Tuesday, September 18, 2012

kkb to fraser's hill

photo: obligatory photo with the clock tower at fraser hill's town center.

had a sudden thought about going somewhere further for the 3-days long weekend due to the malaysia day holiday, and saturday saw me driving from kulim at ungodly early morning hours towards the small town of kuala kubu bharu in selangor along with the bike, from where i'll begin the climb up fraser's hill. yes, it's a bit expensive and time-consuming to drive long distances like this, but considering i've not visited fraser's hill before, oh well, why not?

photo: reaching the gap; ~9km more to the peak.

with the 2nd road between the gap and peak now open, the old odd/even hours system for ascending/descending using the original one-way road is no longer in effect. the old road is now used for uphill traffic only, while the newer road is used strictly for coming down, and there is no more having to wait for turns going up and down the final stretch to the peak like how it used to be. also it appears that the old route is more recently resurfaced and hence in much better conditions than the newer route used for descending.

photo: archway before 'the gap' guardhouse.

originally, this was meant to be a warm-up for another bigger climb the next day, but unfortunately, a slight lapse of concentration during the descent resulted in me taking a tumble while negotiating one of the many twisty corners. nothing too serious, but it was enough to put a halt on the remaining plans for the weekend. sigh...

photo: abandoned guesthouse and suspension bridge at 'the gap'.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

kuala kubu bharu - fraser's hill - return, via federal route 55 & 148.
total distance cycled: 86km

elevation profile (from gps tracking):

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

gerik to titiwangsa r&r

photo: lookout point at titiwangsa r&r

in the middle of the climb: f**k, there's no way i'm going to do this again.
reaching the titiwangsa rest stop: finally...
during the long, fast descent later: hell yeah, let's do this again!

photo: resting under the shade of a small tree.

the weather was nice most of the way, other than the haze this time of the year. it was foggy early in the morning, and stayed cloudy until a little past noon. but it was hot during the climb out from pulau banding back to gerik late noon later.

titiwangsa r&r/rest area is located at roughly the highest point on the east-west highway route, 1,050m above sea level, and 67km from perah r&r in gerik. temperature was cooler up here, and there was a constant breeze blowing by. the store here was open although there were very limited food selection due to the fasting month. i was worried that it'll be closed and hence carried over 4 liters of water, plus some food, to last the whole trip (don't want to risk having to drink the water off temenggor lake later...).

photo: please excuse the trash bin - it was there and i needed something to prop up the bike for photo...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

gerik (hentian perah) - pulau banding - titiwangsa r&r - return, via federal route 4 a.k.a. the east-west highway.
total distance cycled: 137km

elevation profile (from gps tracking):

Saturday, June 9, 2012

perlis trip (day 2 & 3, of 3)

photo: along chuping road.

decided to just check-out from brilliant inn today and not bother with staying another night after all. i was thinking to maybe overnight in kangar instead for a change, or if i had sufficient time in the evening and we didn't get a heavy evening tropical rain today, i'd move on to either jitra or alor setar, which will be only around 2 hours extra from kangar. that'll cut short my return journey on the third day too.

started the day heading east towards pauh, where there were some sort of morning market going on with various stalls along the road. a little further, the road merged into changlun - kuala perlis highway. a junction on the left, unmarked on google maps, has a signboard indicating that it leads to chuping, so i took this instead of another main road junction further away. at the roundabout towards felda chuping, there are 2 concrete signboards declaring chuping as the hottest place in malaysia, and also as the largest sugarcane plantation in malaysia.

photo: the hottest place in malaysia? okay...

40.1 degree celcius as the hottest recorded temperature? hmm.. my cycle computer showed up to 42 degree in the afternoon heat around perlis, and that was while constantly on the move. stationary, it'll shoot up a few degrees more.

very few vehicles on the chuping road early in the morning, and hardly any other cyclists too. heading northwards, there are more 'ups' than 'downs' - not sure why i always managed to pick the harder direction to ride on.

photo: along chuping road.

chuping, with a large area dedicated to sugarcane planting, has always been a unique scenic place to pass through in Malaysia, especially when the planted sugarcanes are matured enough. the chuping road, passing right at the edge of these plantations, was a joy to drive through when i was here a few years ago.

