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Road and Rail to Tanjung Malim

Once in a while work schedules allow some of us to do weekday morning rides.  Which means that the KTM Komuter train service can be a part of the route plan.

Tanjung Malim Route

The Komuter service to the north terminates at Tanjung Malim.  So we rode to Tanjung Malim and took the train back to the Kepong KTM station.  Ongoing track upgrading work means that Kepong is still the closest we can get to the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

We parked at the Kepong KTM station for RM4.00 / USD1.00 per day.  Annie, Kieren, Mark and I rolled out of the car park at about 6.00am, heading for Federal Route 1 toward Ipoh.

By the time it was light we had completed the climb of the day, 100 metres /  330 feet over 1.3km /  0.8mi from Templer Hills to Taman Amansiara, and were rolling through Rawang toward Serendah.  Serendah was a good place to stop for breakfast.  Nasi lemak, char koay teow, meehoon soup, half-boiled eggs, iced Milo and coffee teed us up for the rest of the ride.

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Photograph courtesy of Annie Lim

We were blessed with overcast skies for the entire ride.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

And once we were north of Rawang, we had relatively quiet roads.  Most traffic heading north uses the North-South Expressway, which provided a faster alternative to Federal Route 1.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were aiming to catch the 10.15am train from Tanjung Malim.  We had a few delays caused by mechanicals early in the ride.  It was 8.40am when we got to this signboard. We had covered 39km / 24mi.  We still had 34km / to ride to the Tanjung Malim station.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We would have to up our pace to make the 10.15am train.  Otherwise, it would be a long wait for the next train, which was not until 11.54am.  We were at the Tanjung Malim station with 10 minutes to spare.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

If you look closely, you can see the train on the platform behind us.  Unfortunately, it was the platform across the tracks from us.  So we had to do a quick cyclocross-style scramble up a flight of stairs, across a walkway, and down another flight of stairs.

With minutes to spare!

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Definitely a ride to repeat, especially in weather like this.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Road and Rail Back to Kepong

Day 2 Mini Bus

We were a bit slow to get going in the morning.  There was some not-necessarily joking about taking the bus or train all the way back to Kuala Lumpur or getting a ride with someone.

We did make the walk to Hollywood at 7.30am.  Plates of prawn chee cheong fun, char kway teow, and lor bak, washed down with glasses of leng chee kang (lotus seed drink) perked everyone up.

Day 2 Breakfast 2 Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Day 2 Breakfast Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

At 9.0am we were packed and ready to roll.  Danial’s friend Eric rode with us to Gopeng before turning around and heading back home.

Day 2 Start

Photograph courtesy of Eric

We made a quick stop at the 7-Eleven in the same row of shophouses as the Ampang Cycle House.  Our first proper stop was at a Petron station in Gopeng.  The breakfast drinks had made their way through our bodily systems by then.

The day had started out cooler than it had been the previous day.  Everyone was pleased about that.

Day 2 Road Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

37km / 23mi into our ride we were in Kampar.  A Petron station was a convenient place to stop for ten minutes.

At 12.30pm were in Tapah.  The KFC there was a lot less appealing as a lunch venue than it had been the day before.  After some scouting around, we ended up at . . .

Day 2 Pizza Hut Ozairi Othman

Photograph courtesy of Ozairi Othman

Pizza Hut!  That was an underwhelming experience.  The pizzas were smaller than we had expected, there was no ice for our drinks, and the air conditioning wasn’t working very well.  Nevertheless, between us, we polished off three regular pizzas and four 1.5 litre bottles of Pepsi Cola.

The cool of the early morning had given way to full-on heat.  It was 35° C / 95° F outside.  The plan had been to spend an hour in Pizza Hut.  The ineffective air conditioning while we were eating made that seem unlikely.  By the time we were finished eating the air conditioning had upped its game and we finally began to cool off.  And so we stayed there for seventy minutes.

We then spent fifteen minutes at the Petronas station 200 metres down the road eating ice cream for dessert.

