26th November - 11th December 2004
After leaving Jerantut (near the Taman Negara Park) our biggest problem was that the next cheap accomodation we knew of was 180km away at Pekan. We are of course no strangers to camping, but the problem during the monsoon in tropical countries is that the ground is usually muddy and it is too hot to sit in the tent during the day. Outside the tent mosquitos are often troublesome. You really can't beat arriving at a cheap hotel in the early afternoon, having a cold shower and then dozing under the ceiling fan!
Instead we had a long rest over several cold drinks in a cafe and collected water for our anticipated camp. Then we had a stroke of luck when Mark spotted a disused shack that was almost out of sight of the road. The roof was still sound, but the back had been destroyed by fire so there was a clear view into the jungle. Ju hung her hammock from the rafters and as the evening came on we lit mosquito coils and watched the squirrels playing in the trees:
The next day we took an "interesting" short cut to avoid the main highway. Our map showed two roads that nearly but not quite connected, a truck driver assured that there was no way through but a moped rider said there was a narrow way and offered to guide us. There was actually a road being built and we were able to ride along its freshly bulldozed path:
Naturally there was very little traffic, even when we rejoined the tarmac, and along this section of road we saw a lot of wildlife: monkeys, kingfishers, egrets and an eagle.
That night we were still 40km from Pekan when we stopped. We camped in the shade in a dry but bare rubber plantation and watched a pair of hornbills flapping around looking for a place to roost. As the sun dipped below the horizon, swarms of mosquitos appeared and we were forced to dive into the safety of the tent. Then it began to rain so we had to brave the mosquitos and put the flysheet on (the tent is much cooler without the flysheet). It rained all night and the bare earth turned to mud. Luckily the mud wasn't too clinging and we were able to make an escape to a cafe in the morning.
We had a day off in Pekan and then rode south in two long days to Mersing. We rode beside the sea for some of the way and stopped overnight in a beach resort. From Mersing we took a ferry to Pulau Tiomen. Because it was monsoon season the island was almost deserted but we made some friends and availed ourselves of the island's duty free shops:
In between times we went snorkeling and walked though the jungle to Monkey Beach. On the way we saw monitor lizards, giant squirrels, butterflies and monkeys:
After four relaxing days we reluctantly had to leave. The good weather immediately ended and we spent two days cycling through continuous rain to the Desaru seaside resort. If you really want to, you can click here to see Mark's feet during this time. In Desaru we found everything very expensive but were able to find a bit of undeveloped beach to pitch our tent on for our last night in Malaysia:
Next day we took a ferry into Singapore and rode via cycle paths and parks to the home of our friends Rob and Ellie. They were very hospitable, taking us round the local bike shops in search of boxes and showing us some of the sights of Singapore. One afternoon we went out paddling with their dragon boat club. Afterwards it was the club fancy dress Christmas party:
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