sadly, on this trip, there were hardly anymore sugarcane plants left around. hmm... maybe it was just past harvest season? a chat with a local cyclist at the lookout point on the road to wang kelian later revealed the sad news - there will no longer be any sugarcane mass-planted there, where they once used to stretch wide and far into the horizon. the last sugarcane harvest recently was the final batch, and the whole area will now be planted with rubber trees instead.

maybe it makes sense from an economic standpoint, but to me, that place used to have one of the nicest memorable scenery in perlis. and now it's gone...

photo: ostrich birds playing dead.

nearing padang besar, a passing car's wheel hit a small rock and flung it towards me, striking the front wheel. it made a really loud metallic sound - luckily no obvious major damage, spoke breakage etc... and luckier still that it didn't hit me instead. didn't bother to go into padang besar town, and turned left towards kaki bukit instead. there's an osctrich farm midway, with a few birds out on display for visitors.

there were quite a lot of vehicles heading towards wang kelian, likely due to the school holiday season. the road to wang kelian passes over a ridge, and some of the hairpin turns on the climbs are crazily steep on the inside corners. with many cars passing through, it was a bit dangerous to move to the less steep outside corners, and coupled with the unbalanced pannier on the back, i had to shamefully admit that i got down and push through many of the hairpin corners...

photo: hairpin corners at the climb towards wang kelian..

it was another hot day, and although there are two gazebos for resting near the lookout point, they are both located at lower areas and do not offer the same view from the higher lookout area itself, which is just an open area. from here, one gets a wide view of the surrounding locations, including the timah-tasoh lake which is an artificial lake created for hydroelectric power generations.

didn't proceed to wang kelian weekend border market as that'll mean another steep climb under the searing sun on the return journey, and anyway i've been there before. a unique aspect of the wang kelian weekend market is that malaysians can venture across the border into the thailand side of the market without needing passport (just identity card is enough), as long as they stay within the market area. this also applies for thai nationals crossing over to the malaysian side of the market as well.

photo: lookout point along the road to wang kelian; timah-tasoh lake at background right.

coming back down from the wang kelian road towards kaki bukit village was a speedy affair. took the less-used village roads on the west side of the timah-tasoh lake to head towards kangar. this route passed through mostly rubber tree plantations around the lake area, before opening up into paddy fields further south.

photo: kangar waterfront.

traffic was light in kangar, but the mid-afternoon heat made it a little unbearable for slowly exploring around, so i decided to just pass through onwards to alor setar. at least when cruising at sufficient speed, i generate my own wind to cool down a little...

photo: crossroad between changlun - kuala perlis road and kangar - alor setar road.

a long, straight stretch of the kangar-alor setar road runs right beside a wide water canal, and here, one has the option of taking the small village roads that run parallel on the other side of the canal - being further away from the busy traffic of the main road and more enjoyable. there are small bridges linking both sides of the canal at short intervals.

photo: water canal running alongside kangar - alor setar road a.k.a federal route 7.

further on, at one stretch, there was a long queue of cars stuck waiting before one particular traffic light junction, and it was so much fun breezing past what must have been over a kilometer-long queue of slow-moving cars, with wide road shoulder to ride on too. of course, all the cars overtook me again as soon as they cleared the traffic light. hmm... bad traffic light timing here?

riding in the busy alor setar city traffic was no fun, and riding on clipless pedals made it scarier in the start-stop conditions of a heavy jam. add to that impatient car drivers that just squeeze into any available spaces, creating their own new lanes and blocking off passages for two-wheeled traffics on roads that do not have any shoulder space to ride on in the first place. sigh...

wasn't sure of the accommodation options around here as it was not in my original plan to come to alor setar, so just rode around randomly looking for places to stay with reasonable price. but the aforementioned traffic condition was making this exercise a little tiring - so finally, just whip out the phone, fire up the gps navigation app, go to list of nearby POIs (places of interest) for accommodation places, then check online for contact numbers as well as photos and user reviews, and call ahead to enquire for room availability and prices before heading there. having a smartphone with data plan is definitely very useful in these kind of situations :).

and so, accommodation for the night was at bee garden motel, very close to alor setar tower. $55.50 for a regular double. bikes not allowed in the room, but they have a big storage room on the ground floor to store the bike, and the front desk is staffed round-the-clock. however, the free wifi signal in my room at 3rd floor was very weak and i could hardly get any useful connections.

