Kayuhan Asam Pedas : Cahaya SPK Shah Alam ke Jeram Kuala Selangor

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Assalam. Pada cuti umum Deepavali baru baru ini, Abang Zol, Muzammil serta anaknya dan saya sempat mencuri sedikit masa untuk melakukan kayuhan santai dari Cahaya SPK ke Jeram, Kuala Selangor.

Kayuhan “tiba tiba” yang dipersetujui secara spontan melalui Facebook ini merupakan kayuhan “reunion” bersama Abang Zol dan Muzammil setelah hampir 2 tahun tidak mengayuh bersama. Kali terakhir kami bertouring ialah perjalanan Putrajaya-Melaka-Putrajaya.

Kadang2 semangat setiakawan yang dijalin sewaktu mengharungi suka duka, pahit getir perjalanan kayuhan mengukuhkan lagi tali persahabatan hingga membuatkan kita berasa selesa berkayuh lagi bersama. Jika anda mempunyai rakan rakan yang sebegini; jaga lah mereka; “they are a rare species” di zaman dimana kita punyai ramai kenalan tetapi kurangnya sahabat.

Secara kasar route perjalanan kami dari Cahaya SPK ke Jeram adalah melalui “dragon back” Bukit Cherakah, Bukit Kapar melalui Jalan Iskandar, Jalan Akob, Jalan Kg. Bukit Kerayong, Jalan Simpang Tiga Jeram.

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Kami menaiki 2 foldie dan 2 basikal touring dengan membawa keperluan minima kerana ini hanyalah “a single day touring”. Cuaca sepanjang perjalanan agak panas dan ramalan cuaca akan ada hujan ribut petir sekitar jam 2 petang. Perancangan perjalanan adalah penting supaya kita dapat menyesuaikan kayuhan kita dengan cuaca dan keadaan semasa.

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Kami mengikuti route dimana terdapat “natural covers” seperti pokok pokok dan tidak banyak kenderaan. Perjalanan kami juga melewati estet kelapa sawit Sime Darby seperti estet Jalan Akob, Bukit Kerayong. Permandangan rumah2 pekerja dan sekolah di kawasan estet seperti satu “throwback” ke suatu masa di mana kehidupan harian masih dikelilingi kehijauan dan juga rentak kehidupan yang lebih ringkas dan perlahan. Kicauan burung2 masih berkumandang mengiringi perjalanan kami.

Hampir kesemua gambar2 dalam artikel ini diambil oleh Muzammil menggunakan “Go Bro” nya jenis Xiomi.

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Diatas adalah salah satu contoh “pose wajib” waktu berkayuh. Haha.

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Walaupun tak dirancang, majoriti memakai baju berwarna hijau cerah sewaktu kayuhan. Warna ini memang kegemaran saya untuk mengayuh kerana ia dapat membantu kenderaan lain melihat anda dari jarak yang jauh. Saya perhatikan trend pengayuh sekarang tidak lagi menggunakan helmet keselamatan malah lebih senang memakai cap atau buff. Saya cadangkan pakailah helmet kerana kemalangan boleh terjadi di mana mana di waktu yang kita tidak sangka sangka. Ketepikan keselesaan jangka pendek untuk keselamatan jangka panjang (Ini adalah satu pesanan khidmat masyarakat yang tidak ditaja oleh mana mana syarikat pembuat helmet).

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Sampai saja di pantai Jeram kami mencari kedai minum untuk lari dari kepanasan yang terik dan berteduh seketika. Minuman diatas ialah air nira kelapa yang telah dibekukan. Botol botol ini direndam didalam bekas yang mengandungi air panas untuk mencairkannya terlebih dahulu. Jadi walau dahaga macam mana pun bersabarlah. Memang betullah penantian itu satu seksa.

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Bila dah duduk mulalah masing sibuk dengan gajet masing2 untuk update position dan status. Manalah tahu.. zaman sekarang ini kan zaman orang boleh hilang tanpa kesan. Bagus juga kalau boleh melapurkan ke “base camp” progress perjalanan anda.

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Setelah hilang penat, kami pun mula berkayuh menyelusuri laluan pesisir pantai hingga ke Pantai Remis. Ramai juga keluarga yang datang berkelah  dan ramai juga yang sanggup berpanas terik mencari kepah yang memang merupakan aktiviti yang popular di pantai ini.

Kemudian kami menghala ke Kg Sungai Sembilang dan destinasi kami ialah warung Asam Pedas Sg Sembilang Klasik. Belum pernah lagi makan disini tapi teruja selepas melihat gambar2 yang diwar-warkan oleh geng kayuhan yang lain. Tercari cari jugak heli Wak dan Ija tapi tak kelihatan. Kami tiba dalam jam 12.15 tapi dimaklumkan pesanan asam pedas cuma dibuka jam 1 petang. “Takpe lah dah datang jauh jauh kami sanggup tunggu” ujar kami. Sambil menunggu minum air kelapa dulu. Memang nikmat kena air kelapa dan makan isinya diwaktu panas “lit lit” begini. Ramai jugak orang yang datang untuk makan asam pedas termasuklah satu gerombolan road bikers dalam 30 orang. Sayang road bike mereka mahal2 tapi tiada “stand” jadi kena lah bersandar dimana mana tiang atau pokok yang ada.

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Akhirnya dapatlah juga makan asam pedas. Ikan yang ada hari itu cuma pari, cencaru dan kembong. Ikan sembilang tak ada. Frust terpaksa order asam pedas ikan pari. Bila order asam pedas set individu datang seperti gambar di atas. Memang berselera saya makan sampai tak berkata kata (bukan apa takut tersedak sebab kuahnya kaw kaw).

