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Kuala Lumpur, the Great Bike Preparation part 1

We were due to be reunited with our bikes in a week and after following various forums, we were well prepared for the documents we would need to clear shipping once they arrived. Before the bikes hit Malaysian soil, they would need insurance and an ICP (a circulation permit). Then one is required to engage with a local agent in order to complete the clearing process (a new regulation, the agent is required to give a formal acceptance of the vehicle being temporarily imported).  We were in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, where better to find the headquarters of all those insurance companies who want to make money?

Feeling fresh and rested from our weeks in Indonesia, we brightly made our way to Uni General Asia. Only to find that it was a Wednesday, and of course, it was shut. We left again for the next morning, feeling slightly less springy, queued up using the ticketing system (to Alex’s delight, a good queuing session is very satisfying) and waited patiently for an hour for our number to be called. We were called up, finally, and made our case, the lady was very sweet and kind and earnestly looked through all our documents. We explained that we needed insurance in order to get an ICP, in order for customs to stamp our carnet and release the bike. She nodded sympathetically and called her superior, explained the situation, gave us a 4 page form to fill out and made some calls. We filled the forms and handed them back and she brightly explained that the insurance is no problem once we get our carnet stamped by customs. Not quite believing that the last conversation had been completely ignored, we patiently re-explained that customs will not stamp unless we have insurance. She sighed deeply and said she’d have to email us after talking to her her superior’s superior. We thanked her and left empty handed, a little less rested or fresh.

On the way out we spotted Kurnia, we’d seen them mentioned in a bike forum so stepped in to ask if they could help. The woman brusquely sat us down, we said our spiel, by now a little less enthused than before, and sat back to hear the excuses. She said of course they would consider insuring us but only for a minimum of 12 months and we must register our bikes as malaysian and get road tax for them to consider us. Realising she’d totally misunderstood, Simon walked her through the request step by step. She shook her head and said they only insure Malaysian bikes.

The next step was securing the ICP. We’d heard the Malaysian automobile association could help with advice over insurance and on securing an ICP so we headed to their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. After walking an hour in the heat, we came across the Ampang Mall and made our way upstairs. We walked around, gazing dismally at all the closed down shops and offices. We came to the office we were looking for, only to find it long closed down. The neighbouring shop said they’d closed all their offices after going bankrupt 6 months earlier. Barely containing our frustration, we called it a day and researched other insurance agents in K.L.

The next day, a Friday, we set off for Zurich, having heard that they  insure everyone for anything. Picking up our ticket, and noting that we were 3rd in line (yipee!) we sat and waited. An hour and half later, we were called up. Again, we explained the situation, that we needed insurance before customs would stamp (makes sense, otherwise we’re riding from the port to town without insurance) etc… this lady seemed clued up, she said “No problem, I will call my boss, please wait.” We duly waited, and 30 minutes later she called us up and we spoke over the phone to the “Boss”. We explained that we needed only short term insurance to clear the bikes and then we’d be off to Thailand, easy job and easy money for any insurer.

“But these are big bikes!” Boss said. We explained that although the cc is high they’re not speed bikes and that the power is more designed for rough terrain.

“But will you race in Malaysia?” Alex had images of her being terrified of going over the speed limit at any point. “Uh, no, no racing.”

“Ok, I will call back in a minute.” This was becoming like a game of Deal or No Deal, waiting for the phone call to ring with a deal.

Another half an hour went by when the phone rang. Optimistically, we walked over to the desk and spoke to the Boss. She explained that because the bikes were ‘so powerful’ she couldn’t make a decision and that unfortunately her boss was out of the office so we’d have to come back Monday. Feeling pretty pissed off that we’d spent 3 hours of our life waiting for someone to make a decision when she knew she couldn’t make the decision herself, we marched out of the insurance office. This was the last straw!! We’d been avoiding our plan B as it was tiring but it looked like it was necessary. Plan B was to drive all the way to the Thai border (470km north) and secure insurance from the on site agents there and come back). We hired a car on Saturday and off we went.

Once we reached the border, after almost walking over the border to Thailand, we finally spotted a tiny tattered parasol by the side of the road with ZURICH emblazoned across it. We walked over and 10 minutes later, we were both insured for a month in Malaysia. The ease of it was irritating after our palaver in K.L. but clutching our papers we hared back to Kuala Lumpur in time to try to return the car.

We made it back to K.L. but by now it was 10pm on a Saturday and the traffic had slowed to molasses. We crawled 50m along the main artery into town to see the police had closed off 2 of 4 lanes in order to check all the scooters coming through for their papers. We were glad, in that moment, to be the holders of insurance. The next step was the ICP at the transport department and then we could clear our bikes!


  1. Francine on 05/03/2017 at 9:06 am

    Kafka comes to mind!

  2. Francine on 05/03/2017 at 9:07 am

    Kafka revisited.

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