Our Penang-based friends ST Chan and Dennis Tan kindly agreed to lead a group of R@SKLs on a ride to Pantai Merdeka. Pantai Merdeka is the only sand beach in mainland Kedah. More important to the R@SKLs was the prospect of mee udang (prawn noodles) at Kampung Pulau Sayak mid-way through the ride.
In addition to the seven R@SKLs who rode to Penang, there were about twenty other R@SKLs who had made their way there by road or by air. Together with perhaps a dozen riders from Penang, we made a big group as we headed down Lebuh Chulia at 6:15 am toward the Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal.
The ferry service to the mainland is free. As soon as the barriers opened we rode onto the 6:30 am ferry for the fifteen-minute trip to the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth.
The route to Pantai Merdeka headed directly north, crossing the border between the states of Penang and Kedah at the Sungai Muda.
Once we were north of Penaga we had lovely views of paddy fields.
The group spread out and split up into smaller clumps over the 35km / 22mi or so toward Pantai Merdeka. Most R@SKLs rode all the way to Pantai Merdeka.
A half dozen of us turned left at Kampung Tukang Jusoh, about 2km from Pantai Merdeka, and rode straight to Usop Mee Udang at Laut Pulau Sayak. We wanted to be at the front of the queue for the mee udang.
While waiting for our drinks and mee udang we enjoyed the views of the beach and Pulau Sayak.
The much-anticipated mee udang . . . .
The ride back to the Sungai Muda ran closer to the coast. We didn’t have any views of the sea but we still had views of the paddy fields.
We turned left toward the bridge over the Sungai Muda at the Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial.
The memorial is a poignant reminder of the devastating tsunami which took place on 26th December 2004 following a powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. The Kota Kuala Muda region was badly affected with one hundred houses destroyed and eleven villagers losing their lives.
Surprise surprise! When we got to the tsunami memorial it was hot. 32º C / 90º F hot. About twenty minutes later we stopped at Padang Tembusu for a cold drink.
Then we rode the 17km / 11mi to the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal and the ferry ride back to Penang.
We took a little detour to Lebuh Downing to collect our ride packs for the next day’s Towards Cycling City Penang round island ride before riding back to our respective hotels. All the R@SKLs finished the ride safely. The rest of the day was spent in the Tien Hotel’s Chulia Restaurant and Bar.
And of course at the food stalls.
Carbo-loading for the Towards Cycling City Penang ride.