Day 122 – Tanah Rata to Port Dickson (286 km)
We were now basically one night away from reaching Singapore, and so we planned to get as far as we could that day, in order to minimize our travel time tomorrow. Although we had originally intended to get an early start, that fell by the wayside a bit as we tried to make final plans with Mat about shipping arrangements. Eventually, close to 10:00, we were on the road again. From here, the road made its gradual descent back down the plains below, but today we were having to navigate roads that were far more crowded then yesterday. If anything, the bends in the roads were even sharper, and overtaking became a bit of a nightmare. After five minutes of this, Kath, who has been riding on the back of my bike, was already starting to feel a bit nauseous with all the braking, quick bursts of speed and the relentless corners. The vegetation on either side of the road was still dense and verdant, and as we descended, we could feel the humidity building once more. Along the way, we passed small villages of hill tribes that still eked a living, far from the bustle of the big cities.
After a couple of hours of this driving, we were finally back on the straight road. After a drinks break just outside of Kuala Lumpur, we said goodbye to our French travelling companion, and headed South on the highway. About about an hour later, we pulled off for petrol, and noticed a group of riders on vintage bikes, many of them completely dressed the part in half-helmets, goggles, leather jackets and bandanas. When we went over to chat to them, they told us that they were all on their way to a big vintage bike festival that was being held at Port Dickson, which was actually one of the options that we had discussed as a destination for the day. After conferring amongst ourselves, we decided to make our way to the hotel where the festival was happening.
Port Dickson was probably less than 100 km from where we were, and on these highways, we found ourselves outside the Glory Beach Hotel in under an hour. Half of the parking lot had been given over to the festival, and the bikers were everywhere. Our heavily laden beasts drew admiring stares as we pulled up, and despite the fairly plush look of the hotel, we managed to get an entire apartment for a pretty decent price. From the 11th floor, we had a stunning view of jungle on the one side, and the island studded ocean on the other. Even better, we could see a large swimming pool down below us, although it seems that the kids had claimed the one with the water slide for themselves, the treacherous curs. Within five minutes, we were in the water (t-shirt and shorted up, as per the customs), grateful for a chance to cool off, while around us, guys and girls huddled in their respective groups, with some of the ladies even sporting lycra headscarves in the pool. As the sun began to set, I left to go and watch the sunset from the balcony of our apartment, while the girls stayed to play piggy-in-the-middle with a group of delighted Malaysian guys. The sunset was breath-taking, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Some mysterious combination of clouds and sunlight made it seem as if drops of oil had been spilled across the sky forming rainbow bubbles in the clouds. In all my years of studying physics, I’ve never heard of a phenomenon like this, and I drank it in as the light dripped colours across the sky.
That evening, we ate at the hotel, a decent buffet spread, and then spent time wandering amongst the bikes, chatting to some of the riders, and admiring the vintage machines, some of them over fifty years old, and looking fantastic (the bike, not the bikers). Shan and Kath were roped in for multiple rounds of photos straddling the backs of the various biker’s respective machines. After a couple of rounds of walking the stalls, we returned back to the room to get ready for our final day of riding. With any luck, tomorrow would be the last time that we would have to pack our bikes!