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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Udang Galah Tour – Teluk Intan to Petaling Jaya


Photograph courtesy of

Teluk Intan extends into an oxbow meander of the Perak River.  The Yew Boutique Hotel is the blue and white building to the left, about halfway up the spit of land.

This is the view from the hotel rooftop.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The hotel is bicycle friendly, with a Cyclist Corner in the lobby.  Bicycles in rooms?  No problem.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

After breakfast in the hotel, we were on the road at just after 8.00am.  It looked and felt like it would be another roaster of a day as we made our way out of Teluk Intan.  But after 25 km / 15.5 mi it became overcast, and consequently a little cooler.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The cloud cover was not total, so weather vacillated between being overcast and being sunny.  Which kept the temperature relatively high, but thankfully it never got to the boiling hot levels of the previous day.

Despite feeling warm, we were comfortable enough to make good time to Sabak Bernam, where we made our first stop.

The fried egg, sausage, baked beans and toast breakfast at the hotel had been burned through, so we had brunch at Restoran Ammin Maju.  Roti telur, thosai, and lots of teh tarik and iced Milo.

The sun continued to play with us, alternately toasting us and retreating behind the clouds, as we made our way through Sungai Besar.  Sticking to our schedule of a stop every 30 km / 19 mi, we pulled into the PETRONAS station at Sungai Haji Dorani.  We already had 57 km / 35 mi in the bank.

I wasn’t the only one who had started out in the morning feeling dehydrated.  Despite drinking lots and lots during and after the previous day’s ride, I hadn’t replaced all the fluid that I had lost to perspiration.  All of us commented on how little we had in our bladders through the night and into the morning.

No surprise then that dry mouths and empty bottles signalled the need to stop after 90 km / 57 mi.  We had been looking for a cendol stall.  We came upon a few.  All were closed.

Then we arrived at the Gudang Food Court, with its large sign advertising coconut shakes.  The coconut shakes were good.  The cendol shakes – not so much.  I think it was because they used the same coconut water mix in the cendol as was in the coconut shakes.  Cendol needs coconut milk to taste right.

The cendol shake was however cold and wet, and everything is improved by a dollop of ice cream.  So down it went.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We had been watching the sky since leaving Sabak Bernam.  There were rain clouds to the east, and at one point we thought the precipitation would come our way.  It never did.  The skies continued to alternate between overcast and sunny.  It never got as hot as it did the day before, but we were riding faster, averaging about 27 kph / 17 mph.  Thus we were sweating a lot.

We decided against stopping for lunch, or for another visit to the coconut water stand, in Kuala Selangor, but we did need to rest and refill water bottles at the PETRONAS station there.

We were more than halfway home, and we were moving onto roads which we had ridden many times.  Interestingly, the state of the roads was better coming south.  Even the stretch near Sabak Bernam was less rough on the southbound side.

Perhaps spoken a bit too soon.  Mark had a pinch flat as we made the left turn onto Jalan Kuala Selangor.  The Caltex Assam Jawa station was a convenient place for Mark to sit down while changing his inner tube.  And for me to have an iced lolly!


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Once we got going again we were heading toward the rain clouds.  By the time we got to the entrance to the LATAR Expressway, the sun was well-hidden by the clouds.  Which was a very good thing.  Up to that point the route had been pan flat.  Now there were some hills to ride over along the LATAR Expressway and the rest of the way back to Petaling Jaya.

It was about 2.45pm.  Often the hottest time of the day in these tropical parts.  On this day it was just over 30° C / 86° F.  Very nice.  We were able to stay cool as we cruised over the hills.  So cool that we didn’t need to stop as planned at the Kundang Timur R&R.  Instead we carried on into Kampung Melayu Sri Kundang, looking for a stall selling banana fritters, cendol and the like.

We found Cendol ABC Setia across the road from Tasik Biru Kundang.  Exactly what we were looking for.  Cendol, banana and cassava fritters, and prawn fritters.

The last 30 km / 19 mi of this ride were much more comfortable than the equivalent kilometers the day before.  We weren’t feeling beaten up by the roads and the heat.  We made a final stop at the PETRONAS station in Kuang to fill our bottles.  Then enjoyed a relaxed ride back to Petaling Jaya.

Once again I had a lot of fun, laughs, and good eats, with great friends for company.  Thank you Lay, Marco and Mark for a wonderful bike tour.  Let’s do another one soon.


