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Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

Unas fractured finger - We are hitchhiking

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[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]esterday 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 needs some medical treatment, at least for one more week. They take off the cast, but put on some “metal fixation”. We make up an appointment for the next week and leave. What to do now?

We still can’t cycle to Langkawi island, to volunteer, as planned. In two weeks we have seen enough of Kuala Lumpur. “Maybe we can travel in some different way?”, asks Una. But really, we can use this week to hitchhike through the Southern part of Malaysia. We may even try and 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.

Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Malacca

Soon after 7 AM we go to the metro. We ride to the outskirts of city, to the place, which on 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 a car stops.

“Where you want to go?”

“To Malacca.”

“Jump in, I’m going to Malacca.”

Stuff from seating is taken to the trunk. There I put also my backpack, and we start to drive. Man, who is in fifties, is a lawyer, working in Malacca, now going back home 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 the most necessary things. Our luggage is my running backpack (about 20 liters), one small handbag on Viesturs’s shoulder and Una’s handbag.

As Malacca seems to be a 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. It’s a simple room for about 10 EUR, for three person. Shower and toilet are shared, but, as it looks, we are the only guests in the house, that’s located in the historical center of the city. All around it looks like in Portugal. In the house we also have a shared kitchen. But best of all, there is such a fast 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 to music. How little you need to be happy, haha!

Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Malacca – Singapore – Johor Bahru

Today we are waking up without an alarm clock. There is no hurry. As there is no answer from anyone who could host us in Singapore (it’s ok in such a 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 some hours and then we will stop in some park for a night. Currently we don’t want to pay 15-25 EUR per person for any of the cheapest options.

And anyway – we don’t know if 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 the city center. And after that we take a 10 kilometer ride to the outskirts of the city. A short walk and we are at toll gates. We pass them and rise our thumbs up.

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

Una and Viesturs hitchhiking - Hitchhiking in Malaysia

Una and Viesturs hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Malaysia

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, to the toll gates. 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 the 8 lane highway is active, time after time someone is waving, but no one stops. I find some cardboard box on the side of the road, and we make a direction sign out of it. Our destination – Johor Bahru, a border city of Malaysia and Singapore.

People seem to be more interested now. Many slow down to look at 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 hot sun Malay couple stops and takes us. It happens shortly after we have made “an upgrade” to our sign, after noticing that it’s almost not readable from a distance of more that some 5 meters. Couple barely speaks any English. 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 at a gas station. Some minutes later they come back with four cups of coffee. Thank you!

At 5 PM we are on a highway again. This time near some small city, some 80 kilometers from Singapore. As these people say, there we also will be able to catch a bus to Singapore, if we’ll decide to do so. But at first we want to eat. KFC 500 meters. Om nom nom, what a good sign!

After lunch, with filled up water bottles, we go back to the 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 all the way to Johor Bahru. All the way guys are talking between themselves, but we use the time to rest.

In the 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 the border crossing point.

At first, I think, that it’s just a bus station, but no – here our passports are checked and after that we officially have left Malaysia. We go further, to take a bus. We go to the one with the shortest 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 checkpoint. Everyone goes out and we are following others.

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

Yeah, we are in Singapore!

We find our bus and a 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 an ATM and withdraw some 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 the station is just across the street. Thank you!

Going by we enter some grocery store in the metro station. Just to check the prices and to see how expensive Singapore is. Everyone told us, that Singapore is super expensive. Something costs more than in Malaysia, something is cheaper, but general feeling is, that prices are OK. Similar to the prices 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 kilo or for a piece (like in Malaysia).

Metro ticket for our long ride costs only 2.2 Singapore dollars which is about 1.3 EUR. Not bad. After Kuala Lumpur I’m no more surprised to see, that at least 90% of the 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 the next metro station must appear not the way it appears, but on the screens people are looking at. To make it easier. But otherwise public transport system of Singapore is very easy to understand. We start learning about it already in Singapore and without knowing even where we should go, without knowing were is the “city center”, we make the right decisions easily.

Singapore at night - Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur - Singapore - Kuala Lumpur

Singapore at night – Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

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

Cheapest combo meal here costs 5 Singapore dollars or something like 3 EUR. And in fact, it’s not the smallest one you have seen. It’s with 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. While our phones are being charged.

McDonald Singapore - Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur - Singapore - Kuala Lumpur

Shortly after 3 AM, after a night walk, we go to the park near Marina Bay Sands. Viesturs have found on Google, that it’s quite a good place where to spend a night. It’s quiet, there are almost no people during the night time, there are nice toilets and its location is perfect. So no more doubts.