Selepas makan seperti biasa ulasan panel hakim pulak. Bagi saya asam pedas nya boleh tahan sodap tapi Masterchef Zol dan Masterchef Muzammil bagi 3 bintang dari 5 bintang. Perbandingan Muzammil ialah asam pedas masakan arwah ibunya. Memang lah masakan ibu ada “secret ingredient” iaitu di masak dengan kasih sayang. Mana boleh banding.

Perutpun dah kenyang manakala langit pun dah mula gelap dengan awan mendung bergerak sarat. Waktu untuk mengayuh pulang. Kali ini kami memilih route berbeza melalui jalan besar hingga ke pekan Kapar, Meru, melalui Jalan Paip hingga kembali ke Cahaya SPK. Kami berhenti solat dahulu dimasjid di Kapar untuk membiarkan hujan mula turun.

Perjalanan seterusnya kami mengayuh dalam cuaca yang redup dan sedikit renyai renyai. Trafik agak sibuk dengan lori dan kenderaan berat yang lain laju melepasi kami. Tiba di jalan Kapar -Meru kami berkayuh mengikuti laluan sikal memandangkan memang tiada bahu jalan yang selamat untuk berkayuh.

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Kami kemudian membelok ke Jalan Paip dimana sepanjang jalan tersebut ada jaluran paip air terbina.

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Akhirnya setelah 72 kilometer mengayuh kami tiba kembali ketempat permulaan kayuhan kami. Alhamdulillah cuaca amat baik sekali dan tidak ada sebarang insiden yang tidak diingini.

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Tamatlah sudah kayuhan santai kami seperti kata Abang Zol “tiada medal dihujung kayuhan” tapi hanya tali persahabatan yang semakin kukuh terbina. Insyaallah jumpa lagi di kayuhan akan datang. Wassalam.

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Bike Touring in Malaysia: Day 4 Port Dickson to Putrajaya 73.2 km

Kayuhan Mental (It’s all in your mind) and some life lessons from bike touring

The noise from the group of families camping and having their BBQ party until very late after mid night made it quite difficult for me to fall asleep the night before. I was trying hard to get some rest knowing that today there will be some mentally challenging climbs to face.

I was not sure what time I actually dozed off but I was awaken by sounds of children crying nearby. It was still early around 5.30am so I took the opportunity to beat the queue at the communal bathing and toilet facilities at the campsite. After Suboh prayers, I rested for a while in my tent while waiting for the others to get ready.

At around 8am, everyone was busy packing their panniers and started to dismantle their tents. No plan for breakfast this morning at the campsite after the heavy dinner we had last night. We would catch breakfast on the road as always.

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Once all the bikes were loaded up with panniers, tents, sleeping bags, etc. all six of us waited for Ann and Merah to join us for this morning’s ride. Both of them were riding light on their mountain bikes. We soon made our way out of Port Dickson towards Lukut.

It’s funny how used and dirty clothes had the effect of making my panniers feel heavier day by day. Or perhaps it was the 2 kilogram of Dodol Melaka that I was carrying that seemed to drag me down a little bit.

Dodol Melaka - a sticky gooey delicacy made from glutinous rice and sugar (gula kabong)
Dodol Melaka – a sticky gooey delicacy made from glutinous rice and sugar (gula kabong)

Picture credit: http://www.semanishitam.blogspot.com

(A simple tip for all the married male touring cyclists, when you are out for days having fun with your buddies, bring back something for the wives who have been so understanding and waiting patiently at home, otherwise obtaining a visa for your next long bike outing will be difficult) 🙂

We had a good breakfast and I used the opportunity to charge my Blackberry at the food stall “borrowing” the power outlet. As long as you are eating there as well normally the stall operator would not mind you charging your phones, laptops, iPads etc. But do keep an eye on them as many people would be coming and going into the stall and as it is an open space you cannot take it for granted that no one would try to slip them into their pockets or bags. (I always carry with me a simple Nokia phone (find the cheapest possible) that is fully charged with a pre-paid SIM card (you can top it up at almost every corner shop in Malaysia) in my pannier in case of emergency if I lose my phone. At least, you have a way to call home or to call a friend for assistance.)

The ride this morning was very relaxing as we took in the view of the beaches and the morning traffic was not that heavy yet. Furthermore the excitement of going home added some extra springs to your legs as you pedaled along. The pace was leisurely at about 20km/hour and most of the time we rode single file as the road shoulders were quite narrow.

Before long the sun started to heat things up and we made our first pit stop at a petrol station just before we started the long climb from Lukut to Tanah Merah and Bukit Pelandok on our way back to Sepang. On our first day of this journey we actually took a barge from Sg Pelek to Bukit Pelandok so we managed to skip the climbing section of the route but this time there was no escaping.

One by one we pushed off our bikes from the petrol station to start the beginning of the climb, it started gradually and the pinnacle of the climb was probably after the Sime Darby Tanah Merah estate’s entrance where there is a very big shady tree waiting so temptingly for you to stop for a breather. Just after the bend of what I thought was already the end of the climb there was an additional hair pin corner than leads even higher. At that point it was just a mental game versus your physical state. You just had to maintain focus on the climb and keep on pedaling (furthermore, Ann had already over taken me on the climb, and I can’t let myself be beaten by a lady) 🙂 Along the way a group of young road cyclists (I think it was the junior cycling team from state of Terengganu or Pahang, not sure) passed us on the other side going down-hill and were cheering us on. We also rang our bells, and blew our horns loudly in return.

It was tough for a moment there (thoughts of going down to push the bike did appear momentarily) but in the end, I made it through the climb. We waited for all the others to reach at the top before we made our way to a roadside hawker selling fresh coconuts for a well- deserved reward victory drink.

We were soon joined by two road cyclists at the stop over (sorry I forgot their names; one had a very long beard and the other slightly older but I recognized his face as he was an ex national cyclist). They stopped to chat for a while before making their way. We also decided to start cycling again as the day was getting very hot. After that the road was smooth and mostly downhill. Once we reached Sepang town, Ann and Merah left the group as Ann had parked her car there. Abg Syaaban helped them to load their bikes on the bike rack and we said our goodbyes.

