Penang to Kuala Lumpur Thur 5 - Wed 17 March 2009

Update : and a reason why the quote was lower than the others did indeed come to light- the shipping company had measured the container from the outside not the inside - thus our vehicle was too big! There was a bit of a panic down at the docks but (thanks to Peter the German/Kiwi overlander who gave us the idea in the first place) Andrew was able to take the back wheels off and thus save the situation - the car fitted in with 40mm to spare! Thanks to Mr. Haniff for all his hard work.

We had a sad final look around Georgetown and its lovely old buildings - wonder when we'll next be back!

This time (having done the dash by car last week) we missed out on the scenery (but saved a night's accommodation bill!) by taking the night bus to KL to arrive somewhat bleary eyed at 5am on the morning of Tuesday 10 March.  We headed back to our usual haunt in KL "The Red Dragon Hostel" where we showered and had a long sleep!

We spent a really nice few days in KL - combining doing "the tourist thing" with a few chores we had to do - like having our camera serviced. On this note I should explain - the trees in Kl aren't in fact pink!- whilst our digital camera was being looked after Olympus kindly provided a courtesy camera - which unfortunately was on some peculiar setting we never noticed - so a few of the photos have a distinctive rosy tint - a bit like getting something red in with your whites! Apologies.

Anyway we had a look around  the National Mosque - where I had to put on a delightful pink robe - this actually was pink! - and the Islamic Arts museum. This was a fascinating place with some beautiful old Iranian tiles and a modern photography exhibition about Moslems in England being highlights - have a look on their site if you're interested www.iamm,

There are some lovely buildings here- like the railway station - which combine old colonial grandeur with Moorish style touches.

We also took in the Orchid gardens - with gorgeous flowers and a lovely view over the City sky line.

We had a couple of trips out to shopping plazas - the Low Yat which specializes in all things technical, the Mid Valley Mega Mall & the upmarket Garden Plaza full of designer shops - I  guess it's hard to judge from just this but it didn't look like there was much of a recession here yet. The consumers were out in force and seemed to be spending up a storm.

We had some really exciting news just prior to leaving KL as we welcomed a new sponsor on board. Powerdown - also trading as Raw4x4 - are an Australian based provider of shock absorbers. They carry a huge range of shocks from semi trailers to 4 wheel drive. Importantly for us in India the latter are renowned for being very robust!!  We met up with Woon Boon Loot the company's representative in Malaysia and enjoyed a beautiful meal out with him and his lovely wife Mei Poh in Jalan Alor an area renowned for food throughout Malaysia. They ordered a feast of chicken wings, sword fish and some small shell fish very like Australian Pippies. We really benefited from their local knowledge it was superb.  Very kindly Mat Gadgens?? the MD of the company based in NSW Australia and Woon gave us a new set of shocks for the vehicle which we intend to fit as soon as we get the car back in India. The only downside to this is that we now have to carry them -12 kg!!!- in our luggage on the plane to Chennai!    Still we are hugely grateful to Mat & Woon - check out their great range of products on their websites below & on our sponsor's page.

We also had Woon to  thank for another great culinary experience.  We did try and have a drink in the very grand looking Royal Selangor club - only to be told very firmly that it was members only - but Woon was able to recommend another great KL institution where we spent our final night in the city. Coliseum Café and Hotel has been around since 1921. It has a real old colonial style feel - ceiling fans and wooden floors but is also  inexpensive. Our waiter was an interesting character  - he was 88 years old and had been working there for 48 years (he was presented with a gold chain upon attaining 40 years service!) The food was fantastic - on Woon's recommendation (& as we were heading to India where we wouldn't be having one for a while!) we had steak and it was superb -as good as back home!

So, Tuesday 17 arrived and finally we were going to India! There was a bit of a panic as we had  booked our tickets ages ago and I had the time 3pm in my mind which was the time we landed in Singapore - not left KL - but we picked that up in time for it to not be a disaster - though we didn't get to hang about at the airport! -and caught the 40 minute flight to Singapore. We had managed to re-jig our luggage to incorporate the shocks (which had to be explained in customs as they went through the scanning machine!) into our check in bag and load up our hand luggage so that we managed to stay within the - 30kg for 2 of us - luggage allowance.

We caught the train into Singapore which looked particularly pristine and somewhat sterile (still fines for everything and anything!) after the rest of Asia- and had a wander around the shops. These were much more expensive than we're used to now -though they  had seemed cheap 18 months ago when we were straight out of Australia! At 9pm we boarded the plane to Chennai.  Please see India for the next update when it happens.