It was 5:59 am. We had checked out of the hotel, loaded the truck and posed for a photograph.
All that was left to do was to ride 126km / 78mi to Taiping. It had rained some more during the night. The roads were wet as we rode toward Jalan Batu Sinar through neighbourhoods which were just coming to life.
Our route west and then north would be mostly on secondary roads which are smooth and relatively vehicle-free.
Kampar sits in the Kinta Valley. Once an area with rich tin ore reserves. Most of the tin mines closed down following the collapse of the industry, especially in the late 20th century.
The mining pools remain. The first 17km of the morning took us through an area studded with pools. Sadly it was too dark to see them properly.
By the time it was light enough to see our surroundings we were on the A112 Jalan Kampung Bali and already through the main concentration of pools. The road was still quiet.
Very quiet at times.
No one had eaten breakfast before we left Kampar. Once we had ridden for an hour it was time to look for a place to eat. We chanced upon D’Anjung Bali about 25km / 16mi into the ride.
I say ‘chanced upon’ because we probably would have ridden right past this place if not for one of us being desperately in need of a pee break. As we slowed down to see if there was a bathroom available I noticed someone “throwing” a roti canai. Not only was there roti, but there was also puri and nasi lemak. There was a bathroom too. What a find in the middle of nowhere. Well, technically D’Anjung Bali is in Kampung Melayu Bali, but there are uninhabited kilometres on either side.
Over coffee and Milo Pai tried to convince us to choose the driver for Day 3. We all declined and said we would wait until dinner time to draw lots. None of us wanted to have our day spoiled by the knowledge that we would be driving the next day.
After a very pleasant breakfast, we were on the road again. In 3km we turned left onto busy Federal Route 5. Fortunately we would be on that road for only 22km / 14mi. Pai was doing what Mark did the day before. Driving ahead of us and then stopping and waiting until we rode past.
Somewhere around Bota, we came upon the truck parked on the road shoulder. It looked like Pai was checking his phone as we went past him. Twenty minutes later Pai called me and asked, “Are you lost?”
That surprised me because we were still on Federal Route 5. Pai hadn’t seen us ride by and assumed that we were still behind him. He might deny it but I think he was asleep when we went past him. He had turned around and gone back to look for us, thinking that we had taken a shortcut somewhere.
When Pai called me we were about 4km from the right turn onto A127 Jalan Gelang Pepuyu. After we made that turn we stopped at the first roadside restaurant for a drink and to wait for Pai to find us.
I had sent Pai our location via WhatsApp. WhatsApp locations are not always accurate to the metre. Pai didn’t see us where WhatsApp said we were and sped right by.
I must admit that we were not easy to spot behind those clumps of bamboo. Another phone call got Pai back to where we were.
We had lots of time before we could check-in at our hotel in Taiping. So we spent forty-five minutes over our drinks before getting back on the road.
Once again we had blue skies and rising temperatures. It was 10:30 am and 30º C / 86º F when we arrived in Beruas. Time for another drink at Restoran Padi Emas.
We stopped at Beruas for forty minutes. In that time the temperature went up to 34º C / 93º F.
23km / 14mi later we stopped at a small restaurant in Padang Gajah. Where the majority of customers looked like nurses in their white uniforms. More cold drinks were ordered. There was also an unusual treat on sale. Coconut jelly. Tasty and more importantly, cold.
We rolled out of Padang Gajah at about 12:30 pm. There were 30km to go to Taiping.
Though you don’t see it in this photograph, the roads through Terong and Changkat Jering and on to Taiping were fairly busy. The road shoulder was also badly rutted in places, which made it uncomfortable to ride at the edge of the road.
Pai did an excellent job of following right behind us. In doing so he blocked traffic from squeezing past us. Vehicles had to move into the opposite lane to overtake Pai and us. Which gave us room to ride on the smoother part of the road toward the centre of our lane.
Pai would toot his horn whenever a vehicle overtook him so we knew to move to the road shoulder. Thank you, Pai.
We got to the Taiping Panorama Hotel at 1:40 pm. Surprisingly, our rooms were ready. Some of the others wanted to get lunch before showering. Not me. It had been 38º C / 100º F during the ten minutes it took us to negotiate the city streets and traffic lights to get to the hotel. I needed a cold shower more than lunch.
The photographs of lunch did look good though.
I had a short lie down after my shower. At 3:45 pm Mark and I walked to Ansari Famous Cendol. That place has been there for at least forty years. Their cendol is deservedly famous. Two bowls worth of delicious.
Lay and Marvin joined us after dropping off their cycling kit at a nearby laundromat. On the way to Ansari Famous Cendol Marvin bought pisang goreng and keledek goreng (banana fritters and sweet potato fritters) and fried popiah (spring rolls). We had quite a snack fest.
Amy, Marvin, Martin and Pai watched Joker that evening. The rest of us met up with them for dinner after the film. We sat at a table in the street and ordered food from the shops and stalls all around us.
Martin was prepared to do some slurping.
It was time to see who would be driving on Day 3. Marvin was confident that it would not be him. “I am always lucky,” he said. Amy thought that Marvin would be the driver.
Mark held some RM1 notes serial number side down and we each chose one.
Amy must be clairvoyant. Marvin drew the low last digit 😆.
The rest of us ordered more food to celebrate not having to drive on Day 3. Stuffed to the gills, we strolled back to the hotel and our beds. It would be an early start again in the morning.