Thirty-five minutes later we were in Bidor.  The iced mango and other fresh fruit at the Sakinah stall, where we had stopped on the way to Ipoh, were calling our names.  That was another fifteen-minute break.

Day 2 Bidor Fruit Stall Ozairi Othman

Photograph courtesy of Ozairi Othman

It was past 2.30pm.  The temperature would stay in the mid to low 30s° C / low 90s° F for the next three hours.  We would be stopping a lot.  So no change from the MO of the day before.

Day 2 It Is Hot Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

One of the benefits of riding on what used to be the main trunk road linking Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh is that you pass through lots of small towns.  Towns which have at least one petrol station with an air-conditioned convenience store where we could stop and rest.

Sungkai was the next of these towns.  We spent twenty minutes in the BHP station there.  We were not in a rush.  The first non-peak train leaves Tanjung Malim at 7.00pm on weekends.  We had about 45km / 28mi to go, and more than four hours to cover that distance.

It is 22km / 14mi from Sungkai to Slim River.  Just a bit too far to do all in one go, given the temperature and the rolling terrain.  There isn’t much between Sungkai and Slim River, so we stopped in some shade beside the road at the junction to Trolak.

We spent forty minutes at the Petronas station in Slim River.  More ice cream and cold drinks.  That was the good news.

Day 2 Cursing

The bad news was that I dropped my mobile phone and broke the screen.

25km / 16mi to Tanjung Malim.  It was 5.30pm when we left Slim River.  The temperature had dropped to 29° C / 84° F.  Enough of the cutting edge had been taken off the heat that we were able to cover those last kilometres to Tanjung Malim in one go.  We stopped at a Petronas station a couple of kilometres from the Komuter station to regroup and get a drink.

Day 2 Last Petronas Halim Zin

Photograph courtesy of Halim Zin

We then rode to the KTM station to get tickets for the 8.00pm train to Kepong.  We planned to have dinner during the hour or so before that train departed.  We got to the KTM station at 6.50pm and were told that we could board the 7.00pm train with our bikes.  The train was already at the station.  We quickly hauled our bikes up and across the overpass to the platform on the other side of the tracks and hopped onto the train.

Day 2 Train Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Martzuki

Once again we had the entire carriage to ourselves.

It was dark when we pulled into the KTM Kepong station.  There had been talk about getting dinner before riding home, but by the time we wheeled our bikes off the train at 8.30pm the gloss had worn off that idea.  It had been a long and hot weekend, and everyone just wanted to get home.  Which we all accomplished safely.

This was my first ride to Ipoh.  It was a lot of fun (double pinch flats and broken phone screen aside).  I would do it again.  Any town with its own Hollywood-style sign is worth another visit.

 

Day 2 Ipoh Sign

Photograph courtesy of The Malaysian Times

Rail and Road to Ipoh

Ipoh Banner

Vegas and Hollywood were two of the highlights of our weekend trip to Ipoh.  More on that later.

Canning Garden in Ipoh, where we spent the night, is just over 200km / 124mi from Kuala Lumpur.  Which is just a bit further than we wanted to cycle.

So we went by train for part of the way.  Tanjung Malim is as far as you can go northwards on the KTM Komuter train.  The KTM Electric Train Service (ETS) goes beyond Tanjung Malim to Ipoh and onwards to the Thai border, but full-sized bicycles are not allowed on board the ETS trains.

Early on Saturday morning six of us met up at various points along the way to the Kepong Komuter station.  We would normally have boarded the train in Kuala Lumpur.  Track upgrading work means that there is temporarily no service between Kuala Lumpur and Kepong.

Day 1 Kepong Station Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Danial, Halim, Choo Chian, Safwan, Ozzy and I caught the 7.10am train ride from Kepong to Tanjung Malim.  That was the last weekend non-peak hours train until 8.00pm.  Bicycles are allowed on Komuter trains during non-peak hours only.  The train ride took about 75 minutes.  We had the last carriage almost entirely to ourselves.  At 9.00am we were scouting the area around the Tanjung Malim station for a place to have breakfast.