Park is really beautiful. There a lot of different zones. There you can see huge trees, you can walk through desert like area with cactus all around you. There are ponds with big and colorful fishes and so 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 the 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. That’s how we understand what a man is trying to tell us. 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 a t-shirt. I overcome that feeling and fall asleep for another hour. After 7 AM sun goes up and so first people start coming. 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 a new day using all the facilities available in the park toilet. And we go for a walk all together.

We see ships in the sea. Then we see people who are exercising. Some city games start. Seeing all these people running, I also want to go for a run. But let it be just a walk this time. For some time we stay on a bridge and look at fishermen. In the daily light Singapore looks even more impressive. Like a real future city, where all the territory is used wisely. Where shopping mall is under the ground, but a 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 the gas station near by and buy the only available edible – bread and buns for dinner and breakfast.

Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Johor Bahru – Mersing

As there still is time, 3 full days, we decide to go back to Kuala Lumpur not the same way as we came to Singapore. We plan to use roads of the East coast of Malaysia.

We leave the guest house in Johor Bahru at around 11 AM. After a good sleep and breakfast of sandwiches with jam and coffee. From our host we find out more about local transport and we are ready to go. At 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 head for the place with fever roads and thus fever possible destinations.

And hour passes. We are standing in a gas station. Near it. Then – in a gas station. Near it. A lot of people are waving, but no one stops. If we ask someone, it’s always the same – he or she is going in the opposite direction. We walk further. Standing on the side of the road for one more hour, until some young guy stops and gives us a lift. He says, he is working in an insurance company and currently he is on his way to some customer.

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

Next car, which comes some hour later, takes us to Mersing. We talk so much, that a guy passes the place where he was planning to leave us out, and takes us to the city center instead. There we walk into the first hotel, some poor looking building. And 5 minutes later we have already found 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. Anyway we just need a place, where to sleep.

An hour before the 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 check out, how much does it cost to take a ferry to any of the nearby islands. We are just curios. This time we don’t have enough time to go to these islands anyway.

For many tourists Mersing is just a point on the map, from where to get to the islands of Malaysia. So it’s quite a touristy place, but at the same time very dirty. The beach is littered. But the sea before the storm looks so dark and even scary.

beach in Mersing

Ok, we will swim another time!

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

Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Mersing – Kuantan

Staying this close to the sea we with Una decide in the morning to go and watch 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 the direction of our 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, in the city center. Driver makes more than a 10 kilometer long detour, just to take us there. And there again we are lucky – we find a hotel room with good WiFi and our own bathroom, for just 40 ringgits, which is less than 10 EUR.

In the evening, we hop on a city bus and go to the nearest beach. This is our second try on this coast of Malaysia. And we are lucky. Even though, there are a lot of all possible fast food restaurants, the beach is very clean. Children are playing in the sand, flying kites, jumping in the waves near the shore. Families are sitting in the sand. All around there are beautiful rocks.

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

Beach in Kuantan - Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

Beach in Kuantan – Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

We walk a bit on the beach. Waves are very strong. One time I’m very lucky – as soon as I take my phone out of my shorts’s pocket – there comes a wave which splashes me to my waist. We cross a bridge and reach a more quiet nearby beach.

There are only a few people here. Beach is shielded by rocks, and because of that waves here 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.

We leave the beach after the sunset.

Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuantan – Seremban – Kuala Lumpur

The road is empty. It’s 260 kilometers left to Kuala Lumpur. Sun is super hot. There is no any shadow. Security doesn’t allow us to stay in the parking lot just after the toll gates. So we are standing on the side of the highway just before toll gates and waiting for someone to give us a lift.

Leaving Kuantan - Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

Me – Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur

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

So this is the way how starts our last part of hitchhiking across the Southern part of Malaysia. With a ride in a police officer’s car.There is also his wife in the car. What a crazy part! What a crazy over-takings while going up the hill and taking curves! If this is how cops are driving, how does regular reckless drivers drive in Malaysia? I don’t want to think about that.

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

Hitchhiking in Malaysia: Summary

Our route was as following: Kuala Lumpur – Malacca – Johor Bahru – Singapore – Johor Bahru – Mersing – Kuantan – Seremban – Kuala Lumpur.

6 days, more than 1000 kilometers. Only about 8,5 EUR spent on transportation per person.

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