The six of us then continued cycling towards Dengkil and once we reached the intersection to Putrajaya, Abg Syaaban, Herman and Muzammil parted ways as they need to cycle towards Seri Kembangan where they had left their cars.

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Time to go our separate ways

A strong friendship bond had been developed over the last 3 days we cycled together. There was a certain sadness in the air but we promised each other that one day we will cycle again as a group and said our goodbyes.

So finally only Abg Zol, Nazry and I left to continue to Precint 15 where Nazry’s place is.
We cycled slowly and quietly perhaps the exhaustion had started to affect us. We took the route through the Putrajaya Challenge Park (PCP) and the Putrajaya International Conference Center (PICC) where there were some small climbs to conquer. In that quiet moment my mind was clear and with clarity comes good thoughts and observations.

There are many life lessons to be learned when you go on a bike touring and slowly cranking a fully- loaded bike up a hill; some observations

1. In life you must pay your dues in the long, hard and slow climb first before you can enjoy the rewards, the fast acceleration going downhill and the big smile on your face

2. If you started off your life easy going downhill, remember that whatever goes down must climb up again at some point (the flipside of the saying “whatever goes up must come down”). So remember to be humble, save what you earned today for tomorrow, make good friends along the way, as you never know what would be waiting for you at the end of a bend and whose helping hand you will be holding on to later.

3. In achieving anything in life, keep focused on your goal, take the challenges one revolution at a time (and keep on pedaling no matter how hard it gets or get down and push your bike to the finishing line if you have too) it will be a matter of time before you get there. The taste of success is sweeter when you have toiled for it.

4. As in life, you need to carry your own panniers, during good and bad times, excess baggage will only slow you down, so choose wisely what you carry in your life. Bike touring will teach you that you actually need very little to be happy and live your life.

5. Don’t go too fast in life, you will miss a lot of the simple pleasures along the way. Stop and relax once in a while. Enjoy the journey too not just the destination.

We finally arrived at Precint 15, Abg Zol had decided to cycle back through the Bangi/Kajang route to his home (this man is built like a robot!). I reminded him to be careful on his own on the road and we soon parted ways. The road leading to Nazry’s apartment was a steep climb, one last push, one last test for the body and mind. Nazry made it all the way to the top, but I had to push my bike for the last few metres. (Well, Nazry has a 7- year advantage being younger than me hehehe)

Finally the trip to Putajaya – Melaka – Putrajaya has been completed. We had covered slightly more than 300km pedaling our bikes. It was the first long trip for me and I was happy and proud I did it. Even as the sweats on my forehead had not yet dry, I was already busy thinking of the next bike touring trip.

See you on the road!

Day 1 Putrajaya to Pengkalan Balak
Day 2 Pengkalan Balak to Malacca Town
Day 3 Pengkalan Balak to Port Dickson

Bike Touring in Malaysia : Day 3 Pengkalan Balak to Port Dickson 52km

Kayuhan Dalam Hujan (Cycling in the rain)

Today was the day we had to say goodbye to Pengkalan Balak after our two night stop over. We packed our panniers very early in the morning and started to load them onto our bikes. Today’s cycling will be much heavier compared to yesterday when we were travelling light into town. We decided to start cycling without having breakfast first as we wanted to get warmed up first and to have breakfast along the way. On the way out of Pengkalan Balak we took this group picture in front of the “Pengkalan Balak” signpost to record our memory of cycling here.

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Once we worked up an appetite, we stopped at the food stall by the roadside for some carbo-loading for this morning’s journey. Several of us had “nasi lemak” while some went for “roti canai and teh tarik” both are very Malaysian breakfast favorites.

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Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in coconut milk with pandan leaves to give its the fragrance accompanied by sambalikan bilis or salted fish / curries

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Roti canai or paratha bread normally eaten with dhal or fish curry, teh tarik or “pulled tea” is the perfect beverage to accompany

There were some local cyclists having breakfast there too so we made introduction and soon had a very good conversation with them on the routes, common friends and events. It is so easy to make friends when you are cycling. You are always in a good mood when you cycle, when you passed by kids they will wave at you and some will chase you with own bikes etc, when you gave salam the older folks will smile at you and return your greetings. All these responses are rare when you are driving in a car at your normal speed with your windows rolled up.

After breakfast, we slowly made our way towards the Malacca – Negeri Sembilan border which is the bridge over Sg Linggi. Since we had a lot of time we make several stops along the way to take pictures and explore the route a little bit.

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At the breakwater near Kuala Sungai Baru

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Abg Zol stopped for pictures in front of the Malaysian Maritime Academy (ALAM).

In Malaysia, it is generally said that we also experience 4 seasons in a year but ours is hot, very hot, wet and very wet seasons. The very hot weather can unexpectedly turned to very wet weather and when it rains in Malaysia, it really pours.

Just before we were about to reach the Sg Linggi bridge, the dark clouds started to unleash the rain complete with thunder and lightning. Luckily there is a row of food stalls just after the bridge on the Negeri Sembilan side where we could seek shelter.

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The heavy rain at the Sg Linggi bridge

Cycling in heavy rain is not advisable since the visibility for motorists will be limited and this poses danger to cyclists. Water ponding is also a common occurrence and when a car or lorry hit the water pond and you happens to be cycling alongside you will be in for a surprise shower. Furthermore the road condition will be slippery during the rain and especially avoid cycling on the white line as it will be slippery too. Many potholes could also be covered by the accumulating rain water and if you are not familiar with the route you could fall into one and worse damaged your wheels/rims.