The stop at Restoran Hijas was the first of many.

By 9.45am we were on the road northwards to Ipoh.  We cycled along Federal Route 1, which as the name implies is the first and oldest federal road in Malaysia.  Federal Route 1 was the backbone of the road system in the western states of Peninsular Malaysia before being supplanted by the North–South Expressway (E1 and E2).

Day 1 Traffic Light Ozzy

Photograph courtesy of Ozairi Othman

Our next stop was at the Shell station in Slim River.  So named for a Captain Slim, who in the nineteenth century sailed up the river, mistaking it for the larger Perak River, which was the main waterway at that time.

We were trundling along at a relatively relaxed pace.  We were all carrying clothes, toiletries etc. in our saddle packs.  Some of us had handlebar bags as well.  Danial was on a Marin touring bike.  We weren’t set up for speed.

So it was two and a half hours before we got to Restoran Shakir in Sungkai, where we had drinks and topped up our bottles with ice.

A word about the state of the road is appropriate here.  The entire length of the ride was about 125km / 78mi.  There were some badly rutted and patched sections, but in the main, the road surface was reasonable to good.  However, there was enough debris on the road that you had to keep your eyes glued to the road ahead.

3km after leaving Restoran Shakir I got distracted by a motorcyclist pulling off the road to my left and clanged straight over a substantial lump of stone.  The noise that made was loud enough to make me think that I had damaged a rim.  Not the case as it turned out, but I had pinch-flatted both my tires.

Thank goodness for riding with friends whom I could borrow an inner tube from.

Day 1 Flat Ozzy

Photograph courtesy of Ozairi Othman

Danial and Ozzy rode on while my three assistants and I fixed two flat tires.  We caught up with them about 10km / 6mi later at a row of fresh fruit stalls in Bidor.  It was 1.00pm and 33° C / 91° F by then.  Iced mango slices hit the spot.

We got to Tapah about thirty minutes later.  A good time to stop for lunch.

Day 1 KFC Safwan Siddiq

Photograph courtesy of Safwan Siddiq

The KFC in Tapah was packed but we went in any way.  The air conditioning was the main attraction.

My lunch was pretty good too.

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70km / 43mi done.  55km / 31mi to go.

After forty-five minutes in the cool of the KFC, we headed out into the sun again.  Not for long though.  It was 35° C / 95° F.  Twenty minutes later we stopped at the Shell station in Temoh for ice cream and drinks.

Thirty minutes after that we were inside a Petron station at Kampar.  I told you we stopped a lot.

The next ice cream and drinks stop was at a Shell station in Gopeng.  It was 4.30pm, and we had 18km / 11mi to go.  But we had two more stops to make before w got to Canning Garden.

All the Way from Tanjung Malim we had ridden past a multitude of roadside stalls, some quite makeshift, selling durians.  Durians are regarded by many in Southeast Asia as the “king of fruits.”

Day 1 Durian

Photograph courtesy of The Star Online

Durians are a seasonal fruit, and prices have soared in recent years as more and more of the local crop is exported to places like China.  But this year, a combination of unusually hot weather and heavy rainfall resulted in a long durian season.  This has produced an oversupply that has pushed down prices.

Danial could not resist the temptation.  We stopped in Simpang Pulai for a mini durian feast.  While the others were delving into durians, I noticed, set back from the road, the ruins of this mansion.

Day 1 Ruin Closeup

In its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, Ipoh was the epicentre of a tin mining boom.  Newly minted millionaires built mansions like this one.  Following the depletion of its tin deposits and the collapse of tin prices in the 1970s, Ipoh suffered decades of decline and neglect.  Epitomised by these remains of what was once a stately home.

Our last stop was at the Ampang Cycle House, where I bought inner tubes and CO2 cartridges to replace what I had borrowed.

