RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Balik Pulau

CFAL 2018: Food Hunt

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Hawker Food www misstamchiak com

Photographs courtesy of

Penang is noted for its street food.  Forget the air-conditioned restaurants with slow service. Food in Penang is all about hawker centres and roadside stalls, with dirt-cheap dishes packed with flavour.

The R@SKLs were in Penang for the CFAL ride.  That was the story anyway.  I think the Saturday food hunt is really the main event for the R@SKLs.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Start TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We were guided by these young men from PKKT Pulau Pinang.  They provided escort service for us last year.  This time they rode scooters upgraded with blue and red flashing lights and what sounded like an ambulance siren and an emergency vehicle horn.  The first time I heard the siren I thought there was an ambulance behind me.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 PKKT Boys Leonard Yee

Photograph courtesy of Leonard Yee

We didn’t have to ride far for breakfast.  Cecil Street Market is 2km / 1.2mi from the Tien Hotel.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Breakfast Jake Sow

Photograph courtesy of Jake Sow

We were joined on the ride by friends who live in Penang.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Penang Friends ST Chan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

We each put RM50 / USD12 into a communal pot to pay for food and drinks during the ride.  Marvin was in charge of doling out money when required.  He figured no one would suspect he was carrying RM1,500 / USD365 around with him in that orange plastic bag.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Money Bag Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Our next stop was at the recently completed Spiral Bridge which allows cyclists to cross the Bayan Lepas Expressway.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Circular Ramp Billy

Photograph courtesy of Billy

The spiral bridge is opposite the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge which is one of two bridges joining the island to the mainland.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Bridge TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We did two climbs.  The first was the same one we would do during the CFAL ride.  Along Jalan Teluk Kumbar from the PUSPAKOM centre to the top of Bukit Genting.

All smiles so far!  We particularly enjoyed the PKKT guys bossing the traffic with their siren, horn and whistle so that we could ride through intersections and roundabouts unimpeded.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Marshalled TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We regrouped at the top of Bukit Genting before the rapid descent toward Balik Pulau.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Top of Climb 1 Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

We stopped at the Balik Pulau Food Court for drinks.  Including amra juice.  Amra is a contraction of ambarella, which is this fruit’s English name.  The Malay name for this fruit is buah kedondong.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Ambarella Juice Dilmah Conservation

Photograph courtesy of Dilmah Conservation

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Balik Pulau Stop Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

Immediately after exiting the Balik Pulau Food Court car park we started the second climb of the day, rising up Jalan Tun Sardon.  325 metres / 1,066 feet of elevation over 4.5km / 2.8mi, at an average grade of 7.4% with a maximum grade of 17.5%.

This blog has young readers, so I can’t repeat what the fellow below and on the left said when he got to the top of the climb.  It was something like this . . .

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Swearing

Marvin won the Star R@SKL Of The Day award for riding his Brompton up Jalan Tun Sardon and wearing a pair of Crocs while doing it.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Riding 2 Dennis HS Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

How tough was the climb?  Leonard’s “during” and “just about to die” faces tell the story.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Riding 13 Dennis HS Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Tough Climb up Tun Sardon Dennis HS Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

Wake me up before you go go!

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Tough Climb up Tun Sardon TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

You can’t keep a smile of Kelin’s and Kevin’s faces for long.

After everyone but Leonard’s heart rates had returned to near-normal levels, we unrolled our R@SKLs banner.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Top of Tun Sardon Climb TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Jalan Tun Sardon is steep going up, and just as steep going down.  60kph / 37mph plus where the traffic allowed.

We regrouped at the PETRONAS station at the bottom of the hill before the PKKT boys shepherded us across a busy Jalan Paya Terubong to Serrena’s business premises in Taman Seri Rambai.  She had laid on a much-appreciated supply of Carlsberg, 100 Plus and fresh fruit.

Thank you Serrena!

Anyone else getting the impression that Thomas needed some rest?

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Serrena's Place TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Serrena Stop TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

It was noon when we left Serrena’s.  Time for lunch.  We went to Sin Yong Wah Coffee Shop in Air Itam.  The same place where we spent more than an hour during last year’s CFAL Food Hunt, waiting in vain for the torrential rain to stop.

This time it was pushing 36° C / 97° F with not a drop of rain in sight.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Air Itam Lunch TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Air Itam Lunch Jake Sow

Photograph courtesy of Jake Sow

Last year we rode up to the Kek Lok Si Temple before lunch.  This time we just took pictures from the coffee shop.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Kek Lok Si Temple Kenix Chiang

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

It was about 9km / 5.5mi from Air Itam to the Penang Town Hall.  We went there to collect our CFAL ride packs.  We would be there again first thing in the morning to start the CFAL round island ride.

In the meantime, it was back to the Tien for a shower and a rest before the evening beach party.

It’s a good thing the hotel rules do not bar hanging cycling kit out to dry on the roof.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Bespoiling the View Eugene Lee

Photograph courtesy of Eugene Lee

Or was the rule just ignored?

R@SKLs Do Penang – Day One

Posted on

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Shoes Not Allowed.png

The R@SKLs crawled or bounced out of bed, depending on how much wine and beer had been consumed the night before.  Freshly-baked bread, jam, juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, and coffee were waiting in the communal kitchen / dining area.

The plan for the day was a gentle ride of between 30 to 40km / 18 to 25mi, interrupted at regular intervals for food and drink.  The estimated time of arrival back at the hotel was 11am.  What transpired was a little different.