Quote courtesy of Alistair Humphreys

Udang Galah Tour – Petaling Jaya to Teluk Intan


Graphic courtesy of ITBM

Two days after completing the Cendol Tour to Melaka, four of us embarked on a credit card tour to Teluk Intan.  This time Mark and I had Marco and Lay for company.

Everyone was on road bikes this time, all sporting Apidura saddle bags.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We started the ride under the sun, the moon, and clouds.  It looked like we would have nice weather for our ride.  Looks can be deceiving!


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We rode from Ara Damansara to Denai Alam.  Once on the motorcycle lane alongside the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, we cycled past the Lagong toll plaza to Exit 3501.  There we joined the LATAR Expressway toward Ijok.

Our first stop was at Sin Loong Kee Noodles in Kampung Baru Kundang.  Steaming bowls of beehoon and mee, accompanied by strong coffee.

That breakfast set us up nicely for the ride along the rest of the LATAR Expressway toward Ijok.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

At this juncture it was still overcast and relatively cool.  It didn’t stay that way.  By the time we were riding through Bukit Rotan on our way to Kuala Selangor, the sun was out, and the heat was on.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We stopped in Kuala Selangor for a photograph by the Selangor River.  And truth be told, a bit of a rest.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Then we were on the hunt for something to drink.  Which we found at a roadside stall advertising ‘kelapa wangi’ (fragrant coconuts).  You pick the coconut that you want, or just let the vendor choose for you.  Four or five swings of his cleaver, and the top of the coconut is off.  Add ice and guzzle.

The sun was unrelenting.  By 1.00pm the “feels like” temperature was 40° C / 104° F.  We were in Sekinchan, and had covered 101 km / 63 mi.  It was time to stop for lunch.

We sat in the KFC in Sekinchan for seventy five minutes.  Half of that time was spent eating.  The rest was spent sipping drinks and summoning up the willpower to leave the air-conditioning and venture back out into the furnace.

We got as far as Sungai Besar before we needed another dose of air-conditioning.  This time in McDonald’s, where we chilled our insides with lime sundaes.  The green food colouring in the lime topping might have been flourescent, but there was nothing wrong with the taste.  Those sundaes hit the spot.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Back on our bikes again, we were starting to get worn down by the double whammy of the broiling heat, and the frequent stretches of rutted, poorly patched, and pot-holed roads. We were expending a lot of energy negotiating around and over the holes and bumps in the road.  A raised or depressed manhole cover is just an irritation to a driver, but it is a hazard to a cyclist.

After a particularly bad section of road north of Sabak Bernam, where even the patches over older patches had themselves been patched, we pulled over under some trees, beside a small Indian shrine, to rest our tired hands and forearms.


It was nine and a half hours since we left Ara Damansara.  That dead straight road ahead of us seemed endless, disappearing into the horizon.

We had roughly 25 km / 15.5 mi to go.  Not a lot.  But we were getting to the end of our reserves of energy.  We were at that point where every kilometer seems to take an age to cover. The distance markers at the roadside were becoming more of a hindrance than a help. Seemingly mocking our slow forward progress.

We covered just 15 km / 9 mi before we needed another stop.  The Shell petrol station at Taman Aman was a haven of air-conditioning and cold drinks.

As the distance between us and the Yew Boutique Hotel in Teluk Intan fell to single digits, the sun finally dropped low enough in the sky so as to make the heat less oppressive.  At this point the distance markers were in partial numbers.

Teluk Intan 3.5 km

Teluk Intan 2.5 km

At 6.00pm we made the left turn onto Jalan Mahkamah, and then left again onto Jalan Mahkota.  We had arrived at the the place that was the reason for making this trip to Teluk Intan.

The Restoran D’Tepian Sungai.

The udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) restaurant right on the bank of the Perak River, where the participants in the BCG Tour to Teluk Intan had feasted.

BCG Tour Teluk Intan Udang Galah

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

We wanted to order our food ahead of time, so that we could come back at 8.00pm knowing that we had a table, and that our food would be ready.  Just as the proprietor was telling us that the largest of the udang galah, the Grade A ones, were finished – “Boo”, a supplier pulled up with a fresh delivery – “Yahoo!”

