Tuesday, 5 December 2017

7 Day Road Trip Malaysia – Banjaran Titiwangsa

Woke up in the morning and had a chat with the Royal Belum Resort hotel manager and he gave some suggestion on where to stop by along the way to Kota Bahru. Started driving and immediately detours after 200 meters when I saw the sign public jetty. Jetty was not accessible by car but driving to the end I saw a rubbish dump being attacked by wild pig and her piglets. That was a sight worth detouring. 

Belum Lake
Back on the Grik highway and it was not as I remembered. Those crazy drops and amazing scenery are not there anymore. Most parts covered by trees and roads not as windy anymore. 

A Quiet Drive .... Watch out for Wild Elephant Crossing - Grik Highway

Titiwangsa Reststop - Grik Highway
I stopped at Titiwangsa rest stop as suggested by Andrew and the Belum staff and it was a great view .. the highest point of the Titiwangsa Mountain Range in Malaysia they say or at least by driving. Also the tasty lunch of Ramly burger was worth the stop.

The Virgin Tropical Forest of Malaysia - Banjaran Titiwangsa

Me at Banjaran Titiwangsa

A work of Art - Ramly Burger
Back on the road again and no detour till I reached the border of Thailand … Rantau Panjang. So this part of the border town it was a duty free zone and I drove pass in ave that this would be the way to go next time into Thailand if I manage start my 2 year road trip around south east Asia. 

Scenic Drive - Northern Malaysia

Logging Activity .... - Malaysia

Entrance to Border Town of Malaysia - Thailand - Rantau Panjang

Border Town - Rantau Panjang

Entering Thailand ..... ( ... but I did not go in ... no passport ... cries ... )

Bus Stop at Rantau Panjang - All you need tickets & Insurance vice versa
All the way to Kota Bahru … nothing of interest but the drive was relaxing if not tiring … almost 5 hours on the road and I decided another two to get to Kuala Terengganu would not be a good idea.


Travelled on: Dec 2016

Sunday, 3 December 2017

7 Day Road Trip Malaysia – Kota Bahru

Day 5, Woke up early at 8am and I was eager to get out of the grimy house / makeshift bed and breakfast. Visiting Kota Bahru was refreshing, I could not remember the last time I was here and everything seems weird. Almost familiar Malaysia yet sublime difference. 

One thing I remembered today in the morning was that I could not communicate with the locals. Trying to buy the first “Keropok Lekor” I saw and I asked ‘berapa ??’ And I got the answer ‘leper’ …. I figured it was eight such as ‘lapan’ and it was true but it took a while to click and after that every time I try to ask something it felt like I was in south America again learning a new language, trying to not stick out. 

Felt weird referring them as the locals, as it was Malaysia and I am Malaysian yet thou it seems like another culture and country altogether. 

Kota Bahru is a vibrant town, as I walk around everywhere visiting markets, streets and even old Chinatown in the city you see a blend in culture comparable to Penang and even Malacca.

Town Centre - Kota Bahru

Handicraft Market - Kota Bahru
I learned to appreciate the little things in life observing the locals around yet as a city boy finding tranquillity in Kota Bahru, I can only wonder how many of them felt trap and wishes to migrate to a large city like KL. 

Big Bazaar Market - Kota Bahru

Kota Bahru Streets

Hokkien Community in Kota Bahru

Mural & Street Art - Kota Bahru

Streets - Kota Bahru

Deep Fried Chicken - Malaysia Style
Some parts of the old palace and monumental buildings were open to the public … taking full advantage as a Malaysian … for once I only had to pay the customary fee of RM 2 instead of the tourist price I had to fork out visiting places throughout my travels.


Traditional Long Boat - Kota Bahru





Travelled on: Dec 2016

7 Day Road Trip Malaysia – Detours Detours and more Detours … towards Gerik

The drive to from Taiping to Gerik was simple taking it slow and easy till I reached Sauk where I did a slow drive though the kampong (village).
 
Town of Sauk - Malaysia
After driving pass the town crawling at 10km an hour, I decided this was the place for lunch and picked a restaurant for fresh water fish. Or at least I think it is … how much I asked and they said about RM 7 a fish … all this was in hokkien/Cantonese mind and I am rubbish at it but at RM 7 I tot it was dirt cheap. 

"Pak Su Kong"
One fish “Pak Su Kong” a vegetable dish called “Mak Choi” and rice … the bill came out to be RM 49 … so apparently the fish was RM 7 for 100 gram … felt so cheated but it was a great meal non the less. 

After lunch I took the detour trying to get to Chenderoh hydroelectric Dam but at the end of the detour there was a guard post and he said not open to public. Apparently people work there and a small community stays there within the government quarters. Wasted detour but oh well back on the road to Gerik.


