Hat Yai, Thailand to Alor Setar, Malaysia.
Built up area for 57kms from Hat Yai to Sadao (Thai/Malaysian border) today and hundreds of trucks carrying their wares along the route before getting in the long queue on reaching immigration and custom at the border. Just short of the border I heard a cracking sound from below, to my surprise the steel frame on my bike seat finally packed it in.
A quick change for my guide's bike seat kept me going, as I'd made the decision yesterday to send the spare bike (including seat) back to Thailand as we'd organised another spare bike for when arriving in Australia rather than have excess luggage flying to Perth. Live and learn I guess, for the time you don't have a spare is when you really need it.
All was not lost as when reaching the other side of the border I was welcomed by Ralph Blewitt (Vietnam Veteran , ex 2 Royal Australian Regiment an ex pat living in Malaysia) and his wife Ruby who were kind enough to give Matt and I a motor bike escort with music included to listen to as we hit the Malaysian expressway; "I want to ride my bicycle" for most of the way to our stay here in Alor Setar, including a coffee stop treat.
On arriving Alor Setar Ralph and Ruby escorted me straight to the best bike shop in town (Specialised Dealer) and with some smooth talking from Ruby about the long ride home ride Mr. Quah Hooi Ghee (shop owner) was quick to snap his fingers to the shop staff to give me a 50 percent discount. A new gel bike seat and helmet for the ride at a bargain price thanks to Ralph, Ruby and a kind local Malaysian businessman.
Many thanks Ralph, Ruby and Mr. Quah from the long ride home team as it will make my ride more comfortable from now on.
Rest day here in Alor Setar (tomorrow) and already we have been trying the local food delicacies of Malaysia:
A classic Malaysian breakfast of Indian derivation, though this flaky finger food is good any time of day (and really good at about three in the morning). A dough of flour, egg, and ghee (clarified butter) is incredibly, almost unbelievably elastic; it's stretched quickly into a tissue-thin sheet, like pizza dough but even more dramatic, then folded back up and griddled. In its best form, right off the griddle, it's flaky and crisp like a good croissant on the outside, soft and steaming and a little bit chewy on the inside. It's also served with curry, often lentil dal; other versions are cooked with egg, or onion, or sardines.
A slow-cooked dry curry deeply spiced with ginger and turmeric, kaffir lime and chilis. (You'll find chicken, vegetable, and seafood rendang as well.) In Malaysian fashion, it fuses sweet, sour, and savory elements, the curry picking up a creamy richness from two forms of coconut and an elusive tang from asam keping, slices of a sour sun-dried fruit.
More to follow on the beautiful food here in Malaysia as TLRH move further South in this beautiful country and as we try more exciting dishes along the route.
Wikipedia; Alor Setar, (formerly Alor Star from 2004–2008) is a city and the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia; which is the second largest city in the state after Sungai Petani, Kedah (taking over the position in 2010); important cities in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia along the longest expressway, located 400 km from Kuala Lumpur. The city is home to the Central State Administration Centre and Administrative Centre Kota Setar District in the City of Muadzam Shah and Kedah the royal town of Bandar Anak Bukit.
Alor Setar is unique for Malaysia because the government sector and schools in 'tip of Malaysia' city here operate from Sunday to Thursday every week, which is different from neighbouring states.
Its location along the main travel route from Malaysia to Thailand has long made it a major transportation hub in the northern Malay Peninsula. At present, the city covers a land area of 666 square kilometres, which is occupied by more than 300,000 inhabitants (as per the 2010 census). At the local government level, Alor Setar is administered by the Alor Setar City Council.
The city is served by the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport, which began operations in 2006. The airport is not served by any commercial international flights; however, during the Haj season, there are special flights available for Muslim pilgrims journeying to Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj. The city is connected to other parts of Peninsular Malaysia by the North-South Expressway, the Shahab Perdana Bus Station and the Alor Setar railway station. The city's Kuala Kedah Jetty is served by ferries linking the city with the popular resort island of Langkawi.
Alor Setar is the birthplace of two Prime Ministers, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first Prime Minister, and Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, Malaysia's fourth Prime Minister.
Alor Setar was founded in 1735 by Kedah's 19th Ruler, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II and is the state's eighth administrative centre since the establishment of the Kedah Sultanate in 1136. The earlier administrative centres were located in Kota Bukit Meriam, Kota Sungai Emas, Kota Siputeh, Kota Naga, Kota Sena, Kota Indera Kayangan and Kota Bukit Pinang.
Significant events held here included the handing back of Perlis and Setul (now Satun) to Kedah by the Siamese in May 1897 (both provinces were separated from Kedah since 1821) and a 90-day festival from June to September 1904 to celebrate the wedding of the five children of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah.
Alor Setar had been granted as a city – the ninth in Malaysia, on 21 December 2003. The proclamation ceremony to declare the Kedahcapital a city was held at Dataran Tunku, Alor Setar. Among those present at the historic ceremony were the Kedah's Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and his consort Che' Puan Haminah Hamidun, the Raja Muda of Kedah and Raja Puan Muda (Heir Apparentof Kedah State and his consort), members of the Kedah royalty, parliament members and state exco members. The ceremony was also witnessed by civilians and tourists.
Truck and Matt
On the long ride home, Malaysia
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