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First road day in Malaysia was a joy even if I had difficulty getting out of the built up Johor Bahru area of the deep south with its tangle of highways.After about 20.km it straightened out and I had a wide shoulder on a busy 6 lane divided highway. Not a single honk,gawk or attempt to run me off the road..Heaven First impressions excite me, I could be in many places in Europe. Malaysia population - just over 29 million.
61 percent of the country practise Islam. 19 percent of the country practises Buddhisim
The people are smart and futuristic.
Most popular sport in Malaysia is soccer , followed by badminton and hockey. Running in Malaysia is also very popular as I will soon find out as many of the local runners are gathering to give me the great ‘ helping hand ‘ as I call it on my way north to Thailand.
The hotels have hot showers,no bugs and are clean. No penny pinching as they usually include towels, soap, drinking water, toilet roll, functioning toilets and have mirrors. Yes I can remember women in Mexico and other central American hotels cutting small hotel size bars of soap in two and spending ages wrapping about ten sheets of toilet roll on pieces of cardboard for each room. They usually sat in the hotel reception doing this as they watched television!
34k for that first day, a slow start.
That night I stayed in the Impress Hotel in Sinai and ate a delicious stir fry dinner with 2 teas all this for just €12.
Of course this could go belly up in a few days but a great first impression.
Malaysia is an Islamic country with a great multi racial mix. The Chinese are very prominent. English is widely understood.
Malaysia continues to impress. I am almost a week here and after a three month torment on and off the road I am delighted by the place,as excited as a young lad smitten with a new girlfriend! The fun is back in the running,very much so:-)
Malaysia is working hard towards its goal to achieve developed world status by year 2020. Good luck I say as from what I have observed in these early days is quite impressive. No idiot driving,or people carrying factory gates,sheets of plywood on scooters with precarious attachments to their bikes. I actually see people taking driving lessons,others with learner signs and courtesy on the road.Ah! Yes the British influence,same with Singapore.
General signs are often in English,I guess to get people using the words more.There is also a huge Chinese community here and I often hear English words and phrases used between them.
2016 is the year when it will be compulsory for students to pass English in their exams.
Malaysian right-wing activist Ibrahim Ali president of Perkasa s group that champions Malay supremacy concedes that while the Bahasa Malay language must not be compromised as the main language and agrees with the governments policy of the advancement of English as its the real world language and ‘the language of knowledge.
Running on through tropical forests of rubber trees where farmers had had slit the tree bark with machetes to collect the white rubber gung as it drips into a can wired to the tree.
That day 54k and my 35,000km of the run I made it to a warung where the 2 young lads played music till 1am. Well it was Malaysias 50th anniversary. Malaysia became a country in 1963 gaining its independence from the UK.
Next day it rained heavily,so a long shelter and thanks to 3 lads who bought me lunch,48k on route 24 towards Maur. Because I took a bypass Taking me away from the city I was stuck for a place to stay till I came to a building site which had a freshly tiled floor. I put some cardboard down but didn’t sleep too well as Malay mosquitoe repellent ain’t as good as Indonesian. As always, exhausted from hours lying awake I eventually fell asleep. Another short sleep, I will pay for it on the road tomorrow. And so I did pay for it as every one of that days 45km was tough for it was also hot with little water en route,so I had to hussle some water a couple of times from parked drivers.
Places are more spread out here than in Indonesia. I made it to an hotel just before Melaka. Ah! Yes I am due a comfy bed and a hot shower.
A very late start next morning because I could hear the rain pounding down outside, so it was easy to take a long snooze!
Eventually the sun broke through my sleep and I was off and running again, Well at least the 4km as far as Melaka till I came to Domino Pizza who were advertising a lunch time special. A quick check of my watch 12.08pm Yes! Just started. So a satisfied belly ran out of Melaka onto a delightful 4 lane divided highway with my own almost 3 meter shoulder, can it get any better than this I ask, Ah yes! I love running here,
Eventually I found my rhythm pushing on and on full of energy, not wanting to stop till I got about 2km before Rembau where I had a very pleasant experience at the Hotel Rembau. The very friendly owner fussed over me like I was a rare customer. Firstly this nice clean hotel at about 6 euro was almost half the price of the previous cheapest hotel. Only complaint was the shower was cold. He had a shop so I was able to buy satchels of tea and coffee also pot noodles, biscuits, crisps and chocolate, so that was dinner and breakfast sorted as he had a hot water machine for my beverages. He brought me to a separate building where these economy rooms were, just a mattress on the floor, no big deal. He then started pulling a second mattress up off the floor just to make room for my bike! As he said.