4km / 2.5mi away from the bike shop is this terraced house which was our home for the night.  Choo Chian booked it online for us.  Very comfortable and well-equipped it was too.

Day 1 Home Stay

So why Vegas and Hollywood?  They are the names of famous eating places in Canning Garden.  Both are coffee shops housing a collection of food stalls, so there is a variety of dishes on offer.

It was 6.30pm when we arrived at Canning Garden.  After storing our bikes in the house, we walked, in our cycling kits, to dinner at Vegas.  Vegas is open at night but not in the morning.  Hollywood, 100 metres away in the next block of shophouses, is closed at night and open in the morning. We would be at Hollywood for breakfast.

There are no dinner food photographs to show, but I assure you the food was good.

Day 1 Dinner Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

After dinner, we washed ourselves and our cycling kits, and lounged in the sitting room for a while.  Some of the guys went back out at about 10.00pm for a teh tarik.  It was lights out time for Halim and I.

 

Geometric Progression Weekend

Double

We didn’t plan for our ride distances to double everyday, but that is how our three-day weekend turned out.

Day 1

Leslie, Simon, Ridzuwan and I met at the Bank Negara KTM station for the Komuter train ride to Tampin.

Day 1 Bank Negara Arthur

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

As is usually the case, there were only one or two other people with us and our Apidura saddle pack-equipped bicycles in the carriage at the back of the train.

Tampin is the last stop on the Komuter line that starts from Batu Caves, to the north of Kuala Lumpur.

Day 1 Tampin Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It took about two hours to get there.  Long enough for an appetite for lunch to develop.  So our first stop was at Restoran Nasi Kandar Impian in Tampin.

The Fenix Inn in Melaka is 40km / 25mi from Tampin.  So it wasn’t very long before we were on the outskirts of Melaka.

Day 1 Arriving in Melaka Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

One of our rooms at the Fenix Inn wasn’t ready when we arrived there.  So we did what most people do when in Melaka.  We went cendol hunting.

Day 1 Cendol Hunting Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We found a shop selling cendol on Lorong Hang Jebat.  But the guys spotted Sid’s Pub across the road.  Cendol lost out to cold beers and lime juice.

Day 1 Sid's Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

While we were on our second round of drinks, the sky darkened and thunder rumbled.  We had had enough of riding in the rain in Southern Thailand, so emptied our glasses and rode back to the hotel.

It didn’t rain.

After a shower and a nap, we gathered for what Arthur described to me as a Melaka tradition.  Satay at 5pm.

Arthur, a Melaka boy, couldn’t ride with us as he had hoped.  So he drove to Melaka to act as our guide while we were there.  You can’t beat local knowledge.  Arthur knows which tourist traps to avoid, and where the hidden gems are.  The satay at the restaurant he took us to was excellent.

8.00pm is dinner time in Melaka.  Arthur took us towards Umbai, in search of grilled fish.  We found the Medan Selera MBMB, at the end of  Jalan Alai Perdana 21.  The Medan Selera (food court) houses a number of restaurants, all selling fresh seafood, cooked to order.

Arthur and Simon chose this place.

Day 1 Arthur.png

Simon loaded up a bowl with fresh prawns, cencaru (torpedo scad), pari (stingray), and squid, under Wan’s watchful eye.  The prawns and fish were grilled, and the squid was batter-fried.  Delicious!

Thank you Arthur for being our food guide, and driving us around Melaka.

Day 1 Umbai Dinner

Day 2

We slept in after all that food the evening before.  At 9.00am Arthur led us to a restaurant that is fabled for its fish ball soup.  Unfortunately the stall owner was on holiday, so we settled for soft-boiled eggs, and toast with kaya.

Then we headed north along Lorong Hajah Maznah toward Port Dickson.

Day 2 Rolling 1 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

32km / 20mi later it was time for a drink.  And some roti canai.  We shared two rotis between us.  It was, after all, only 75 minutes since we ate breakfast!

Eight drinks and two rotis for the princely sum of RM10 / USD2.45.  You can’t complain.

