Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lion Hill of Sungai Siput

I received a Whatsapp message asking me if I am interested in riding up Lion Hill in Sungai Siput. Shaped like a lion comprising of two hills, one being the head with two ears and the rear as another hill. At that instant , it was a " YES !" Many a times, even more so when I was a child, I passed by Sungai Siput while on the way to Penang, I saw this hill and my parents describing it as Lion Hill, making it sounds so mystical.

Almost near the top
At the day of the ride, I woke up at 5.30am , drove to Sungai Siput via the old trunk road which requires you to drive straight into Kuala Kangsar town before heading out towards Sungai Siput. It was only a 40 minutes drive. Once there, I see many vehicles with mountain bikes strapped on their car roofs and I instinctly went into the lane where most riders are having their breakfast.

This was the coffee stall recommended by Fookson, a local rider based in Ipoh and Sungai Siput as well. I sat at one of the tables and immediately joined by Fookson himself. He ordered the toast and 'kaya with butter' together with a cup of milked tea. I must say, the 'kaya' was really good. Seriously 'good!' Never tasted this old kind of 'kaya' anymore, anywhere else. I found one GOOD 'kaya' not listed on Google. Stall location is GPS 4.820381, 101.070292

After breakfast, all riders assembled near the local church and not long after that all 80 or so mtb riders starts off. We rode on some main tarmac towards Sungai Nyamuk and not long after that into oil palm plantation. The climb was almost instant!  After much 'huff and puff' , we were the last two riders .......... hihihi,  and need to be swept by others. Later after this offroading session, we came to a village called Temin. All were regrouping here. Finally came the last two riders, yours faithfully and wife.

I also found out that the last session was a warm up and we have not even at the foothills of Lion Hill yet! When we all moved out , then into another plantation, this time we have to carry our bikes over a barrier. Usually plantation owners don't really mind cyclist trespassing into the plantation. Not that we can carry bunches of palm kernels anyway, right?

The terrain went steeper and steeper and the gap between me and wife were
getting really far. It was never a flat or level part until 40 minutes later. Only then some respite but we still need to carry on riding. After some tough ride, we came to a lone 'quinine' tree, a kind of mango species, on top of the hill. Then I found out this is the rear of the 'Lion' Sigh................still some climbs to ride! Regrouped here again and I am thankful, although it is a big group, they insists on full regroup!

I was suprised with the condition of the trails here. They were well maintained and they even have road signs. I guess there are vehicles coming up here to enjoy the peak. As we trundled on, gasping for air like a gold fish, the sun is rising and burning our backs. The neck is on fire! We crossed onto another hill, the head as they called it, where the two ears are! Still more climbs...........more climbs...........and more climbs. Then we reach a small hut just before the last section.

Scenic peak with 'quinine' tree.

I rested here and was watching the rest climbing the last section and it was like 45 degrees slope. Then I see the strong riders start to push their bikes too. I decided to stop here, after all, they will be coming down this way to get down. The last part was actually a telecommunication tower and the actual ears of the 'Lion' are limestone formations and you need to abseil to reach the peak.

The downhill section took me and Lilian just 10 minutes and at a glimpse of an eye , we were already on the main road. We need to regroup here as well as some are good at going downhills and some are good at going uphills. Off course there are some that are good at both. But we were waiting the those bad at downhill......hahahaa.

Off to finish the last section!

We were supposed to get onto another offroad section , they called "Black Hill" but I saw Fookson going tarmac. So, after some discussion, half the pack wants to take the easy ride on tarmac back to town. After the 'hardcorers' went off, we stroll slowly back into town stopping by to buy some 'Shat Keh Ma', a local specialty. Just beside the Petron Station on the main road.

After a 'teh peng' breakkie, I decided not to join their lunch session at the other end of town. I said my 'thank you' and 'good byes' to the rest and headed back to the car, pack up and drove the other way back to Taiping.

'da man' Fookson in green floral jersey and Steven GT taking the selfie.

I like to thank 'da man' Fookson Liew for including me on this fun ride.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Taman Negara V2

Road Gets Easier The Second Time !

It's been ages since I last blogged but since I have all the time in the world, I just felt like doing it again. 

I have since gave up folding bikes but I still have another one, all fully modded to 2 x 10 speed, not the best groupset but just a mid level one. After 2 years of riding a mountain bike (I have actually started with a mountain bike during the late 90s), seems riding the mountain bike seems much easier, even with the large 2.1 tires shodded on mine.

I haven't changed my concept of riding though, still the easy going, sight seeing and good food hunting kind of ride. Except now, with a mountain bike, I gained more access to places where folding bikes can't explore. Many equate mountain bike to extreme games but there's actually 3 kinds of mountain biking, cross country (and I am currently riding an XC bike), all mountain or enduro and finally the downhill.