Somewhere between Sauk & Gerik
Every chance I get I took a detour off the main road to the parallel small road but other than plantation there was not much to be seen. Reached Gerik and it was decision time … to stay or to try my luck at Royal belum rainforest resort …. Could not find anything worth staying for so after topping up fuel I headed to Royal Belum resort. 

Somewhere Between Sauk & Gerik

Approaching Gerik

Onwards from Gerik into the Jungle
 
Internet booking.com price was RM 330 without tax but walk in price was RM 400. I guess Malaysia is the kind of country where booking in advance is cheaper than walking in. I stayed the night in the resort in a room that could accommodate 3people … 


Royal Belum Resort
Slurge but it was a beautiful place to spend the night. At the fringe of the tropical Belum Rainforest it was the gateway into the oldest Rainforest in the world. Even at the fringe I already encountered tons of mosquitos, a family of monkeys and a few bite of leaches when walking around the more forested part of the resort. Eco-tourism is expensive in Malaysia but without it the forest would never survive the hoard of tourist.

Jetty at Royal Belum Resort - Gateway to hire guides into the Tropical Rainforest

Monkeys .... Slowly back away ... - Royal Belum Resort

Jungle Survival Training .... Maybe

Nasi Goreng Kampung - Royal Belum Resort
Travelled on: Dec 2016
 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Converting Singapore Licence to Malaysia Licence

Felt Like this Dear Jumping About 
When I first decided to convert my Singapore Motorbike Licence to Malaysia Motorbike licence, I scour the net for information. Most gave me the opposite on how to convert from Malaysia to Singapore instead. I guess it’s just not that common doing it the other way around.

So I decided to record down my experience.

First things first, this is the circumstances of my situation before trying to convert. Don’t know if you are in the same boat but the below was my profile.

1. I am a Malaysian

2. I have a Malaysian Driving Licence Class D

3. I have no Motorbike Licence in Malaysia

4. I have no Driving Licence but I have a Motorbike Licence in Singapore

(I Took my Driving Licence in Malaysia and Took my Motorbike Licence in Singapore)

5. I have never converted any licence between the two countries

6. I work in Singapore on a Work pass

Gathering Information

It was hard trying to decipher the information from the net, especially between Singapore and Malaysia for Malaysian citizen as a lot of the rules publish is meant for general foreigners and not really focus on the special relationship that Singapore and Malaysia has. Some information tells of corruptions and ways to avoid getting blacklisted and some blatantly just condemns each countries for being petty and making life difficult for the common people.

I stand neutral on this for I feel that both Malaysia and Singapore has their point of view but still one small fry can’t avoid being caught up in the mind-set of the whole.

Anyway I decided the best way was to stop speculating and just walk in to get direct information. This prove to be even challenging as most information at counter given by word of mouth by the guards or the information desk lack to instil any confidence.

1st Attempt

I walked up to Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) in Johor Bahru at Galleria Kotaraya going straight for the Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) or in English Land Transport Authority of Malaysia. Going to the queue number ticket collection which had a guard there to assist on directing and dispensing the correct type of queue number I asked for conversion of licence from Singapore to Malaysia.

The guard refused to give me a queue ticket number. Go to the main headquarters office is Taman Daya, Johor Bahru he said. JPJ does the conversion of licence but this office/branch does not do it.

Puzzled, and a bit suspicious I thank him and left googling the main headquarters of JPJ at Taman Daya.

Deciding that it may be a coy I returned a few weeks later to the same place trying to get a queue number again. This time I got the same reply from a different guard. Go to Taman Daya he said.

Guess it’s true that I have to get to the main HQ of JPJ at Taman Daya

Working in Singapore and trying to convert my licence during my free time was not easy, crossing the border to get things done was time consuming. Luckily Johor government working hours were different and Sunday was considered a working day while Friday and Saturday a weekend.

2nd Attempt

A few months later I went to Taman Daya paying a RM 30 for a grab ride to the main JPJ HQ in Johor. The actual address was:

Kompleks JPJ,

Karung Berkunci No.714,

80990 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

The complex was huge and first off was to navigate to the right department. As I follow the signboard getting closer to the goal, lots of so called “runners” were loitering around downstairs and nearby the entrance to the office building for the actual changing of licence, renew, road tax etc.

As I walked a few runners pester me on what my purpose was here.

What do you want? One of the runners called.

Renew Licence? Change Licence? Road Tax?

I decided there was no harm extracting information so I asked which way to the change licence was.

You want to convert licence from Malaysia to Singapore right?

