Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

Kaspars MisinsAsia, Destinations, Malaysia, Singapore, Travels and Adventures Comments

Unas fractured finger - we are hitchhiking

Yesterday we with Una went to the hospital. We did it for the second time just because day earlier we were there some minutes after 12 PM and it was already too late. Three hours later we know – Una’s left hand still need some medical treatment, at least for one more week. They take off the cast, but put on some “metal fixation”.

Unas finger hitchhike

We make up an appointment for next week and leave. What to do now?

We still can’t go to Langkawi island (to do volunteering) on bicycles as planned. In two weeks we have seen enough from Kuala Lumpur. “Maybe we can travel in some different way?”, asks Una. But really, we can use this week to hitchhike through southern part of Malaysia. We may even go to Singapore.

We Google a little about hitchhiking in Malaysia, discuss it with Viesturs and it’s decided – we are going to hitchhike tomorrow! Bicycles and our bags we are leaving in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur – Malacca

Soon after 7 AM we go to the metro. We ride to the outskirts of city, to the place, which on hitchwiki.org is described as the best place to hitchhike from Kuala Lumpur to south.

First we ask drivers in petrol station. It doesn’t work. Seems like everyone is taking turn soon after the station and going in wrong for us direction. We cross that junction and rise up our hands again. One minute later car stops.

“Where you want to go?”

“To Malacca.”

“Jump in, I’m going to Malacca.”

Stuff from seating’s are taken to the trunk. There I put also my backpack, and we start to drive. Man, who is about fifty, is lawyer, working in Malacca, now going back from Kuala Lumpur.

After he finds out, that we are travelling for such a long time, he is confused, as we have almost nothing with us. For this week we have taken with us only most necessary things. Our luggage is my running backpack (some 20l), one small hand bag on Viesturs’s shoulder and Una’s handbag.

As Malacca seems to be nice city, we decide, that it will be our destination for today. And so even before 12 PM we are already in our guest house room. Simple room for about 10 euros, for three person. Shower and toilet are shared, but, as it looks, we are the only guests in the house, that’s located in historical center of the city. All around looks like in Portugal. In the house we also have a shared kitchen. But best of all, there is such internet, that we haven’t had for 5 MONTHS.

Finally I’m able to see that video, where two crazy Russian guys climb Shanghai Tower. Crazy! Viesturs says, that he had already forgotten, how it is to listen music. How little you need to be happy, haha!

Malacca – Singapore – Johor Bahru

Today we are waking up without alarm clock. There is no hurry. As there is no answer from anyone who could host us in Singapore (it’s ok in such situation, when you start to search for it one day in advance), we have decided to not book anything. In Singapore we will walk for longer time and then we will stop in some park for a night. Currently we don’t want to pay 15-25 euro per person for any of the cheapest options.

And anyway – we don’t know will we make it to Singapore today.

At about 11 AM we are going to the bus station. It’s about 3 kilometers away from city center. And after that follows 10 km ride to outskirts of the city, one more short walk and we are at toll gates. We pass them and rise our thumbs up.

Some moment later we go a little further. To stay in a place after junction, where a lot of drivers are taking turn to opposite side for us now, to Kuala Lumpur.

Una and Viesturs hitchhiking

We are under some bridge. Some 15 minutes have passed. Something stops behind us. I’m turning around and here they are – police. We don’t understand, what they are saying, but we understand, that we can’t be here. So we are going back to our start position. Some moment later policemen are there as well, they ask us where we plan to go and say to stay in this place near toll gates.

For about an hour nothing happens. Traffic on 8 lane highway is active, time after time someone is waving, but none stops. I find some box on the roadside and we make a direction sign from it. Our destination – Johor Bahru, border city of Malaysia and Singapore.

People seem to be more interested now. Many slow down to look on our sign, but some also stop. All of them, who stop, are going to Kuala Lumpur. Some buses stop. Some going in the right direction, some not.

After three hours under the sun couple of Malays stops and takes us. Shortly after we have made an upgrade to our sign, after noticing that it’s almost not readable from more that some 5 meters. Couple knows English very little. As we understand, they are not going to Johor Bahru, but some another city in the same direction. Any distance is good for us. They stop in gas station. Some minutes later they come back with four cups of coffee. That’s nice.

At 5 PM we are on highway again. This time near some small city, some 80 kilometers from Singapore. As our helpers say, there we also will be able to catch a bus to Singapore. But at first we want to eat. KFC 500 m. Om nom nom, what a good sign!

After lunch, with filled up water bottles, we go back to highway. Viesturs goes to some car, that has stopped before toll gates, and that’s the right one – 2 guys, Chinese and Indian, can take us straight to Johor Bahru. All the way guys are talking between themselves, but we use the time to rest.

In city they leave us just by the border crossing point, before the bridge to Singapore. Needless to say, that we are very happy about it as we haven’t done any research about how this border crossing happens and where is border crossing point.

At first, I think, that it’s just bus station, but no – here our passports are checked and after that we officialy have left Malaysia. We go further, to take a bus. We go to that one with smaller line, haha. With no idea, where it will take us, but at least we know, that all of them are going across the border. 10 minutes of very slow driving and we are over the bridge – at Singapore border crossing point. Everyone go out and we are following others.

