Malaysia and Singapore

Posted in: Asien English Mrz 22 2018

The border crossing to Malaysia was definitely the easiest one so far in Southeast Asia for me. Just put a stamp in the pass and you’re allowed to stay in Malaysia for 90 days. However, after just a few kilometers, I had my first shocking experience.

A pickup truck turned right into my lane. I slowed down slowly when I saw him coming. Suddenly a scooter with 2 people rushed past me and rammed the pickup truck at full speed.

The 2 people were whirled like dolls through the air. Fortunately, people came from all sides to help. This was a warning to me and I decided to drive carefully here in Malaysia from now on.

At first I cycled to Kuala Terengganu, where I took a few rest days. Since leaving from Bangkok 13 days ago, I have not taken a break. So I was able to recover and freshen up my supplies.

The constitution grants freedom of religion and makes Malaysia an officially secular state, while establishing Islam as the „religion of the Federation“. What immediately catches your eye are the many mosques here in Malaysia.

The jurisdiction of Syariah courts is limited to Muslims in matters such as marriage, inheritance, divorce, apostasy, religious conversion, and custody among others. They can not marry other believers.

Approximately 61.3% of the population practice Islam, 19.8% practice Buddhism, 9.2% Christianity, 6.3% Hinduism and 1.3% practice Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions.

After 3 days of rest, I climbed back into the saddle and cycled further along the east coast. This site is much less populated than the west coast. Down to Pekan, the area was still densely populated. But soon it was really hilly and you saw more and more palm oil plantations appear.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the largest palm oil producers in the world, together supplying about 90 percent of traded oil. Today, palm oil is in half of our supermarket products: in foods such as margarine, ready-made products, pizza and biscuits. In cosmetics, detergents and candles.

Oil palm trees need to grow in tropical climate and they also need plenty of space. The primary rainforest has now shrunk to one-tenth of its original population.

If you want to know more about the Malaysian Timber Mafia (which also includes banks such as UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank), I recommend the book <Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia> by Lukas Straumann, President of the Bruno Manser Fund in Basel ( www.bmf.ch).

Through the many hills, I sweat on the slopes quite a bit. On an incline, shortly after Mersing, an insect suddenly flew into my ear. I tried to remove this by hand. But instantly more and more of the things appeared.

By the time I realized I was being attacked by a swarm of bees, it was almost too late. I jumped off the bike immediately, took off my helmet and stopped the first car which came towards me. Immediately I jumped in, which saved me.

Some cars stopped immediately and someone even alerted an ambulance. The paramedics first wanted to take me to the clinic to give me a serum for bee stings. I declined with thanks. From then on, I kept looking for bees on every climb, and the stitches swelled pretty badly in the following days.

After 5 days I finally reached the village Pengerang. From there I wanted to take the ferry to Singapore. This service does not exist anymore and so I had to cycle through the mountains back to Tanjung Belungkor, where I could leave Malaysia with the passenger ferry.

The border officials looked a little funny because of my machete, but let me enter soon. From the Changi Ferry Terminal, a beautiful bike path leads to the city center.

By recommendation, I ended up at the Tree In Lodge (www.treeinlodge.com), run by SK and Yong. The two are passionate cyclists and have given up their old professions to share their passion with other cyclists.

During my stay in Singapore I had some great reunions. For example, I met Eugene here again. Eugene and I met 3 years ago in Prizren, Kosovo, at the beginning of my journey. A great reunion in Eugene’s homeland with many interesting stories.

Of course, a visit to the Supertrees at the Gardens by the Bay could not be missed. Measuring between 25 and 50 meters tall, these iconic tree-like vertical gardens are designed with large canopies that provide shade in the day and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound at night.

Not far from there, the light show <Spectra at Marina Bay Sands> takes place in the evening. Spectra reflects Singapore’s journey as a multicultural society into the cosmopolitan city she is today.

Singapore is a global commerce, finance and transport hub.There are four official languages: English (common and first language), Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Globally, Singapore is a leader in several economic sectors, including trading centre, world’s largest oil-rig producer and major hub for ship repair services, world’s top logistics hub.

During the day I spent most of my time cleaning. Dusty, my bike, and all the bags had to be cleared of dirt. My next destination is Australia, where you can not import foreign plant parts or soil. The rules are extremely strict.

Since I had never washed my bike and bags in the last 3 years, this action took almost 4 days. But in the meantime, I allowed myself a trip to the Botanical Gardens.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 158-year-old tropical garden and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 10,000 species of flora is spread over its 82-hectares area

I really liked the many different plants with their colorful colors. I would recommend anyone to visit the gardens. It is worth it.

I had another nice reunion at the Tree In Lodge. William from France arrived there one day. We met 6 years ago in Vietnam and China. In the meantime William walked with a friend from China to Singapore (which took them 2 years) and he has been living in Indonesia for a few years now. Life is full of surprises!

The time in Singapore was flying by. After 2 weeks all my equipment was washed, the bike packed and I said goodbye to this great city. By taxi I went to the airport, where I sat in the plane to Australia.

Another big chapter on my journey ends with it. I really enjoyed the time in Asia. However, now I long for loneliness. Asia is densely populated. I am missing lonely areas where I can just be alone.

Malaysia and Singapore were the perfect ending for me in Asia. I’ll definitely come back here again one day. The diversity of cultures and landscapes is what makes this continent so fascinating for me.