Planet Kapow 34 : Panama City to Turbo (Darién gap)

Hola Amigos!


Here we go, the big moment when we crossed from the wonderful world of central america, to the unknown that is south america.


We missed out on the cheap flights from Panama to Colombia, and the $500 5 day yacht cruise wasn’t exciting anyone, so we found a 3rd option. Get to the eastern Panamanian coast and try to catch little boats/rafts/turtles to make our way to Turbo.

In the end it took us 4 days and a lot of waiting around…

But, I will say that it was definitely worth the experience. I have spent so much time sitting in a wooden boat complaining about how much my ass hurt.


Mujeres y Caballeros, here is ep 34! Make sure to check out Lachie’s writeup which goes right into the details of the journey to Colombia.



Day 27: Batu Pahat to Singapore

Could this be it???



But what a hell of day!

I was joking about having some contracted some kind of disease yesterday. But today I felt very ill all day. But it could just be fatigue combined with lots of mosquito bites. TIme will tell.


After working out what would possibly be our last route to take we said cheerio to Batu Pahat and headed to Pontian Kechil.

Luckily as we got into the ride my flu symptoms started to go away ad we were able to get some distance covered.


The road we should have taken

(The entrance to Singapore we think we should have taken).




After 100km or so we made it to the home stretch and everything was coming up roses. The guy at the toll booth / customs to exit Malaysia let us through without having to pay.


(free exit)







So here we are, passing into Singapore Immigration. Everything looked great. Until a couple of officials came running up to us and looked very worried.

We’d joked about how we’ll probably accidently break the law in Singapore.

Before we knew it we were inside explaining why we had ridden our bikes into Singapore.

Apparently it had been 20 years since the last time someone rode in through this bridge. Why?

Well it turns out …. IT IS ILLEGAL!

The Customs officials were going to send us back to Malaysia to reenter Singapore from the Jahor Bahru entrance. If I hadn’t just cycled 120km I’d have been ok with it but I was exhausted.

LUCKILY after a few phone calls to their superiors the Customs guys let us through and escorted us to the highway (which is also illegal to ride on).



(Tiger beer brewery!)



Awesome – Nicholas and I got flat tyres within 5 minutes of each other . It felt like we were never going to make it to Singapore!

So here we are. We made it to Singapore!

It feels weird. It’s been nearly a month on the road. We’ve ridden something like 2100km!

I have felt better.

Total KM: 150km

Day 11: Hat Yai (Thailand) to Langkawi Island (Malaysia)

I think since Nakhon Si Tammarat there has been a pretty gradual change in feel of “Thai-ness”.
The culture moves from predominately Buddhist to a mixture of both Muslim and Buddhist (and probably a bunch more).

My love for kapow-moo and lahd-nah is now replaced with a love for roti and beef curries. Yummo!
Yep, it’s all about the food.

We left Hat Yai around 7am and rode pretty solidly until Sadao where it started to hammer down rain, and not friendly warm rain, COLD bone chillin rain. We killed a bit of time there and I asked Nicholas if he thought this part of Thailand seemed a little ‘less friendly’ than the previous places we’d been riding through.


I found in Hat Yai, and en route to the border of Malaysia, people were more stand-offish and there weren’t the abundance of smiley Thai folks. We’re both not really sure why. We put it down to perhaps the recent murders and bombings that have been a big issue for the past few years. Anyway, it’s still very beautiful and the people are as well!

End Mission 1.

Begin Mission 2.

We made it to Malaysia!


1200km+ of pedalling along and who knows how many litre of water, sponsor, pepsi and other sugared drinks we are chilling on the island of Langkawi in upper west side Malaysia.

The border crossing was easy, took about 5 minutes to get out of Thailand – had to fill out the form – and about 5 minutes to get into Malaysia. The folks all laughed when we told them we were riding to Singapore, but then gave us props for riding all the way from Bangkok.

It wasn’t too strange riding into another country, except that the E1 doesn’t have any space on the side of the lanes for cyclers/breakdowns/dead dogs to go. But we soon headed west on the 194 and made it to Kuala Perlis. It was a pretty slow but nice ride, countryside is picturesque like Thailand but in some ways maybe even more green – is that possible?

Not a whole lot in Kuala Perlis except for some nice girls working at a cafe who helped us get lunch.
I realised that a few Bahasa Malay words sounded pretty damn close to the Bahasa Indonesia I learnt back in primary school and for a stint at Telopea Park high school. I can count from 1-10, say thankyou, ask how someone is, and what there name is. And sing some song about a hat on my head “topi saya bundar, bundar topi saya…..”

The reason for riding to Kuala Perlis was to get the ferry to Langkawi island.
Ferry – 18RM (Malaysian Ringgit – roughly 10 times less a number than Thai Baht) per person plus 10RM per bicycle.
The reviews i read on the net said that Langkawi is a place for old people and that if you are 2 girls in their early 20’s you would be better off heading to Phuket. I figured both Nicholas and I aren’t girls in our early 20’s and i don’t think much of Phuket anyway.

Oh yeah, Langkawi Island is TAX FREE. 1 Tiger beer – 1.8RM!


So here we are, in a place called Kuah, staying at the Hotel Asia for 40RM a night, drinking a cheap beer and wondering where to wander through Malaysia.

Tomorrow the plan is to ride over to Pantai Centang (Centang beach) and see what that’s all about.1

Total KM: about 100km