Day 185: Georgetown to Taiping, 91km. Hot and busy highway 1.
Day 186: Taiping to Seri Manjung, 91km. Highway 1 and Highway 60, flat through oil palm plantations.
Day 187: Seri Manjung to Sekinchan, 118km. 10,000km today!
Day 188: Sekinchan to Kuala Lumpur, 106km. Very flat and very wet, backroads then hectic highway into Chinatown.
Days 189 and 190: Kuala Lumpur.
Georgetown was supposed to be the end of the line for our ride with Ryan and Rebecca: the next day they were off to KL to stay with a friend and then meet family from the UK for a few days. Hana and I were planning to head into the Cameron Highlands for a few days of big hills and cooler temps before then also heading onto KL. From there our plans were a little vague, but we had been thinking about getting a ferry (or flying) to the east coast of Sumatra and heading south for our final weeks. That was until we happened to spread our South East Asia map out on the floor during a few farewell beers with R&R.
All eyes scanned the map as we looked for a route through Sumatra that would suit our final 5 weeks of riding, and suddenly it seemed so obvious: Banda Aceh – the very tip of Sumatra. Why not start there and try to ride the whole island? We never thought we were going to have much time in Indonesia, but with Thailand and Malaysia flying by ahead of schedule due to mellow hills and fast highways we’ve got change in our pockets. It doesn’t take long to calculate a rough route down the west coast and through the highlands with Google Maps and soon we’ve got the distance: 2500km. We figure out if we have one day off in every 5 we need to average 83km/day; easy to achieve if it’s flat/rolling (in fact we’d buy time with our typical flat days being 100-150km), but potentially challenging on the highland roads, which reach 2000m in parts of Sumatra.
It looked like the perfect mission to bookend our 10,000km trip from Chengdu with: a remote and wild island, tsunami-battered and brimming with huge jungle ranges, volcanoes and new cultures. We’re in!
The other upside to this plan is that we’d get to hang out with R&R for a few more days until we hit KL, where we’d fly to Banda Aceh. Next morning, we were on the road as a smooth 4-person train again.
After 91km we stopped for the night in Taiping. One of the great things about cycle touring is that it means you get to stay in towns that tourists don’t otherwise stop in; this means we cop a lot of stares, but we also get to experience genuine local food and our fair share of seedy hotels.
To get into Kuala Lumpur we battled spaghetti junctions and 6-lane highways ablaze with fast moving traffic and our adrenaline was sill coursing when it came time to part ways with R&R. They were off to stay with a friend and we were looking for a cheap room in Chinatown; we found one at the Le Village guesthouse.
We had two days in KL, but it was mostly spent sorting out the final leg of our trip: we had visas to arrange, needed to buy new tyres and had to get some bike boxes, and then pack the bikes for the flight to Banda Aceh. After a visit to the Indonesian embassy we discovered we could get visa on arrival in Banda Aceh (previously unavailable), and could extend them in Padang.