We cycled back to KL on different roads which sometimes passed through the huge palm oil plantations we'd seen on our way down to Singapore, and other times we were back on the busier roads without a shoulder.
Those days passed pretty unremarkably and soon we were trying to figure out the best way of getting into KL itself. We wanted to pack our bikes up in a bike shop as close to the airport as possible so we didn't have too far to travel with them in an expensive taxi and had contacted a few bike shops around the Cyberjaya area to see if they would let us use their facilities. Most places will charge you for a bike box which is frustrating since they're just the box their stock comes in, they haven't paid extra for them but some bike shops just want to get a bit more money for something they'd otherwise throw away. Other than that we were hoping that since we wanted to do it all ourselves, we wouldn't be charged for just using a bit of space in or outside the shop to clean and pack the bikes. Australia has very strict rules on the cleanliness of bikes so we didn't want them to get quarantined just for the sake of not cleaning them properly.
A few bike shops had said that they didn't have bike boxes, some stopped doing bikes and now did general sports equipment, and one bike shop wanted to charge us £10 an hour to use their workshop. Finally, one bike shop welcomed us with open arms and didn't even charge us to the box and we have so much praise for Orbit Bikes since we were there for about 8 hours sorting our stuff. The bikes, it turned out, were extremely dirty!
So we knew where we needed to get to and starting looking at Google. Kuala Lumpur is made up of small communities surrounded by expressways which you're not supposed to cycle on. Basically, it's extremely difficult to get around KL if you're on a bike and you don't know your way. We could've cycled there but having spent the last few weeks having a very dangerous time of it on roads without hard shoulders and fast traffic, we just gave up a bit. A little more googling told us that it was possible to take our bikes on the Komuter train network during a few hours each day and we could get to the nearest train station to the bike shops fairly easily. It also turned out to be pretty cheap to do so. Even once we did this, we still got lost going the 10km to the bike shop as we missed our turning and ended up on an expressway. We eventually worked our way off of one and onto another to turn around, then onto another and finally (after getting off the bikes and walking to cross roads with no-right-hand-turn signs) we got back onto the road we should've been on and made it to the bike shop just after midday. Relief! Properly ending our Asia leg here was a bit of an anti climax, especially as it had been so stressful getting there.
After a full on rest day at a hotel near the bike shop which was isolated from anywhere except a McDonalds because you couldn't cross the expressway, we got an Uber into Chinatown and checked into the dodgiest hostel we'd been in so far. We'd paid for a fan-only private room which was the cheapest private room in the whole of KL city centre at that point but when arriving the guy at reception asked if we wanted to pay more to have an A/C room. We were really keeping our money tight so we said no. He seemed to get a little awkward and after a few minutes he took us to an A/C private room anyway for no extra cost. Turns out our fan-only room didn't exist... Luckily we hadn't given in and paid extra for a room we'd be getting anyway! The Wi-fi password for said hostel was 'fourtwenty' which should give you an idea of the type of place we were in.
We spent most of our time completely slobbing out trying to get some energy and will power to go and see the city, though every time we went outside we both felt a little stressed by how hard it was to walk around the place and then felt totally drained. Nevertheless, we met up with a friend from university and had plenty of beer (alcohol in Malaysia is heavily taxed so you need to find the happy hour places) and started to relax a bit more. This friend, Emma, told us about a hotel bar overlooking the famous Petronas Towers which did a ladies night every Wednesday. This meant free cocktails for me all night (yes, seriously) so we could afford a couple of whiskies for Mike to enjoy.
By the time we left KL to get the coach to Penang, we were really glad to be leaving and relax in a home setting. My obligatory Christmas headcold started properly but by Christmas day I was up out of bed again ready to eat my body weight in great food. My University friend, Vicknesh, had lots of his family over from Australia/Singapore/KL so we were never short of conversation and we genuinely had an awesome time and looking forward to seeing some of them again in Australia as we pass through.
I'm writing this as I recover from a small hike up a hill to see some old remains of houses which overlook Georgetown. One of those houses is the ancestral home of a member of the party and it was a very warm climb up and an equally fun and challenging descent. With my cardiovascular system at the fittest it's ever been (my resting heart rate is about 45bpm) I forgot that my legs aren't used to walking, let alone hiking, so two days later I'm still in an excessive amount of pain!
So... Tomorrow we leave Penang to go back to KL and pick up our bikes and head to the airport. We'll be landing in Perth mid afternoon on 31st December ready to hail in the new year in a new country. We've become accustomed to having to do things a certain way in Asia, most notably dealing with the language barrier. While we've been here I feel like we've been quite limited in things that we can do - those things tend to be quite simple like buying food and water, finding a hotel etc. They're all very transactional. In Australia and the rest of our journey in North America we'll be able to do a lot more because of ease of communication, so we'll be able to ask people if we can camp in their gardens, for directions and share stories with them. I don't think that's necessarily going to make it easier as our time in Asia has been quite uncomplicated but it's going to add a new dimension.
We've also got some big physical challenges coming up which we've written about before, most notably crossing the Nullarbor in Australia in summer, and crossing the Rocky Mountains in America in spring so it'll be back to cold weather and snow again. Western countries are a great deal more expensive so we'll be going back to being far more self reliant for food and shelter. Wild camping will present one of the biggest challenges. We've calculated that we have 18,000km to go and will be back in Glasgow around the 18th/19th August. One week later is a friend's wedding/another friend's hen do so we'll definitely need to be back for that. Bring on the challenge! No more messing around...
We finally found a new case for our GoPro Session so we're going to be cracking on with the vlogging much more whilst we cross Australia and North America. If there's any aspect of our trip which you'd like to see more of, or have us explain a little more then please let us know in the comments section below! We love hearing from you all