photo: night view of alor setar tower against an (almost) full moon.

dinner was at a nearby food court - as usual for trips like these, it'll be double the usual portions for me to stock up on energy.

apparently, the room cleaning people appeared to have forgotten to put the towels in my room, and when i want to check out in the morning, they actually have someone go up to check the room first and then tell me the towels are missing. excuse me but there was no towel provided in my room in the first place. after a few phone calls around only do they return back my deposit (it was $50). btw, of all the cheaper/little-to-no stars places that i have stayed at so far, this is the first place that actually finds the need to have a staff inspect the room first before returning the deposit money (many places don't even collect any deposit to begin with). are many people around this city so dishonest that they have to do that? just wondering...

didn't visit much places in alor setar as most places will not be open so early in the morning, and i don't really fancy hanging around longer as it'll get hotter further into the day, so just stop at some places along the way for a few photos. and then, it was straight back to kulim, stopping only for drinks and short rests. wasn't in the mood to detour around today.

photo: alor setar clock tower.

photo: balai besar.

photo: masjid zahir.

photo: nobat tower (behind the white arch door, duh)

photo: random traffic light junction.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

day 2: arau, perlis to alor setar, kedah via pauh (r6) - chuping (??/1002) - padang besar (r16) - wang kelian (7/r15) - kangar (r15/7/r144/r121/r5) - alor setar (7).
day 3: alor setar, kedah to kulim, kedah via gurun (1) - padang serai (1/67/k824/136) - lunas (136) - kulim.

total distance cycled: 140km (day 2) / 108km (day 3)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

perlis trip (day 1 of 3)

photo: the "old folk's home" from the 2011 malaysian movie "Great Day/天天好天"

this will be my second visit to perlis - the first was a day trip a few years back using the car. originally i had a different destination in mind, but due to the lack of base mile training rides recently, decided to change to perlis instead for a shorter, less taxing trip. and so, taking advantage of the longer weekend due to a public holiday, the new plan was to ride to perlis on saturday and overnight there, and spend sunday exploring around perlis before returning on monday. and once again, the rear rack and pannier is called into service.

only around 70km+ into the journey, around simpang empat, the front tire flatted out. and it was a fast leak. not a good sign now was it? seemed like there were many patches of glass shards along the road from vehicle accidents, just swept to the road side and left there, and i probably picked up one of those along the way that caused this. and so, here i was, experiencing my first roadside tube change...

photo: getting a puncture on the front wheel, just a few hours into the first day of the trip. sigh...

i couldn't seem to find the cause of the puncture though after running through the internals of the tire a few rounds with my fingers - although there's a ~1mm hole on the tube. anyway, the replacement tube held up fine for the rest of the trip, but note to self, next time don't buy a tube with short valve - it's a bit inconvenient to use...

not sure if it's the tire that's crappy or just due to the higher mileage that i'm doing this year, but i did not get a single puncture last year, yet this is already the second puncture for the year - the first was a slow leak on the rear tire that i only discovered after finishing the ride previously.

nearing mergong, the sky ahead appeared to have started drizzling, so i stopped at the next Caltex fuel station ahead for a short break. anyway, the drizzle lasted for mere minutes, but thankfully it helped to bring the afternoon heat down a little. the not so good side of this was that there were now water puddles around on the road to avoid.

photo: powerline stretching over wide paddy fields.

turned off from the main kangar-alor setar trunk road towards the coastal area a little too soon when i saw the signboard for kuala sanglang, and then recalled that the correct road junction should have been after the perlis border instead, which i have yet to cross over. anyway there were small roads linking across the river/canal towards the coastal road on perlis side, so it's fine.

a few wrong turns later, i finally saw the signboard for 'jalan pesisir pantai' which is the road running right beside the coastal area of perlis that i wanted to ride through. the sea was at low tide though, so the views were more of mudflats than seawaves crashing onshore. large rocks were lining the small space between the road and the sea, presumably to prevent erosions. sadly, it appeared that there are hardly any sandy beaches along the coast of perlis... but then, langkawi island is just nearby.

photo: cooling down under the shade of a tree.

photo: approaching kuala sungai baru fishing village.

riding on coastal roads like these also meant being exposed to strong winds, and unfortunately, it was a strong headwind for me all the way to kuala perlis. even trying to maintain 20km/h on an essentially flat route turned out to be a struggle. it would have been so much fun riding from the opposite direction instead...