We made one last stop before the hotel.  The Menara Condong, or Leaning Tower, is the iconic structure of Teluk Intan.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were back at the Restoran D’Tepian Sungai at 8.00pm sharp.  Waiting for us were 2 kilos / 4.4 lbs of those Grade A udang galah, prepared three different ways.  500 grams / 1.1 lbs of batter fried squid.  And a couple of steamed crabs.

It sounds like a lot of food.  It was.  But we consumed all of it!


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

You would have thought that everyone was full after eating all that.  Think again.

Teluk Intan is noted for its chee cheong fun.  The best is reputedly made by Liew Kee (Ah Lek) Chee Cheong Fun.  Which is not far from the Yew Boutique Hotel.

We took a few night shots of the Menara Condong on the way to the chee cheong fun shop.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The chee cheong fun shop looks like a maximum security prison.  There are no tables and chairs.  Strictly takeaway only.  Nevertheless, the queue was long.  The place is famous far and wide.

There was talk of a few drinks before calling it a night.  That turned out to be talk only.  Once we got back to the hotel all thoughts turned to sleep.  And dreams of cooler weather for the ride back to Petaling Jaya.

Roadies and Fixies Cendol Tour: Melaka to Kajang


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Our plans for an early start were scuttled by rain.  We lingered over breakfast while waiting for the rain to stop.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We rolled out of the Fenix Inn at 9.00am.  Not to immediately head north toward Port Dickson and Kajang, but to ride to the ruins of the A Famosa fortress, and to the Stadthuys. Two of the most photographed colonial buildings, the first Portuguese and the second Dutch, in Melaka.

Photographs snapped, we crossed the Melaka River and started our 150km / 93mi ride back to Kajang.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We retraced our route from the day before.  We also followed our schedule of stopping every 30km / 19mi or so.

The first stop came at a coconut water stand 27km / 17mi outside Melaka.  Mark and I had become separated from Alvin and Liang by that point.  We stopped again at the junction of Route 5 and the M142 to make sure that they didn’t miss that turn.

Riding together again, we got to Kuala Sungai Baru at 11.40am.  The Kuala Seafood restaurant already had its lunch offerings on display.  Everything tasted as good as it looked.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We lingered over lunch and drinks for an hour.  It had been hot the day before, and it was already hot again.  I were all dehydrated, and our bodies needed all the fluid we could take in.

The weather can change very quickly, and it did so after lunch.  We had to take cover at a bus stop near Batu Ibol as a sudden cloudburst rolled by.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The rain eased after ten minutes, so we headed back out onto the very wet road.  We rode through drizzle and on wet roads all the way to Port Dickson.

We stopped at Azmi Cendol in the town centre to dry off a bit.

And for some of this.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

And some of this.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We were just over halfway home.  The sun came out again as we sat at Azmi Cendol.  Time to reapply the SPF70.  The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.  No punctures!

It was hot and steamy.  We stopped for a much needed rest and something to drink just before the 100km / 62mi mark.  Coincidentally at the 99 Speedmart in Tanah Merah where we bought Cokes and such the day before.

There are 140 meters / 460 feet of climbing in the 12km / 7.5mi between Tanah Merah and Sepang.  Which was especially hard work for Alvin and Liang on their fixies.  They fully deserved the stop at the Shell petrol station in Sepang.

The climbing doesn’t stop after Sepang.  There is another 465 meters / 1,525 feet of elevation in the 45km / 28mi to Kajang.  By the time we got to Pekan Salak we all needed to refill our bottles.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We needed to catch our breath one final time with 20km / 12.5mi to go.  Then it was a leisurely ride past some high tech bodies:  the Atomic Energy Licensing Board, the Malaysia Genome Institute, and the Malaysian Nuclear Agency.

The National University of Malaysia in Bangi is the last landmark before the right turn toward Bandar Teknologi Kajang.  From there we had just 5.5km / 3.5mi to the police station where we had parked.  Oh, and a final 100 meters / 328 feet of climbing, just for laughs!

It had taken us ten and a half hours to get from Melaka to Kajang.  Six and a half of which were spent on our bikes.  We had done the return trip in about twenty five minutes less than the outward leg the day before.  Kudos to Alvin and Liang for pedalling for every second of those thirteen hours and fifteen minutes, as we covered a tad over 320 km / 199 mi over two days.  Very impressive!

We closed our credit card tour with dinner at Restoran Yip Sheng, down the road from the police station.  Fried rice, lemon chicken and braised beancurd.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

A tasty end to a very enjoyable two-day tour in the company of very good friends.

