malaysia, motorcycle,

Motorbiking across Malaysia

Daddy Feb 13, 2015 · 4-min read
Motorbiking across Malaysia

One-uping that glorious trip across Vietnam? It'd be tough, but a Royal Enfield across India should do it. Less than 48 hellish hours later, I returned to Nepal because India is one of the few countries that doesn't accept UnionPay and I left my Visa card at home so I wouldn't lose it. Rookie mistake.

My massive school teacher vacation was only weeks away, so I just went somewhere else. I arrived in Sarawak - Malaysian’s eastern island - hoping to do what I’d done in Vietnam. The difference I soon came upon was that no one rides motorcycles here, they’re scooter commuters. Buzzkilled and frustrated from what had happened in India, I began to panic that there wouldn't be a real motorcycle to redeem my loss. A hostel in town rented scooters out for people wanting to ride around the small city, not transverse the island. I still feel a bit ashamed of driving it 2300km over nine days (which is like going from Dallas to Philadelphia, never going faster than 40mph), and sincerely hope they don't keep track of the odometer.



My journey both started and ended in a quaint, little city called Kuching, which means “cat” in Malay. It has been exalted as one of Asia’s cleanest city, and although it has lived up to it’s reputation, there are plenty of similarly clean cities elsewhere in Asia.

When I moved to China in 2013 I quickly learned that my ideas of the Orient are not only just caricatures but are also pretty outdated. China today has become maddened by the desire to advance and with that, is a disposal of the past. Rickshaws, queues hanging from silk hats, outdoor laundry vats? Forget it. Chinese people my age have never seen them because their parents gave them up.

So what makes Kuching one of my favorite places is that Chinese community began there generations ago, most of whom have never stepped foot in China. Who knows if this is what China used to be like, but it certainly feels that way. There's something about the small family-run shops align a prominent main street, the few English signs, and the genuine helpfulness that feels like everything has been harbored from the soulessness that has taken over most places that developed. I came to China expecting it to look something like Kuching but instead, found myself playing catch up to how China has really developed over the past decades. Lucky enough to spend Chinese New Year’s here, I watched the humble fireworks show light up the town as Chinese flocked to the temples at midnight.


The plan was to ride from Kuching to Miri and back again. When I told people about this, they said it was impossible and warned me that the road was too remote to get gas. They were wrong. The petroleum giants Petronas and Shell have the two-lane highway well supplied, and I only needed to use a jerrycan once.


I stayed at a beach side resort one night. There was a bench down far enough the guard couldn't see me. The 9 days were hotel free, tent free, sleeping bag free. I just sort of layed wherever. One night I slept in the upper seating area of a cafeteria above a fish market. One of the tables was broken and laying up against the wall. Two nights were spent in houses under construction, but neither sand piles nor scaffolding are as comfortable as they sound.


It was kind of fun being out on the road listening to my 110cc rental bike buzz at its laughable top speed. It was somewhat interesting, but not the mega-awesome experience I had hoped for. I guess trips like that are bound to come along.


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Technophobe gracing tech companies in the Global 500, Fortune 500, a Kickstarter unicorn, and several little dinky places. Bike touring is my sanity factory.