We bought a motorbike!

Puteri Harbour Marina

Johor, Malaysia

Hi All,

Amazingly enough, Randal and I have bought a Honda  Wave 110 Motorbike.  Our friends Fien and Hans convinced us that it was very possible to travel around Malaysia and to load and unload the motorbike from a boat.  I think we were convinced because of the isolation of Puteri and the lack of convenient public transportation.  Spending too much time at a marina really isn’t travel.  Having finally made the decision, we bicycled to the Gelang Patah Honda dealership Monday.  This afternoon Randal went to get the motorbike and to practice riding alone.  Then he and I went out for a practice ride and saw parts of Johor we would never have seen. Nothing spectacular, but real non-touristy Johor.  We rode for about 2 hours and decided that any ride longer than that would require a break to stretch our legs and rest other parts of our body.  Mostly we did about 35 mph and that was a good speed for me to feel comfortable.  When we did about 48 on the “highway” I didn’t love it.  But I see it as finally a chance to travel outside major city marinas.  In Singapore, Kota Kinabalu and even George Town you could take the MRT or buses or walk.  But other areas needed some kind of vehicle so nothing could be spur of the moment or easy or whatever.  It always took a plan and an expense.  Now the motorbike wasn’t free, obviously.  We paid $1,627.68 but that’s license plates, registration, insurance, two helmets, a heavy wire basket in front, a locked rear basket, disc brakes, aluminum wheels, heavy tubeless tires, a spare chain, spare bulbs and enough oil for two oil changes.  And we’ll have to pay for gas.  And rain will be an issue.  But on the whole it will mean we can go inland and see the countries that we visit.  That will be so nice and is really half the point of our travels. 




Checking our options at the Honda dealership in Gelang Patah

Our friends Fien and Hans had told us about the Honda dealer in Gelang Patah where they had bought their motorbike and how pleased they were with the service and prices. (We had actually looked at a motorbike in Sungei Rengit near Sebana Cove but weren’t going to stay long enough to bike for a bit and then get it’s first service.) So this past Monday we bicycled into Gelang Patah to buy a motorbike but hadn’t thought to bring our passports. When we signed the contract for the bike, one of the men took Randal on a motorbike back to the marina to get his passport. They also took him to the police station to check on a Malaysian driver’s license. But Randal couldn’t get one because we only have a tourist visa. Perhaps you have to have some kind of employment visa to get a license here. It would probably entitle you to lots of things like library cards! But his Virginia license which is stamped with an M seemed to be ok. He’ll get an international license when we come home. I say he because I don’t see myself driving. I know my strengths and driving a motorbike isn’t one of them. First I need to learn to drive our dinghy! When you buy the motorbike it comes with Malaysian Insurance which is good. We will be able to take it with us when we travel through the Med and that means seeing so much more than we have in the past with just our bicycles or public transportation.


My bright orange shirt is just the thing: like having a big flag on the back of the bike so drivers will notice us.


6 knots by boat, 10 MPH by bicycle and 45 MPH by motorbike. Good thing we’re never in a hurry!


Putting a motorbike onto a sailboat.

We watch Hans and Fein put their bike on their boat to see how it could be done. Fien is winching the bike up as Hans holds it away from the boat so not to scratch up either.


Fien uses a winch to hoist up the motorbike.

Randal thinks we can use the mechanism that lifts our anchor so I won’t have to do as much work as Fien. I do the same sort of thing when we have to pull our stabilizing “fish” out of the water. They each weigh 62 lbs. By the time I’ve pulled up the second one, I’m pooped. And Randal is doing the same thing as Hans; holding the fish away from the boat though for that he is on the boat. The bike ways three times as much; 187 lbs. so it’s a good thing the anchor windless will pull the motorbike onto our boat.

Getting Around and A Really Good Cause

Hi all,

Randal and I are thinking about buying a motorbike. We cycled into Gelang Patah yesterday to visit the cycle shop but it was closed. We’ll go back today. Though at first reluctant, now I’m quite gung-ho especially since our friends Fein and Hans say they just travel at about 35 MPH and have no problems. At that speed maybe I’ll be ok. And I always thought riding the motorcycle taxis in China were fun. Fein did worn me about touching my leg to the exhaust pipe because it leaves a severe burn. Fein sports a scar from her experience. But the newer model which we might get supposedly has an exhaust pipe cover. Hope so. Wish we had done this sooner so we could have gone adventuring with them. They are off this morning towards Rebak on Langkawi. But we will see them along the way. Maybe we’ll bike through Egypt and Israel together while we’re in the Red Sea!