Roadies and Fixies Cendol Tour: Kajang to Melaka


Photograph courtesy of

Four of us, two on road bikes and two on fixies, did a credit card tour to Melaka.  We started from Kajang.  After breakfast, that is!


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The road bikes were fitted with Apidura saddle packs.  The fixie riders carried backpacks.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The ride didn’t start very auspiciously.  Liang had a puncture after 8km / 5mi.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

You know that feeling you get when one of your mates gets a puncture?  That “Glad it’s not me” feeling?  I lost that feeling as soon I got back on my bike.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

My rear tire was flat.

I checked the tire for any embedded sharp objects that would have punctured the inner tube.  I didn’t find anything, so installed and inflated a new tube.

Which immediately started losing air.  So I had to go through the whole process again.  We were at this bus stop for fifty five minutes, fixing flats.

As we were in touring mode, the delay didn’t bother us.  And with Alvin and Liang having to pedal nonstop, even going downhill, speeds were moderate.

We figured on a stop every 30km / 19mi or so to rest and fill bottles.  The PETRONAS station at Pekan Salak came at just the right time.  As we left the petrol station we spotted a small bicycle shop, where Liang and I stocked up on inner tubes.  At what was a slightly overpriced RM18 each.  But as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

From Pekan Salak the route took us to Sepang, where we joined Route 5 to Port Dickson.  Our route was almost identical to that taken by the BCG Tour from Kajang to Melaka.

Our next stop was at the 99 Speedmart in Tanah Merah.  For Cokes, Nestlé Bliss peach mango yogurt drink, and water.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We got to McDonald’s at the Port Dickson Waterfront at about noon.  That McDonald’s has become a standard stop on any of our rides through Port Dickson.  Usually for something to eat as well as something to drink.  This time we just had a drink.  Lunch would be grilled chicken at Cowboy Place in Teluk Kemang.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

When we got back on our bikes, I saw that my rear tire had flatted.  Again.  I was getting tired of this.  It’s a good thing I had bought some inner tubes in Pekan Salak.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

An almost forensic examination of the tire finally revealed the culprit.  Undetectable by touch, and visible only by flexing the tire.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Another flat tire, and I would have been tempted to leave my bike up a tree.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

By the time we got to Cowboy Place it was 1.30pm.  We were all hungry.  To the tune of one and a half chickens, a plate of mixed vegetables, and two omelets.  Washed down with pitchers of watermelon juice.  In retrospect the grilled chicken wasn’t all that good.  But as I said, we were hungry at the time.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

As we were finishing our lunch, a storm rumbled through to the north east of Teluk Kemang.  All we got was a very light sprinkle.  Nonetheless, very much appreciated as it cooled the air.  But not for long.  The sun came back out, and the air turned steamy as the day warmed up again.

With the sun beating down, we were ready for our next “every 30km / 19mi” stop.  Which came at Restoran Kuala Seafood in Kuala Sungai Baru.  We rehydrated, and caught up on essentials.  Be it social media updates, or a nap.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

After Kuala Sungai Baru we hit 25km / 15.5mi of rolling terrain to Tanjong Kling.  Liang and Alvin stopped along the way in Sungai Udang to get something to eat.  I am not surprised that they needed food.  Riding fixies had to be really hard work.

Liang was riding a 48 tooth chainring with a 16 tooth rear cog.  Alvin had a 49 tooth chainring with a 17 tooth rear cog.  That means that for each turn of the crank, Liang travelled 6.3 meters / 20.6 feet, and Alvin travelled 6.0 meters / 19.7 feet.  Those are hard gears to push on the flat, let alone uphill.  Without the opportunity to coast and rest every now and then.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Mark and I continued on into Melaka to visit a bike shop.  While fixing my first flat tire of the day, I had discovered a cut in the sidewall of my rear tire.  I had booted the tire with a one ringgit bill (a benefit of plastic notes), but didn’t want to risk riding on it for longer than absolutely necessary.

KHS Bicycles installed a new tire for me.  And in the process discovered that I had a suspect tube in my front tire.  So my ride to Melaka cost me five inner tubes.  I bought four inner tubes at KHS, for a more reasonable RM15 each.

Alvin and Liang caught up with Mark and I at the bike shop.  Which Alvin and Mark must have mistaken for a bar!