Chewing gum! It’s forbidden in Singapore. The same strictly controlled is transfer of medicine. But trying to take with you drugs, can end up with a bullet in your had. I’m joking about bullet, but, yes, fine for drug transfer there is death penalty. But, but I have chewing gum in my pocket, and also pack with our personal medicines. “Everything is ok. One package of chewing gum in your pocket and also personal medicine is allowed”, says girl, who is checking my passport and form of entrance.

Yeah, we are in Singapore!

We find our bus and ride can continue. How far? We have no idea. We have a plan to go till the last station. And after some 20 minutes we reach it. Bus stops and all people are leaving it. From GPS we understand, that city center is still some 30 kilometers away.

We find ATM and take out cash. While we are looking on Singapore’s transport map some lady approaches us and offers help. Moment later we agree with her, that metro will be the best way of transportation for us. And station is just over the street. Thank you!

Going by we enter some grocery store in metro station. Just to check the prices and to see how expensive Singapore is. Something costs more than in Malaysia, something is cheaper, but general feeling is, that prices are ok. Similar to ones in Latvia. One thing, that messes everything up a little bit, is the fact, that some prices are for 2-3 items, but for fruits some of them are for 100 grams, some for 1 kg or for a piece (as in Malaysia).

Metro ticket for our long ride costs 2,2 Singapore dollars which is about 1,30 euros. Not bad. After Kuala Lumpur I’m no more surprised to see, that at least 90% of passengers are looking into their screens, be it a smartphone or a tablet. They are checking Facebook, playing games, watching movies, listening to music.

It feels so, that in such a modern city also notification about next metro stop must appear not the way it is, but on the screens people are looking to. To make it easier. But otherwise public transport system of Singapore is very easy to understand. We get to know it for the first time already in Singapore and without knowing even the way to go, without knowing were is the “city center”, we make right decisions easily.

Singapore at night

Getting out at Marina Bay Sands, we make a circle around nearest places. We follow masses of people, who are enjoying nightly views of the city. It’s 23:00 already, and we want to eat. Using shopping mall’s free WiFi we find nearest 24 hour McDonald’s and we head to it.

Cheapest combo meal here costs 5 Singapore dollars or something like 3 euro. And in fact, it’s not the smallest one you have seen. It has medium fries and medium drink. After eating I find a place there, where we can charge our phones. And at this place we spend more or less one and a half hour. Viesturs is reading a book on his Kindle, but we with Una are talking and laughing about our “How to make it look, that you are still eating?” jokes. Our phones are being charged.

McDonald Singapore

Shortly after 3 AM, after night walk, we go to park near Marina Bay Sands. Viesturs have google’d, that it’s quite good for a night stand. It’s quiet, there are almost no people during the night time, there are nice toilets and it has a good location. So no more doubts.

Park is really beautiful. There a lot of different type zones. There you can see huge trees, you can walk through deserted area with cactuses all around you. There are ponds with big and colorful fishes and much more. And also toilets there are much better that in some big shopping malls. Drinking water and hot water is also available. Not bad, not bad at all.

Grass is wet. So we just lay down on benches. At about 4:30 AM small car stops by and driver asks us to go to some another place. Something is opening here soon. We don’t understand that clearly, we just leave to another place some 500 meters away. We with Viesturs sit on one bench, Una on another smaller. Some moment later I lay just on the ground, behind the bench. This way it’s more comfortable.

After 6 AM I wake up for a moment, as its cold with bare foots, in shorts and t-shirt. I overcome that feeling and fall asleep for another hour. After 7 AM sun goes up and so here come first people. But where is Una? I read a message from her. It was too cold, so Una had decided to walk all the night. We meet. We get ready for new day using all the facilities available in park. And we go for a walk all together.

We see ships in the sea. We see people who are doing sporting exercises. Some city games start. Seeing all these people running, I also want to go for a run. But let it be just walk this time. For some time we stay on bridge and look on fishermen. In the daily light city looks even more impressive. Like real future city, where all territory is used wisely. When shopping mall is under ground, but park is on it, for example.

park Singapore

park near Marina Bay sands

Marina Bay Sands Singapore

we in Singapore

Marina Bay Sands from bottom

in Singapore

skyscrapers in Singapore

street in Singapore

We eat, we use our last dollars to buy two ice creams, go out of the McDonalds and here it is – our bus to Malaysia, to Johor Bahru. We run and jump in. Just in the right time!

At 4 PM we are in Johor Bahru, already in our room of some guest house and after shower. We lay down to sleep for some short time, but wake up at 9 PM. Still sleepy we with Viesturs walk to gas station near by and buy the only available edible – bread and buns for dinner and breakfast.

Johor Bahru – Mersing

As there still is time, 3 full days, we decide to go back to Kuala Lumpur not the same way we came to Singapore, but to use roads by the Eastern coast. Destination choice is easy – we look on Google Maps and make decisions.