We were all ready to roll at about 8am.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Start 2 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Lay was in town, so he joined us

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Start 1

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

I mentioned in the Prelude post that we would do this ride in style.  We hired these three fine young men to accompany us on their scooters and motorbikes.  Armed with whistles, flags, and walkie-talkies, they stopped traffic at junctions and intersections, and rode between the traffic and us on multi-lane highways, so ensuring that we were safe during our ride.  They were our guardian angels over the weekend.  Thank you gentlemen.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Marshals CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

We spent the first kilometer of the ride looking for somewhere to have a second breakfast.  Clearly, the breakfast at the hotel was merely a snack to tide us over whilst we searched for a proper breakfast.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Breakfast TH Lee

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We didn’t get far after the roti canais and teh tariks.  Simon had a puncture within the next kilometer.  Some of us were up the road, so there were only Leonard, Kevin and Kelin to stand around and watch Simon and CK replace an inner tube.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 First Flat Spectators Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

We got an early taste of Penang’s bike paths.  There is an annual cycling event organized by the Campaign For A Lane (CFAL), that raises funds for the creation of bike paths and bike lanes.  CFAL has been running for about a decade, and the results are visible all around the island.

After our stint on the bike path we were on the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway, riding toward the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge.  This bridge, Malaysia’s longest, opened in early 2014.  It is the second bridge linking Penang to the mainland.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Penang Bridge Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

If we had known better, we would have retraced our track from here, and been back at the hotel, and out of the sun, by 11am.  As most of us expected.

Instead we continued on to Bayan Lepas airport, and beyond.  We all agreed that Kapitan Simon was to blame for this.  We are sure he misled our guardian angels into thinking that we all wanted to ride further.  So they took us on a longer route.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Route

Just after the right turn onto Jalan Permatang Damar Laut, at the southern tip of the island, TH had a puncture.  It was about 10am.  The sun was bright and it was already 32°C / 90°F.  A group of us waited in the only shade we could find as TH replaced his inner tube.

Fifteen minutes later we were all rolling again toward Teluk Kumbar, where we turned right.  We were now cycling north and starting to climb up Bukit Genting.  Those of us who had ridden CFAL in the past were familiar with this climb.

Once down the other side, it was time for more food.  A stall in the Balik Pulau Food Court is famous for its asam laksa.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 5 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

“What’s that?  No asam laksa?”

The guys had to settle for koay teow soup instead.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 4 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

“But wait!”  There is more asam laksa being made.”

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court Asam Laksa TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

So some of the guys had seconds.  Asam laksa on top of the koay teow soup.  A decision that would rise up, so to speak, to haunt at least one person.

All smiles at this point, as we left the Balik Pulau Food Court.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 6 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Literally 500 meters from where we took the photo above, the road started tilting up, and up, and up.  It was 5km / 5mi to Anjung Indah, with gradients touching 10% and more.  This was allegedly a shortcut back to the hotel.  Give me the longer way next time!

This was the last 20 meters of what is one of the hardest climbs any of us have done.

We stopped where the junction with a side road offered some extra tarmac where we could safely get off our bikes.  As you can see from the photos, the sun was directly overhead.  So we sought refuge in some shade across the road.  Pretty much in a drain.

Which would have been convenient if that asam laksa had erupted up and out of someone’s stomach!

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Anjung Indah Climb 7 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

If we had known that there were fruit and drinks stalls 300 meters up the road, we would have kept going, rather than stop where we did.  Although I must admit, that is easy to say now.  We were on the limit at the time.

After all the cursing about the climb while recovered beside the drain, smiles were restored when we discovered durian at the fruit stalls.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Anjung Indah Park 1 Kevin Chin

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Chin

Treasurer Heng Keng thought that he might have to make a cash call, given the amount of durian consumed.  Especially by some guy in pink from Taiwan!

We still had 23km / 14mi to get back to the Tien hotel.  With 8km / 5mi of that along the unshaded Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway.

By the time we got back into George Town it was about 2pm.  We were boiling.  Cendol was called for.  There is a very well-known cendol stall on Lebuh Keng Kwee, which goes by the less-than-modest name of Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol.  The queue for their cendol is always long – see below.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Cendol 1 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Some locals say that the cendol from the stall across the road is, in fact, better.  We opted for that much less-crowded stall.  Some of us had two bowls of cendol, and we were on our way before the people at the end of the queue for the “Famous” cendol had been able to place their orders.

Just one more kilometer, and we were back in the air-conditioned comfort of the Tien hotel.  Most of us jumped into showers.  Some took another option.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Pool TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

All of us did turn the rooftop pool deck into a dobi, or laundry.  Open dividers, which had obviously been designed with considerable thought and care, became excellent places to hang wet cycling kit.

Some of us took naps.  Some went for a massage.  Some indulged in the nyonya cakes and bubur kacang merah (red bean soup) that were laid out in the hotel dining area.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Tien Hotel Tea

Cyclists that we are, we had all done the maths, and had determined that, despite all we had eaten already, there were still calories to be replaced – see I Am Sure I’ve Earned That Second Roti Canai.  We were ready for more food.

Dinner was at Yi Bing Qing Fish Head Steamboat.  Yi Bing Qing is a big name when it comes to steamboat restaurants in Penang.  So good that Leonard paused to give thanks at the altar of the steamboat chimney.

In all seriousness, the steamboat was delicious.

With that meal, Day One was a wrap.  There was, allegedly, a party that night up in the lounge / bar area of the hotel.

Allegedly.  If there was a party, I slept through it. R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Halo 2