photo: a restaurant building jutting out over the sea.

photo: more coastal road.

closer to kuala perlis, plenty of roadside stalls start popping up into view, their proprietors getting ready for probably another evening of weekend diners crowd.

photo: entrance to perlis combined-cycle power plant.

kuala perlis around the jetty area was a mess of long queues of cars and seas of people, likely due to the public holiday, school holiday and weekend combinations. decided not to stop here after all, and navigating out from the horrendous traffic here, i went in search of the so-called 'rainbow house' nearby. glad that i didn't plan to stay overnight in kuala perlis in the first place.

this 'rainbow house' - as it is referred online - is the colorful house used as a location for the malaysian movie Great Day (天天好天). the actual location is in the nearby seberang ramai village, further north across the river from kuala perlis jetty.

photo: paddy field at seberang ramai.

heading to arau, while trying to return the water bottle to its holder, i misjudged and dropped the water bottle onto the road instead. had to quickly dismount, ran over and kick it out of the way of an approaching lorry before the lorry make a pancake out of it...

accommodation for the night was at brilliant inn in arau, near the local fire station. $58 for a standard double. they're ok with me bringing the bike into the room. i had booked a room in advance this time around due to the holiday season, and rightfully so, as both this inn and the nearby metro inn are both full for the night. went for a walk at the nearby c-mart shopping complex to look-see before a late dinner at a nearby stall.

originally i had wanted to extend my stay here another night (i had booked for only one night just in case something came up and i couldn't make the trip), but the front desk girl seemed intent on making it hard for me to do so. twice i asked, twice i'm told that she'll let me know later at night as she needs to confirm the existing reservations first. the third time i went to the front desk to ask, she was gone for the day, and the night shift person can't make decisions on reservation matters. a quick check on agoda (where i made the reservation for the first night) showed 5 rooms still available for booking for tomorrow. duh...

and also, is a floor mat so expensive that there is none provided, causing me to have to leave trails of water all over the room's tiled floor everytime i have to go into the bathroom? but otherwise, the room (and the place itself) is fine, just disappointed with the poor service from the front desk with regards to extending my stays.

photo: in the motel room with the bike...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

day 1: kulim, kedah to arau, perlis, via lunas/padang serai (136) - gurun/simpang empat/mergong (k824/67/1) - air hitam (k139/7) - kuala sanglang (7/k102) - kuala sungai baru (r152) - kuala perlis (r152/81) - seberang ramai (r144/r100/r103/r105/r107) - arau (r103/194/7/186/r145/179/r3/r6).
total distance cycled: 183km

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

gerik to pulau banding

photo: at banding island public jetty

was planning to cycle the stretch from kupang to pulau banding last sunday, but woke up late (stop snoozing the alarm, dammit!), and then in the rush of things, forgot to bring along the helmet and only realized it after setting up the bike at kupang. not feeling confident bombing the hilly descents on the route without anything between my head and the hard tarmac in case shit happens, and considering the sun was already up quite high, plan cancelled and i did only a short stretch up till a little past r&r bintang hijau on the baling-gerik route before turning back...

tuesday, labor day holiday. having cycled the baling-gerik road twice now, this is my first time driving through this road. sometimes i wonder why i choose to torture myself on the bike when i can easily drive around with the car instead? err.. anyway, today i chose to start from hentian perah r&r in gerik instead for a little variety...

it was around 12km from hentian perah before the start of the climb. and i saw another r&r area closer to the climb (don't remember the name), but it's smaller and seems like not much people are stopping there, so i guess the perah r&r is a safer place to leave the car due to the relatively higher traffic there.

photo: a small truck lost control on the downhill towards gerik

a short while later, a tow truck passed me, then a police car, followed by an ambulance and fire engine. further ahead, a small truck had apparently lost control and crashed into a tree at the roadside. not sure what happened to the driver, didn't linger around to find out. the truck was still there when i passed by again later on the return journey.

photo: the occassional many-wheelers truck plying the route.

generally the climbs up until banding are broken into short stretches with easy areas in-between, so no crazy long steep climbing here. in fact i think none of the stretches are really any steeper than 3% average? definitely easier than the baling-gerik route.

photo: on the bridge heading onto banding island.

