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Helmet Hair Magazine

The magazine that informs and inspires the female motorcycle fan

 

hh edition banner feb march 2011

Traveling Malaysia Print E-mail
Written by Sheonagh Ravensdale & Pat Thomson   

 

p1010489cAffectionately self-coined "Dusty Old Bags" via their blog, Sheonagh (61) and Pat (57) hail from England and are currently traveling around the world on two Brazilian Honda Falcon NX 400’s. December 2009 marked the start of their escapade, in which they rode through Central America to LA and then flew their bikes to Tokyo before touring the countries of Japan and Korea. They are currently exploring Thailand, Cambodia and Laos before heading off to India. Their bikes have treked 27,000 miles to South America and Europe - even before the start of this trip, which now clock up to a phenomenal 45,000 miles. Pat, who does all the maintenance, is hoping they will survive the journey back to the UK! The dynamic duo is on their twelfth country, and share with us their "bike-friendly" experiences in Malaysia.

 

 

NoorWe were not sure what to expect being two women arriving in Malaysia in the middle of Ramadan. So imagine our surprise to find a thriving group of friendly women riders on Ducatis, Harleys, MV Augustas and big Japanese bikes. Ladies Bike Malaysia has around 50 members, mainly based around the capital Kuala Lumpur (aka KL) and you see women on motorbikes all over Malaysia, on small scooters and step thru’s (The standard family transport). (Pictured: Our Malaysian friend, Noor, on her Kawasaki KLE500.)

Malaysia is very bike friendly, with motorcycle only roads, running parallel to the motorways (complete with their own under and over passes), and special bike shelters for when it rains. I just love the top box Supermarket check-out girls and garage attendants everywhere say "Welcome to Malaysia" with a broad smile. Sounds corny, but it’s true! Gas is one-third the cost in Europe; you can rent small bikes cheaply in many places and a variety of big bikes in KL. The Harley Malaysia dealerships are talking about starting a rental operation. Roads and road signs are mostly excellent and somebody always speaks English.

We were invited by the Malaysian Tourist Board and World Tour Rider Magazine (bilingual English/Malay bike magazine) to join a group of journalists to ride up the west coast. We normally stay in backpacker hostels averaging $16 a night, but on this trip we stayed in some excellent 4-star hotels like the Impiana in Kuala Lumpur.

We went to the MotoGP at Sepang Circuit (tickets from $9) and saw Valentino Rossi storm to a win, which sent the Malaysian crowd wild – they just love Rossi. We were hosted at the Pennzoil tent which was a relief as it was boiling hot and the following day we visited their factory.

 

p1000590From KL we headed north on local roads, stopping for typical lunch at a Homestay village, before taking a 40 minute ferry ride to Pangkor Island. We stayed at the Pangkor Island Resort Hotel whose manager is Italian (food was excellent!). It stands on its own gorgeous sandy beach and a group of magnificent hornbills come down daily to the feeding platform. Our intrepid band took to mopeds to tour the island, visiting a beautiful Chinese temple and a handraulic fish gutting and drying factory. (Pictured: Pat ant the Hornbills by the Pangkor Island Resort Beach.)

 

Next day featured a tour of the Modenas factory and a test ride of their prototype C-tric electric motorcycle. Modenas is a Malaysian motorcycle manufacturer making small bikes up to 200cc. It was a cruel test up the steep, twisting and narrow 1200 meter high Jerai Mountain road. It coped adequately on the up and I got mine to 55mph downhill. They claim it will do 65mph. To keep the price below US$1600, Modenas use specialist lead acid nano-gel batteries, and claim 37 miles per charge – an average commute. Target market is urban students and interestingly rural plantation workers who have electricity but may be miles from the nearest gas station. Malaysia has millions of acres of palm oil and other plantations.  

 

img_0602From Jerai we headed south to the Cameron Highlands, famous for Tea Plantations and cream teas! The roads in this area are fantastic with long sweeping bends and beautiful scenery. Then cross-country to Fraser Hill for another twisty ride before returning to KL. We also travelled all over Malaysia on our own. A highlight was Borneo without our bikes, where we hired two Kawasaki KLX 150’s and rode across the north of Sabah to visit the orangutan sanctuary at Sepilok. We also stayed on the Kinabatangan River in the jungle for a night cruise spotting monkeys and birds sleeping by the water's edge. We saw more wildlife in Malaysia than in the whole of Central America. (Pictured: Sweeping views over the Boh Tea Plantations across the Cameron Highlands.) 

Malaysia is a very rewarding, inexpensive country to visit. People are extremely friendly and with a mixed population of Malays (Muslim), Chinese (Buddhist) and Indians (Hindu) living in harmony together, there are endless festivals and a wonderful variety of excellent food. Culturally, Malaysia is fascinating and the motorcycle scene is great! We loved the country and have made some friends for life here.

 

Special Note:

 

saathi logoWhile Sheonagh and Pat travel the globe, they have been spreading awareness about an organization near and dear to their hearts, Saathi.org.  Registered in 1997, Saathi is a development organization in Mumbai (Bombay), India, committed to working with issues facing youth living on the streets - runaway or abandoned.  This organization acts as a buffer and intercepts these children as they arrive in the city in hopes of preventing them from entering life on the street and becoming accustomed to prostitution, crime and other travesties.  Saathi.org is donation based, your generousity in way of funds and volunteers is much appreciated to keep up their good works for the youth living in Mumbai, India.  Please go to www.saathi.org to donate now.

 

If you'd like to read more about their other adventures, please go to www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/dustyoldbags

 

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Malaysia Tourist info of interest: 

Hotel Impiana in Kuala Lumpur - rates from $82

Pangkor Island Resort Hotel - rates from $63

Kawasaki KLX 150 rental - $114 per bike for a week from gogosabah.com

 

 
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