Sometimes the rain in Malaysia comes in high intensity but short bursts showers ie lasting around 30 minutes or so but there are also rain that lasted for hours or even days. We decided to to wait out for the rain to subside. When you are touring in a group you will have friends to talk to but I can imagine if you are doing a solo tour, waiting time such as this will be such a bore. So don’t forget you iPod/iPad or portable transistor radio to kill the time.

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Muzammil contemplating “should I stay or should I go” – The Clash

While we were waiting under the shed talking we realized the Abg Zol was nowhere to be found. His bike was out there in the rain but he was missing.

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Where is Abg Zol?

Apparently he had managed to get into the kitchen of one of the food stalls and guess what? teaching the cook there how to make a fantastic “mee hailam”. I told you this guy is cool hehehe.

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Mee Hailam that looks like to one Abg Zol taught the cook, at least there will be something new on the menu from now on 🙂

I believed we had waited for the rain to stop for almost two hours but there was no sign that it would stop soon. As a group we made the decision to start cycling in the rain and the next few hours was a new experience for me, cycling where not an inch of me was dry. You have to be extra careful when you cycle in the rain as most times when there are water ponds on the road shoulders you will be forced to cycle on the road so watch out for the traffic behind you at all times. A rear view mirror will be very helpful when touring so that you don’t have to turn your head back too often to check on oncoming vehicles.

I took off my cycling shades as the rain water and the heat from my breath/face was creating condensation on the lenses making it more difficult to see. If you are wearing fully covered shoes, water will collect in your shoes making it uncomfortable and sometimes heavier to pedal. It is best to switch to open sandals or slippers or “crocs” with closed toes (for protection if you skidded) but with enough vents for the water to exit your shoes / sandals. The only good thing about cycling in the rain is the cooler temperature but that’s about it.

Finally we made it safely to Port Dickson at around 4.00pm. There we met up with Ann and Merah who had both cycled earlier from Sg Pelek and planning to join us for the trip back tomorrow back to Sg Pelek. Both Ann and Merah were sharing an apartment nearby the beach.

The rest of us headed toward a camping ground fronting the beach. The rate to set up camp there was RM25 per tent and for that you can use their facilities to shower/toilet and there is also a surau. If you don’t have your own tents, rental is also available (good for families that drive there and wanted to try some camping by the beach).

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We set up tents in a cluster

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My luxury accommodation for the night

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Only pay for the camping spot, the view was free

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People swimming/dipping in the sea

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Several families which drove there and set up tents for a night of BBQ by the beach

Since Abg Zol’s cooking skills have now been discovered, we were joking with him to cook something special for us. Abg Zol agreed and made an arrangement with the site caretaker to make use of their kitchen later that evening. Abg Zol then cycled to the market to buy his cooking ingredients. During our 3 days of cycling, our diet have been mostly high in carbs and Abg Zol wanted to make briyani rice with lots of vegetables for a change.

That night we had an unforgettable home cooked feast and Abg Zol is without a doubt a great chef, perhaps one of his many hidden talents (apparently coming back from the market there was a road accident between a motorcycle and a car and Abg Zol helped to direct the traffic until the authorities arrived at the scene). I was too busy eating that I totally forgot to take any pictures of the food we had.

What a day we had, cycling fully drenched in the rain for hours but at least the ending for the day was a good one. With my stomach full and the nice cool breeze blowing from the sea and I finally have the privacy of my tent, it had been a great day after all. Alhamdulillah.

Next Day 4 Port Dickson to Putrajaya

Bike Touring in Malaysia : Day 2 Pengkalan Balak to Malacca Town and back (62km)

“Kayuhan Lempeng dan Coconut Shake Klebang”

Good Morning Malacca! All of us woke up early this morning feeling fully rested and raring to explore our environment since we got in very late last night. The program for the day was to cycle to Malacca Town which is about 32km away and spend the time exploring the city. Also since it was a Friday, we wanted to perform our Friday prayers at one of the oldest mosque in Malacca Town, the Kg Kling Mosque.

After we arrived, Nazry and Abg Syaaban went out last night to eat some “lempeng” which is a local delicacy similar to a crepe or pancake and eaten with “sambal” spicy dish made with lots of chili.

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Lempeng Warung Mak Jah

Their account of how good the “lempeng” was made our mouths water and we were all set to get hold of some “lempeng” for breakfast.

We went to a food stall not far from Abg Syaaban’s house facing the beach. Unfortunately, no “lempeng” today. We were so disappointed (this frustration with finding “lempeng” will become a continuing theme even in our next adventure to Kuala Rompin, Pahang) so we had to make do with whatever else the stall had that morning.

(Find out the recipe for making lempeng here)

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Picture credit : http://www.karangkraf.com

We decided to travel light today and left all the panniers and tents at Abg Syaaban’s house and I just brought a spare tube, a bicycle pump and some tool in case any of the bicycles break down today. Since all the other bikes were 26″ while mine was the only 700c, I would not be able to share tube with them.

On the way out we stopped to top up on our water bottles.

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From Pengkalan Balak we cycled past Terendak, Sungai Udang, Klebang before we finally arrived at the center of Malacca Town.

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How Melaka got its name

Malacca Town is a recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage City being a historical city in South East Asia with major influences of the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese occupation in its long and illustrious history as an important trading port of the olden days. (Read the full background on Malacca Town here)

Our first stop was Jonker Walk. Here are some pictures around Jonker Walk.

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We visited the of fort A Famosa, what ever left of it.

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Abg Syaaban doing the canon drill

The Clock Tower in the Town Center;

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Sungai Melaka, where the site of the original trading port used to be

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Makam Hang Tuah and the famous words supposedly uttered by Hang Tuah ” Tak Melayu Hilang Di Dunia”

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And took picture with another biker wielding a fake samurai sword

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Honestly if you asked me, the real highlight of the whole trip to Malacca Town and back to Pengkalan Balak to me was actually waiting for us back in Klebang.

