1. At last, D Day arrived. Was up early this morning at 6 am to complete last bits of packing and did final checks before we set off on the Asean on Wheels at 9 am from Sunny's house. Monday morning was chosen to avoid the weekend heavy traffic at 2nd link. This was how the Pajero looked like with packing completed. Very full, but neatly packed with the toyoda boxes.
2. A number of friends found time to come and see us off - Benjamin Khoo (from Mitsubishi service centre), Leslie Chang, and Quek Bee Lan. Of course, there's Sunny family. Here are some pictures taken:
3. We were pleasantly surprised that the customs at the JB side allowed us passed without any check even though we had boxes and boxes of stuff in the back of the Pajero. Happily we set off on our journey. After 1 lunch and 2 rest stops, and after getting lost a little around KL, we were in Ipoh at about 5 pm; all in about 6 hrs of driving.
4. After 57 years, this is my first time to Ipoh. The approaches in and out of Ipoh are really quite stunning, with steep cliff hills that look like they had been scratched. The main streets are lined with pre-war looking buildings which must have been beautiful in their hey days. We were surprised that the town looked surprisingly quiet even though it was just early evening. There was more life the next morning, but still it somewhat lacked the buzz. Taxi drivers said that since the tin mines closed, many people had moved to bigger cities like KL for work. Also, the N-S highway now takes the traffic away from Ipoh.
5. We were thirsty by the time we reached our hotel, Rega Lodge, and longing for a beer after a whole day of driving. Sadly, the hotel restaurant did not serve beer. Decided to take a walk but still no luck with 3 other cafetaria/coffee shops. Eventually managed to get the beer at a seafood restaurant that was preparing to open for the evening. It seemed that restaurants/coffee shops would choose not to serve alcohols like beer if they want to attract Muslim customers.
6. Had a leisurely paced morning the next day (2nd day, 28 Apr). After breakfast in hotel, did some emails and completed another posting for the blog. At lunch, we were happy that we found a coffee shop that served bean-sprouts chicken, Ipoh's signature dish. Really quite good and Sunny would have more to say about this. Set out for Kangar (near to the border) after lunch. Would stay near the border for the night before crossing the border early the following day (i.e the 3rd day).