Malaysia – the shipping odyssey

Written by Sebastian on March 5th, 2012. Posted in Allgemein

Sebastian: So, after a great month in Thailand we arrive at the Malaysian border. The procedure doesn’t take longer than one hour total and the police men once again are of great help telling us which places we definitely have to visit and letting us drive through without any insurance (after we promised that we will not drive fast :)…). After this very positive start we are eager to learn more about this country!


First thing that hits us is the beautiful jungle like landscape with huge rock formations in the middle of green plains that make me wheel full of joy :). A beautiful road leads us direction southeast until we reach Kangar, the capital of the region. We are surprised to find many hotels fully booked and are happy to find one where we are even allowed to park the bikes on the walkway directly in front of the entrance. It is the 24th of December, widely known as X-mas… which we almost forgot. Having traveled non christian countries we were hardly confronted with the braineating publicity that tries to make you believe that you need everything that doesn’t make sense at all. We, in return, had a romantic dinner at KFC – Chicken breast and fries… no presents, no stress. Just perfect 🙂


KTM Club Malaysia

As we are about to make the bikes ready to continue a guy shouts at us out of his car. Only thing we understand is: “Me too, I have a KTM! Wait, I am back in five minutes!” We wait as one KTM after the other shows up. In the end we stand there with 5 KTM riders who just wanted to say hello to us :). They saw our bikes and stopped by the hotel for the last two days just to chat us up. Amazing..!

Another 20 minutes later we find ourselves with all the others in the house of the vice president of the KTM Club Malaysia (he was the guy who shouted at us out of his car). They invite us for lunch and we have a nice chat. But not enough, they lead us –  –  the way to the next bigger city, Alor Setar. Not without proofing us their wheelie competences which makes me to brag with mine in return (guess I will stay a simple-minded kid forever :))  ). There we meet the president of the KTM Club, a tall guy with whose family immigrated from Pakistan. We are welcomed with a big smile and have a drink in the KTM Store when they suddenly explain us that we have to join them visiting a weeding of yet another KTM driver.

We are now 10 KTMs of all models riding through the city like a gang of bad boys :). When we arrive at the weeding the groom welcomes us and we are lead to one of the wedding tables where we are served typical Malaysian food. We can’t believe what is just happening – within 2,5 hours we met ten KTM drivers, were invited to eat twice and are now sitting on a weeding table with the president and the vice of the KTM Club… it’s just crazy!

In the end one of the group members even leads us the way to the Penang Island, 200km south, where we are supposed to meet up with somebody from the KTM Flagship store to see how we can get our bikes over the ocean. Having told the guys before that we need to ship them from Malaysia to South-America they called around and organized this meeting for us. Once again – thanks a lot to these KTM bikers who gave us one of these extraordinary moments that make this trip so very special to us!


KTM Headquater Malaysia

Arriving at the store we are still completely overwhelmed by what had happened during the last couple of hours and cant wait to meet the KTM crew. We explain who we are, expecting that everybody already is informed that “we are in town” but get somehow surprised as in the end nobody knows about the two famous Eastbounders… our surprise gets completed as we stand face to face with Philipp, a blond, tall guy who tries to speak kind of German with us. After he explains that he is from Berlin in Germany we know why we didn’t understand him before – the Berliner Schnauze is one of the more difficult accents to understand ;). After having had the impression that here nobody is as excited about our visit as we are, in the end we make great friends with him and the other staff members of the Flagship store. With one of their shipping partners, Effendy, they help us to arrange the transport of the bikes (which takes much longer than expected), Leong shows us around the island on the bikes and Philipp decides to act as our personal nightlife assistant – but one thing after the other…


Shipping motorcycles – not an easy task to do 🙁

Effendy turns out to be of great help for us. If, before arriving here, we wondered why we couldn’t find any information about transport between SE Asia and South-America now we know why: there aren’t any direct shipping routes! Flying is out of budget and by boat the transport takes around 2 months. We are not happy when Effendy explains us the situation but have to accept that we will not be driving for some time… In the end we spend over 3 weeks in Penang until all the papers are finally done and the bikes put on the ships. Since Effendy had to organize it during the x-mas holiday period it took forever to get things done but if it was not for him we would not have been able to ship at all! Thanks for that!