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No, it wasn’t the submarine on the beach that attracted us to Klebang; it’s the famous Klebang Coconut Shake!

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The Klebang Coconut Shake

The stall is always full with people so be prepared to queue and wait for a long time before you get your orders.

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The Klebang Coconut Shake is made only from Kelapa Pandan Wangi and the taste is out of this world.

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Visit Malacca for its “Lempeng” and “Klebang Coconut Shake”. Worth every kilometer you have to cycle to get there 🙂

So far our trip from Putrajaya had been incident-free however while cycling back from Klebang to Pengkalan Balak, Abg Syaaban’s rear tyre caught a puncture going downhill not far from the Sungai Udang army camp. It was a good thing I had my bicycle pump with me.

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Abg Syaaban attending to the punctured tyre

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By the time we arrived at Pengkalan Balak it was already dinner time. We had Thai and seafood dinner and good conversation recounting our experience today. Once again, we slept in the living hall of Abg Syaaban’s house. Hopefully my tent will see some action as we head back to Port Dickson tomorrow. Good nite.

Additional pictures credit to Nazry Hassan

Next Day 3 Pengkalan Balak to Port Dickson 52km (Cycling in the rain)

Bike Touring in Malaysia: Putrajaya to Malacca (Day 1: Putrajaya to Pengkalan Balak 114km)

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The night before my first long bike tour I could not sleep well, call it excitement, nerves or what have you, but my mind was occupied with anticipation.That morning, I was up earlier than my alarm clock and I double checked the contents of my panniers and took out several things that I felt I can live without. When I travel (via planes and cars) I do have a tendency of packing more than what I really ended up using so I was ruthless in packing this time. Every extra ounce meant an extra load to haul on the bike.

At the last weighing, both my panniers weighed a total of 25kg, add to that the 2-person tent, sleeping bag and a foam mat (yes, I like to sleep in a bit of luxury) the rear rack has to carry about 30kg of load (the rear rack has a rated 40kg maximum limit). My own weight is about 73 kg so that is easily 103kg combined. The bike itself is at least 15kg so we are looking at close to 120kg of mass to push up hills along the way although with such a weight I will be quite fast on the descent. 🙂

From Shah Alam, where I stay, my wife drove me, 50km to Precinct 15 Putrajaya where my brother, Nazry, is staying (I know some of you must be thinking, I might as well start cranking my bike from home. See Economics 101 of Cycling. I understand the argument okay..). I arrived early around 8am and from there we cycled out to the junction of the Putrajaya main highway to join up with Abg Zol who had just arrived in a van driven by his wife. Abg Zol is the coolest guy I’ve ever met, in our lingo we say “sempoi”, while both Nazry and I were riding touring bikes, Abg Zol was on his normal mountain bike complete with wide knobby tyres. He had a rear rack attached to his bike and instead of panniers he had what looked like a school bag tied securely with a bungee cord.

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He is probably around 56 years old but later I discovered him to be one of the fittest and strongest rider in our group. That must be the benefits of cycling to one’s health.

The other group (Abg Syaaban, Herman and Muzammil) will cycle from Seri Kembangan and meet us en route. Our agreed meeting point was at the Putrajaya Challenge Park junction on the road to Dengkil and the original plan was to roll at 9am. Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans in store for us.

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That’s me in green with Abg Zol in orange at the meeting point.

When we arrived at the meeting point, the second group was nowhere to be seen and all of the sudden it started to rain cats and dogs as if the skies suddenly opened up to unleash the excess water it had been storing. We took shelter at a restaurant nearby for breakfast while we wait for the other group to join us. We had already finished our breakfast when they finally arrived, drenched, as it was still raining. After a brief introduction and checking out each others bikes and gears, they decided to have their breakfast so we waited for them.

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Breaking the ice over food, teh tarik and roti canai

On hindsight, I was glad it rained as we had a lot of time to get to know one another and what better way to break the ice other than through lots of roti canai and teh tarik.

By the time we finally made our move it was probably closer to 11am. Well, in bike touring, we have to play by ear sometimes and don’t be too hung up on the need to get to the destination quickly. As they say, bike touring is about the journey not so much the destination.

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Along the way, Muzammil noticed that his rear tyre was slightly under inflated so we decided to stop over at the Shell petrol station near Kota Warisan. As we had cycled for quite a bit, it was a good time for us to check our panniers and other items strapped to the rear racks to make sure that all was good.

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Abg Syaaban holding the bike while Muzammil pumped his rear tyre. Abg Zol and Nazry in the background.

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Herman checking out his front and rear panniers to make sure that the weights were balanced. I would say that his bike was the heaviest among the rest with his front panniers fully loaded with pots and pans, cooking utensil and gas burner and additional gas cyclinder.

Once we started going again, Muzammil was playing the role of pace setter upfront while Herman acted as sweeper at the end of the convoy. Both Muzammil and Herman kept close communication through walkie talkies. The dampness from the morning rain started to give way to heat of the afternoon sun. (check out my earlier posting on Cycling in the Malaysian Heat for some tips) I got my buff fully covering my nose and mouth, one for the shielding from the elements and the other one from the vehicles fumes as we were cycling on road shoulders.

Somewhere along the way near Sepang we came across this drinks and fruits stall, and under the hot weather, the icy cold fruit juices seemed so tempting. So we stopped for a while to enjoy our watermelon juice, coconut, etc to quench our thirst and to regroup as some of the riders seemed to be left behind for quite a distance at the back.

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This fruits and drink stall is a must stop if you are passing this route.

Feeling refreshed, our first destination was Sg Pelek to meet up with Pak Ngah, one of the founding fathers of the Darul Ehsan Touring Cyclist group. I know Pak Ngah from his FB postings but I have never met him in person. We arrived at Sg Pelek maybe closer to 2pm and Pak Ngah was already waiting for us in front of a bank with his Surly.

