Danial, Halim and I had intended to do a bicycle tour to Port Dickson and Melaka at the end of December. That plan was scuttled when I had to pull out.
The next possible dates for an overnight were over the Thaipusam long weekend. Choo Chian and Mark were able to join this time. The program was to take the KTM Komuter train to Tanjung Malim and then to ride from there to Teluk Intan.
Choo Chian met up with Halim in Ampang and they rode to the Kepong KTM station. Danial rode from his home and linked up with Choo Chian and Halim en route to the Kepong station. The three of them had to reroute when they discovered that Jalan Ipoh was completely closed for the Thaipusam chariot procession.
Despite the redirection, they got to the Kepong station in time to catch the first train of the day to Tanjung Malim. That train departs Kepong at 7.30am.
Track upgrading works mean that until the end of 2019 the Komuter train service to Tanjung Malim starts and terminates at Kepong. Once the upgrading is completed the service will run from and to KL Sentral station.
I drove to Mark’s house and we rode to the Kuang KTM station. The first train to Tanjung Malim gets to Kuang at 7.54am. We would meet our three companions on that train.
Mark and I got into the last of the six carriages as discussed to find that the other three had boarded the first carriage. Fortunately, that was the only part of our two-day plan that went awry. We nevertheless had both carriages to ourselves.
We arrived at the Tanjung Malim KTM station bang on at 8.51am. On thing that KTM got right is running the Komuter service on schedule.
We rode one kilometre from the station to Restoran Ocu Amy on Jalan Ketoyong for breakfast. Fed and watered, we got onto Federal Route 1 and rode northwest to Sungkai, which is just over halfway to Teluk Intan.
Federal Route 1 is believed to be the nation’s earliest public roadways ever constructed. Construction began in 1880 under the orders of the Sultan of Kedah at that time, connecting Alor Star to Songkhla, Thailand. Federal Route 1 now runs 993km / 617mi from Johor Bahru in the south to Bukit Kayu Hitam in the north.
In 1994 the North-South Expressway took the role of the Federal Route 1 as the main backbone route in Peninsular Malaysia. This has reduced the volume of traffic on Federal Route 1. Coupled with the numerous towns that grew along its path, Federal Route 1 is quite a nice road to cycle on.
We stopped at Slim River for ten minutes. We stopped again at Sungkai. It was 11.00am, we were riding under a cloudless sky and the air temperature was already 32ºC / 90ºF. We needed a cold drink and to refill water bottles.
We left Federal Route 1 at Sungkai to join Jalan Kuala Bikam – Sungkai (Perak State Route A189). That road is relatively new, so the surface is good. However, I managed to bang into one of the very few potholes after about 10km / 6mi. I was more vigilant about keeping my eyes on the road ahead after. There were no more flats.
The temperature had risen to 35ºC / 95ºF by 12.30pm. We were getting toasted.
We stopped again after 63km / 39mi for yet more drinks and bottle refills. That was a 20 minute stop. It was even hotter. We needed some time in the shade.
20km / 12mi later we were in Teluk Intan. More specifically we were in the McDonald’s Teluk Intan. It was almost 2.00pm. Time for lunch.
Hot and happy to be at our destination.
The Yew Boutique Hotel is our regular hostelry when we visit Teluk Intan. Not least because it is a bike-friendly hotel with a convenient place to leave our bicycles right next to the 24-hour reception desk.
We parked our bikes, plopped into chairs in the air-conditioned lounge area and drank numerous glasses of the lemon citrus water provided by the hotel for its guests. Then it was time for showers and to wash our sweaty cycling kit.
Another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is its friendly and accommodating staff. It was no problem to hang our kit to dry on the fence next to the car park. We were even given extra hangers.
Everyone then took naps. At about 5.30pm I was awake and convinced Mark to come with me to explore the neighbourhood. I messaged the other guys but got no reply. Mark got no reply to his offer to get some of the famous Teluk Intan chee cheong fun. They were still fast asleep.
Those are rainclouds over the arch. The wind blew those clouds toward Mark and I. When rain drops started falling on us we made a quick call to Halim to ask him to bring all our cycling kit inside.
I had booked an udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) dinner at Restoran D’Tepian Sungai. The udang galah is frankly our only reason for visiting Teluk Intan. The rain stopped in time for us to get to the riverside restaurant only five minutes late.
The udang galah dishes – masak lemak cili padi, tiga rasa and goreng berempah, as always, were awesome.
In a post-feast prawn coma . . .
On the way back to the hotel we bought Magnum and Solero ice creams for dessert. It was 8.45pm. A bit early to go to bed even though the plan was to start riding at 6.30am. We sat in the hotel lounge drinking more of that lemon citrus water as we chatted. It was 11.00pm before we checked the time again. Definitely time to the hit the hay.
We all slept well. Yet another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is that it is in a very quiet part of town. The New Glutton Square food court next door shuts down quite early.
We were on the road right about on schedule, with our first stop of the day being 4km / 2.5mi down the road at Restoran M. Gulam Rasul for breakfast.
It was such a nice change to be riding in cool temperatures.
We were in Sungkai at 8.30am. We stopped at a BHPetrol station for drinks. These ducks stopped there too, but they didn’t get a drink.
We briefly entertained thoughts of getting to Tanjung Malim in time for the 10.15am train but conceded that was too ambitious. A more realistic goal if we had started at 6.00am.
We had plenty of time to make the next departure from Tanjung Malim at 11.55am.
We were on the same route that we had ridden the day before.
Danial and Choo Chian stopped again at the PETRONAS station in Slim River. The petrol station where I had dropped and broken the screen of my mobile phone during our ride back from Ipoh in July last year. Halim and Mark were ahead of us and had stopped a kilometre up the road. I kept going and as I rode past them I shouted: “Let’s ride to Kuala Kubu Bahru.”
It is just over 21km / 1mi from Slim River to Tanjung Malim. Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) is a further 21km down the road. The three of us got to the PETRONAS station in Tanjung Malim at 10.20am. The train we wanted to be on leaves KKB station at 12.11pm. There was more than enough time for us to ride to KKB.
We got to KKB at about 11.30am. We had time to ride into KKB town for some fresh coconut water and a slice of sweet pineapple before heading to the station.
Choo Chian and Danial were on the train, in the last car this time, when we got on. It was getting as hot as it had been the day before, and the air conditioning on the train was very welcome. Though it didn’t feel as cold as it had been on previous rides.
Mark and I got off the train at the Sungai Buloh station. It was too hot to ride back to Taman Megah from Kuang. Choo Chian, Danial and Halim got off at Kepong.
Mark and I made one last stop before getting back to his house. It was 37ºC / 99ºF. A couple of bowls of icy cendol hit the spot.
The heat was the only drawback in a very enjoyable weekend. Good company, good food and good riding. All in all a very successful bike tour. More of the same, please.