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Blog 127 Kuala Lipis to Teriang

1st February

The bike still looks good as of this morning. Steady as she goes, solid, stable and still really fun to ride.

I can’t deny how most days I find it difficult to start riding. It is an immense privilege to be doing this ride, but I’m lonely. By the time I complete it, the swallows will have left for their sojourn south and by the time I return the cuckoo will have started to call and in all of this time I will have spoken to very few people. Outside a small coterie of curious groups who gravitate to travellers like me and speak some English, nearly everyone I have bought drinks, food, rooms have not. Maybe because people services are at the lower end of the technological economic food chain so l don’t meet those who have studied more than was required. Equally I can barely get by in French. No Hindi. No Malay. Lots of Australian, but a default paradox sets in, where I’m going in Australia, they speak English but there are not many people on my route. 

Everything remains unfamiliar, words give me no meaning, it is all unfathomable. I leave happily but am following the shortest route to Singapore. It is dry, rain showers forecast later in the afternoon.

Whilst the world is no smaller than ever it was, the homogenisation of culture and commodities make it harder to find differences. We are more alike than not. Even though conversations are limited and whilst some of the world has had television for 90 years and others not, it's the smart phone that has upended everyone’s lives. What would have ignited curiosity and wonder when a traveller arrives merely competes with everything else for their time.

Malaysian house adverts show placements

for 3 cars. This is a normal middle class

family. Presumably as you climb up the 'I can

have what I want' scale that means more cars.

I stop at a gas station for a cold drink and a bowl of French fries. I sit motionless. Happily so. I think. Or maybe I am trying too hard, after all happiness is part of the package of being privileged and I am proud of all I have passed but I want to be home. I want to write postcards to my wife with flourishing remarks how I simply cannot exist another moment without her, and whilst I might have temporarily misplaced my reasoning for being here, or anywhere. I am still here and still alone. 

I set off again. 

Same with packaging everything with plastic,

often double layered. The River Mekon flows

with 40,000 tons of plastic dumped by the

Chinese and others, most of it gets washed up

at the Delta.

The day passes, my mood mellows and by late afternoon I have ridden 95 miles and  talked to myself cheerfully. It is difficult being a contented spirit through Summer through to Spring, living in every moment but in a different place every night. I stop in Teriang a small quiet town, the type of town you think everyone knows each other. My hotel is £10, my food from a charming street restaurant £3.

When I walk back the birds are still mumbling, sat or standing on electricity cables but in such profusion there are thousands. On the route, squarely sat in rubber plantations not from the river, large concrete warehouses, most abandoned, are inhabited by a city of birds and their cackles and cheek amplified by the space.

I buy a fruit tart and take it to my room. Finish my blog and go to sleep.

Map of the Day

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