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Meeting Pak Ngah

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New friendship forged through love of cycling

I supposed it is true the notion that all cyclists are brothers as when we all make our introduction, there was instant chemistry and bonding as if we have known each other for quite a while. Pak Ngah was generous in offering to buy us lunch and we of course obliged, as the few hours of cycling was making us hungry. We chose a food stall across the street from the bank and we helped ourselves to “nasi campur” where you are handed a plate of plain rice and you then pick your own dishes (fish, veggies, chicken, etc) from those available. It is also true that food always taste better when you have good company (and hungry).

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We chatted about the journey so far and swapping cycling stories in general, it was fun hearing the different perspectives and experiences and we always ended up laughing (cyclists are a happy lot!)

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Nazry and Herman taking opportunity to check on phone messages, notice the clean plates too..

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Pak Ngah and Muzammil discussing the usage of the EDGE GPS

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Our two seniors but super cyclists; Abg Syaaban and Abg Zol (in orange)

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A Chinese Funeral Procession passing through the road while we were chatting

Time passes by so fast when you are having fun. As it was already late afternoon and we still had a long way to go, we quickly got ready to get going again. Pak Ngah said there is a short cut to Port Dickson if we take a small barge to cross the nearby river. This way we could bypass some major climbing stretch and save some time.

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Waiting for our turn to board the barge

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The fare to cross to the other side is 60 sen ?? per person

Pak Ngah led the way to the jetty and once we arrived at the other side of the river, Pak Ngah rode with us for a while to get us on to the right junction. Along the way, there were a lot of dogs by the roadside, Pak Ngah coolly took out his Dog Dazer and pressed away and amazingly the dogs just ignored us and let us pass without a fuss. Dogs and cyclists sometimes do not make good company and every cyclist needs to have his /her own Dog Strategy (see my earlier post on Dogs Love Bicycle for tips)

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Once we said Jumpa Lagi to Pak Ngah we were on our way to Port Dickson. The route we took has a nice kampong (village) and orchards scenery, and there were not many cars or lorries on this route so it was a pleasant cycling route.

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We passed by Kg Sungai Nipah that once gained global fame (or is it notoriety) because of the “Nipah Virus” that led to the culling of thousands of pigs in the Bukit Pelandok area. With that thought in mind, I raised my buff higher to my cheeks and found myself cycling a little faster.

We have now entered Negeri Sembilan, but the heat and exhaustion had started to creep in and taken its toll on our cycling speed. Herman, our sweeper, had been experiencing some muscle cramps, on and off, ever since we passed Sepang but the cramps were getting more intense as we got closer to Port Dickson.

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We stopped by the roadside to assess the situation. Abg Syabaan, the super human cyclist, offered to take off the front pannier load from Herman’s bike into his so that Herman’s bike would be lighter and perhaps could help in reducing his exertion when cycling. So we had to transfer the front rack to Abg Syaaban’s bike and load the front panniers.

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Transferring Herman’s front rack and panniers to Abg Syaaban’s bike

Instead of complaining, Abg Syaaban commented that with the additional front load his bike’s handling now felt more stable and he could get used to the idea of having the front rack there permanently (for free of course hehe).

(Lesson: Cycling together is about teamwork, and helping one another in their time of need. It is not about who crosses the finishing line first but to arrive at the destination together. I began to fall in love with this concept of group bike touring.)

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Abg Syaaban in Action

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Muzammil the always cool touring sifu

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Herman, the prime mover that hauled all that we need

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We arrived in Port Dickson late in the evening and stopped for a while to take a group picture with this beautiful mural in the background.

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One group picture for the album, Nazry took this picture

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That’s me, smiling gladly that the journey has reached it’s halfway mark

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Funny that I never noticed the mural being there before during the many times that I had drove into Port Dickson. Perhaps, living life at a slower pace when you cycle really allowed your senses to absorb more and you can stop when you like, as often as you like.

To me, the experience gained from bike touring is not just about eating up the big mileage getting from point A to point B, but it is an opportunity to get in touch with your inner thoughts (your mind really cleared up when you cycle), develop an appreciation and respect of the geographical landscape (respect the hills that you climb and enjoy the carefree wind in your face as you accelerate downhill) and enjoying the endless banter and cheerful interaction with your touring partners.

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The sun was almost setting around Si Rusa beach, Port Dickson

We stopped for dinner at a restaurant in Teluk Kemang not far after Port Dickson and as the night takes over from daylight, all our headlights and rear blinkers were attached and activated on our bikes.

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We cycled through the night, not much sceneries to capture on camera from then on, but the cool air invigorated us and made the cycling easy and fast.

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Bright lights from the oncoming vehicles sometimes shone our path, in the horizon we saw sporadic glittering lights from the villages, beautiful like fireflies in the night. Occasionally we heard dogs barking and howling breaking the quietness of the night. The dogs must have been spooked by our presence or something else.

Once we crossed the Sg Linggi bridge we have arrived in Malacca. Our final destination for the night was Pengkalan Balak, where Abg Syaaban’s family home is located. Our legs were weary but our spirits high. When we reached Pengkalan Balak it was already around 10pm, we were too tired to set up camp by the beach and Abg Syaaban insisted that we sleep in the living hall of his house. We were not complaining, after all it was nice to be indoors after being outdoors facing the element for the last 14 hours.

Our first day journey had been completed and we have covered a distance of 114km. We stopped a lot of times and our cycling speed was not the fastest but hey, this is bike touring, after all, it is about the journey not the destination. Good nite. Zzzzzzz.

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Next Day 2 Pengkalan Balak to Malacca Town 62km

Bike Touring in Malaysia: Putrajaya to Malacca and back (15- 18 November 2012) – PRELUDE

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Sometimes the best experiences in life come from unplanned adventures, an impromptu decision to take a right turn instead of going straight ahead, or a spur of the moment decision to join a bike touring trip made up of people you hardly know.

