Many great and wonderful things have happened this past month.
But the greatest and most wonderful thing happened the 19th of October back in the Netherlands…
I’M AN AUNTIE!
My sister gave birth to a perfectly healthy and beautiful little girl named Stella. Now we’ve got 5 generations in the family
Congratulations Sis & M. I’m doing a little dance of Joy
I left Penang on high spirits, under Lizzie’s care I was well rested, well fed, in possession of the prettiest toenails you can ever imagine (purple with little white flowers:-) ) And with a place to go in Singapore.
Now my plan wasn’t to go to Singapore at all. But would you know it,
while in Penang, the annual Asian Gaelic games were as well.
Nearly 7 years I’ve spent in Ireland and not even once did I see a hurling or Gaelic football match,
and here, in Malaysia, I did.
And I joined the crowd to the big gala-evening, since surely no one would guess I didn’t really belong there
I did enjoy the buffet-dinner, wine and Irish music…
I found myself partying with the Singapore-support team, so logically I’d be going there.
I started off before sunrise. Singing the whole way. My mp3-player miraculous started working again so I’m not confined to the three songs I actually know the lyrics off anymore.
One morning I was cycling all happy and singing for myself when a man on a scooter drove next to me asking where I’m from and where I’m going. Don’t know how many times I’ve heard that question so I just said, coming from the North, going to the South. He then told me he was about to set off on a big bicycle trip himself and if I wanted to come and have a look at his shop..
Turned out Mr.Chuah is a very keen cyclist, who’s been all around Europe as well, and a bit of a celebrity in Malaysia. He lost one leg in an accident 20years ago, but it doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves, cycling.
Chuah is now cycling to Vietnam together with Max, his friend who lived in Holland years ago and who immediately invited me to come and stay with his family. I didn’t plan to stop in Ipoh, but then again, I hardly ever plan anything so I stayed for their official flag-off.
They are making this journey to raise awareness and cash for an organization called MAKNA, the national Cancer Council. they keep a diary on the MAKNA website,
All the people there where extremely friendly and welcoming.
And the next thing I knew I got invited to come and stay with a bunch of volunteers in the Cameron highlands.
“It’s only 70km from here” they said,
“we’ll take some of your luggage, you’ll be there before 4″ they said….
So with an escort of 5 motorbikes and a car I headed for the hills (they wanted to see how I’m able to cycle up steep hills..)
It wasn’t too steep, but it was long. Very very long,
7hours and 70km later I was still struggling, surely this hill ends somewhere. But with the light fading, the rain pouring down and the road going up, up and up, I noticed a sign saying it still is 30 more km away. I never would be able to get there in time! And I didn’t have my tent…!
Lucky just then a friendly driver stopped, offered me a lift and got me a hot coffee… ahhhh.
And it was well worth the sweat! The Cameron highlands are 1,5km up in altitude from Ipoh and lovely and cool. I had a meal with a bunch of MAKNA-volunteers and we went to visit a young girl with Leukemia who, because of the work MAKNA does gets good medical care now…
Before I left Mama Gie (volunteer coordinator) gave me a bunch of t-shirts and signed me up as a volunteer. I’m not exactly sure what it is I’m doing, but telling you surely helps
Lucky it stopped raining, the sun came out and I cycled down through tea-plantations and beautiful views. Again, I wasn’t long on my way when I got stopped by a man waving and jumping up and down on the side of the road. “My wife saw you cycling! You must come to our house!!!”
And so, I got to stay in one of those beautiful old traditional Malay-houses on poles, which was a good thing since the whole area was flooded. They showed me around, fixed my broken bra’s for me (it used to be her job) and explained the meaning of random country-names… (see video)
And so slowly but surely I made it to Kuala Lumpur. Where my moms cousin, Simone, and her husband, Tom, happen to live… In a 5star hotel! I arrived after a long hot day trying to navigate my way into town which involved cycling on the highway and crossing lanes of speeding cars. WHAAAAA!!!!
I was so scruffy when I finally found the place that I had to take the back-entrance with my bicycle…
But again, I reveled in absolute luxury. With Simone I had a one week luxury lifestyle of getting up around 9, go to the breakfast room where a big buffet breakfast and good coffee was ready every morning, then we might go into town, look at shops (I learned about Prada, Luis Vuitton, Gucci, etc.) While Tom went to work, someone’s got to do it
I discovered that you could buy bags for the same amount of money that keep me traveling for at least 6 months!! Then we’d have lunch, walk around some more shopping malls, have fish eat away at my feet, go have dinner and then on to a pub or club for piña colada’s and the likes….. I knew I had to leave when I started to think stuff like; O my God, I didn’t get any clean towels in my bathroom today…
So after a day or 5 I got my bicycle out of the ‘safe-storage’ only to discover that some idiot decided to bent my derailler outward, no idea how, it must have been done with some serious force… and it was a national holiday so what a shame, I had to stay for another few days to get this fixed
I looked around the internet a good bit and joined this competition from Giant ( my bike is a Giant) And would you know it… I won!
So that evening Tom and Simone took me to see their friends who work at another 5 star venue with restaurants and nightclubs. This man manages the nightclub so like proper VIP’s we didn’t need waiting in line (or paying the entrance fee) To get into this hip and trendy nightclub, big enough to hold 1800people yup. Can get used to this lifestyle…
They also very thoughtfully set me up with their friends in Singapore, working at a fancy hotel there
So, with not too much further trouble, I cycled via Melaka, an old Dutch colony where I treated myself to a coffee and apple pie while sitting along a canal, towards Singapore.
The day I arrived here I did 153km! and it was sore…
I slightly miscalculated the distance, but with another luxury resort in view I made it and met up with Joseph and Monita.
A view days I enjoyed their hospitality, while they showed me the hotel Joseph works and we had lunch. I was well impressed with the views from the highest floors (about 37) and the all glass elevator that takes you up on the outside of the building…
I washed and slept and repaired.
Then I met up with my friends from Penang and moved into their accommodation. right now I’m actually sitting with the laptop and a cold beer next to the pool.
Ray, one of the Irish guys working at the ships here, has been so friendly to take me around town showing me… well pubs, mainly…
We drank champagne on the 70th floor of a hotel, danced in a country bar full of prostitutes and lady boys, tried the Singapore Sling, went to the latest 007, wined and dined, and drank too much in just about every Irish pub you can find in Singapore…. It’s just like being back in Derry
At some stage I probably have to leave Singapore and get back into the ‘real world’ and onto the bike..
But not today.