Before my tour of duty in Singapore ended, I had the chance to spend a whole week to explore the country side of Malaysia. From Singapore, me and a good friend of my cousin embarked on an epic journey that would take us from the tip of the Asian mainland, to the northern outskirts of the Malay Peninsula, close to the Thai border.
Day 1 – Singapore to Muar
From Singapore, I started cycling from Geylang in the wee hours of October 10. It was my mom’s birthday so I greeted her early that morning. Then I proceeded to meet Kuya Owen in Upper Thomson Road then we headed to Woodlands checkpoint. The road leading to the border was quite damp since it rained the night before. Crossing the Singapore-Malaysian border has become a habit for me by this time. We crossed the causeway then headed to the first money exchange we saw in Johor Bahru.
Entering Highway 5, it rained heavily, so we decided to spend our breakfast somewhere in Kangkar Pulai. After feasting on a spicy Malay breakfast, we headed to the nearest town, Pontian. From here, every road will be northward as we’re taking the old federal road which is mostly along the coastal areas. Then we set our sights to the next town, Batu Pahat. Along the road to Batu Pahat, we stopped several times to cool down and rest. I always ordered lime juice which is essentially just Calamansi juice in the Philippines.
After reaching Batu Pahat, we decided to have lunch there, then back on the road again after some rest. The town of Muar was our stop for the day. We’re still in the state of Johor and had covered some 220 kilometers for the first leg of our journey. We spent the night at Inn Home Hotel where we only spent some 90 RM for a 2-bedroom suite.
Day 2 – Muar to Banting
The next day, we were undecided where to stop for the night. Our original plan was to go to Putrajaya and find a place to stay there. But checking the maps again showed that it will be a bit off-course from the coastal roads and we really have no intention of riding in city traffic. So, we found another town on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur – Banting.
The next town after Muar was Melaka which is in the state of Malacca. We had breakfast first some 10 kilometers from the city center. Upon arriving in Melaka, you can feel the historic vibe of the city – old houses, brick roads, and plenty of sightseers. I also observed that there are plenty of Peranakans (Peninsular Chinese) in this city as evidenced by the sprawling Chinese architecture dotting the landscape.
Along the road to Banting, we passed by plenty of sights. On the town of Port Dickson, we saw several resort complexes and hotels along the beachfront. We also passed Sepang International Circuit where the F1 Malaysian Grand Prix is held. After the race track in Sepang is Kuala Lumpur International Airport where there’s a bit of gridlock of cars coming in and out of the airport.
It was dark already when we reached Banting. We had difficulty finding a place to stay at first but then we settled for a humble Banting hotel with a motel feel given the fact that we saw a lot of young couples coming in and out of it. We booked a 2-bedroom suite for just 80 RM and called it a day after some 180 kilometers of riding.
Day 3 – Banting to Teluk Intan
From Banting, we headed to the nearest city of Klang. I heard this is a port city pretty much like Singapore. There was a bit of traffic heading to this city so we decided to have breakfast first in a kopitiam along the road. By this time, I already know the difference between goreng and lemak as I’ve been eating both for the past 3 days. Heading on the road again, we pushed until we stopped briefly in Sekinchan where I got to see traditional Malay dining setting. I also got an affinity for a local favorite, ice cream flavored soda.
It was dark when we got near Teluk Intan. We were supposed to stop at Tapah on the foothills of Cameron Highlands but decided to stop at this town because of heavy rain. We found ourselves checking in at Hotel Angsoka for some 90 RM and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant nearby. After three days, we’ve already covered 600 kilometers, beating my previous record of 480 kilometers riding from Manila to Legazpi City. The next day will present a different challenge. Already exhausted from relatively flat but long journey, we’ll be climbing our way to Tanah Rata.
Day 4 – Teluk Intan to Tanah Rata
The roads were damp and the sky was cloudy when we started our riding for the last day of our journey. It was a better than the scorching heat we encountered the first day we started this epic ride. We had a quick breakfast at Tapah then headed out to Cameron Highlands.
For the past three days, all we’ve seen were palm plantations after palm plantations. Malaysia and Indonesia supplies most of the world’s palm oil consumption so that was not surprising. There was a sense of familiarity though when finally, I saw rice fields along the road which is reminiscent of what I usually see in the Philippines. Also in the distance, I can already see the mountains that we will scale soon enough.
Climbing to Tanah Rata was all too familiar. I felt like it was just one of my excursions to Infanta Peak. Same flora along the road, same weather as with the Philippines, and same Austronesian people as well. I also saw several Orang Asli folks along the road to Tanah Rata. They are the native people of Malaysia which pre-dates the Malay inhabitants of the Peninsula. I didn’t find any steep climbs going up but I stopped several times along the way because of exhaustion and because I haven’t brought any snack with me.
There was a sigh of relief when I finally saw a gigantic strawberry bearing Selamat Datang as I know we’re nearing our destination. We stopped at Ringlet town to have lunch then pushed the last few kilometers to Tanah Rata with what little energy we have left. Then finally, we saw this breathtaking view, something which you will only see in postcards. We’re finally at Cameron Highlands! The tea farm spanning several acres was a sight to behold. The almost 700-kilometer journey was worth it coming here, I said to Kuya Owen. We took turns taking photos in this majestic view then after taking in all the fresh mountain breeze, we decided to find a place to stay. We checked-in at Hill View Inn for some 120 RM and we were treated to a nice view of the town. We grabbed a few beers that night and chilled. We stayed in Tanah Rata for one more day before heading to Johor Bahru by bus.
All things considered, this has been my best ride so far. I’m very grateful for the chance to see Singapore and Malaysia in this light, experiencing their culture, one kampung at a time. I hope I’ll be able to do this journey again some time in the future but perhaps going all the way to Bangkok, Thailand!
Terima Kasih Malaysia! Thank You Singapore! Until next time!
(My Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/1228950957)