Back to the subject, there were many request for this ride again since the last one we did three years ago. I don't know why I re-do it again, moreover I have to actually drive 6 hours to reach the starting point not to mention sending my pets for boarding. Maybe I too, have this inner desire to ride there again.

I have initially stuck to the old plans where we will stay a night in Jerantut , even the hotel was booked. As the date approaches, I usually go over and over the plans again in my mind, I realized that Kuala Tahan can be a boring place at night. Beers and stouts are also scarce and expensive too. So, I decided to check in a day earlier and bring in a few crates of beers and also some food for our night activities.

I was insomniac the night before the ride and was already driving out back to Jerantut to meet the other riders at 4.30am. I reached Piccadilly (breakfast place) at 5.30am and the shop keeper was just laying out the tables and chairs. Looking alarmed, I just told him to take his time.

Breakfast in Jerantut
Later, punctually as planned, the others arrived one by one. After greetings and hugs we had breakfast before taking a drive to Kuala Tembeling where the boatman was waiting for us.

We assembled our bikes, collected all dues to pay the boatman and then carried our bikes down to the riverside. As usual, excited faces can be seen when the boat was trudging across the river. The major flood 3 years ago has changed the whole landscape of the riverside and it was muddy now. We unloaded and pushed our bikes to the start of the tarmac road and after a group picture, we started off.

In high spirit !
It was a misty morning, so misty, droplets of water was blurring my glasses. But it was great, cooling and the whole group just loved it. We were riding and chatting at the same time, bantering, joking all the time. Maybe the happiness made us not noticing that we have already reached the small sundry shop where we re-stocked our water and 100 plus the last time. Only this time nobody did so.

We came to a section where during the last ride, a rider fell off her bike and was hospitalized. The sand patch was still there and being extra cautious, I stopped and warned every rider to be extra cautious of the sand patch. Only after the last rider has passed safely, I continued on. There is a planned left turn here to go to the next village called Merting. But during the last trip, a few fast riders overshot but I did not asked them to turn back as the road they were heading to also leads to Kuala Tahan. In fact going straight just leads you to the main trunk road faster. Little did I realized, the left turn to Merting actually avoided a lot of high slopes and also cutting short 7 kilometers off the route. This time we managed to choose the right route! I also noticed that although it is the durian season, I only saw one tree with fruits! This year's harvest is really bad!

After the village, a right turn leads us to the main trunk road (this is the end of kampong roads) but it comes out to where we had lunch the last time. A row of three shops, two eateries and a general store. It was only 11.00am and as I recalled, the last time we reached here , it was well over noon. As this is the last eatery until the junction near Kuala Tahan, we decided to have an early lunch. The stall owner over charged us big time because we were not local and also because the next shop was not opened.

After lunch, we carried on and it was getting hot now. The highest section of the whole route is beyond here. A few high and long slopes and also crossing the Pahang river. Somehow or rather, it seems easier for everyone and after a short ride we were already crossing the Pahang River bridge. Stopped for a few shots here. We passed the jungle section and now reached the plantation section. The old oil palm trees were cleared and new saplings were planted here onwards. The palm oil kernel loaders were rusty now and I remembered very well  as I seen riders taking refuge from the hot sun under it the last time.

As the last group was riding, we saw Kimmie standing on the roadside. She told us Jui Lee was taking a 'poo poo' and it was just lucky for her to find a place to do that , right in the middle of a plantation! We stopped too and after regrouping we carried on.

Slightly past 1.00pm, we reached 'Kenny's Place'. Called so because the last ride, we were all waiting for him here. We regrouped only after two and halfs hours here when John Kang borrowed a motorcycle to look for him and brought him back. We are now calling this place 'Donald's Place' because right after he reached here, he got cramped! He went lying on the ground for a good 15 minutes.

After a good laugh and drinks, we headed for the last three dragonbacks. It's now easy to tackle the dragon backs. As long as you don't brake on the downhill section the momentum will drive you to the mid uphill section of the next climb and at times all the way to the apex of the slope. But the last one was different. After the downhill, the road levels off for a while before the big climb and we have to start pedalling from the bottom. To compound this is the heat and the tiredness.

Still we need to finish it. At exactly 1.48pm, I reached the apex of the last slope and a few was in front of me. I stopped here and waited till the last rider passed me before I zoomed down to Kuala Tahan. Upon reaching and checking in to Han Rainforest Resort, we were at the front terrace , lazing and chatting away, joined in by the recreational officer there. It was then 8 of us decided to do the rapids boating and 'Orang Asli' village visit. The other four just wanted to take a shower and rest.

Small party.
We had dinner and then look for a place to have a mini party with beers and tidbits brought in last night. We chatted till late night and went to sleep. We regrouped again at breakfast the next morning and then packed up and headed for the jetty for our boat ride back to Kuala 
Tembeling. Some rode there and some took the hotel's shuttle service.