They will blacklist you, but I can help you get around that.

I felt annoyed that before understanding what I wanted I was already labelled.

Oh, you want to convert from Singapore back to Malaysia licence, but last time when you convert to Singapore Licence did they cut your Malaysia Licence? They probably blacklist you already and you won’t be able to convert back until you pay (bribe) them to erase you from the blacklist

Annoyed that I could not even get two words in before being labelled again I decided runners were the stupidest idea to get information from.

Ignoring all the runners, I walked up to the actual office to the queue counter.

The officer asked me if I had a letter from Singapore.

Letter ?? What letter ??

The officer told me that I require a letter from the Singapore Transport Authority to verify that I have no outstanding offences for the past 6 month. I could get it from the Singapore JPJ and with that the process for converting licence can be done. I would also need a photocopy of driving licence, identification card, photo, passport, work pass etc … anything related all photocopy he said but most important was to get that letter.

He even gave me the form for converting licence but would not give me a queue number as I did not have all the documents required.

Helpful information indeed but the monotone conversation told my guts that the small disdain of Malaysian going over to Singapore for work was still there.

I decided that if I was going to convert, it will not be in Johor but will travel back to Kuala Lumpur to do it.

Obtaining the Letter from Singapore Transport Authority

Funny thing is …. If you google Singapore Transport Authority like I did, you will get (LTA) which has nothing to do with driving licence record keeping.

I went to the nearest neighbourhood police and asked for advice and even then the police was uncertain but referred me to the Traffic Police HQ at the address below:

10 Ubi Avenue 3 Singapore 408865

Making my way there one weekday when I was off work, I entered the front door asking the guard for guidance on obtaining the letter for converting licence back to Malaysia.

Ironically the guard said:

Why convert? Singapore licence is international and it’s better here.

I have my own reasons I told him and he then pointed me in the direction to the main office. Go in and ask but I am not sure if this is the place he said.

Going in I was greeting with a police officer in full uniform. Explain to him my situation and he gave me a queue number not explain much.

Once it was my turn, all the counter asked was my Singapore bike licence and after a few moments requested for payment of SGD 10. Payment has to be made using NETS only and no cash transaction is accepted.

Paid and viola, I now had the letter from the traffic department of Singapore stating that the licence is valid and I have no offence pending with the Singapore state.

The whole process took less than 20 minutes including waiting time.

3rd Attempt

Few months later I managed to get leave and headed back to Kuala Lumpur to get the licence finally converted. The location I went was at Bangi a sub branch of JPJ in the Selangor state.

Jalan 7/7c, Seksyen 7, 43000 Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Went to the queue line to obtain a queue number and the officer told me to speak to their head officer first. Guess it’s not a normal procedure converting licence. Pass both my licence to the officer and I was question the following;

Why do you want to convert licence – (Go Home I Said)

Did you convert this licence from Malaysia to Singapore – (Nope … I took it in Singapore)

Wait a moment. After a few minutes the head officer came back.

Yes you can convert back no issue, but you will need a letter from the Singapore traffic authority. I have it I told the officer and passed the letter.

A few more minutes later and the officer asked me to get a photocopy of the following

1. Passport

2. Driving Licence of both Malaysia and Singapore

3. Identification card

Finally the officer said to me … I will ‘potong’ cut your Singapore licence once it’s converted, is it ok with you?

Sure I said … I was not trying to cheat the system anyway.

They finally gave me a queue number and within a few minutes I was up at the counter again. After a few types the officer just stared at the screen …. Waiting … then I heard their internal conversation

(Notified Singapore already? …. Yes you may proceed)

Interesting I thought … so there is some sort of integrated system now. Shortly after he cut the edge of my Singapore licence and kept the licence with the document for processing. Asked if I would get back the cut piece, they said they will keep it and send it back.

Processing the conversion of licence I had to pay the fee of

Add on Class – RM 5

Conversion of Licence – RM 20

That’s was all and a few minutes later I collected my new licence fully integrated with motorbike (B2) and car (D)

Interesting note was My Singapore motorbike licence was limited to 200cc but after conversion I am now certified to 250cc. A bigger bike was now a possibility ….

1st step done …. Now to find wheels for the road trip

Monday, 13 November 2017

7 Day Road Trip Malaysia – Taiping Gardens

Taiping Gardens. The one reason why I decided to make Taiping a pit stop is to visit the gardens which I remember during my childhood family road trip days. The picture in my head was exactly the same when I drove by the gardens. 

There is a timeless sense to Taiping Gardens, almost like a magical place thinking of peter pan and the Neverland wonders.


Here is a video for picture cant do them justice



Travelled on: Dec 2016
#Taipinggarden