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

It wasn’t far from the bike shop to the Fenix Inn.  Our home for the night.  Chosen for its proximity to the historic heart of Melaka, and for the fact that it allows bicycles in the rooms.

Showered and changed, it was time for dinner.  The original plan was to walk to Restoran Nyonya Makko.  However that restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.  So Mark consulted Google for alternatives.

We chose Big Nyonya Restaurant on Jalan Merdeka, which was a short bike ride from the Fenix Inn.

Chicken rolls, fried brinjals with chilli, cincalok omelet, pineapple prawn curry, and of course cendol for dessert.

The food was as good as we have had before at Makko, but pricier.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

After dinner we took a short ride to the Riverine Coffee House on Lorong Hang Jebat.  We sat out back, right on the edge of the Melaka River.  Where we watched the river cruise boats race by.

Alvin took some arty photographs with his new Huawei P9.  The smartphone with the Leica co-engineered dual lens camera.  The low-light shots are impressive.

Then it was bedtime.  We wanted to have an early start in the morning.

Apidura Rackless Packing Systems


Graphic courtesy of

A couple of my cycling buddies are experienced bike tourers.  As in riding across China, or riding from the Malaysia – Thai border to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, carrying all they need with them on their bicycles.  They own touring bicycles. Touring bicycle frames are differentiated from ‘standard’ road bike frames by having

  • A more relaxed geometry to provide a comfortable ride and stable handling
  • Mounting points for the attachment of mud guards, carrier racks, panniers and three water bottles, and
  • More clearance in the frame to accommodate 28mm or wider tires

As the rest of us followed their progress enroute, and heard their post ride stories, the thought of doing a bike tour ourselves started to appeal.  After all, if The Tandem Men can ride around the world unsupported, we could surely do a multi-day ride, albeit something much less ambitious.

Those thoughts coalesced into a plan to spend four days riding through southern Thailand. For our first foray into the world of self-supported tours, we decided on the ‘credit card’ variety.  We would carry basic cycling gear and clothing, then pay for things like meals, supplies and overnight accommodations as we travelled.

This lightweight approach would allow us to ride our road bikes.  All we needed were some ‘rackless’ touring bags.  Leslie pointed toward Apidura for the bags.

I had first come across the Apidura name in a feature on the Rapha website.  Rapha had partnered with Apidura on a series of rackless packs.  The feature made interesting reading.

Apidura was founded by Tori Fahey.  An experienced cycling tourist, she took some time off work in 2011 to race in the Tour Divide (a 4,400km continent-crossing race from Canada to Mexico).  In an interview published online in The Guardian, she says “It was through my trip from Canada to Mexico that I discovered pannier and rack systems and my revelation from the trip was that I was never going to use them again.”

So, in 2013, Apidura was born, producing storage solutions for people looking to travel the world by bike, race across continents and carry all they need to do so.

Today Apidura produces a range of packs and accessories.


Graphic courtesy of Apidura

I bought three items, all of them the dry versions designed to keep water out, even in a sustained rain.

Saddle Pack Dry (14L)


Photograph courtesy of Apidura

Handlebar Pack Dry (14L)


Photograph courtesy of Apidura

Accessory Pocket Dry (5L)


Photograph courtesy of Apidura

All five of us on the southern Thailand tour had Apidura saddle packs.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The Apidura saddle packs meet four important criteria:

  1. They are easy to pack, and then to compress and close.
  2. They attach simply and securely to the seat post and saddle.
  3. They do not adversely affect the handling of the bike.
  4. They are waterproof.

We tested the waterproofness early on, when we were caught in a torrential tropical downpour.  It was so wet that our brakes were almost useless, and it was too dangerous to keep riding.  Despite the deluge, not a drop of water got into the packs.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

I was the only one with the handlebar pack and the accessory pack as well.  The handlebar pack was just as easy easy to pack, close, and attach to the bars.  The accessory pack clips neatly to the handlebar pack, and together have negligible impact on bike handling.

The only thing to watch for with the handlebar pack is that it doesn’t press on the cables in front of the bar enough to actuate the front brake.  That happened to me, and the only solution was to lighten the load in the handlebar pack.

Apart from that niggle, the Apidura packs performed brilliantly.  The large 14 liter / 3.7 US gallon capacity saddle pack accommodated a full set of cycling kit, a pair of sandals, a pair of shorts, two tee shirts, a small foam travel pillow, toiletries, a spare inner tube, tire levers and a multitool, and a rain jacket.  With room to spare.

