Sunday, 10 January 2010
The day after my previous report from Langkawi Island, I took the rather expensive ferry back to the mainland while I still had some money in my pocket. Traveling solo again meant that I'd have to camp, as accommodation in Malaysia is quite costly. Once again I found that petrol stations make a handy camping site, especially if there is a covered carport for shelter from the frequent rain. For New Year celebrations I had my own little fireworks display, as on the pm of 31 Dec Old Saartjie's back tyre had a spectacular blow-out. After some makeshift repairs I was fortunate to find a bike shop just a few k's down the road, where I could pick up a set of relatively cheap tyres. Next stop was the famous Penang Island, and I reached it by one of the double-decker car ferries (the huge bridge is not for bicycles). I was a bit disappointed to find the island so urban, with traffic congestion and skyscrapers all over the show. The main tourist beach is lined with fancy hotels, and even the simple budget guesthouses aren't dirt-cheap. However, fortunately I found a derelict covered fishing platform above the rocks at the end of the beach, and it made such a nice sheltered camping place that I stayed four days. (My joy was almost short-lived as on the 2nd day there I fell through the floor - fortunately no broken bones and I'm on the mend). Arriving at a deserted beach the other day, I set up camp and went off for a cleansing dip in the warm tropical waters. I returned just in time to interrupt a troop of monkeys raiding my tent - they didn't cause much damage but they made off with some nice local cakes which I'd been saving for breakfast. I write this report from Pangkor Island, where I've been for a couple of days now. I'm becoming critically relaxed here, camping under shady trees practically on the beach. Pangkor, more so than the previous 2 islands, is the type of place one has in mind when picturing a "tropical island getaway". I haven't cycled much since my previous report, but here are the daily distances anyway:- Alor Setar 71 km; Butterworth 88 km; Penang Island 40 km; Georgetown 23 km; Bagan Berai 75 km; Pasir Panjang Beach 83 km; and Pangkor Island 50 km. Total distance cycled since leaving Cape Town is 52 887 km.