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Waking to Torches in a Rubber Plantation

May 25, 2015 0 Comments

Monday 25th May 2015 – Batam to Thailand

Leaving Indonesia and heading to Singapore was a relief and sad. Relief because Indonesia was a disappointment as far as infrastructure goes. Sad because the people were so lovely and friendly. We made some great friends and leaving them was very sad.

When we arrived in Batam after our unique boat trip we stayed in a 4 star hotel called Goodway Hotel managed by Chris De Silva. What a nice man – he was so helpful and looked after us as long lost friends. We had several meals with Chris and were driven to the ferry terminal by one of his drivers in a Nissan Rolls. We spent almost one week on Batam.

Cards at Batam Port

Who is winning?

It was a real chore getting vehicle passage from Batam to Singapore. Alan did a great job dealing with customs and a shipping company called Winstar. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing from shipping office to the port and to customs. Eventually all negotiations came together and our cars were placed in a container at the port of Batam. We did manage a game of cards while we waited for our container to be processed for our cars.

Once the cars were organised we boarded a passenger ferry about a 1 hour trip to Singapore. Arrived in Singapore and caught a taxi to the Jurong port to meet our tow truck drivers to pick up our cars. Once at the port the fun began! Alan and I thought maybe we would find it difficult to negotiate the port facility to find our cars and the tow truck drivers. Alan and I were directed to the port permit office to receive a permit to enter the port region. A bit like an RTA office, walked in and had to take a number – and who should be standing beside the number machine was one of our tow truck drivers, Sabastian, from Island Recovery tow truck services. What a lovely fella!

Sabastian organised us from that moment onwards, to our container housing our cars, then on to customs and getting out of Singapore. I must say Alan and Lynn managed this process so well prior to arriving at this point from Batam.

Wow! What an experience from this point on. The tow truck drivers unloaded our cars on a bridge being the border between Singapore and Malaysia. We said our goodbyes and drove on into Malaysia. What a lovely country – beautiful countryside and people. The crossing of borders was very smooth with no time lost.

Orang-utan  Island

Resident of Orang-utan Island in Malaysia

We went and visited an island containing a habitat or Orang-utans, wow what an experience this was, walking through an enclosure viewing these magnificent animals up close and personal. Took lots of photos etc. One of our guides was fantastic – spoke at 100 miles per hour however very informative. She herself was attacked by one of these animals but still devotes her life to their protection.

We then spent a night in a hotel on Penang Island, ordinary accommodation but ok.

We drove through Malaysia in one day on into Thailand. What a transition – a bit like going from Germany into Czechoslovakia. Roads and power lines were the main obvious difference. It took a couple of hours getting our Carnet’s, passports and visa’s organised moving from one office to another. We did meet a German fellow who was very helpful, he has been driving all over the world for many years.

Tonight we are camping in a rubber plantation. So peaceful and quiet, cost effective and enjoyable… however at about midnight we were all woken up by local farmers converging on us from all angles torches bearing upon us. We had no idea if this was a peaceful approach or hostile. Alan and I emerged from our forts (roof top tents) climbing down our ladders to meet with the men, turns out they were very friendly and were working the rubber plantation right where we were camped.

Next morning a farmer and his daughter approached us over breakfast to see what our set up was like. I gave the young lady (30 years old maybe) a kangaroo pin which Lynn placed in her beanie, she loved it. Lynn also gave her dad a Koala key ring and finally I gave the young lady my Akubra hat.

They left all happy and chuffed then the daughter returned with gifts of food and drink for us. Lots of photos and signing off on our cars (in black ink).

Another successful camp completed! So far we have camped in:

  • a cemetery,
  • a quarry,
  • a river bed,
  • a chief’s village,
  • the rainforest,
  • a Palm Oil Plantation (this was the best)
  • a car park of a restaurant bar
  • beach,
  • and finally, a rubber plantation.

Who knows where next?

Tomorrow we will drive about 400km and meet a friend of Alan and Lynn’s Hando just south of Bangkok.

P.S. Both cars are performing well – Ranger slightly better than the Cruiser (my opinion only Alan would give an alternate view on this). Both cars need a wheel alignment due to piss poor roads.

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