Warm-up trip in southwest Malaysia

The Petronas twin towers

The Petronas twin towers
The towers mall.
The towers mall.

The trip going back to Malaysia from Guam was a long one. It was not so much because of the distance, but mostly due to a long layover in Manila. I had to stay in the airport there for fifteen hours and slept most of the time. I then arrived at 1 a.m. at the Kuala Lumpur airport. Again, I slept on the spot and took a train early morning to get to Port Klang, where I was to meet my clearing agent and collect my vehicle. In the evening, after a long nap, I went to have diner for with Abu who is clearing the container on my behalf (contact info at the end of the post). Everything is well organized here, and it seems that I will be able to get the truck on the following day. It does indeed happen and on the Monday at 8 p.m. I am unlashing the vehicle which starts right away few minutes later.

Bush camping in the Chinese cemetery.
Bush camping in the Chinese cemetery.

So far, transport from Bangladesh to Malaysia has been the easiest of all shipments. Nice people helped in both ports and prices were low. For the first time my truck arrived before me unlike in Mumbai where I had to wait for three weeks. I am now considering going back to Malaysia after my trip to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, to send back the truck to the U.S. Of course this decision will be driven by the quotes I will get.

The Chinese cemetery overlooks the beach.
The Chinese cemetery overlooks the beach.

In the morning, I set off for one of the numerous supermarkets in the peninsula. It’s pretty exciting as I didn’t spot one since Dubai. It is very convenient for the traveler to find all needed items in one place. In many countries, you have to go to five or six shops to get what you need, which is very time consuming.

Cooking in the forest close to Melaka.
Cooking in the forest close to Melaka.

I decide to do a little warm-up tour in the southeast, so I can make sure I have everything I need before I drive north to Thailand. I push toward Melaka, and setup camp for the night when I reach the west coast. I find a very quiet place on the beach bordering a Chinese cemetery. A little bit spooky, but definitely not the worst place I slept at.
The second day, I drive inland and decide to camp in a forest just 40 miles from my start point. I take advantage of the rest of the day to inspect the truck and fix some little things. I noticed some Land Cruisers on the road, which means I should find easily parts for my vehicle in Kuala Lumpur.

Very nice roads. It is like driving in France. Except on the wrong side of the road.
Very nice roads. It is like driving in France. Except on the wrong side of the road.
The expedition makes it to the Petronas towers.
The expedition makes it to the Petronas towers.

The following afternoon I drive back to the capital and stop on the way to a part shop. There, among other things, I get a set of front and rear bearings, brake pads, and fan and alternator belts. Most of it is just to have part handy if something happens. I am now really close to the goal and would not like to get stuck in some Laos mountain.
In the evening I visit the famous Petronas twin towers which were the highest when built back in 1998. Nowadays, the Burj Dubai tower – which I visited few months back – stole the world record. Malaysia has more than an impressive skyline to share with the Emirates. Here too, oil money has boosted the country economy which grew steadily since the independence from the British in 1957. The part of the country I visited features infrastructure of great quality and roads as smooth as European highways. Thankfully, gas is less expensive here than in Europe, at $2 a gallon, which is the right price for me. Present everywhere, the street food is amazing and reflects the multicultural country. Malays are still a majority, but a quarter of the population is Chinese and ten percent Chinese.

Welcome to Asia. Toyota kingdom.
Welcome to Asia, Toyota kingdom.

I slept yesterday night in the streets of the diplomatic enclave, in the center of the city. I doubt the authorities would appreciate to see me there one more night, so I plan to find myself another camping spot tonight, after a day visiting the city.

Sleeping in the diplomatic enclave, Kuala Lumpur.
Sleeping in the diplomatic enclave, Kuala Lumpur.

Tomorrow, I will begin my drive toward the Thailand border, an area where floods took place in the recent days (see here the BBC story). Hopefully I will be able to make it through. Wish me good luck.

KL skyline.
Kuala Lumpur skyline. At the center, KL tower.

