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locations lyrics music people

bicycle pit stop café

for a cup of excellent coffee and maybe a homemade tiramisu cake on the side, siTigun is a wonderful place to visit on a bicycle. created by two-time round the world cyclist tigun wibisana, it has many additions you won’t find in an ordinary cafe. a place to park your bicycle inside for example.

classic advertising posters…

as well as a matching cycle on the wall.

jazz was pouring from the speakers and the evening sun lit up the café while i was writing lyrics…

recommend! the address:

15 – 17 nagore road,

10050 penang.

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food people

the mooncake party

karin had just signed up on couchsurfing and got immediately invited by a member of the penang group, which included an invitation to the mid-autumn party, an annual harvest festival.

a widespread folk tale tells about the role the mooncakes played in overthrowing the mongol rulers in china in the 14th century. as group gatherings were banned it was very difficult to get organized. noting that the mongols did not eat the pastry, an advisor to the chinese rebel leader came up with the idea of smuggling messages in the pastries, thus making the uprising possible.

when we arrived we were greeted by our host and a table packed with food.

after a round of mooncakes we had the obligatory pomelo. the skin nurtures the hair with its essential oils our host chin mai explains.

soon we were chatting away with stories of our travels.

sometime at night, i got a lift back to town and was dropped of at the hainan temple, which also serves as couchsurfing meeting point. one of the couchsurfers switched on the lights especially for us.

i left with an invitation for the next evening and to stay couchsurfing. i couldn’t refuse as chin mai agreed to leave out the chicken and make a vegetarian curry instead if i would come to dinner.

good deed of the day: saved a chicken!

Categories
locations travel

around the island of penang

the next morning i toured the island. my first stop of the day was the kek lok si temple, largest buddhist temple in southeast asia.

an inclined elevator takes the visitors up to the guan yin statue and a terrace overlooking georgetown. climbing up the pagoda provides about the same view.

just beneath the pagoda is an inviting spot to rest the weary feet.

i replenished my strengths at a vegetarian restaurant down at the market, before making my way to balik pulau. one place i was passing has a rather unusual fence made out of old bicycles.

from balik pulau it’s a scenic ride to teluk bahang. further along the traffic increases, but it’s still a pleasant ride back into town. three times it started to rain and three times i was soaked to the bone, but after half an hour most of my clothes and myself were dry again. freshly showered and hungry, i made my way to the red garden, one of the food stall parks, together with karin from sweden who was staying in the same guesthouse. a waffle with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce on top blended in nicely at the end of this evening’s menu.

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locations

georgetown

the ferry was going directly to central georgetown. we had an amazing sunset as we were nearing the pier.

i checked into a cheap but clean guesthouse, a recommendation from ben and margo. one of the first things i did the next morning was to get some maps and information about malaysia. the tourist office was closed due to renovations but luckily i found john and his little tourist information spot.

when malaysia started an initiative towards opening the country to tourism, he was still a teacher. as the government seized his classroom for the training classes of tour-guides, he was one of the first to raise his arm and wanted to join the program. after some exams he became his certificate in 1975. he provided me with lots of maps, booklets and information and we chatted half an hour. he was coughing a lot during the conversation and when i asked him if he’s alright, he proudly presented me an attestation from a doctor, showing that he was excused from work. but as he is working independently today, he wants to be the one who decides whether he opens his stall or not. he is 71 and when i asked him how long he will continue, he shrugged and told me as long his body allows him.

the city has a system of cycle paths. often it is just a sign with no separate lane, but if it’s possible, the signs guide you through smaller streets where there is little traffic.

in most city maps are recommendations for a route through town to see some of the colonial buildings like the city hall.

the diversity of cultures is best displayed in the variety of food. people come from as far as from kuala lumpur to penang to stock supplies. one of the better known food gardens is gurney drive.

basically nothing more than a cluster of food stalls, those places have a vibrant atmosphere and local music acts perform especially during weekends.

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locations

langkawi

the ferry was rather fast and soon the only remembrance of thailand was the flag waving at the stern.

after an hour we already reached kuah, the district capital of langkawi and port for the ferries. the immigration formalities are easy. after filling out the entry card, european citizens get a visa on arrival valid for three months.

langkawi has all the modern comforts and goods available. it is developed and rather busy, especially for someone coming from the south of thailand.

more traffic, faster driving and no shoulders makes it also harder for a bicyclist to get around. nonetheless i went for a ride the next morning along the coastline. passing the marina at telaga harbour with its custom house,

lighthouse and some nice boats laying at anchor.

after another stretch along the coast i ended up at the cable car…

which provided an excellent view over the island.

after two days i was already thinking about leaving, as food and lodging are pricy and the greater part of the island is orientated towards mass tourism. on top of this i was told that my room was already booked by someone else when i wanted to extend my stay for another night. so i was out on the street again and i thought it was the right time to leave. i cycled back to kuah and took the evening ferry to georgetown on penang.

