My alarm goes off at 4 AM. This night was loud. Like on the very first night in India, which we spent sleeping in a tent near the busiest highway of the country. Our hotel room’s window can’t be closed and it’s on side of the road. Across it is a railway. But some 200 meters from here is an airport. Shortly before 5 AM we are going to the airport. Our flight is at 8:10 AM, but luggage counter starts to work 3 hours before that.
We have already removed pedals, handlebars and seats are lovered, but our bicycle bags for a more secure travel are packed in cement sacks. Sacks we bought on the street. They are shitty, but that doesn’t matters to us. Everything is prepared. At the airport we will just readjust handlebars and wrap our bicycles into motorcycle covers, that we bought a day ago.
“This bicycle is not properly prepared for the flight. Handlebars are not covered, “says a girl from Air Asia, who is walking along the line and checking boarding passes. I’m pointing to Viesturs’s bike and asking, is this way ok? She looks at it, but doesn’t answers. After a while, there are 3 employees of Air Asia standing some 20 meters away from us and as it looks searching for information, how to pack a bicycle for their flight. Apparently, it’s something unusual for them.
And then some another representative of Air Asia comes to us and, as he says, friendly suggests us to wrap our bicycles the same way like people normally wrap their luggage. In standard situations they would not do that wrapping for bicycles, but we can be an exception. Talks about that, that our wrapping is at least the same as protective, don’t lead to anything. You can leave as it is, but further control may not allow to put this luggage on the board, is what we are told. Very good choice. What to do? What to do?
Una stays with our bags. I’m going to ATM for some cash, because we don’t have almost any rupees left. Viesturs goes to wrapping point at the opposite side of the hall.
What we get after 1 hour? Not counting the stress, when employee of the wrapping station just leaves (and comes back after some 20 minutes) as soon as we come to them. But the other one at that time seems not noticing us at all and works with another people.
We get bicycles wrapped in a plastic food wrap. That durable it is. Of course, what better can you get if a bicycle is wrapped the same way like a small handbag. Two times around, and that’s it. But Air Asia are happy. Now we only need to convince them with words, that cement sack is good enough packaging, that it doesn’t need any additional wrapping. Argument, that inside are our bags and this sack is just as additional protection, works. And we can go.
At security check point we are left without that 1 tool, which we planned to use to readjust back our handlebars. But there are hopes, that I have one more in my checked luggage. We fill our bottles with free drinking water and that’s it, boarding has already started. Just in time. Good that we arrived to the airport 3 hours before boarding.
Bye, bye India! Hello, Malaysia!
We get our luggage quickly. Guess now, how durable was that airport wrapping? You see my handlebar? It’s the only piece that survived the flight, ha! Our covers at the same time are almost not damaged at all. Sure, it was worth paying for the airport luggage wrapping service.
On the way out of the airport, we withdraw cash from ATM and buy prepaid SIM cards. Our choice – Hotlink (without any particular reason). But, for example, Sharon, from Simpler and Smarter, recommends Digi, third largest mobile operator in Malaysia. You see Digi as soon as you walk outside arrivals in KLIA2.
YES! In Malaysia you can simply buy a prepaid SIM. It takes some 5 minutes for 3 people. You only need to show your passport and wait, that easy. SIM cards are activated instantly. No need to wait for 2 days like it was in India. And customer service here is the same as nice as in airport in general. People are very kind.
Outside it’s the same as hot as in India, about +35 C degrees and sun is shining. Viesturs changes his tube, as with existing one something is not OK. And without rush we are preparing to cycle. Sunset is at about 7:30 PM, so there is enough time. Or there is not? Minutes before starting to cycle we find out, that the distance between airport and our apartment is about 70 kilometers. Wait, what? 70??? We had assumed it to be not more that 30 kilometers. We didn’t actually check it. But on a map, it didn’t look that far.
Shortly before the sunset and half way to the appartment we need to change tube for Una’s bicycle. Second tube of the day. We do that and prepare for cycling in the dark. As it turns out, we have taken one wrong turn at some point, and now total distance will be close to 80 kilometers. Oops!
We go down the hill at about 30 km/h, and I see in front of me: Una hits something and now she is in the air. For a moment she looks like a cowboy on a bull. It could be funny if not so serious. But after a moment, when it looks that stability is regained, Una falls and starts to slide on the asphalt. It’s all just in a couple of seconds, so I haven’t managed to slow down enough and I somehow hit here bicycle and fall as well.
I don’t remember how and if I really fell (bruise on my elbow says that it happened), but instantly after that I grab my bicycle and throw it off the road. I check Una, who is already going off the road. And a moment after that I grab her bicycle off the road. Bags are damaged, handlebar, front wheel and pannier rack are bent. Una has some abrasions. Smaller ones on her leg and fingers, arms, bigger ones – on the side and on the upper arm. Everything seems more or less OK, but, as she says, she can’t bend one finger, which now is swollen. Ouch!
For one hour we are here on the side of the road. I am with Una, cleaning her wounds. Viesturs is trying to repair here bicycle. Front wheel is bent so badly, that only after some straightening with bare hands and a lot of psychical power, and removal of front brakes it’s possible to drive. Somehow. Viesturs swaps his front wheel with this one. Una drinks strong painkillers. And we continue cycling. Very slowly and carefully.
Kuala Lumpur at night looks so beautiful. We see a lot of skyscrapers in a distance. And then we see those famous towers of Kuala Lumpur (Petronas Towers, the highest twin towers in the world). It’s already 10 PM, but traffic is very active, and well organized. 6, 8 and 10 lane city roads – we have forgotten that something like this exists.
Later Una says, that seeing all that beauty around she forgot about all the pain.
Hungry and tired some minutes before the midnight we find our apartment. Tomorrow we will go to hospital.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.