Now I’m going to brag a bit about my nephew Andrew who is a co-founder of Urban Studio in Philadelphia. http://urbanstudiophl.wordpress.com/about/

Its “mission is to collaborate with Philadelphia communities to develop new processes for creating solutions for sustainable urban living.”


is their latest project. I’m supporting them and wish them great success.

Once upon a time I worked at things I hoped would “help the world.” Now I just travel around it so I’m glad others are doing the work to save it.


Hangin Out

Puteri Harbour Marina

Johor, Malaysia

Hi Everyone

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  But we really are just being here and not really doing anything special.  We did take the boat and move to Sebana Cove on the other side of Singapore.  The trip there was pretty uneventful.  We like Sebana Cove because there is a lovely 32 mile round trip bike ride from the marina to Sungei Rengit the small town near the marina.  But this trip was disappointing.  The favorite corner store where we could leave all of our bags while we shopped has closed and been replaced by a small hotel.  The bakery seems to have lost all of the English speaking staff.  The veggie man now comes too late and is just stocking his shelves when we had to be back at the Sebana Cove van for the return trip back to the marina.  The van costs each person 10 ringgits which is only about $3 but it’s not a really long trip and Puteri doesn’t charge at all, nor did the marina in Kota Kinabalu.  The Sebana van didn’t allow enough time to shop and that meant going twice each week to get things done.  It used to be fun in the past, sort of a social outing with the other cruisers.  Though we met some nice folks who were stopping for a bit at Sebana Cove and had them come for drinks and snacks on DoraMac, there just weren’t enough of us to hold a real Happy Hour on the dock. There was more wildlife though.  We saw a huge herd of wild boars in the woods across from the golf course.  We were told the monkeys are now running riot and coming down to the marina to raid the boats and trash.  We only saw them in the woods.  Maybe more importantly,  with so few folks around, Randal had some doubts about leaving the boat unattended for the time we will be home.   So we left Sebana Cove and returned to Puteri where we will leave the boat and where there are lots of people around.  We left with beautiful flat seas but about noon hit a huge rain storm near Singapore.  We cruised through the storm driving from the flybridge and got soaked.  But it’s easier to see from the flybridge and there are lots of ships around Singapore so we stayed there and changed clothes after the storm passed us.  We actually arrived back at Puteri about an hour earlier than we had expected because we made good time with the wind and currents. 

  We have met lots of nice cruisers during our time here at Puteri and have gotten a chance to get to know Fein and Hans who we had met previously along the way during some of our rallies.  Now we’ve been able to spend time with them and it has been great fun.  They have a motorbike and have convinced us to get one.  They can transport theirs on their sailboat and if we get one we’ll be able to take it aboard our DoraMac.  It can be so limiting in marinas like Puteri or Sebana Cove to be without transportation.  In Singapore or even George Town there were public transportation options.  Without those options we spend too much time at the marinas and not enough seeing the country.  Randal researched and found that we can take the motorbike into Israel and Turkey and other countries.  And luckily Randal’s driver’s license has an M on it so he has a legal motorcycle license!  If we buy a bike here in Malaysia the price includes insurance, two helmets and two sets of rain gear.  Fein and Hans says that when it rains they do what the locals do and pull over under an underpass and wait for it to stop.  Everyone smiles at them!


Hans and Fein on their sailboat Pelikaan

They were born in Sweden but moved to Australia 30 years ago.  Hans worked for companies building underground rail systems so they have lived all over the world.  Years ago when their two boys were small they all visited Nepal and the Everest area but they traveled by horseback and slept in tents!  I’m sort of jealous!  They are coming to the boat later for brownies and ice cream.  But eating all of those calories will be for a good cause, to test if the oven is working correctly now that Randal has cleaned the regulator.  We’d had a problem with our oven not heating right. But it seemed ok today when I made the brownies, back to it’s normal of being about 25 degrees hotter than the setting. 

And our friend Liz is back from Thailand so we’ll get to see her and Wally soon too.

So that’s what’s up though not my hopes for the Red Sox making the play-offs, though it “ain’t over till it’s over.”  But now when they lose I don’t get that really sick feeling; it’s more just, “oh well.”  Ru