Day 2 Roti Stop Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

At 52km / 32mi we crossed the Sungai Linggi.  Worth a few photographs as the Sungai Linggi at that point forms the border between the states of Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

Day 2 Border Bridge Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Day 2 On the Border Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

A few kilometers later we saw a sign advertising mango floats.  It was 36° C / 97° F.

We stopped.

Day 2 Mangga Shake

There was a buffet with grilled cencaru and curried ikan parang (wolf herring).  It was as good a time as any for lunch.

At Pasir Panjang I led the guys on a detour from our planned route.  We left Route 5 and rode along Jalan Kampung Sungai Sekawang toward the sea.  It made a nice change to be on a road with no vehicles.

Day 2 Quiet Road

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Jalan Kampung Sungai Sekawang rejoins Route 5 near the Eagle Ranch Resort.  As the tepees indicate, the theme of this resort is the American West of cowboys and log cabins.

Day 2 Eagle Ranch Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

By 2.00pm we were on the outskirts of Port Dickson.  We had time to burn before check in time at the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.  I saw a sign for Pantai Purnama.  That seemed a better bet than the beach further along at Teluk Kemang, which was likely to be crowded with weekend holiday makers.

 

This photograph of Purnama beach is misleading.  There was a reunion event going on at the beach.  Just out of shot, there were lots of people on the beach and in the water.

Day 2 Beach

We enjoyed the shade and sea breeze, and our ice cold rose syrup and lime drinks.

Day 2 Beach Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Leslie bought eight packets of drinks.  We could only finish one packet each, so we gave the other four packets to the family having a picnic behind us.

40 minutes later we were riding past Teluk Kemang beach.  It did look very crowded.

It was about 85km / 53mi from the Fenix Inn in Melaka to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel in Port Dickson.  Day 1 distance x 2.

Arthur had headed back to KL after guiding us to the Melaka breakfast spot.  So we didn’t have access to a car in Port Dickson.  Which made the Waterfront Boutique Hotel, located on the boulevard walk, an excellent choice.  Within walking distance of the hotel entrance are a variety of food outlets, bars, a bank, a 7-Eleven, etc.

As per Day 1, a shower and nap were the immediate priority after getting our room keys.  Also as per Day 1, we kept up the Melaka tradition of tea at 5pm.

We sat at the Pattaya Bar, and had food delivered from the neighbouring Double Q Thai Cuisine restaurant.  A selection of Thai appetizers, and plates of pad thai.

Dinner followed at 8.00pm.  We walked to the Arab place a bit further along the boulevard.  A family platter of chicken mandi, with an extra serving of lamb, and Turkish coffee and crème caramel for afters.

The one downside of the hotel’s location made itself apparent at about midnight.  That is when the pub near the hotel sprang to life.  Pounding music and arguments in the car park kept us awake until 3am.  Except for Leslie, who brought earplugs.  Smart man!

Day 3

Port Dickson to Kuala Lumpur was the longest leg of our trip.  An early start, despite our lack of sleep, was necessary.

We checked out of the hotel at 6.45am, and rolled the 500 meters to the McDonald’s at the end of the boulevard.  The jazzy music which accompanied our McMuffins made a cool change from the Hindi-pop of the night before.

Day 3 Breakfast Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We were on the road at 7.20am.  Our target was a 9.30am rendezvous at Morib beach with Luanne, Chew, Mark, and Shawn.  They were riding from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  The idea was for us to take a break at Morib, and for them to ride with us from there back to Kota Kemuning.

The highlight of this leg was the ferry ride across the Sungai Sepang.  The ride from Tanah Merah New Village to Pekan Sungai Pelek using the ferry near Kampung India is 7km / 4mi shorter than it would be if we stayed on Route 5 to Pekan Sungai Pelek.

The N4 is a quieter road than Route 5.  The 1km to the ferry is even quieter.

Day 2 Off the Main Road Simon

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The river at that point is no more than 100 meters wide.  The ferry crossing costs RM0.80 / USD0.20 per person, including the RM0.30 / USD0.07 charge for a bike.