Categories
locations

satun

my hotel room was just opposite of the mambang mosque. as it was ramadan, i was waking up the sound of the azaan-ul-fajr, the first call to prayer before sunset, which marks the beginning of the daily fasting. what was annoying in the mornings, was a rather pleasant backdrop during the rest of the day combined with the view from the roof terrace of the hotel.

the national museum in satun has quite a history. built as a royal residence, it was later used as town hall, was occupied by the invading japanese in world war II and presently hosts the museum. it tells more about the history and today’s life of the muslim community in these parts of thailand.

a display of the sunat ritual. circumcision of a young boy.

a painting of satun with its most famous buildings and places.

that night, a storm was passing the city and the sky was enlightened by thunderbolts.

i spend a whole week in satun and had no motivation to go anywhere. no nearby islands or caves could lure me away. i rather liked the laid back atmosphere and spent the days updating the blog, reading and picking up the guitar more often until my visa ran out. i cycled the last 10km to the ferry port outside the city and bought a ticket to langkawi. malaysia, here i come!

Categories
music people postcards

the rusty dudes

after more than a year on the road, some parts show heavy wear. and what about your goodbye presents?

the badge i got from my bandmate nils:

seems the mighty dudes do not agree with too much rain and prefer the sunny side of life!!

the worldtourguide is holding up better.

it’s even prospering due to the contributions from fellow travellers of their favourite places around the globe.

Categories
people travel

two cyclists and a letter

I had just started cycling the last 60km towards songkhla as a shout from behind woke me finally up. it was adam from australia, cycling since february from england towards his homeland.

we cycled together into songkhla and after lunch decided to call it a day. after checking into one of the guesthouses, we went looking for an internet cafe which we fled after doing the most necessary because of a bunch of screaming kids which couldn’t be silenced. after getting some goodies from the night market, we ended up for a couple of beers at a restaurant for dinner and shared some stories about our trips. on the next day our ways already parted again as i had to wait for the letter and adam was on a tight schedule as he wanted to be home by november for a mountain bike race.

in the morning we went for breakfast at one of the upper class hotels, which had a huge buffet. we turned to the countless bowl and plates extensively until everything was cleared up by the staff, which we reluctantly excepted as a sign to get out.

i stayed in songkhla, as i wanted to use the waiting period to apply for the visa for indonesia. i could get one on arrival, but only for a month and not extendable. when i arrived at the consulate i was told that only thai residents can do this here. with nothing left to do in town, i left the next day to hat yai.

big streets, big traffic, big weariness. i stopped at a bicycle store and asked for the main post office. a guy volunteered to guide me there on his motorcycle and invited me for lunch after i collected my mail. his name is dumree and, an avid cyclists himself, is dreaming about a ride around thailand. but as his 2 daughters are still living with him and thus has to wait some years to do so, he might switch to his motorbike rather than doing it on a bicycle.

in the afternoon we went to the lake. after sitting on its shore for a while, we soon were caught in heavy rain which we sat out in one of the restaurants that are built on wooden stakes into the lake.

we talked about cycling and the tense situation in the south of thailand, as some muslim citizens, after coming back from their education in arabia, bring with them radical ideas and violence.

he invited me to stay the night at his place just outside hat yai. after returning to his home, the garden bungalow was prepared for the night.

he woke me up early in the morning and asked me to join him on his daily ride. but i was too tired to go galopping up the mountains at 6 o’clock in the morning.

my man dumree after his morning ride and me finally awake and ready to cycle.

thank you dumree and family for the hospitality!!

i was taking some back roads and got a little lost. but with local support was soon on my way to satun.

Categories
locations travel

from coast to coast

leaving the west coast didn’t mean a lack of water around me on the way to the east. after leaving koh muk on the ferry, i had to take another one to cross over to kantang and was then riding through an area with various waterfalls. i just picked one of them, the namtok ton te, to take a closer look. as i arrived in the evening and it was already getting dark, i was looking for a place for the night. but instead of staying at the resort, i celebrated my regained camping skills and pitched up my tent at the rest area next to the waterfall. i lost one of my boxers to an army of ants during the night, but there was no time for anger or despair in the morning as i walked through the forest along cascades to the main fall.

after a hearty breakfast i started going north. not the shortest way to malaysia, but i was in no hurry as i had to pick up a letter in hat yai that was only due in a couple of days. which left me enough time to explore the area around the lake songkhla, which is actually a lagoon complex separated only by a spit from the gulf of thailand.

by now i was familiar with the map and was able to pick streets with less traffic which have usually also more to offer in landscapes.

after reaching the lake at thale noi (the village named after a part of the lake), the street was cutting through between the thale noi (‘small lake’) and the arms of the lagoon with a good view from the elevated road.

and after riding along even more water…

i arrived in ranot on the east coast. afterwards i followed the spit towards the city of songkhla.

this part of the trip also made it on my list of favourite cycling routes. you’ll find details and the road numbers here (at the bottom of the page).

Categories
music

living in and dreaming of… das ding

this sunday, the 12th of september, on ‘das ding’ from german radio station SWR: interview + the song ‘mystique’ from the album ‘intense’ between 5 and 6 pm!

you can read on how to receive the programm here. just type in your hometown and see where to tune in or get the stream from their homepage.

thanks to daniel for the interest in the tour and making the interview. the program is fittingly called ‘tailwind’.