One trip is not enough to satisfy a fifth criteria, that of durability.  The materials list from the Apidura website, however, points to products designed to cope well with the rigours of bike touring in all conditions.

Dimension Polyant VX21 is the main body fabric. This 4 layer laminated fabric offers a combination of superior waterproofness, light weight, ultra high abrasion and tear resistance, and low stretch.

Ultra-durable hypalon is used in high abrasion, high stress areas to provide additional protection against friction and puncture.

Woojin buckles are used in the fastening system for enhanced reliability.

HDPE structural support to reinforce the shape of the pack, ensuring that it does not interfere with the ride.

I must report that I managed to separate the top and bottom parts of a clip on the handlebar pack to which a strap from the accessory pocket is attached.  I pulled too hard on the strap to tighten it.  Fortunately Marco was able to maneuver the two parts of the clip back together again.

While the Apidura packs are clearly built tough, care must be taken when tightening straps.

So far so good though.  I think I speak for all five of us when I say that we are very happy with our Apidura packs.  I recommend  them highly to anyone interested in a rackless packing system.


Logo courtesy of Apidura

Southern Thailand Tour Day 4



This was the view when I opened the curtains in my 28th floor hotel room.  It was nice that we did not have to get up before sunrise on this last day of our bicycle tour.  We planned to be on the road at 9.00am.  Which gave us time for breakfast in the cafe behind us before we changed and packed our stuff into our Apidura bags.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The route from Hat Yai to Padang Besar is mostly straight southward for 46km / 29mi before a turn to the east at Sadao for the last 13km / 8mi.


Philip took the lead once we were on Route 4, and he proceeded to pull us along at an average of 36kph / 22mph for fifty minutes.  I was more than happy to stop for a drink by the time we had covered 30km / 19mi.

It isn’t hard to find places serving drinks on the road side.  There are the more upmarket chains like Amazon Coffee, which often have shops in petrol stations.  Or just look for a hut displaying drinks, and perhaps a sign.  Like the one we stopped at.


It had comfortable seating in the shade, icy cold drinks – one of my all time favourites is Thai iced tea, and as you can tell by the mobile phones in our hands, free wifi!


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

After giving us thirty minutes to catch our breath, Philip and Leslie stepped on the gas again to Sadao, where we made the turn onto Route 4054 to Padang Besar.  If you stay on Route 4 you arrive at the larger border crossing at Bukit Kayu Hitam.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It was a hilly 11.5km / 7mi from Sadao to Padang Besar.  That didn’t stop Philip and Leslie from maintaining a fairly torrid pace as we rolled over 130 meters / 426 feet of climbing. We were in Padang Besar in twenty three minutes.

Leslie wanted one last meal in Thailand.  He saw a place that he liked the look of, and we all went in.  Marco and I needed a fan and something cold to drink more than something to eat.  The others ate an early lunch.

It is a couple of hundred meters from that restaurant to the border crossing.  First we went through Thai immigration control.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Then through Malaysian immigration control.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

And we were back on home soil, just minutes from where we had left our vehicles.   Our cycling adventure was over.  What a fabulous adventure it was.  The riding was good, and the company was even better.  These four days will live long in my memory.

Thank you guys for a wonderful time.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong


Southern Thailand Tour Day 3

Any plans to have a long lie in after the Satun International Century Ride were quickly put to rest.  We had about 150km / 93mi to cover from Satun to Hat Yai, via an extended route which would take us around Songkhla Lake.


We were all present and accounted for at the entrance of the SinKiat Buri Hotel at 7.30am.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Our first task upon rolling out was to scan the streets for a place to eat breakfast.  We didn’t see anything that looked promising for the first couple of kilometers.  7 Eleven came to mind, but Leslie reminded us that convenience stores should be our choice of last resort.  He had a point.

Then we found this place, selling packets of nasi lemak, just like we get at home.  But with a Thai twist.  The nasi lemak came with a variety of toppings to choose from.  Fish, or shrimp, or egg, or plain sambal.

I had already grabbed some pulut with kaya (sticky rice with coconut jam) as well.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We were on the only road that links Satun province with Songkhla province to the north.  Route 406, like the other roads we had already ridden on in Thailand, was wide and smooth.  And in this case it was a dual carriageway.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

About 27km / 17mi outside Satun we were diverted to the opposite side of the dual carriageway.  The northbound side of the road was closed.  A bad accident perhaps?

