It’s funny how some of the best trips are started from a random email. In this case an old friend Manish of Uniauto in India saying he was going over to a Malaysian scooter Karnival at the end of the month and did I want to join him. Perfect timing as we also had holidays in Vietnam and even better as it was my birthday so the tickets were booked and my first trip to Malaysia was set for the 25th.
A short 2 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur and then shuttle train express to downtown. The next couple of days were spent sightseeing including the city’s landmark The Petronas Towers and doing the tourist stuff. After a couple of days and only spotting 1 battered PX delivery scooter I was starting to wonder where the scoots would be coming from.
Manish introduced to us to a local guy Azmi who was setting up shop at the event so we met up for dinner before our departure to the event and went through the plan for the weekend. The following day Manish arrived and we headed off North along the Plas highway to our destination about 300km’s north in Kyala Kang Sar in Perak province. With the birthday party well underway in the hire van we started to pass some small groups of scooterists and late that evening arrived at a home stay for the night . In the early hours with no more beers or KFC left we crashed with an early start the following morning.
The event “Karnival Vespa Kuala Kangsar” was actually started back in 1998 unofficially when a number of scooters from the northern side of peninsular Malaysia start to gather during the public holidays which for the state is the celebration of the State Sultan's birthday and the official labour day for Malaysia which is on the 1st May . In 2002, When the state was holding the celebration for the DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan Perak, they started to invite local scooter clubs from all over Malaysia to join the event and last year over 3000 people attended. This year’s event was to be held at the same place the Arena Square of the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar.
The day before the event was pretty much spent helping Azmi and Manish set up their stall and even though the event didn’t officially start until the following day there were already a large number of scooterists arriving and many dealers had already set up shop. After nonstop binging all day, on every Malaysian dish in the local restaurant we headed off for an early night so we could be up bright and early for the Opening Ceremony which was to be officially started by the King and a number of local VIP’s.
About 8.30 I was woken up by manic banging on the hotel door! Thinking I’d over slept and missed the start of the event I jumped up to be told that we were to come immediately as the King wanted to meet me and Manish. I was just about to close the door and go back to bed when the guys insisted and said the royal car was waiting and the King had a trophy for us. Thinking that would like nice in the office I quickly showered and got ready and headed over to the event. We were met by the organizer who gave us a lesson in royal etiquette and then we were told to sit in the VIP area in front of the stage. After the opening speeches from a number of local dignitaries , the king then made his speech (who incidentally is a classic British car collector) and then we were up on stage to receive our trophy. After a quick chat about my first visit to Malaysia and Scootering in Vietnam we received the trophy for international visitors and then the event was officially declared open .
After the opening ceremony time to check out some of the scooters and scooter traders. The majority being Vespa PX and Sprint drivers but also a small number of Lambretta’s including some nice sx200’s, Tv200 and some series 1 and 2’s. Also quite of the few of Indonesian produced Excel models which are basically PX engines in a T5 style body and plenty of Vbb’s. The custom show awards were for Best Lambretta, most original and best custom and for the Vespa’s Best of show, most original, best Vbb (known as The Jobot?), best Rally, best custom and best modern auto. There were also a number of events including slow ride and what sounded like the most knackered exhaust competition.
The turnout for the day of registered scooters and classic bikes was 2907 while there were more than 4000 people overall at the event. The event had International visitors from Brunei, Thailand , Singapore, Indonesia , India and the Uk. The biggest group of over 150 came down from Thailand with many familiar faces from the Thai scooter scene.
The following day we headed back to K.L. with plans already on the go for us to come back next year after purchasing an Li3 which I’ve got a year to get ready. A Malaysian tourist advertisement stuck in mind when we were leaving – “Come as a guest , leave as a friend” and that’s exactly how we felt.
Big thanks to Azmi, Anne and Hill who looked after us throughout the visit and if anybody is in the area next year it’s an event well worth attending.