4&5/5/16. With Christine still feeling a little delicate we set off at 7.15, shortly after sunrise, to cross Singapore island and into Malaysia, country number 13, since we left home last April.
The idea was to avoid the real heat of the day but with nighttime temperatures of around 30° this was pretty much a vain hope. Christine was soon feeling the effects of the heat, probably compounded by the last vestiges of her tummy upset, and we were having to stop every couple of kilometres to allow her to recuperate in the shade. We spent more than half an hour in a convenient McDonald’s slowly sipping cold drinks while watching the highlights of the weekend’s Premier League action (including the newly crowned champions!).
We were able to use bike and foot paths all the way until a couple of km before the Causeway where we had no choice but to join the heavy traffic. The traffic is separated by type as you approach the crossing with cars segregated from buses and trucks, and a separate lane for motor wayes (of which there is a very large number) and bikes (just us two!).
At passport control there was an issue with the computers not recognising ours! We wondered if this was because they were scanned both when leaving and rejoining the ship on Friday but not when we left on Saturday but, whatever the reason, we were whisked off to an office (thankfully air conditioned) while they worked out what to do. After half an hour of conferences, telephone calls and much staring at screens, the passport stamp was put into action and we were allowed to leave.
The crossing of the Causeway itself was pretty brutal being in full sun with the temperature around 37° and Christine was not feeling good. Climbing a small rise on the Malaysian side Stephen looked behind to see her pushing but could not stop in the narrow lane with hundreds of motor bikes buzzing past. Just before passport control the road widened and he could pull off out of the way to wait. And wait.
Eventually she rolled around the corner into sight, having had to sit down for a while (despite the motor bikes) before she fell off. The Malaysian formalities were less problematic and we were able to find somewhere for her to sit in safety and shade to recover a little even though it was still mighty hot.
We made for the nearest hotel and struck lucky with a brand new one in “soft opening” mode. Christine was grateful to get into the air conditioned room with a bottle of water and a comfortable bed for a couple of hours before a light meal in the hotel restaurant and 11 hours sleep.
It was not a difficult decision to stay an extra day in Johor Bahru (the name of the city – Malaysia’s second largest) to allow Christine to recover and to plan our next move. This was spent wandering around the large shopping mall just across the road from the hotel and watching The Jungle Book (in English with Malay and Chinese subtitles) in the attached 14 screen multiplex. (It’s a great film by the way.)
By 5 o’clock Christine was feeling in need of a rest despite having done very little (confirming the wisdom of the decision not to cycle). She suggested that Stephen have a “nice dinner” and, not feeling at all hungry, asked that he bring her a pot noodle. On his return she was a little miffed that his meal had cost 55 ringgits while her noodles were 2 ringgits! (The exchange rate is almost 6 to the £.) But he was only following orders!