finally arrived at banding island after around 37km into the ride. banding lakeside inn is perched on higher ground on the right side before the bridge onto banding island, while the entrance to belum rainforest resort lies on the other end of the bridge. the room rates for both are pretty expensive though for the average malaysians... so much for trying to encourage malaysians to visit local holiday destinations. for a cheaper option, there appear to be a floating chalet on the end of the second bridge leaving the island towards jeli - not sure what is the room rates and conditions though, didn't went down to check.

photo: signboard on the titiwangsa range side before the bridge heading onto banding island.

the public jetty is on the island side of the bridge heading towards jeli, where the police jetty is also located. there are toilet and a small eatery here, and you can buy bottled water from here as well.

banding island is actually a man-made island, created when the surrounding area was flooded after the construction of the temenggor dam there.

photo: at banding island public jetty

compared to the baling-gerik route, the road surface of the east-west highway stretch between gerik and banding feels much rougher, which makes for a lot of rough vibrations transmitted to the handlebar, making high-speed descents here less enjoyable comparatively. and at a bridge not far from hentian perah, the road condition is so bad with potholes everywhere. i realized that i got a bad ~1 inch cut on the rear tire when cleaning the bike later, which i strongly suspect happened at this bridge. the cut appeared to be past the fabric layer already, but suprisingly the inner tube didn't puncture. sigh... there goes more money for a new tire, when this one had barely done less than 2k mileage.

photo: a brief 'picnic' at the roadside to cool down from the afternoon heat.

actually, i had wanted to climb up until the titiwangsa r&r further ahead, but today, laziness triumphed... the hot weather is also another excuse to not go further - at just 10am, i can already feel the sun's heat burning on my skin. the next time i'm here, i'll be sure to make it up to there...

and btw, no other cyclists was seen along the way here today.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

gerik (hentian perah) - pulau banding - gerik, via federal route 4 a.k.a. the east-west highway.
total distance cycled: 80km

elevation profile (from gps tracking):

Monday, April 2, 2012

kupang to gerik and pengkalan hulu

photo: foggy scene along the hilly road to gerik

didn't feel like doing another century ride this weekend, so opted to drive over with the bike to kupang town in the nearby baling district and start from there instead, and hence avoiding the ~100km return trip on the long, straight, boring stretch of route 67 between baling and kulim.

the k173/a173 route (a.k.a baling - gerik road) linking kupang in kedah to gerik in perak state has 2-lanes in the direction with long climbs and sometimes both directions in certain sections, but otherwise are single lanes mostly. there wasn't much traffic early in the morning, and the slight foggy condition provided for a cool relaxing ride.

detoured into the junction towards gerik town, and stopped at a random shop for a light breakfast of noodle and coffee before continuing towards pengkalan hulu (a.k.a kroh) on route 76 (baling - kuala kangsar road). had initially planned to stop for lunch at pengkalan hulu town, but wasn't feeling hungry then and decided to just pass thru.

photo: along the descent into klian intan

somehow the town planner in pengkalan hulu decided that it'd be good to put plenty of small, raised reflectors on the sides of the main road to help motorists see the road sides, but have they stopped to think that it is really a hazard to cyclists? i had to ride further out on the road than usual to avoid these roadside reflectors, or risks getting thrown off-balance by those pesky little things. i don't even understand why they're needed at all - it's mostly level grounds beside the main road, not some plunging slopes...

i've done the downhill from pengkalan hulu into baling town before, and i have to say that i really dislike this route. the road condition is pretty rough, and the chatters and shakes induced by the bad road surface at high speed really, really hurt the hands. and towards the end of a long descend, you're presented with a stretch of those painted yellow strips across the road that acts like mini bumps, and no way to avoid these by taking the side of the road, because... yes, those pesky raised reflectors mentioned earlier made themselves comfortable on this short stretch as well...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

kupang - gerik (k173/a173) - pengkalan hulu (76) - baling (76) - kupang (67)

total distance cycled: 122km

elevation profile (from gps tracking):