Like before, some of us took a nap on this long journey back and as the river was swelling, the current faster, the boat ride was also faster as we were heading downstream. Reaching Kuala Tembeling , me and Donald have to say our goodbyes and missing the lunch as we were heading to the opposite direction. We were taking the Cameron Highlands route back to the north.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Broga, 1st ride of the year!

It's the beginning of the year and we just got back from Parit Buntar and the legs are itching to ride. It is already 2 weeks since we last ride.

Usually when we don't have any plans for rides, we head to 2 places, either Genting Peras or Broga. For this week, we just wanted a leisure paced ride and Broga is easier among the 2, so Broga it is.

Since Susanna is trying out her new Bannard mini velo, we also brought out our velos. Last used was in Sepang ride. The moment after mounting and riding, it seems effortless riding the lighter velos compared to the folding bikes. We started off after everyone is ready.

We hit the kampong or village secondary roads after a kilometer from the town. We actually prefers this route as you hardly see any cars on this roads. It passes through residential houses and plantations with lots and lots of fresh air and green scenery. We even passed through pineapple plantations and also paddy fields!

With such cooling condition, sweat seems to have trouble coming out of our pores. It was already 12 kilometers and there was still no sweat! The pace is OK, ranging from 18 km/h to a faster 23 km/h.

We reached Mantin in just 90 minutes after we started off! We did not take the off road section today but took the tarmac. We ride along and after a while we came back to the same spot where the offroad will leads us to if we did ride that route.

We stopped at a local eatery along the route back to Broga. Just some laughs and jokes but no food! 

Broga is 25 kilometers away from Mantin and we reached the rubber estate road, one which is call Jalan Kg. Kapal. This is a very nice route to ride, quiet, breezy, air is fresh and most importantly, NO CARS!

We reach the back of the temple at 10.30am and it was still early but Chris has to struggle a bit for this last climb as he did not ride a bike for 2 months already! Look how's he struggling in the picture.

Finally our reward for riding. The 'ice kacang' and the 'pan mian' is the best and most known food here but today, I am opting for 'chicken rice' and also the honey lemon drink. I had two..........

Melaka is on and Chris, our local melaka boy will leads us next round...........till then!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Parit Buntar Food Trail

Weather was cool as it was drizzling. We were up at 7.00am and had a simple breakfast inclusive in out hotel tariffs. GPS routing went bonkers, so we just hit the road by memory. First destination was towards Nibong Tebal, crossing the Kerian River via Ampangan Jajar.

It wasn't very far from our starting point and we reached there in no time. From the bridge, we can actually view the 3 states, namely Perak which we are standing on and Kedah across the bridge and further downstream is Pulau Pinang. After some snapshots, we rode on towards Nibong Tebal passing through a paper mill.

We reached Nibong Tebal after a short ride and we headed to Chop Chuan Guan biscuits. Lilian wanted to get some snacks here as she was fascinated by the pictures in some blogs. But it was still not open yet! There is still a good hour before it opens. So we decided to go for breakfast again as the one we had was not really filling.

We headed to the parallel road where the famous Nibong Tebal's pork noodles. The place is Teik Kee's Coffee Shop. Locally the noodle is called "tu bak hoon". Alas, when we reach there, they were just unloading the stock and arranging the chairs. Gan saw a place where there were many patrons going in and out of a noodle shop when we were riding past. So, we back tracked to the place and the place in Kg. Sanglang was indeed busy.

So, we ate what the next table ate and also drank what the next table drank! The drink is actually their 'cham ping' which is a mixture of tea and coffee with cream. The noodle which is a bit bland due to the less amount of MSG used in rurals but it was greatly improved with adding pepper and soy sauce which is on the table anyway. I kind of like such foods after exposing myself to too much of heavy tasting food in the city.

By the time we finish our second breakfast of the day, Chop Chuan Guan is already opened. Ironically, this popular place is just directly opposite a casket shop. They are opened for only 2 hours today as it was a Sunday, so there's no on hand preparation of the delicacies. Lilian bought so many that both our bikes had plastic bags hanging on the front bar.

We crossed the motorcycle bridge back to the opposite and set our GPS to Sungai Udang.  There was actually another similar bridge but located elsewhere which leads directly to Kg. Berembang which is nearer but it's OK anyway. The detour was not really far anyway.

Looking at the signboard, it says Seberang Perai so we are in Penang actually. We explored till the end of this road and there was a lively fishing industry thriving  there. We are so impressed with the freshness of the seafood there and more impressive was the public can choose, and haggle directly with the fish mongers here. Right where the seafood is landed on the jetty! The freshness was so tempting but we can't buy , not today!