We leave the guest house in Johor Bahru at around 11 AM. After good sleep and breakfast with jam sandwiches and coffee. From our host we find out more about local transport and we are ready to go. In the bus stop, in that seconds of boarding the bus, we make a decision to go further than initially planned. We decide so to make our hitchhiking easier. We go to the place with fever roads and thus fever possible destinations.

Hour passes. We are standing in gas station, near it, in gas station, near it. A lot of people waving, but none stops. If we ask someone, it’s always the same – he is going in opposite direction. We go further. Standing for one more hour, till some young guy stops and takes us. He says, he is working in insurance company and currently is on his way to some customer.

But interesting thing is, that he is dressed the same way as gas station employees in the gas station, where he leaves us. It’s about half way to our today’s destination – city Mersing. We go to toilet, fill up water bottles with tap water and return to the road.

Next car, which comes some hour later, takes us to the very finish. We talk so much, that guy passes the place where he was planning to leave us out, and takes us to the city center. There we go into first hotel, some poor looking building. And 5 minutes later we have already gotten a simple room for a very little money. There are just beds, one table and a sink in the room. Shower and toilet are shared. And there is no internet.

An hour before sunset we go to the nearby beach. If not to swim, then at least to wet our feets. At the same time we want to look on prices of ferries going to nearby islands. We are just curios. This time we don’t have time to go to islands anyway.

For many tourists this city is just a point on map, from where to get to the islands of Malaysia. So quite touristy place, but at the same time so dirty. Garbage is lying on the ground all around the water. But sea before the coming storm looks so dark and even scary.

beach in Mersing

Ok, we will swim later!

In nearby to our hotel shop Viesturs buys a new t-shirt. Choice is wide there. For about 2,5 – 10 euros you can get clothes from Armani, D&G, Gucci, Adidas, Converse, Nike, Vans and many more brands.

Mersing – Kuantan

Using the close proximity of the sea, we with Una in the morning are going to see the sunrise. Beach isn’t any cleaner, but there are people everywhere. Everyone is exercising. Walking. Stretching. We find a quieter corner, where we eat our peanut butter sandwiches which we brought with us. Later we just sit on some fallen tree and watch the sea.

Today we leave earlier. Before 10 AM we are on the road, the one and only one which is going out of the city and in direction of today’s destination. We rise our thumbs, and not even 5 minutes pass when we are in a car heading to Kuantan – our today’s destination. If you look on a map, Kuantan is almost in a straight line with Kuala Lumpur, but on the opposite coast. So our decision was easy.

We reach our destination at around 12 PM. And again, not a few kilometers from the city, as agreed, but in the city center. Driver makes more than 10 km detour, just to drop us off there. And there again we are lucky – we find hotel room with good wifi and our own bathroom, for just 40 ringgits, that’s about 9,6 euro.

In the evening, we hop on a city bus and go to closest beach. This is our second try on this coast of Malaysia. Lucky try. Even if the surroundings are full of all possible fast food restaurants, beach is very clean. Children are playing in the sand, flying kites, jumping in the waves at the shore. Families are sitting in the sand. All around are beautiful rocks.

But why isn’t anyone swimming? Right! It is forbidden there because of powerful rip currents. We also see the red flag. Uhh!

beach in Kuantan

Walking by the coast, in the direction of nearby bridge. Waves are very strong. One time is quite lucky for me – just as I take my phone out of my shorts pocket – there comes a wave which splashes me to my waist. Over the bridge we reach a more quiet nearby beach.

There are only a few people here. Beach is shielded by rocks, and because of that waves are smaller. And that means – that we need to swim. We put our shorts and t-shirts on the ground and go into the water. Uhh, it’s so nice! Not counting us, there are only 3-4 people in the water at far end of the beach. Remembering sharp seashells we saw on the shore earlier, we are careful about putting our feet on the ground in the water.

We are leaving after sunrise.

Kuantan – Seremban – Kuala Lumpur

Empty road. It’s 260 kilometers left to Kuala Lumpur. Sun is frying us like some pieces of meat on the pan. There is no any shadow. Guard says, that we are not allowed to stay in the parking lot just after toll gates. So we are standing here just on the side of highway before toll gates and waiting for someone to take us.

leaving Kuantan hot sun

Moment later we are staying a little bit more away from toll gates, in place where cars are just starting to gain speed, and making jokes about man coming to us. Move faster, leave us, otherwise others will think, that here are four of us trying to get a ride. But he comes closer and asks: “Are you ok to go not directly to Kuala Lumpur, but to Seremban? To city some 60 km for center of Kuala Lumpur.” Of course, it fits for us. As it turns out, guy has stopped some few hundred meters ahead. Nice!

So this is the way how starts our last part of hitchhiking over southern part of Malaysia. With ride in a police officer’s car.There is also his wife in the car. What a crazy part! What a crazy overtakings while going up the hill and in curves! If this is how cops are driving, how it’s with usual reckless drivers?

We finish the day with 70 kilometer train ride and 7 kilometer walk.

SUMMARY: Kuala Lumpur – Malacca – Johor Bahru – Singapore – Johor Bahru – Mersing – Kuantan – Seremban – Kuala Lumpur.

6 days, more than 1000 kilometers. About 8,5 euros spent on transport per person.

Author: Kaspars Misins

Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.

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