Some time has passed – not only since we have left Bangkok but also since we have started our journey in Germany about 14 months ago. We reached Singapore a few days ago and have been welcomed by wonderful Warmshower hosts. We are enjoying our last days in Asia and soon we will be cycling through North and South America as the second part of our journey. During the last couple of weeks we have cycled through Southern Thailand and Malaysia. It was fascinating to be back in a predominantly muslim culture after being in buddhist environments for so long. It seemed to us that their religion played a very important role in the lifes of the people living in Southern part of Thailand and the Eastern coast of Malaysia. Many women veiled themselves and men often wore traditional clothes and skullcaps. What was much more impressive than that though was the fact that many people were dedicating a lot of time each day to praying in the local mosques. Especially in the morning and evening many people were bustling around the prayer houses and met up for communal prayers.
We have spent a few nights under the roofs of different mosques along the way and especially on the evening of the first time we were awed by the beautiful and contemplative atmosphere. After the prayer we got into a conversation with some of them and shortly thereafter they invited us to camp in their garden instead. Another time we were still cycling on the road when a young woman on her motorcycle started talking to us – she as well quickly offered us to stay with her family for the night. Thank you very much for the hospitality and the fascinating conversations!
After a little while though we started looking for other options for spending the nights. We’ve never encountered any problems while staying at mosques but the calls for prayer before sunrise always cut our sleep short and the prayers always meant that a lot of people were passing through. Some mosques are not used to accomodating travellers and most of them only have one small building for the prayers and no other private spaces.
For doing something else than cycling we decided to take a weeklong break at Kapas Island on our way down to Singapore and to learn scuba diving there.
The tiny island off the Malaysian Eastcoast is little known and was the perfect spot for relaxing and having some quiet time away from the bustling mainland. We both loved the experience of scuba diving but it was a little bit tough on Samis’ ears unfortunately. But having the chance to explore the wonderful underwater world was very rewarding and we hope that we will have more opportunities to go scuba diving when we are cycling through Central and South America.
Sami had a very memorable experience in the second to last night before we reached Singapore. We had been cycling neverending palmoil plantations and had some difficulties finding a suitable spot to set up camp. Finally we found a little dirt track that lead us away from the road and to an open area with more than enough space for our camp. Soon we fell asleep under our mosquito net. After midnight Sami woke up and couldn’t get back to sleeping when he suddenly noticed rustling and snapping noises in the bushes around us. After a moment he discovered that the noise was caused by a herd of elephants that was passing by only about a 100m away. He was not sure at first what to do and I was still sleeping deeeply and completely unaware of what was going on around us. A few seconds later some elephants must have finally sniffed our scents and abruptly turned around to look for a safer passage through the bush. A few minutes later there was still a lot of noise in the bushes around us and suddenly a little elephant entered the open space and looked around curiously and sniffing the air with his trunk held high. The little one also noticed our presence a short time later and was startled by it and quickly went into the bushes again. After that Sami woke me up as well in case we needed to shoo the elephants to keep them from stomping on our camp and when they were finally gone it took us some time to calm ourselves again…
We have enjoyed our last weeks in Asia immensely and loved the exciting experiences we had and the wonderful people we met. Now it is time to say Goodbye to this continent and we are looking forward to new adventures on the next one.