Sometimes we know we aren't ready for something .. but, if you wait around, very soon life will just pass you by. This was one of these occasions. I ordered some equipment from China, the parcels had been delayed in the Chinese New Year annual closedown. I wished for some new tyres that could handle the terrain, infact a new lighter bike would have been in order, but sometimes you just got to go with it. Time was also a deciding factor, I had been planning this trip for sometime and was itching to get away as this was my first weekend to get away since taking on a contract in November which coincidently was a 3 day holiday weekend in Thailand. I'm not too sure how I stumbled upon the information, but I was inspired to visit the Royal Belum State Park, on the northern Malaysian state of Perak. After reading about the visit by a Malaysian GS group whose blog I stumbled upon. I contacted the author and got some further details. He described the track as easy to medium, so I started checking google maps and continued with google earth, from the satellite imagery I could see that although the GS owners made it to a wild campsite, 16 km into the rainforest, the track continues for many more km, possibly 100 km or more ( You can see the track entering from the top left and exits in the bottom right, from right to left i estimate the distance to be around 20 km ) After just 10 minutes of research this was looking like a good trip. Heres some information culled from wiki on the area and its inhabitants. The park is home to several villages of Orang Asli belonging to the Jahai tribe, I have known about the Sakai for sometime, they are also found in Pattalung and Yala provinces. Southern Thai's make poured plaster models, a racially stereotypical character with black skin, black curly hair, big lips that wears a loin cloth and carries a blow pipe. They always remind me of an English garden gnome. Actually the real Sarkai look more like Australian aboriginals in some respect. Here are some great pictures I found on the Belum Outdoor website make your own mind up. ( Please note : They aren't my photo's. Credit to the original uploader ) The day prior I was waiting eagerly for the postman to arrive with the outstanding eBay goodies, a 12v air compressor and foldable LED camping lantern. I was disappointed. At 6.00 AM the next day, I was on my way, heading out of Hat Yai, bound for Betong. The road to Betong was as exciting as ever. I stopped off in town to fill my belly with Chinese 'Moo Deng' then to 7-11 to pick up water supplies and headed back in the direction of the Malaysian border with its familiar 'Kingdom of Thailand' lettering on the wall. After stamping out, I headed off to find bike insurance to enter Malaysia. I already had info that i could purchase it at a shop on the left in no-mans land, but on arrival I was directed towards a yellow awning on the right. I spoke to the occupant, an old toothless woman, who was relieved I could speak Thai. I was under the impression, that just like Sadao and Satun crossing there would be a Kurnia Insurance booth, I handed over an old cover note thinking it would hasten up the process, but just made things worse. The old lady was a rep for MPI Generali but she said she was cheaper than Kurnia. She checked and decided the insurance was now 900 THB for my Versys ( but it was 700 THB last time ) - thats not a great deal cheaper, but she said OK, OK, 700 .. I offered her the DLT translation document and a copy of my passport to save some time, which she snapped up and disappeared on her bike. 10 minutes later she re-appeared, the Kurnia computer was down, and would I mind having her company .. well, no but .. too late she was off .. to a shop on the opposite side of the road. 10 minutes later she appears with my cover note and a blank form for the Malay JPJ, this is the first time I had completed the form, its usually done by the insurance girls, but with a bit of help I managed it. I wish i could understand the Malaysian insurance system, on my Kurnia cover note, It was around 52 RM, this cover note is 48.31 RM. I got that last time, I payed 180 THB commission, but the toothless woman would have been quite happy to take a whopping 900B for a cover note that says the equivalent of 480 THB. After completing the paperwork, I headed off to Malaysia. First I saw the JPJ window and handed over my papers, then walked off to stamp my passport. When I returned the guys were out of the booth checking frame numbers, and asked to check my passport and drivers licence. I never had a problem with the JPJ, sometimes they can be a little slow, but these two were on the ball. I asked on the validity of licences and they asked where I was heading, one thing that struck me was how polite the affair was, these guys conducted themselves in a professional, friendly manner, the immigration guy was happy and laughed when I answered his questions with 'Jalan Jalan' or 'just walking' .. Why are things never this personal and pleasant in Thailand ? After every sentence the JPJ concluded it with face to face 'Sir', i wasn't talking through a crescent-shaped hole at the bottom of a mirror glass window Anyway, we can leave all that for TVF .. I continued out on Rte. 77, I checked the GPS, entered the town names and nothing, seems like OSM is a little underwhelmed in Malaysia. Instead I ignored the first sign which would have sent me down the 1157 instead, worked from memory and set off for Pengkahan Hulu, from there picked up the signs to Belum. After a while, I merged with Rte.4 on the outskirts of Gerik. Rte 4 appeared to be a awesome road, flowing between Penang on the West coast to the direction of Kota Bahru, in the East. I intended to stop at a curry stall and pick up a bag of Beef Rendang for my evening meal or maybe part of a chicken to BBQ, but all the roadside restaurants appeared closed .. Do Malaysians not eat ? Is Saturday an official closing day for curry vendors ? I stopped off at Shell garage to be greeted at the sight of twenty or so pristine litre sports bikes, gave them a nod, took a leak and headed off. As I left the Shell I was surprised, that I did'nt see any further businesses or residences for another 40 km until i made the turn-off to the launch point. I already had the coordinates plugged in to the GPS so finding the turn off wasn't too difficult, but I was confused as I hit a single track smooth downhill stretch of tarmac, which ended in my first encounter with the Orang Asli. It turned out to be a school, I stopped to see if anyone could start me off and was immediately mobbed by the young kids. No English was spoken and as I didn't know where I was going, how could I ask. On the way down the tarmac I saw a small iron bridge, so I left the little curly haired kids and headed off in the direction. As I approached I saw a caterpillar earthmover and a single graded track heading upwards behind a mound. I thought that was a safe bet. To Be Continued ..