I was very happy with the agent who took care of the clearance. For the first time, I didn’t have to spend endless hours at the port. Everything was very well organized, and cheap. I requested quotes from several people, and he was the cheapest.
Haji Mohamed Assir Bin Haji A.Mohamed Ariff
Syarikat Aseantex Marine Services
Tel : +603 31680000 Fax: +603 31671600
Mobile: +6019 3266669

28 Replies to “Warm-up trip in southwest Malaysia”

  1. Did you happen to get a picture of the tail light lenses repair? Just curious.

    1. Hey Charlie,
      Sorry for the delay, here is the picture:
      On the right side, the repaired lens, on the left the original Toyota.

  2. Hi, Nic! I’m delighted you are reunited with the truck! Do visit the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. And drive to the top of Gunong Brinchang–6,666 ft. And an awesome view.

    Also do you need contacts in Thailand or Cambodia?

    Take care,


  3. Hi Nick,

    Enjoy the nice food in Thailand. Try the little backed bananas and the pieces of sweet pork on a stick. If you like spicy, try the original Tom Yam, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!

    I still would like you to visit Vietnam. Don’t make the mistake and try to enter from the Cambodian side. Enter from Laos. Then exit to Cambodia. And while you are at it. Park the car in Bangkok and fly to Myanmar for a few weeks. You wont regret that I assure you!

    Adventurous greetings,

  4. One of my favorite pictures you’ve taken–your car with the Petronas Towers in the background!!! That is awesome! If you end up writing a book, it’s that picture and the one with the two guys riding a motorcycle with their sheep that I like the best! πŸ™‚ But…there are others aren’t there? πŸ™‚
    Well, I still think of that movie, “Entrapment” when I see the Petronas Towers, but anyway….

    I’m now thinking back to the gentleman a year ago who had tried to make it around the world in the 70’s? He said he didn’t think you’d make it? It’s been a long journey and I’ve loved following it.

    Keep pressing on!
    Be blessed, be safe, and enjoy the journey!
    Beth πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Nick,

    Great news that you have been able to get your truck back quickly and are back on the road. Now that you are in the land of good food make sure to eat as much as you can to put some of the weight back on that you lost earlier.

    Quick question-I know that the languages of SE Asia are numerous-what are you communicating in? Is English spoken or are you getting creative?

    Continued safe travels and looking forward to your next post.


  6. Hey Nick,
    I think it’s so Awsome what your doing! looking foward to your next post.


  7. GOOD LUCK! On pense bien a toi (ne serait ce qu’a chaque fois qu’on trouve le New Yorker dans la boite aux lettres…) et on a hate de te revoir sur ce continent. Profite bien de la derniere partie de l’expedition, qui s’annonce plus cool… A bientot.

  8. Hi Nick,

    Good Pictures..I was just wondering how you are going to travel in Thailand. I heard there was lot of floods out there. Stay safe and Good Luck..


  9. i know this whole experience (including blog) could be considered one big souvenir, but are you collecting souvenirs and shipping them back home as you’re traveling? what kind of things have you purchased? melaka looks beautiful and so close to the equator! get ready for the states; we had snow this morning in ohio πŸ™‚


  10. Always was curious about malaysia… can you tell us more about customs or throw in some more photos? of countryside and city? are there really strict littering laws and is it really a spotless country?

    getting close to the end, i keep wondering whether you would have had your fill of travelling or yearn for it to never end and how well your reentry to NY life will be.

    it also sounds like some of your fans won’t know what to do with themselves when your blog ends. ha ha.
    sometimes i do wish i snuck along on parts of this trip…but glad to enjoy it vicariously.

    enjoy the rest of it and stay safe ….

