“Mister bicycle, you put bicycle there and wait.” I wait. There appears a bottle of water from behind a little hatch. “You like Thailand, mister bicycle?” A bag of cupcakes follows. I pick out a cupcake. “You take two mister.” My bicycle stands against the fence now. A fence which is used for the queue. “When you come back to Thailand?” I answer him that I would like to come back but I really don’t know when. “Here is your passport, wish you a save journey and see you next year!” He pushes my passport through the little hatch with a new stamp. I eat the cakes while my eyes fall on a new border crossing. It says Malaysia. My second last border crossing. The last country that I will cross before I finally finish my goal in this journey.
Thailand, known as one the most touristic countries in South East Asia, was for me one of the most enjoyable countries in this journey. Friendly people, an interesting street culture, eat markets, a beautiful coastline and a unique culture. From places filled with enthusiastic backpackers to places where only a few tourists come. In these places, I sometimes was getting my daily ice coffee as a gift. Only because they seem to be happy about me passing by. An amazing friendly gesture. That same friendly ladies behind the stalls whispered to each other over and over again: “Farang, farang!” The same ladies who work hard during the touristic season to send money to their families. Always with a positive attitude, both in the interior villages and in the busy coastal towns.
From the island of Koh Lanta I cycled south towards the border of Malaysia. I got back the necessary pounds of body fat in Lanta. It was mainly the fault of the donut stall which was close to the bamboo hut. Every twenty minutes: “Hello! donut?” That exactly were the only English words spoken by this young man selling the donuts. Every time it turned out to be a challenge to explain him the donut that I wanted. “No sugar please.” And he drowned the donut in a bucket with sugar. He just didn’t understand. I didn’t really care. It was funny.
And then I finally crossed the border of Thailand to Malaysia. What would Malaysia be like?
“Allah akbar!” Sounds through the mountains of the natural park called Bukit Wang Pisang. I put up my tent here. Someone comes along on a scooter. In the middle of the jungle. He stops and look at me with great disbelief. I smile friendly with the hope that he doesn’t make it difficult for me to spend the night here. “Allah akbar!”, it sounds again through the mountains. The Islamic religion is the dominant religion among Malaysians. The religion and Malaysian people are even protected by their government. The Islamic Malaysians get discount when they buy for example a house or a car.
If I cycle my way to the city Alor Setar I’m pleasantly surprised by a joining Goh Chia Chen. We had some contact via my Facebook page. Chen wanted to host me for a night in Alor Setar. And incredible! He came to meet me 30 kilometer in front of the city to escort me to his house. I had never experienced that before. Chen is a passionate cyclist. My corridor with 22km/h become inflated to 30km/h. It doesn’t take long before we arrive in Alor Setar.
Chen treats me on a night out with Chinese food. Provides a bedroom with air conditioning and cycles the next day more than 30 kilometers with me to the south. Chen putted a lot of effort in making me comfortable during my stay. An amazing gesture. For me, another proof that hospitality is present throughout the world.
I’m now in the famous town called George Town in Penang. The last three weeks of my journey will be a discovery of the Malaysian culture. The 25th country that I will cross. The country which is known for having a lot influences of other cultures. About half of the population is indigenous and 25% are of Chinese origin. The Indian people are also present. It is a totally different world than the adjacent culture of Thailand.
It all start to be exciting now. The finish line is coming really close!