Current Location: Kuantan, capital of Pahang and Malaysia's second biggest port.
Distance Cycled This Trip: 1,198km.
Hotel Room Prices: RM50 to RM115 (NZ$17.60 to NZ$40.48)
Hotel Costs in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei tend to be at the higher end of the range, with peninsula Malaysia lower.
"How do I look," asks Judy the Stoker.
"Fine," I say. "Oh no, bit of loo paper on your cheek."
Judy has been using a scrap of toilet paper to wipe away the sweat. She brushes her cheek with her hand and smiles. "N.G. for G.G. (Governor General)," she says referencing the Australian comedian Norman Gunston who famously stuck toilet paper on his shaving cuts.
"How's my hair?"
"Fine," I say, both of us ignoring the stripe down the middle. Judy badly needs a hairdresser but is determined to hang on till she can go to her favourite in New Zealand.
She tucks her cycle helmet under her arm and heads for the swing doors to the hotel lobby, to find us a room.
It is a familiar routine. I put the tandem on its side stand, pull a water bottle from its rack and stand guard over the bike to wait.
A few minutes later Judy emerges, giving me a discreet thumbs up. That means a lot of things - she has found us a room for the night, the price is right, it has air conditioning, there is somewhere to store the bike and wifi is available. All of them are crucial.
We do not (generally) book in advance, which some people might think strange. Why not make it easy for ourselves by going online the night before?
The reality is that we often don't know where we will end up - road conditions, sights along the way, a puncture, even our own energy levels can all force us to change our plans. We do not want to be locked in.
Sometimes we are unaware if a town on our route even has a hotel. So far on this Malaysia trip we have only been caught out once and instead we found a (pretty dreadful) room to rent (a "bilik sewa").
Another advantage of just turning up is that it gives us the opportunity to check out our chances of storing the bike. One way or another, we always get it off the road but a hotel with a ground floor reception makes life a lot easier. Once Judy has sweet talked the person on the front desk, we roll it in through the front door and park it in front of them, or in a corridor not far away.
Often the really cheapest hotels have their reception areas on the first floor and the bike has to be person-handled up stairs and around tight bends - not much fun when we are hot and tired.
Almost as bad are hotel lifts. If there is no room downstairs, we can at a pinch get the tandem in a lift. But it means removing all the panniers and making sure they are safe while we angle the bike into the lift so that the front wheel is jammed against the roof and the back wheel is stuck in the far corner. It is harder than it sounds. As we try to get the bike in, the lift doors will be trying to squash us, the bike or any onlookers who get too close in their enthusiasm to capture our strange behaviour on their camera phones.
So when Judy emerges from a hotel and gives that discreet thumbs up, it is a heartening moment. We can both look forward to showers, time to relax and maybe even a beer if we can find one in this predominantly Muslim part of Malaysia.
Judy's Quotable Quotes
"So much goes on in a day, you get up, cycle and have no idea where you are going to stay that night."
Maps & Stats - copy and paste links below into your browser.
Mersing to Air Papan 16 km
Air Papan to Kuala Romkin 65 km
Kuala Romkin to Pekan 88 km
Pekan to Kuantan 52 km
Street scene, Kuantan.