The world continues to be kind to us even when we left the land of smiles and after we separated from our friends in TGCC.
Three of the men chose to extend their time with us when they made it across the border in a crowd that was now down to six people from the past thirteen.
A smooth border crossing and suddenly we were in country number two for the trip, Malaysia.
If we got a smooth start in Thailand with flat stages along with hundreds of people who pushed us forward kilometer by kilometer our new country was something else.
We had not been cycling many kilometers until our first real ascent began. As we have been spared with this kind of riding this far, it was a minor shock to our thighs when the “hill” appeared.
My thoughts went back more than two years in time to Turkey with the Black Sea on our left side where I, Fredrik, Christopher and Tomi together tore us up hill after hill in 20 minutes to seconds later find ourselves at sea level again. And so it went on, day in and day out for three weeks.
Back in Malaysia I realized after a while that this was a fairly long climb. A bit too long to be the first may seem.
I hear someone screaming further down the hill, don’t know if it’s a monkey or one of the girls. It turns out to be Eva who made a flat fall when the speed was too slow to keep the bike upright. Luckily, she unscathed from the situation.
After a while I almost laugh at the whole situation and to be done with the task as quickly as possible, just like my old youth leader Rolf (also called Long – Rolf) once learned; make sure to do the boring tasks fastest possible and then you have more time to spend on the fun.
And the harder it gets the more you have to see the humor of it all, even if the situation is’nt fun at all.
Once you reach the top the reward is waiting for you. A long inhale, a rain that cools down your bodie and you are ready to take on the rest of the world.
Bho, one of the gentlemen from TGCC who have chosen to go with a few extra hours, laughing loudly as he always seems to do while he opens his beer of the day. And this on seems to taste extra good when his strong legs who has become 57 years dancing around in the rain. And nothing seems to bite on this crazy positive man that shortly thereafter puts on his helmet and getting ready for the downhill. There is a bit of a roller coaster that face us and here you have to focus and plan not to get into a sharp curve too fast, thus risking a nasty crash. Wrists, arms, shoulders and everything else are on edge but it is also fun ride!
Unfortunately a downhill doesn’t last forever and suddenly we find ourselves on the same level as we did hours earlier.
During the descent there is a new speed record for this year’s tour, 65 km / h meter. Sorry mom, but sometimes it’s hard not to.
Tears had fallen a few hours earlier when we said goodbye to most of TGCC and now it was time again. Ton, Bho and Gung cycled on to another border crossing that would take them back to Thailand while we were now going in the opposite direction, further south in our new country.
The silence reminds us quickly that we are now left alone as participants of The Happy World Tour.
– No longer any Thai pop music from Phong who had pimped his bike with a speaker on the handlebars.
– No singing from the leader Look which always led to positive thoughts and smiles on everyone’s lips, especially when it was a bit heavy. At those moments he was always there, as the leader he was. Now it was up to us to solve all of this plus much more.
Luckily we got other things to think about when we ran into of a family of monkeys in the bushes beside the road.
We note quickly that we are not Sweden.
Later in the afternoon when it was slowly getting dark we met Koman, also called “Eddie”.
Eddie runs a restaurant close to one of the fishing villages we pass on our journey along the west coast of Malaysia.
He think we should stay and try one of his specialties and we want nothing more then our stomachs begin to tell us that it is probably time for dinner. And who knows, maybe Eddie knows a good place where we can put up our tent for the first time during this trip …?
Eddie knows a place. A place that turns out to be closer than we can imagine when he suggests that we can put it up in his restaurant after closing.
“An offer you can not refuse”, so to speak.
Like so many others in this part of the world who runs a restaurant, a store etc he combines his home with in this case a restaurant. In the home we also find his wife and two of a total of four children.
And 15 cats. At Least.
Something that many people may not know (neither did we until this evening) is that cats, especially young cats, has a penchant for tents that are placed in restaurants. There is simply nothing in the world that would be more fun to play with than a tent in a restaurant. The first half hour of our first night in tent is therefore filled with a war against these sweet but oh so annoying kittens.
To grow, you have to sleep, and this rule applies fortunately also for cute kittens and one by one they removed eventually to our great relief.
Morning came, and with sleepy eyes we went on towards the unknown.
A lot of things in life happens by coincidence.
A trip like this is certainly no exception, the only difference is that it is so incredibly significantly each time it occurs.
After an hour, we arrive to another fishing village. It is time to refill our water bottles and we catch sight of a restaurant that might solve the problem.
Here we meet a gentleman on an older bicycle. He asks us who we are and what we are doing (a quite common question in this context).
He recommend us to choose a larger road and pointing out the direction. We follow the man’s advice and end up later in the slightly larger town of Alor Setar.
In our waiting for the green light in an intersection another gentleman on a fast bicycle rolls up at our side and ask the same question as the man in the fishing village did.
A few hours later it all ends with us being escorted by the same man, named Chiad Chen, to his friends a few kilometers south of Alor Setar. This is apparently something Chiad are doing from time to time when he collides with like-minded cyclists.
The world’s most wonderful Anny meets up at the door of her family’s house and welcome us with open arms before we even got off the bikes.
This family, including Chiad, is of Chinese descent and is in the process of celebrating a festival which takes place every year at this time. Part of the festivities is to eat vegetarian during it’s nine days.
Annys mother servesus a vegetarian table consisting of all possible and impossible small works.
Anny wonder if we should stay for the night as the evening has more celebrations to be expected and we decide quickly to accept the invitation, even though we only cycled 70 km that day.
A fantastic decision.
The whole family will later take us to a Chinese temple to eat dinner and watch as some men intend to drive in or out (a little unclear) spirits with the help of various incenses, movements and the occasional baby’s pacifier in their mouths.
That’s exactly how strange it was.
Despite some remarkable scenes, it was still a fun and interesting evening but it was not over.
Once we got back home of Anny it was time for a music session.
A fantastic day is rounded off with food and fruits which included the passion fruit that literally rained around our feet a few hours earlier outside Anny house.
Rained passion fruit is something we thought only happened in cartoons.
We were so wrong.
This is how a day can look like when coincidence and open minds goes hand in hand.
What if we didn’t followed the advice to go up to a slightly larger road?
What if we stopped and taken a break earlier or a bit longer?
We like coincidence and so far coincidence seems to like us.
This is a great thrill to travel in this manner, to rarely have anything planned for the day, but instead take everything, just everything, as it comes.
During our time in Malaysia, we are involved in amazing meetings like the story of Anny and her family.
We meet Heng who let us stay in his fisherman on a river on the day we left Anny.
We found some really cool guys thanks to the “Long distance cyclists – community”; Warmshowers.
We also meet a profile in the truest sense. A profile named Raja Abdulah. To describe this man in a sentence is not possible, you just have to meet him.
After leaving Raja and his hometown the journey continues towards the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Here we spend our first day of rest so far when the bicycle changed to city walk among the skyscrapers and shopping malls. A sharp contrast to life on two wheels, so far mostly taken us through small towns and fishing villages.
The legs gets some needy rest before we jump back on those saddles.
We heard there was going to be some mountains to climb directly after leaving the city but we didn’t know it would mean about 50 km in ascending slope.
But the fact is that our legs have become stronger and stronger for each day to not make us completely collapse when the hills changes to mountains (although Eva for the second time so far falling because of the low speed combined with SPD – pedals).
Now flat land has taken us all the way to Singapore where another rest day wait before we gets on a plane that will take us to the fourth country of the trip, Indonesia.
This is going well!