So tempted to buy! So cheap and so fresh! Must bring a cooler box next trip. All kinds of seafood! The atmosphere here was intense with customers haggling over the prices and rivalry among the fish mongers to sell off their seafood. Next ride will be a homestay and a seafood BBQ with all the fresh seafood bought from here!

After watching in awe at the fish trading here, we rushed back to our hotel to clean up and check out without being penalized. We made it with an hour to spare and Gan went to the maintenance officer for water to clean our bikes , all dirtied with riding in the rain. The guy allowed us to use the fire hose and washing was easy with the high pressure. I already washed all 4 bikes even before the first group was not down from cleaning themselves. When they did, another 2 went up to clean and after that we handed back the keys to the reception and said 'goodbye' to the hotel.

We drove immediately to the riverside for the famed 'assam laksa' and was there at 1.00pm. We were here yesterday and it was also closed already. So, today there was no hard searching for a stall in a discreet alley! They are only open on weekends and starts from 11.30am opens only 3 hours! Sadly! they were finished when we walked in and the lady boss told us, if we want to enjoy it , we have to be there at 11.30am!

No worries, we then drove to Fo Soo Suan Hotel for the beef noodles and...........we met the same fate there. Sold out!

Too Borr Sui

We then decided to head straight for lunch, yes the other 2 was just snacks! Our destination, Law Chang Kee in Nibong Tebal for their famous " Tu Boh Sui " , a boiled octopus appetizer!

The octopus did not disappoint us, it was crunchy and fresh! So were the other dishes, they were really good, especially the deep fried prawns and also the steamed pomfret.

Every table seems to have this towfoo dish!

Now that we done this ride, we just have to link up the dots and plan another more improved ride! Hopefully it doesn't rain then.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kampar Sitiawan Roundabout - III  (final)

The days begins and we all know we have made a tough decision to ride back to Kampar. We decided to start as early as possible and we will stop for breakfast on the way. After leaving the key on the sewing machine of the care taker, we left, riding southwards towards Teluk Intan. we won't be riding the off - road stretch again!

The riders! 
Looking fresh in the morning. We were hitting 23km/h to 28km/h for the first few hours to take advantage of the cool crisp air. We also decided to do a pit stop and regroup after every 10 kilometers.

The ride was getting hotter and hotter, passing through paddy fields.

A fellow cyclist from Felcra saw us and wave us to stop. He wanted to have a chat with us and also take some photo of us. We obliged and also we made some new friends. Irene also took the opportunity to hitch a ride to the sugar cane stop that we planned.

Our stop! Fresh sugar cane juice. We also chatted with the stall owner whom we had chatted before on our way to Sitiawan the previous day. Our new friend also accompanied Irene while waiting for us to arrive. We rode in shortly.

We then took a longer but with more shade route through the plantations and kampongs. The stall owner gave us the directions. He was right, the route was much more pleasing and relaxing. Fruits were in season again. Seems the kampong here grows a lot of lime trees.

We then reach the bridge spanning the Kinta river. While we were here, Lilian's bike fell over and broke the rear derailleur hanger. A quick fix was needed and the only solution was to shorten the chain and choose a ratio to run on single speed.

For the next 40 kilometers, Lilian has to ride on single speed but thank goodness, there are only a few hills. After repairing we carried on, passing Kampong Gajah without stopping. The sun was getting higher and it is already hitting our backs.

Somewhere along Kampong Timah, I had a gastric bout and we stopped at a small village hiding under some shade while Lilian went into the local village store to get me some milk. The rest was discussing about short cuts which I don't think existed, unless you cut a new route! Hahaahaa. A few kilometers further , we finally had to stop for lunch as hunger is setting in. We can't wait to find a better eatery. Anyway the eatery was good. Gan says the mee rebus was nice and the chicken rice that I had was quite OK.

How far more ???

We arrived at a small village called Tronoh Mines and this is a symbolic signal that our destination is near. Hooray! The small village is so peaceful, can hardly see anyone. Are they having their siesta at this hour?

KookKeong having a photo taken at the sign. He even saw a RM100 note on the grass. who might have left it there? After picking it up, he was riding with his eyes set to the ground, hoping for more, hahahahaa!

Our last pit stop before hitting Kampar again. We are still in a jovial mood, especially after chatting about KK's treasure bounty. Still some distance to go but shouold be OK, we have done so far already.

Finally, we rode into Kampar and we have clocked 214 kilometers in all. The first day we done 100 kilometers and today it was 95 kilometers. The rest were all done in Sitiawan itself. we must pat ourselves for being able to do this and especially to Gan CG who was riding a 16 inches folding bikes and also Pakkong for which this is his maiden major ride out of town. It was mentally tough, especially on the 25 kilometers off-road stretch.

Finally, after taking our bath and rest, ice kacang


what else, Kampar's famous clay pot chicken rice!