  11. I really hoped you’d have given up smoking cigarettes by now…maybe it’s the Frenchman in you!

  12. Nick,
    I noticed on the tentative route upon your return to the US, you are planning on driving through Arkansas. You will be going right through the area I live in NE Arkanasas. What a great treat it would be to meet you (if your have time to stop) as you are returning home to NYC. I have followed your blog from day one, and have been intrigued with your entire trip. I hope you continue to enjoy the remainder of your trip, and are safe in the mean time.
    Be careful, and God Bless

  13. Great blog! All good news and beautiful pictures. Sounds like a good plan shipping back to the US using that same transport co., will be interesting to see what they do quote. You’re looking too skinny, so eat up and enjoy all the good food you should be able to get. It’s been so fun taking this trip :). My prayers continue for you. Hugs from America, Donna

  14. I believe your layover time would’ve been more enjoyable in Hong Kong. It is the best airport in the world, and even if you didn’t want to stay there, you would’ve have a good time in the city. But since you are planning to backpack through China, I presume Hong Kong is one of your stops.

    Have fun!

  15. I have so very much enjoyed your postings right from day one. You have been able to recount more about how ordinary people live in other countries, adding great dimension to your travels and your life – and vicariously, mine. Stay safe in this wonderful adventure. jan

  16. Nick,
    How is your appetite? You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight. I hope you will take some time to lounge on a beach and relax (and eat!!). I’m praying for your safety and your health. Please take care of yourself.

  17. Hello Nick:

    As with the others I have enjoyed viewing your photos and captions; and of course, I am very happy to know that you are back with your truck. Btw, did you ever give her or him a name?

    I hear from another world traveler that of all countries he’s visited Thailand ranks number on tastiest meals. So, do treat yourself well there. Stay safe, healthy and dry from floods.


  18. Glade you had some help on the unloading of the container. ya the picture of you camped out in the city street. Must have not been able to find a camp ground. But hey this spot looks free.

  19. Just read your article reprint in the Seattle Times. I’ll be living vicariously through you for the duration of your journey, living what the rest of us only dare dream!

  20. Nick… You’ve got “High Hopes”:

    Just what makes that little ole ant

    Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant?

    Anyone knows an ant… can’t

    Move a rubber tree plant

    But he’s got hi-i-igh hopes, he’s got hi-i-igh hopes

    He’s got high apple pi-i-ie-in-the-sk-y-y hopes

    So, any time you’re gettin’ low, ‘stead of lettin’ go, just remember that ant

    Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant !

    Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant !

    Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant !

    Once there was a silly old ram

    Thought he’d punch a hole in a dam

    No one could make that ram scram

    He kept buttin’ that dam

  21. Thanks for the update! I’ve been keeping up on your blog and it looks like the trip as a whole is going really well. What an experience — unique life experiences like these will shape the rest of your life.
    On a tech note, your 14 year old rig has held up pretty well considering what it has been through. Are you still dealing with error lights from your trip through the salt lakes? Also, has it ever struggled to run on any of the gasoline you’ve bought? Finally, how are the tires doing? How many tires have you replaced or patched?

    P.S. You shut your seat belt in the door. I bet your seat belt rewind springs are weak, it’s common on these trucks.

    P.P.S. What do you plan to do with the Landcruiser after the trip?

    1. Thousands of kilometers after the salt lakes, the error lights disappear. Which may mean that if there’s something wrong, I would not get any reading. Also oil pressure gauge is dead, but i gather it is the case in many LC.
      Overall, I have to say you have to do a lot to kill this truck. Given the places I have been through, I am surprised I didn’t have more problems. One annoying thing is that the cab get very hot. Engine temperature is OK, but it does get very hot when you are driving, especially when you are in already hot countries. I would think that creating vents in the hood would help a lot.
      I got rid of the catalytic converter when I reached Africa because I knew fuel quality would be bad. The truck ran OK with no change in performance since that. but I was hoping it would decrease a bit the overall temperature level, which it didn’t.
      I got something like seven punctures since I left the US. Had to change the back tires in Ethiopia, after driving hundred of miles on lava rocks in northern Kenya. The heavy load in the back probably didn’t help. Also had to change my DieHard blue top battery which didn’t survive the heat and vibration of Africa.
      But again, it is a very intense environment, and the Dell laptop I had at the time died as well.

  22. Dont worry about the heat inside the truck you will need it when you make it back to NYC
    Hope you take Rt-80 to the George Washington Bridge on your way home
    Best of luck on the final legs of your trip

Comments are closed.