No bike mister, I am running around the world! I am so used to places not being cleaned out properly or neglected just because they are economy. So nice to meet a decent person like this, not a capitalist who upon learning of my mission he then brought me in a cable box for the satellite channels on the television, no worries, not going to watch it! He then left me larger spoons for my beverages and told me he respected what I was doing and offered me another night complimentary, which I declined. A magnificent 57km that day after such a late start, wish every day was this good, Funny how I assumed before the run even began that I would have my run finished every day around lunchtime and I would be spending my afternoons in Internet cafes! Couldn’t have been further from the truth those days back in Ireland when running was all so easy and I day dreamt and day dreamt of life on the road.
Then another splendid 52km day from the hotel to Beranang. This days running was made easy by an early 6.20am start, out of the traps like a hungry rabbit I ran non stop for 4 and a half hours, a rarity for me, my rapid progress slowed down once I stopped in Seramban, a sprawling small city. I stopped for lunch then went down the road to an eye watering bakery and purchased a box of their delicious pastries, so it was a rare backtrack on the run, hate going backwards, but this time it was to the restaurant for coffee to wash down my goodies!
Eventually it was time to run on but the heart was knocked out of me when I seemed to have taken a wrong turn in a poorly marked construction zone and ran an almost complete circle around the city, an estimated 10km extra, so only 52km recorded for that days 62km effort
Also another time killing Internet stop.
When I don’t finish in a town with an hotel it seems to be more difficult to find a place to stay than in Indonesia, I guess the more affluent Malaysians just don’t get it when I offer them a few dollars for a place to sleep. The lady that served me dinner in the warung in Beranang told me there was no hotel in their very small town and the next was just a little to far for me that day. Not true for next morning I ran by a motel just 6 kilometers away in Semenyih. So I just explained again what I was doing, showing her and a few patrons one of my Google translated home made Malaysian business cards.
One of the local lads, a truck driver called Ahmad Nazmi checked out this website on his iPhone and offered me a place for the night. So before jumping into his truck to go to his house about 3km away I touched the door post of the warung for I will restart my run to the Malaysian capital from here in the morning.
Ahmad Nazmi shared a house with his twin brother who has an almost identical and confusing name for me, but not for anyone else it seemed for his twins name is Ahmad Nazim. Also present was their friend Zulpadli. Very respectfully the lads let me sort my gear in my pack and no mauling of my equipment as in Indonesia.
I had a really nice sleep on a floor mat and treated the twins to breakfast next morning.
I had a wonderful time on my run into Kuala Lumpar or KL as the Malaysian capital is often known as. A Frenchman called Thierry and Miyuki his Japanese wife who first contacted me a year ago when I was in Argentina just happened to be in KL now. They are both runners and are traveling permanently in their retirement. So thankfully they contacted me and joined me on the road for the last 27km of my 40km run into the city. They have rented an apartment and took me back for the night. We were joined on the road by some local runners. One of them Allan who recently ran the tough French mountain race UTMB or Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. Allan so used to running with a heavy pack was soon recruited to run with my pack
Other runners Jeff, Tey and Cally also members of the local running club F.R.I.M came out to greet us on the side of the motorway but as they had their vehicles with them unfortunately couldn’t run with us. We ran about 15km on the motorway without any problems with the police. Sometimes the shoulder was a bit tight so Allan ran on ahead waving the drivers to move out to make room for us! As always the so respectful drivers didn’t complain, honk or get angry unlike a certain other country whose drivers reminded me of a certain Jim Carey movie the more I ran there!
I have decided to take up Thierry and Miyuki’s kind offer of a rest day today Sunday. Thierry’s website is http://www.
Total distance run in 816 road days is 35,255km. I am approx 20 marathons ahead of my bid to run 1,000 marathons in 1,000 road days.