Most of my cycling adventures thus far had been solo rides and always using routes that I can complete within a day. No matter how hard or far I ride during the day, be it a century ride (check my earlier post on My Solo Century Ride) or bike excursions to the beach or hills, I always return home to the comfort of my bed and familiar surroundings when night falls.

One day, my brother, Nazry, mentioned that he is going on a 4-day bike touring trip from Putrajaya to Malacca and back with a few of his friends. I’m not sure if he was inviting me to come along or was just informing me in passing but just at that spur of the moment, I thought to myself “hmmm that’s a great idea and I also happened to be free during the time”. So let’s just say I invited myself into my brother’s touring expedition. I was told it is a self-supported tour, so I have to bring my own tent, sleeping bag, cooking utensil, bicycle spare parts, etc.

As far as my preparation for the trip, I already have a touring bike, a RM1300 (cheap but good) XDS Four 91, a 700c aluminum frame touring bike with rear and front racks, suspension fork, mudguards and wide 38mm Kenda tyres. I also have my waterproof Ortlieb panniers and a small handlebar bag that I normally use for my bike excursions. What I had to buy for this trip were a tent, a sleeping bag and cooking utensil (all I bought at the Ace Hardware store in Bukit Jelutong).

Being my first multiple-days bike touring/camping expedition I was not really sure what to pack, how many clothes to bring, etc. But I think the general advice for bicycle touring is that if you can do with less, the better it is. You will thank yourself for leaving the “lesung batu” (granite pestle and mortar) for making “sambal belacan” at home when you are struggling slowly on your climb up a steep hill with your bike fully-loaded. (For first timers, I’ve set up a page on my site under “Resource” where you can find a general list of things to bring for your own bike touring trip a guide – courtesy of bro Amran, one of the touring sifus now semi-retired, but I suspect it will not be long before he makes a comeback).

Honestly, for that trip I was more concerned with the unknown people I will be touring with. Of course I know my brother well, but how are the others?

I’ve heard of horror stories of people who cannot get along with each other during road trips due to personality clashes which in the end totally took the joy out of the trips. If you have touring partners who are in sync with you (share similar likes and dislikes) and comfortable with who you are (for example, some people could be faster and stronger riders than you, so if you are slower, they may not enjoy waiting for you all the time) then you have the makings of a great adventure ahead.

As I packed my panniers and got my bike ready for my touring adventure, I said a silent prayer and hoped that all will turned out well.

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The next post will be on Day 1: Putrajaya to Pengkalan Balak, Malacca

My Solo Century Ride on a Touring Bike

Definition of Century Ride

A century ride is a bicycle ride of 100 miles (160.9 km) or more within 12 hours, usually as a cycling club-sponsored event. Many cycling clubs sponsor an annual century ride as both a social event for cyclists and as a fund-raiser for the club’s other activities. Club-sponsored century rides typically offer several options for cyclists of varying abilities, such as…

  • Quarter century, 25 miles (40 km) in 3 hours
  • Half century, 50 miles (80 km) in 6 hours
  • Metric century, 100 km (62 mi)
  • Double metric century, 200 km (120 mi)
  • Double century, 200 miles (320 km) in 24 hours.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On 26th January 2013, one day before Thaipusam, one of the key Hindu festival celebrated in Malaysia by the Indian community, without any prior training, I decided to embark on my own solo century ride based on the above criteria. Using Google Maps, I had charted a route from Alam Budiman in Shah Alam to Pasir Panjang, Sekinchan and back to meet the distance of 100 miles (160.9km). I started my personal “epic ride” at 7.00 am and targeted to arrive home before 6.30pm to keep within the time limit qualification of a century ride. For this journey I rode my 700c XDS touring bike and carried some repair kit, food and water in a rear rack bag.

Part of the route was familiar to me as I had cycled from home to Pantai Remis in Jeram and back (about 60km journey) on two previous occasions before. From Jeram to Sekinchan however, will be a new experience to me. I started down the Jalan Batu Arang road and took a left into Jalan Paip (this is near the local “Dragon back” stretch). As it was still very early the traffic was clear and since the road is considered a “kampung” road there was not that many heavy lorries plying the road. The morning air was refreshing and slightly cooling as I cycled in a relaxed manner keeping an average speed of about 20km per hour to get warmed up. Soon I arrived at the Meru town intersection and took a right turn heading to the Kapar town. 

On the way to Kapar town, the traffic started to build up steadily and there was also a lot of lorries. Some parts on the Jalan Kapar road had enough space to maintain a good distance away from the vehicles but at some stretches the road condition was so poor there was no more road shoulder to ride on. You also have to be on the look out for potholes. On all my bikes I always installed a rear view mirror which I find to be very helpful to see what is coming from behind so that I can prepare myself for oncoming cars or lorries.  Often times, the speed of the big lorries here was very fast and once they passed you, the wind gush can literally force you off the road. 

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My first stop to rest was in front of the Jeram police station.  At that point I had done more than 30km for just slightly over an hour which I thought was a very good time achieved considering I was riding a touring bike. My strategy was to cover as much mileage as possible going in, as my legs were still fresh, so that on the way back I will have more time to cycle more leisurely and to set aside enough time for lunch and prayers at the local mosques along the route. After a 10-minute rest to eat a banana and to fix a squeelling sound coming from my rear brakes I started pedaling again and my next milestone was Kuala Selangor. The stretch from Jeram to Kuala Selangor was good and uneventful as the road condition was better with good space to cycle uninterrupted. 

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I then stopped in front of the Kuala Selangor mosque to rest and take pictures. The mosque has a traditional design with golden domes which reminded of the mosques I encountered during “balik kampung” for Hari Raya to Sungai Petani, Kedah using the old coastal road before the PLUS highway was built. 