A few minutes later we saw the reason for the diversion.  There was a row of more than a dozen double decker buses like this one parked on the road.


All waiting to load passengers coming out of this place.


I can’t find any information about Satun Cowboy Land, so why hundreds of people were there remains a mystery.

1o kilometers later we were riding through the karst outcrops that mark the border into Songkhla province.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It was turning into another hot day.  We had planned to stop for a drink every 30km / 19mi or so, and we stuck to that plan.  Our first rehydration stop had been just past Satun Cowboy Town.

At about 60km / 37mi we were in Ban Na Si Thong.  We bought large Sunkist orange and milky green tea drinks here.  There was enough Sunkist in my drink that I could dilute it three times over from the water dispenser near our table.

We were grateful that the Thais are also not stingy with ice.  The drinks come loaded with ice, and are often accompanied with a bucket of more ice.  We were always able to keep our bottles topped up with ice.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

By noon we had covered 75km / 47mi.  The temperature was up around 38°C / 100°F.  Too hot to ride a further 15km / 9mi before stopping again.

A 7 Eleven in Khuan Niang to the rescue!


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We felt much better after fifteen minutes in air conditioning.

Lunch was about forty five minutes away.  We may have been smiling on the bridge at Ban Pak Ro, but we were hot and hungry.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We found a great restaurant on the other side of the bridge.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We were on the water, in the shade, under a fan, with cold drinks in hand.  (Note the blue ice bucket on the table).  We kicked back there for almost two hours.

Oh!  We did eat too.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We roused ourselves and got back onto our bikes at 3.40pm.  We had 55km / 34mi to go to Hat Yai, and we wanted to get there before sunset at about 6.0pm.

The 10km / 6mi from the restaurant was the only bad section of road we encountered during the entire 430km / 267mi tour through southern Thailand.  We felt right at home.  Which is a bit sad!


The next landmark was Ko Yo island in Songkhla Lake.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

30km / 19mi to go to Hat Yai.  We had been riding long enough from lunch that we needed a drink and to refill our bottles for the stretch to our final destination.

There are lots of roadside drinks stalls to choose from.  All identifiable by the rows of syrups and cordials on display.


There is nothing quite like an ice cold Coke!


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

There was about an hour before sunset.  So Philip and Leslie proceeded to pull us along at 31kph / 19mph for the next thirty minutes.  Then we made the left turn onto Lopburi Ramesuan Road, heading south into central Hat Yai.

We had prebooked the hotel in Satun, but had not done the same for Hat Yai.  So it was hotel hunting time.  We were turned away from the first two hotels we tried, when we revealed that we intended to take our bikes up to our rooms.

While Lay – our designated negotiator – was trying for the third time to get us into a hotel, the Lee Gardens Plaza, I struck up a conversation outside with a security guard.  He was quite impressed that we had ridden from Satun, and was interested in our bikes and saddle packs.

When Lay returned with the news that once again we wouldn’t be allowed to take our bikes into our rooms, the security guard was not pleased.  He immediately pulled out his walkie talkie, and after thirty seconds of conversation – the only word I understood was “Satun” – he ushered us all, bikes included, into the hotel.

If you visit Hat Yai, stay in the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel.  Especially if you bring your bicycle!!

Showered and changed, we wandered along Prachathipat Road looking for a nice place to eat.  We chose Jaepen Restaurant, on the basis of a stall at the entrance selling leng chee kang (a sweet drink or dessert containing lotus seeds, longans, lily bulbs, dried persimmons, and malva nuts).

The leng chee kang turned out to be a bit of a bust, but the food was excellent.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Not only is the food in Thailand delicious, it is also cheap.  We had steamed grouper, omelette with crab meat, squid in curry sauce, fried shrimp with petai, fish and shrimp cake, and white rice.  Plus two bowls of leng chee kang and two bowls of bubur cha cha (a Nyonya dessert of bananas, sweet potatoes, taro, and sago pearls cooked in pandan -flavoured coconut milk).

All for THB 1,820.  Or RM46 / USD10 per person.  So there was enough cash left over for a mango with sticky rice dessert on the way back to the hotel.

It had been a long and hot day.  Add a full stomach.  No wonder I was ready to hit the sack.  Day 4 to come.