Anne while riding. Anne is able to manage this by careful planning when overtaking etc, but a permanent solution is needed. We thought this had been fixed in Thailand after a part changeover, but it resurfaced after a couple of days.
While we take the freeway to BMW, alongside and separate is a motorbike pathway, which when traffic is snarled up, seems to nip a long at a fast pace, but the lack of road signs means we stick to the freeway. All the major motor manufacturers are represented, Mercedes, Honda, Citroen, Mazda etc, a reminder we are back in the developed world. After dropping off the motorbikes, we head to Sunny Cycle, a motorcycle repair shop and showroom that Anne read about on the Horizons Unlimited forum. We are greeted by a busy workshop and well stocked showroom. Anne finds a pair of waterproof trousers to replace the bike jeans and I discover the first place to buy replacement oil for our chain oilers since we left the UK.
We meet Sunny of Sunny Cycles who has been running a motorcycle business for 34 years, which he now shares the workload with his wife, sons and daughters. A real family business. He is a genuine motorcycle and travel enthusiast and wants to hear more about our trip. We ask for a place to eat and the next thing we know we are in a car with Sunny and off to a local Chinese restaurant for an excellent meal and much green tea. Sunny takes a road trip at least every two months up to Thailand and beyond and has 80,000km on his current motorbike. Sunny offers store our motorbikes and baggage for the month before shipment by airfreight. A very generous offer and one that makes our departure from Kuala Lumpur much easier if we are airfreighting.
On the subject of shipping, our next priority, we have made a number of enquiries for air shipment, but interestingly have found the majority of the various organisations we have contacted either non responsive or difficult to get followup details from after the initial contact or quotation. The exception has been an organisation in Singapore that has responded to our every question. Our current plan is to ship via sea to Buenos Aires at the end of December, we shall confirm over the next couple of days.
Time certainly does fly and we are now packing up everything for the second phase of this journey which is planned to start at the end of January 2015. With our timing and the barriers to entry for our bikes into Australia, this is as far East as we can go without having to come back to ship the bikes to South America. The choice of the Hilton hotel has allowed the flexibility to spread out across the room as we work out what needs to go forward, brought home or left behind and do lots of hand washing.
While it might seem to the uninitiated that all we do is work, we did manage to spend some time in Kuala Lumpur seeing the sights. In addition to the obligatory Petronas Towers, Anne wished to see the butterfly house situated in a large park close to the railway station. It was wonderful to see so many, although without the sun they were less active. In addition we found a huge bird aviary which is covered but open air all one one in a valley in the park. Covering some 21 hectares we saw many different birds and even got to feed one.
Three more sleeps and we will be in Australia.