Day 351. 99km. Selitut – Similaju

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Cycling, Malaysia
Tags: , , , ,

‘Hey! You’re the 3 people cycling from Europe to Australia to promote saving water and using less plastic bottles!’
We had stopped in a truckie’s stop in the palm oil plantations. ‘You’re on the radio.’ I have no idea where that all came from.
The now famous Europeans are living it up in a dormitory settlement ‘Home away from home,’ for the local aluminium smelter workers. Air-con, a canteen, a shower and a pub with pool and beer. This is the life!

Green desert outpost

Green desert outpost

Today we were caught unawares. The rolling hills through the Iban people’s lands with many long houses and lots of food and water opportunities was suddenly replaced with a freeway through endless palm oil plantations. Cycling through the undulating landscape in the blistering heat with no shade found us running out of water. There was only the occasional tin lean-to with a security guard and nothing else. A green, hot desert where once there was tropical forest. Google sattelite view is depressing. Rows and rows of orderly lines. Rows and rows forming blocks and blocks, covering the landscape from the hills to the shore, and one wide freeway, plied by palm oil trucks, snaking its way to infinity in the heat.

We were helped by a very kind man from South Africa, working at the South African magnesium smelter which is being built. Fleeing from South Africa for the safety of him and his family, we heard stories from South Africa to curdle the blood. We also heard about the magnesium smelter here, which will process South African raw materials using subsidised electricity from the Malaysian government. Situated in the middle of this hot, green desert, the smelter will join the aluminium smelter and the village made from air-conditioned container buildings for the workers.
Will and I enjoyed an evening in this place with a frontier atmosphere, dining on the canteen food, playing pool and drinking a beer in the air-conditioned bar. The night-time heat hits you like a hammer when you leave the air-conditioning, though. We asked ourselves, how did we cycle 100km in today’s 47C heat?

Pool in the miner's township

Pool in the miner’s township

Comments
  1. Eliza Waters says:

    47???? OMG!!! I would think it impossible to stay hydrated.
    So sad about the palm monoculture. All the diversity of the rainforest and all its species gone. 😦

  2. dreiradfahrer66 says:

    Hallo Matthew!

    Endlich habe ich dich eingeholt 😉

    Vor fast zwei Wochen habe ich deinen Blog entdeckt und eifrig gelesen, was du auf deiner Reise erlebt hast. Jetzt bin ich bei deinem neuesten Post angekommen und bereue fast, dass ich nun auf jeden weiteren mindestens einen Tag warten muss.
    Aber großen Respekt dafür, dass, und wie, du es bis nach Borneo geschafft hast. Dabei bist du an einigen Orten vorbei gekommen, an denen ich – zum Teil mit dem Rad – auch schon war und teilweise ähnliche Erlebnisse hatte (Istrien, Laos, Kambodscha, Bangkok, KL, Singapur).
    Mein großer Traum ist es auch, einmal nach Sulawesi zu kommen. Vermutlich nicht mit dem Rad – das wird wohl ein Traum bleiben. Aber mal schauen…

    Bleib stark!

    Beste Grüße aus Salzböden!

    Marc

    • Hallo Marc.
      Danke schön für deinen netten Kommentar. Ich habe mich total gefreut den zu lesen!
      Du (und ich auch) muss nicht so lange mehr warten um über Sulewesi zu lesen. In 2 Woche oder so erwarte ich dort zu sein. 🙂
      Viele Grüße aus Labuan Insel nördlich von Brunei.

      Matthew

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