Monday, March 26, 2012

sitiawan (overnight bike trip)

photo: at the temple at pasir panjang

the main purpose of this short overnight trip is actually to test out the recently acquired rear rack and pannier bags setup for feasibilities and also identify and iron out any potential problems/weaknesses prior to any future longer trips. my primary concern was that the bike wasn't designed for rack/pannier setup in the first place, being a lightweight racing geometry bike. well, i can report that the set-up sort of works ok for a light touring setup that i had in mind, although the handling isn't as nice as usual due to the extra weights at the back. but there are some issues i had with the rack's design that i may review in a separate post later. was actually thinking of heading to ipoh, but then decided that a smaller town would probably be more interesting on a bike rather than a big city...

after having switched to clipless pedals more than a month ago, i finally had my first clipless pedal "malfunction" today... starting from a standstill, i had my right foot already clipped in, but then i probably over-compensated for the unbalanced pannier on one side, and started to tilt to the right side. in my mind, "oh shit..." and by the time i managed to disengage my right foot, it's too late to stop the inevitable fall. anyway, apart from a scraped knee, slightly torn handlebar tape (now i have an excuse to change the easy-to-dirty original white bar tape to other colors), the chain came off, minor scratches on the rear rack, and more importantly a bruised ego, everything else appeared to be fine. happened right in front of yut sun restaurant in taiping as i was leaving after an early lunch. an uncle came out to help hold the bike while i reattach the chain, and at the same time gave me a series of "you young people"-type of lectures when i do certain things my way instead of what he suggested... anyway i'm grateful for the assistance :)

from taiping, i headed towards air kuning/changkat jering (follow the signboard to "ipoh - tolled" route when you come to a traffic light junction with tolled and non-tolled options, but continue straight past instead of turning into the north-south highway interchange) and onwards to terong. when mentioning charcoal factory, kuala sepetang is more well-known in perak, but there is also another charcoal factory at kuala trong for those that may be interested for a visit.

note that when approaching pantai remis town on route 60 (from the north), the road shoulder soon practically dissappeared all the way until the junction to damai laut, leaving one to jostle for space with other engine-powered counterparts. and there's a lot of large, heavy vehicles (think trucks, lorries, container trailers etc.) passing through this road. and the road quality isn't very good either, where you have to constantly dodge cracks, sandy patches, rocks etc.. all these while being repeatedly passed closely by the aforementioned huge vehicles at high speed... frankly, unless you need to go somewhere accessible only from this route (e.g. the segari turtle conservation center), do yourself a favor and avoid cycling this stretch where possible.

photo: with the largest turtle at segari... or maybe not.

segari turtle conservation center is a 7km detour (one way) from the main road. there are adequate signboards pointing at the junctions to take. you'll first reach an observation tower with the signboard "baitul hilal" - it is apparently used for new moon sightings to determine the starts of islamic month of fasting/ramadhan and also raya. go around this building and the segari center is at the end of the road. other than the segari center, there is another one on the west coast side located at pantai kerachut in penang.

there are 3 large bridges to be crossed before entering into sitiawan town, with the first of these being the majestic raja permaisuri bainun bridge, currently the second longest river bridge in malaysia. the views from atop the bridge of the surroundings were pretty nice, with the lumut port/shipyards on one side, and mostly green undeveloped area on another side. i arrived in sitiawan quite a bit later than planned, and missed out on some of the online food recommendations - the pau (bun) at yee si restaurant was already sold out, and manjung rojak was closed. managed to try james cendol (with the trademark red bow tie) and manjung coconut jelly though, with the latter also available in penang at jalan dato keramat.

over at pasir panjang nearby is a chinese temple with various huge (granite?) statues facing the sea. from sitiawan town (the crossroad with kfc at the corner), head towards kampung koh, and then take the junction to pasir panjang on the right side. then go straight past a crossroad with traffic lights until ending at a T-junction. from here, the only signboards pointing there is in chinese characters (in yellow background - just follow these). of the various huge statues, there is one of 'guan yin' holding a jar on one hand, from where water is flowing down and collected in a big jar underneath for people to scoop up and take away.

photo: at the temple at pasir panjang

accommodation for the night was at lee garden hotel near the local tesco (technically it is in seri manjung area rather than sitiawan town proper), RM55 for a room with double bed (aircond/hot shower). they're ok with me taking the bike into the room, although they also have space at the back on ground floor (staff area) for storing the bike.

by the way, i noticed lots of ugly swiftlet nesting structures built everywhere along this trip, and even converted from unused shophouses, with annoying recorded chirping sounds playing back on endless loops to attract the birds in. some are even right in front of people's homes! wonder how they cope with it.

