Unfortunately, proceeding with this long talked about road trip meant actually LEAVING the luxury of Doug and Lyn’s place in Singapore – which was a veritable paradise! (Thanks guys!)

So somewhat reluctantly we headed for the Second Link checkpoint into Malaysia. We didn’t really know what to expect – in my mind a thousand things could go wrong; they’d find the stove and think it was a campervan which are strictly NOT allowed in Singapore, there’d be a problem with the Carnet, they’d say the car had been imported into Singapore for too long, we would need cavity searches, they’d confiscate my box of Yorkshire tea. In my head, it was going to be traumatising!

I was so nervous of the 1st border crossing between Singapore and Malaysia I nearly had a hernia trying to sweep the car out. As it happened, no one was that interested in the car, or us for that matter (I know – what a shock).

Just as well, because in typical Joe and Penny style we rocked up completely unprepared – no foreign currency to pay for tolls, no idea what we had to do or say or get stamped... no idea where to go when we crossed the border. As Joe aptly put it as we drove over the causeway after the Singapore checkpoint ‘Is that it? Are we in Malaysia now?’

This border is clearly a finely tuned machine - more heavily frequented than the McDonalds drive through on Parramatta road – Singaporeans cross it just to play golf for the morning. The only thing that slowed us down on the Singapore side was getting the Carnet stamped. This little yellow booklet just seems to mystify people!

Once they’d checked the VIN number of the car they seemed happy to let us move on. No one even looked inside the car which I found surprising – why is it they scan your every possession at the airport but not overland?

Over a very short causeway we met the Malaysians who were once again mystified by the Carnet. We went through the declaration line to get some help and the guy went off to see his supervisor whilst the other guy just stood around chatting about the trip…with Joe, not to me.

After a while we were ushered into the office to show the guy which bits to stamp – using a stamp in Malaysia is obviously some sort of divine privilege as he studied the page for about five minutes before getting stamp happy and accidentally stamping the exit slip too – I thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown after that one.

5 minutes later there we were driving into Malaysia and upto the first toll booth. Which only took cash., of which we only had about $3 singaporean in 5c pieces. Luckily there were only about 50 trucks queing behind us, and the girl in the booth seemed completely unperturbed by their horns and abuse, and  after about 5 minutes of giggling and asking us whether we were sure we didn’t have any ringgit, she just let us drive through. What a sweetheart!  

We spent a baffling hour and a half blazing around Johor Bahru looking for a Kurnia Insurance office to buy some 3rd party cover – discussing at length why we’d bothered to buy the Garmin if we were too stingy to buy the maps for it.

Eventually, hot, sweaty and ready for a fight, we gave up and headed to the east coast.

Near Desaru in the south east, we drove up and down the resorts trying to find a spot to camp – we were determined to camp on our first night. After a while, we arrived at a resort and convinced them to let us camp for the handsome sum of 30rm. We then had to scare off the feral cats near the grotty beach and cook some noodles before climbing into a very warm roof tent and passing out, exhausted and feeling less than positive about the days experience. How could we have forgotten to buy beer? What have we got ourselves in for?