Day 3 Rolling onto the Ferry Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The banks of the Sungai Pelek are lined with mangrove forest.  Sadly, one of the Earth’s most rapidly disappearing ecosystems.

Day 3 Mangrove Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Back on Route 5 in Pekan Sungai Pelek, we came upon the first road sign indicating the distance to Morib.  I had underestimated the distance from Port Dickson to Morib by 30%.  I said, with misplaced confidence, “About 50km / 30mi.”  It was actually 65km / 40mi.

It was clear we weren’t going to be at Morib beach at 9.30am.  We got to Tanjung Sepat at 9.00am, and needed a break.  We stopped at a roadside food stall for tea, coffee, and you char koay (deep-fried strips of dough).

The four we were going to meet at Morib beach had arrived there at 9.00am.  They were already tucking into their nasi lemak as we were ordering our coffee etc. at Tanjung Sepat.

Day 3 Morib Group Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Morib beach is 18km / 11mi from Tanjung Sepat.  I sent Mark our live location via WhatsApp.  (That is such a cool WhatsApp feature).  Simon messaged Mark, suggesting that he and the others start riding and meet us on our way to Morib.

Which is what they did.  We crossed paths about 5km / 3mi south of Morib beach.  By then the Port Dickson crew were ready for another pit stop.  The Delicious Bread Café in Morib was our first choice, but it was closed.

So we rode a further 10km / 6mi to Restoran Madam Kopi-O in Banting.

Day 3 Banting Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

From there it was on familiar roads to Kampung Seri Cheeding, Bandar Rimbayu, and Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.

Day 3 Morib to Kota Kemuning Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The Morib four were done for the day.  Kudos to Shawn, who rode almost 100km / 62mi – his longest ride by some 60km / 37mi.

Simon and Leslie decided to call it a day as well.  They accepted Luanne’s and Mark’s offers of a lift home.  Wan and I had a relatively flat ride to get to Jalan Ampang, so we decided to ride on.

22km / 14mi later, we wondered if we had made a mistake.  It had been more overcast than sunny all morning, but by the time we got to the Kinrara R&R it was 35° C / 95° F and bright.

The die had been cast though.  We each downed an iced 100 Plus, and headed back out onto the KESAS motorcycle lane.

Fortunately for us, the clouds rolled in again, and we didn’t get roasted alive during the following 20km / 12.5mi to Mak Jah Corner in Ampang Jaya.  Which is just down the road from where Wan lives.

Mak Jah Corner is noted for its Malay kuih.  These were delicious.  I had two more iced teas in quick succession before saying goodbye to Wan and heading home.

Day 3 Kuih

I ended up riding 163km / 101mi.  Day 2 distance x 2.

The four of us had an excellent weekend.  Helped in no small way by Arthur being with us in Melaka, and Luanne, Chew, Mark and Shawn joining us in Morib.

We had dry and generally cool weather over the three days.  And no punctures or other mechanical issues enroute.  And lots of tasty food, good company, and laughter.

Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

We are already thinking about where to tour next.

Eating Our Way to Melaka

Melaka Banner Johan Sopiee

Graphic courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Mark and I decided that it was high time to break out the Apidura saddle bags and go on an overnight bicycle trip.  We chose Melaka as our destination, because it is a reasonable distance from Kuala Lumpur, the roads are generally good, and the eating along the way and in Melaka is excellent.

After some canvassing, we had a group of six.  Alan and Chee Seng could not stay overnight, so their plan was to ride to Melaka, and then get to Tampin KTM station for the train back to KL.  Johan S., Ridzuwan, Mark and I would spend Thursday night in Melaka.

We were all excited about the trip.  Bikes and saddle bags were set up the day before, and some of us struggled to get to sleep the night before.

We started from where I live.  We were on the MEX Highway by about 6.15am.  The adrenaline levels are a bit high when riding on MEX.  It is a highway after all.  Though at that early hour, there isn’t much traffic leaving KL, so the riding is not too fraught.

