Roughing it

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…
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 😀The oldest and the youngest

I left Penang with 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.through the palm-plantations

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.about Mr.Chuah

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.dinner with the family

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..)escorte out of Ipoh
It wasn’t too steep, but it was long. Very very long,cameron highlands
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…Breakfast

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.tea plantation 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!!!”Malay papa and mama

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…into KL

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…..Pina Coladas 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 😉ouch.

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, Melakaan old Dutch colony where I treated myself to a coffee and apple pie while sitting along a canal, towards Singapore.cycling police-woman 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 😉Kuala Lumpur

At some stage I probably have to leave Singapore and get back into the ‘real world’ and onto the bike..
But not today.



16 thoughts on “Roughing it

  1. He mir, dat is weer een geweldig verhaal. Zo aan de foto’s te zien is het een pracht omgeving en liefdevolle bevolking. Geniet en blijf genieten!!
    Groet, Rena

  2. hey sis, vroeg me net vanmiddag af wanneer er weer een nieuw berichtje op je site zou verschijnen. Nu dus, Leuk! ziet er weer goed uit, hier is het trouwens ook erg mooi momenteel ivm de herfst. x esther

  3. It’s great to read your stories again and again and realise you left our small country about 20 months ago and still have to arrive Down Under.

    Reading the stories also gives me the feeling you start to get a celebrety everywhere you go (people inviting you to their homes because they saw you ride your bike).

    Keep on going and maybe we do meet in Australia, after all I want to return there in 2010, gives you another 15 months to enjoy the scenery .

    Take care

    ps. By the time you get closer to places where I have a network let me know they might be usefull.

  4. hi! what a great surprise to see that you landed eventually in singapore! WELCOME! we haven’t met before but i have been following your travel & stories through the webpage of mandy & benny (remember in tibet?). we are a swiss couple travelling the world by tandem – but having a stopover in singapore. fancy a coffee in the city-jungle some of these days? would be really nice… where are you staying at the moment?have a great day & enjoy yourself! pat (

  5. Weer genoten van je verhalen en je belevenissen wat zijn er toch veel aardige mensen en gastvrije gezinnen, daar kom je tijdens zo’n enorme trip achter. Singapore is een prachtige (maar verschrikkelijk drukke) stad met enorme gebouwen en prachtige hotels, geniet van je rit en ik lees wel weer waar je volgende mail vandaan komt. Alle goed, gezondheid en geen pech.
    Riet Souer.

  6. lieve mirjam wat een leuke foto van je overgrootmoeder met je nichtje.wat fijn dat alles goed gaat.jij bent ook al een heel eind op weg nu,en wat een mooie foto,s heb je weer gemaakt.zo maken wij de reis ook aardig kaart hangt hier in de keuken dus we zien precies steeds waar je bent,het is al een hele lijn vanaf apeldoorn.we hopen dat het verder goed gaat met je en geniet maar van je reis,zo te zien ben je al ver over de helft.van opa ook de groeten en veel liefs en dikke kus oma xxxx

  7. Hé wereldreiziger!

    Van harte gefeliciteerd met je nieuwe nicht! Wat fijn dat alles goed gaat hè? Jij vermaakt je trouwens ook prima zo te lezen. Kan ik me heel goed voorstellen: Marije en ik zijn in 2001 in hetzelfde gedeelte van Maleisië op vakantie geweest: echt schitterend. Ik vond autorijden in Kuala Lumpur al heel wat, laat staan fietsen.
    Nou, wel melden ons wel weer eens; heel veel plezier de komende tijd als een echte “avonturentante”.

    groetjes, Celia en Henk

  8. hallo mirjam,

    Wij als ” collega” fietsers volgen jouw site al heel lang.
    We zijn onder de indruk van jouw reis!
    wij vertrekken eind deze maand naar ons startpunt kuala lumpur voor een 7 maanden trip door azie.
    Heb je nog tips voor ons? bijvoorbeeld waar te slapen in kl?
    zie ook onze website
    we zien je mail met plezier tegemoet.

    O en Z

  9. He tante Mirjam!!

    Ook van ons van harte gefeliciteerd met je kleine nichtje Stella!
    Wat een super verhaal heb je weer geschreven en hoe raar om jou te zien fietsen op plaatsen ver weg, waar we ooit zelf gelopen hebben (met het vliegtuig voelde het al zo eindeloos ver weg van nederland 😉 )
    Leuk om via jou weer even terug te gaan in de herinneringen…

    Nou ja, zoals iedereen al heeft gezegd, zijn je verhalen altijd weer een hele leuke afwisseling van het dagelijkse leven hier, dus we kijken uit naar het volgende verslag en wensen je dan ook weer een goed vervolg van je reis!

    Liefs uit Lelystad

  10. Hey bedankt voor je berichtje.
    Ik ben een aantal berichten van jou aan het lezen en volgens mij heb je echt de tijd van je leven, hartstikke mooi ga zo door!! 🙂

  11. Hoi Mirjam,

    Nou, het was leuk om je gisteren via msn nog weer gesproken en gezien te hebben (en nog steeds vanuit Singapore:-) ). En vandaag dus écht naar Indonesië, als alles volgens plan verloopt… Ook weer leuk om de foto’s te zien bij de verhalen.
    Geniet er van en veel liefs van ons,

    pap & mam.

  12. Weer leuk om te lezen! Gefeliciteerd met je nichtje!

    Veel plezier in Indonesië en kijk uit naar je verhalen&plaatjes.
    Take care

  13. Well, the sun shines on the righteous Mirjam that is for sure !!!!!!!!!

    You lucky so and so!!!! But after all your efforts some luxury is well deserved.

    I have been to Ipoh and the Cameroon Highlands but many, many moons ago.

    Singapore is something else, a little too sanitised but they have a tough government- but a little luxury never hurt anyone.

    I am just back from 17 days in Morrocco – enjoying safe fruit and salad and wholemeal bread again. Silly how you miss the little things!

    Keep on trucking and don’t forget Indonesia and Bali on your travels and the Philipines….

    I’m so pleased you are meeting kindred spirits along the ways.


    Linda xx

  14. Hey Mirjam,

    Nog steeds op de fiets!!! Wow, het is volgens mij precies 1 jaar geleden dat we elkaar hebben ontmoet, in die koude Tibetaanse plaats Nyalam, weet je nog…
    Ik lees dat je in Cameron Highlands was, een van mijn favoriete plekken in Malaysia (in 2000 was ik daar, das lang geleden!) en Melaka vond ik ook erg leuk.
    Ik schrijf deze mail nu vanaf mijn werk (foei!), it’s cold and rainy outside en ben (stiekem, ssst!) plannen aan het maken voor een nieuwe trip.
    Het wordt hoog tijd!

    Liefs en fiets ze nog,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s