Once I reached the town of Kuala Selangor I took a right turn and there was a small climb (perhaps the only climb as the whole route was relatively flat) up to the bridge to cross Sungai Selangor. Thereafter I soon passed Pasir Penambang and encountered several other places with intriguing names such as Bagan Tengkorak (Skull Quay). It conjured images of pirates of the Sungai Selangor(if there was ever such a thing)in my mind .

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My planned next stop was Tanjung Karang but along the way traffic was abruptly stopped for about 30 minutes to allow for a procession of Hindu devotees heading towards a temple. It was a colourful sight where most female devotees were wearing yellow/orange costume (sarees) carrying pots of milk on top of their heads complete with accompanying music blaring. 

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As I was cycling, I also saw several Indian men walking barefooted  as far as back from Meru (which I thought was odd at that time) and only later I discovered from an Indian friend that it is common for people who wants to show their devotion to their gods (“bayar nazar”) by walking barefooted to their temples of choice before the Thaipusam festival actually begins the next day. Some would walk as far as 100km or more and take them days to reach their destination.(So don’t fret Haris, at least you have a bicycle to do your 100 miles). As the procession entered the compound of the temple, the traffic was allowed to move again. 

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I continued my way to Tanjung Karang and  once I reached Tanjung Karang, I could see that rice cultivation has taken over the other types of economic activities and crowded landscape turned into vast paddy fields as far as the eye could see.

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One thing good cycling in Tanjung Karang, there is a motorcycle lane so cycling there was very relaxing and I felt secured as I was safely separated from the heavier and larger vehicles. How I wish there were cycling lanes all the way along our the coastal road as I believe having a good network of good cycling paths (and if one can bring down the temperature by 10 degrees 🙂 ) would really boost the cyclo-tourism potential of our country.

As I cycled towards my key milestone, Sekinchan, the heat of the day had started to build up. The lack of shades along the road really made me sweating like I was in a sauna. (please see my earlier posting on tips on Cycling in the Malaysian Heat). Finally I reached the signboard that said “Sekinchan” and I was elated that half of my mission has been accomplished. Yeay! But now I have to go back the same way I came…

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One thing I find unique about Sekinchan is the way the roadside fruit sellers arranged their produce and fruits. Depending on what fruits were in season, they will arranged them in a very beautiful alternating pattern ie mango is in one line and then sweet corns in another while dragon fruits in another, etc forming an interesting geometric pattern with their display board being held almost vertical (which is brilliant since one can see from afar what each stall is selling) instead of keeping all the fruits flat on the table.

Picture Credit: Malaysiavacationguide.com
Picture Credit: Malaysiavacationguide.com

Every seller will try to out-do each other to make their display the most attractive. That is the kind of competitive spirit that in the end beautify the view and made it unique. From Tanjung Karang to Sekinchan also you will find a lot of stalls selling “mentarang”, a kind of soft shellfish that looks a bit like oysters in the inside.

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Mentarang, an oyster-like shellfish

Many stalls would just put them on an open fire for grilling and you can eat them right away.

In Sekinchan, there are generally two traditional trades for the locals, the paddy farmers on the right side of the road while the fishermen are on the left side of the road. I decided to go the right side and cycled into the vast paddy fields area. While I was expecting to see fields of green I was left disappointed, the fields were in between season i.e. already completed harvesting and waiting for the new planting to start. I promised myself that I will be back when the fields are green and golden with harvest.(please see my earlier posting on Cycling Among Paddy Fields in Sekinchan)

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I spent some time in Sekinchan taking pictures and had my lunch and rested for a while. Once I started my journey back my odometer reads 81 km and I was thinking to myself could I last another 81km under this hot sweltering sun? I decided to take it easy and paced myself as I did not want to risk getting cramps or getting too dehydrated. I cycled at an average of 18 to 20 km per hour and I stopped more times than when I came in. At one occasion I stopped because I saw this signpost that said “Blended Coconut Shake” and I was thinking “wow, that would be great under this kind of heat”. I ordered one and perhaps drank it too fast that I had brain freeze :-). It was good but not as good as the Klebang Blended Coconut Shake that I had during the last touring to Malacca. Just for the shake alone, I would not mind touring to Malacca again!

When you cycle long distances, your mind becomes free and sometimes it wanders to places you’ve been before, forgotten childhood memories, old friends you have not seen for a long time, etc. For me, cycling always make me happy, it transports me back to the times when life was simpler, with a bicycle you can go anywhere, it symbolizes the freedom of mobility. But today, I needed to focus on getting home. Another observation when you cycle, you tend to see more things in your environment for example, you tend to see the many roadkills that when you drive you hardly noticed. For this trip I’ve seen dead snakes, monitor lizards and a dog carcass in the monsoon drain that was so bloated that I had to cycle faster to escape the stench. The strangest roadkill while touring must be the dead owl by the roadside on my way to Endau Rompin. Don’t know what hit it but it was a strange sight.

I stopped to rest for 30 minutes and performed my Zohor prayers at the new mosque in Jeram. By that time I could already feel my legs feeling heavier perhaps due to exhaustion from the heat. I now only have slightly more than 30 km to go and I did not want to fail in my quest. The rest of the journey was really tough and I wished that it would rain to keep the temperature down.

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Perseverance pays and finally I arrived safely at my starting point at 5.41pm. There was no cheering crowds, no garland around my neck but the personal satisfaction I felt was immense. I was the small engine that powered my bike to go the distance today. The total distance that I cycled for my personal “epic ride” was 162.89km. If I minus the hours that I stopped to eat and rest, I had been cycling for 8 hours at an average speed of 20km per hour. Not fast by a racer’s standard but good enough for a slow cyclist like me. Now that my solo century ride was completed, I look forward to the next challenge, bring it on.