the next morning, i made a detour to kampung koh's morning/public market for breakfast at the noodle stall before continuing the journey back to kulim. this would be my only solid food for the rest of the journey today, and multiple cans of red bull energy drinks fueled the rest of the return journey.

from kampung koh, i headed towards ayer tawar, and onwards on the dual-lane ipoh-lumut trunk road before turning towards beruas. the presence of large groups of people at the chinese cemeteries along the way, burning paper offerings, was a reminder that 'qing ming' is around. from beruas to batu hampar/terong, the road has many twists and turns, good for keeping one from falling asleep due to the monotony of a long straight road (especially when passing through wide swaths of oil palm plantations). from terong to changkat jering was the same stretch of road that i passed yesterday. from changkat jering, i took the federal trunk road no.1 for a long stretch until around sungai bakap in penang, bypassing taiping town. mainly i just wanted to use a different route that doesn't pass through selama as i've been around that area many times already.

turning into the junction towards tasek, the sky in front was veiled in deep dark shades of blue... rain clouds. the drizzle started soon after and became progressively heavier until the junction in front of kulim police district headquarter. and then the sky cleared with the sun out again after i reached the house in kulim. damn...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  • kulim to sitiawan (day 1) via sungai tengas (136/K907) - selama (K7) - kubu gajah/pondok tanjong/kamunting (A7) - taiping (A2) - air kuning/changkat jering (A109) - terong (60/A103) - pantai remis (A101/60) - segari (60) - sitiawan (60/A177)
  • sitiawan to kulim (day 2) via kampung koh (5) - ayer tawar (A125/5) - beruas (71) - batu hampar (73/60) - terong/changkat jering (60) - simpang/bagan serai/parit buntar/nibong tebal/jawi/sg. bakap (1) - tasek/junjong (P145) - kulim (K145/K12/136)

total distance cycled (including detours):
  • day 1: 209 km
  • day 2: 183 km

amounts of isotonic and red bull drinks consumed: enough to get isotonic drink poisoning, if there is such a thing... (note to self: mix a bit more plain water in next time!). and i just realized that the oversized downtube design on the bike actually functions well as a makeshift front fender in case of rain...

Monday, March 19, 2012

bridge to pulau bunting

a.k.a "satu lagi projek kerajaan barisan nasional" to cheat the taxpayers' money... why build such an expensive bridge to an uninhabited island?

a few years back during the construction of the bakun dam in sarawak, a timber company installed iron bridges over some rivers to facilitate their logging activities, and those bridges at the same time created a safer link for the native people living in the deep interior areas to travel out to town for basic necessities, medical helps etc.. but after stripping bare all the valuable trees from the area, the timber company moved out and dismantled those iron bridges with little care for the well-being of the locals. after some local uproars, a replacement wooden bridge was built, and that bridge was swept away by heavy river current not long after...

and here, we have such an extravagant 2km+ concrete bridge lying in the middle of nowhere for no one. there is not even a proper access road leading to the bridge - the last kilometer or so is unsealed rocky path wide enough for only one car to pass through.

kulim to bunting island in sedaka, yan, kedah via lunas/padang serai (136) - gurun (k824/67/1) - sedaka (k144) - bunting island bridge; and return via yan (k1) - gurun (k146) - padang serai/lunas (1/67/k824) - kulim (136)

total distance cycled: 180 km

Monday, March 5, 2012

taiping, and the first century ride

Photo: at taiping lake garden

kulim to taiping via sungai tengas (K907) - selama (K7) - kubu gajah (A6) - bukit merah (A111) - semanggol (A4) - kamunting (A7) - taiping (A2), and return via kamunting (A2) - pondok tanjong (A7) - kubu gajah (A7) - selama (K7) - sungai tengas (K907) - kulim (136)

total distance: 184 km (including wrong turns, duh!)

apparently i picked a wrong time to go to taiping lake, as there appeared to be some sort of fishing event going on, with crowds all around. what was meant to be a rest break turned into a stop, snap a photo, bye-bye kind of visit instead... anyway, finally did my first century ride (100 miles) after last week's pengkalan hulu trip fell short of a few kms to make it.

Photos: new and old train crossings over bukit merah lake; and hainanese-style chicken chop at wan li restaurant, taiping