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Kuala Lumpur, and Longing for our Bikes

Monday morning, 9am. We’re in the huge foyer of the JPJ office headquarters in Putrajaya on a sort of governmental island filled with only government or civic buildings and teeming with clerks. Looking for the reception, a chap approaches us and we explain that we need road tax (according to the first agent we approached). He points us towards a glass fronted office off the foyer, we duly collect our queuing number and wait our turn. Finally called forward, the clerk patiently listens to us , calls her supervisor and he explains that road tax is only for Malaysian registered bikes- did we want to register our bikes in Malaysia? Explaining again that we were only transiting he finally understood and explained we needed the other building, the 3rd floor.

We duly left for the “Other building” and found the third floor, entered the office, queued for the desk where an Indian lady was processing someone’s licence. We explained our problem, she listened patiently and then said “Oh this is not the right desk, you need to go across the hall to the other desk.” Fixing a smile we thanked her and went across the hall to the other desk where another lady was sitting behind the glass. We opened our mouths to explain and she cut us off immediately- glaring at us and pointing at a register. Jabbing at it a couple of times we realised we had to sign in to be attended. Signing in, citing road tax as our reason, we sat back down and awaited summons.

Finally someone came to talk to us, we explained and the clerk look baffled and said we needed the desk across the hall. Clearly sensing our exasperation, he accompanied us to the hall opposite and spoke to the lady. Clearly he explained better than we did as she then willingly took our documents and started processing them. We sat back down and waited. Eventually a young guard came out and asked to see the bikes. We explained that they were in the port and can’t be released unless we have a document from them. He said he couldn’t issue an ICP (not road tax, as it turns out) until he’d seen the bikes. He retreated into the office and conferred with an older guard.

Two hours later, he re-emerged with ICPs! He explained they were only temporary and we’d have to bring the bikes back for inspection and re-issue of a more permanent ICP. We promised as such and ran off with our ICPs before anyone could stop us.

The next morning, we made our way to Port Klang to release the bikes. Arriving first thing in the morning we brought our carnets, documents, ICP, insurance and after submitting the invoice for the shipping and signing a letter of acceptance, we left the paperwork in the hands of the agent while we napped in their conference room. Customs stamped our carnets by 11am and inspected the bikes by 12pm (important as lunch is long on a Friday- if you’re late and miss the morning window then you’ll be pushed to 2:30pm for the inspection). We were then able to collect the bikes at 2:30pm!

Arriving at Port Klang, we surrendered our driving licence as ID before entering the bonded area. Finally, we saw Brunni on a forklift truck, wrapped up in her clingfilm! And Freja followed! We were so happy to see them after a month’s separation and worrying that we wouldn’t get them out at all. We spent a little while re-assembling them and re-attaching the battery. Within 20 minutes we were ready to go! A quick check of our carnets and a return of our licences, and we were off into the traffic of Kuala Lumpur.

While the bikes were on the boat from Canada, in January 2017, Thailand changed its law with respect to foreign registered vehicles. Now, one must get a permit to cross the country and pay for a 24 hour guide. Receiving quotes, we were dismayed to see that the price was between $2000-$4000 for 3 days not including the accommodation and food we’d have to cover for the guide and the driver. Moreover, the permit would take 30 days to process and also restrict entrance into Thailand. The plan initially was to cross from Malaysia into Thailand, through Bangkok to Cambodia and then after a tour of SE Asia, re-enter Thailand from Laos and cross to Myanmar. The 30 day wait and guide suddenly made this impossible- if it was so expensive just for a 3 day express crossing, a total of 4 days to Cambodia and then 3 days to Myanmar would be crippling for our budget and potentially impossible for multiple entries. Reeling from the shock we decided to register for a permit as that appeared to be the insisted requirement for a 3 day crossing from Malaysia directly to Myanmar. The permit would take 30 days to process so in the meantime, we decided to travel to Cambodia by air where we would be able to apply for our visa for India and see some of the country on foot if not by bike.

To our small comfort, we found that Air Asia offer really affordable flights so from Kuala Lumpur, we flew to Phnom Penh for less than the price of two tanks of petrol. Leaving our bikes in the garage of an understanding friend, we flew to our next adventure!

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