In the meanwhile we spend the time in George Town, a strangely charming colonial city and the capital of Penang island which is, by the way, the most liberal region of Malaysia. This is due to the many inhabitants of Chinese origin. Islamic rules are therefor not as strict as in other parts of the country. So, for example, we can get alcohol at every corner and nightlife is boiling hot – could have been worse than this :). Philipp takes us out to show us around and already the first night, that we also spend with Freek, a dutch guy who stays in our hostel, we drown our desperation in beeeeeeer! Nevertheless, most of the time we are good and sober boys updating our Homepage, which we haven’t done for quite some time…


A wet excursion

Only for the 30th of December we decide to make a trip into the inland of Malaysia taking the West-East highway and then, in the middle of the way heading southbound to finally reach the Cameron Highlands. The plan is to do the whole distance in one day and to head direction Kuala Lumpur the second day for new-years eve. But as always we leave late and things turn out differently. We hardly find the right way to the said highway and end up in a hotel after having driven a third of the initially planned distance.

The second day we fully enjoy driving on beautiful and curvy roads until it starts to rain heavily. Unfortunately I had just before insisted to take a muddy side road into the jungle to do some offroad. The path is breathtaking but becomes more and more difficult to drive and when we decide to drive back I can hardly turn the bike. It’s slippery and I feel like trying to drive uphill on bare ice. And this is when the rain hits with all it’s force… Within seconds the clothes get washed and our helmets wet inside – a great feeling. After hard work to get out of this misery (2 times dropping the bikes included) and being completely soaked we continue the trip – now on normal roads – and finally arrive at the Highlands on the 31st at around 8 o’clock p.m.. It’s already dark, we are freezing like hell and the region is way less attractive than expected…

Instead of taking a hotel here I push Martin a little bit to return to Georgetown and to celebrate new-years eve there. Kuala Lumpur was no option at that moment any more… After racing through the night we arrive at 11.30 p.m. at our hostel. We take a short shower and arrive at 00.00 at the shore where the fireworks are taking place… with two cans of beer we celebrate our perfect timing and the change of year.


New year – back to our youth

Tired but happy we celebrate new year in an Irish pub where there is a table soccer table. Who ever knows Martin and me also knows that we were completely addicted to table soccer in our youth and it turns out that we still are. We spend the whole night in the bar having as many beers as we score goals against the local guys, and believe me, we scored many (especially Martin was madly on fire that night 🙂  )! With one of the guys we end up having “breakfast”, some burning spicy chicken, before he brings us back to the hostel.

Shortly after my birthday, which we celebrate with yet again many many beers in a neighbor hostel where we meet some fun  people from America, France and Poland the shipping is finally settled by the middle of January. Before the bikes are crated (put into boxes for the shipping) Philipp double checks everything, changes the chains and opens the carburetors finding out that they are oddly black inside… obviously we were driving a little bit too cool at low rpm’s and messed it up a little bit :). He also finds a part in Eva Dos’ petrol pump to be broken and we hope that this was the reason for the acceleration problems that Martin had once in a while with his bike. The shipping costs us an incredibly expensive 700$ per bike until the port of Valparaiso which doesn’t even include the clearance in Chile… ouch! But nothing is too expensive anymore if it is just for leaving Georgetown!

The last night in this city we meet up with the owner of the KTM Store and Philipp aswell as with some other KTM drivers to have dinner together. I am sure you can imagine where we end up… of course in the same Irish pub again downing one beer after another… yes, I guess you can say we became somehow alcoholics during the last 3 weeks.


Time to say good bye – finally!

So finally we are set to leave. The last day we meet up for a last time at the KTM Store which became somewhat like a second home to us in the meanwhile. Philipp organized that the bikes where fixed up and made ready for the transport as Effendy stops by to check if everything is really ok,… and it is! We are free!!! After taking some group pictures the boss hands us over two KTM Shirts each and Effendy proposes to bring us to the bus terminal. Until the end people are just amazing! So, kiss kiss and good bye my friends!


We take the night bus to Kuala Lumpur where we do relaxed sight seeing for two days and meet up with one of the guys we met at the last night in Georgetown who shows us where the local people go out :). The city itself is fairly small, clean and modern being dominated by the Petronas Twin Towers. The last night we do not sleep since Martin takes a flight to Bogota at 8.00 a.m. while I am flying to Indonesia a little bit later. We will be separated for 2 weeks now, Martin taking a Spanish course, me visiting a friend on Bali and then another good friend in NYC before joining him again in Bogota… but that is yet another story 🙂