We made a quick pit stop at the Seri Kembangan R&R.

Melaka MEX R&R Alan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

As expected, given the wet weather of the preceding days, we got rained on as we left the R&R.  Fortunately the rain wasn’t heavy, and it didn’t last long.  We did have wet roads until we reached Dengkil.  A benefit of the Apidura saddle bag is that it extends back far enough to block the spray coming off the rear wheel.  It is like riding with a rear mud guard.

Dengkil was where our first planned food stop.  There is a roadside stall on the corner of Jalan Aman and Jalan Mutiara 1J.  We stop there for breakfast whenever our rides take us through Dengkil.

Melaka Dengkil Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had a visitor looking for handouts during breakfast.

Melaka Dengkil Cat Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

From the Dengkil bypass we rode along the busy Putrajaya–Cyberjaya Expressway and the Nilai – KLIA Highway before turning right onto the quieter Jalan Besar Salak at Salak Tinggi.

Melaka Rolling Johan sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Our next stop was at the Shell station in Sepang.  70km / 43.5mi done.  110km / 68mi to go.  It was supposed to be a short stop for drinks and the loo, but soon after this picture was taken . . .

Melaka Sepang Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

this picture was taken.

Melaka Flat 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

My front tire had gone soft while we were at the Shell station.  This was the culprit.

Melaka Flat 2 Alan Tan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

An advantage of Two-Way Fit™ rims is that the tire bead stays locked to the rim after a puncture.  A flat tire doesn’t roll off the rim.  A very useful quality when you get a flat while speeding down a winding descent.

The associated disadvantage of 2-Way Fit™ rims is that it is difficult to get the tire off the rim, and even more difficult to seat the tire properly when reinflating the tube.  Thank goodness for the air pump at the petrol station, which generated enough air pressure to quickly seat the tire.

Happy smiles as we finally got going again.

Melaka Sepang Rolling Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We rode out of the Shell station onto Federal Route 5, which runs along the west side of Peninsular Malaysia, from Skudai in the south to Ipoh in the north.

Our intermediate destination was Cendol Azmi in Port Dickson.  Which serves some of the best cendol I have ever had.  Mark and I have been there a number of times.  We talked up Cendol Azmi over the 25km / 15.5mi to Port Dickson.

So imagine our collective disappointment when we go to Cendol Azmi and found it closed.  What a letdown!

We settled on Sukand’s Food Station, across the road from Cendol Azmi.

Melaka Port Dickson 1 Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

To Sukand’s credit, their cendol was pretty good.  As was the three-layer air bandung.

We debated having lunch in Port Dickson, but decided to hold out until we got to Kuala Sungai Baru, across the state border in Melaka.  Mark and I had eaten at Kuala Seafood during previous cycling trips to Melaka.  That restaurant was a highlight every time.

We stopped to buy Cokes at Pasir Panjang, about halfway between Port Dickson and Kuala Sungai Baru.  We then picked up the pace over the 20km to Kuala Seafood.  2pm had come and gone, and we were hungry.

So imagine our extreme disappointment when we got to Kuala Seafood and found it closed.  What a bummer!!

There weren’t many options for food.  The few restaurants in the vicinity had sold out of their lunch offerings.  We settled for some mediocre fried rice, just to fill out stomachs more than anything else.

We had 40km / 25mi to go to Melaka.  Alan had been talking about getting coconut shakes once we got there.  Melaka is known for good coconut shakes.  Alan said that Klebang Original Coconut Shake was the place.  Having been disappointed twice already, we made Alan call Klebang Original Coconut Shake to make sure that it was open.

It was.

Melaka Coconut Shake 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

And the coconut shakes were good.  Good enough for us to drink a second round of shakes.

Melaka Coconut Shake 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

This place is worth visiting again.

Melaka Coconut Shake 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

By the time we left Klebang Original Coconut Shake, my patched inner tube was failing.  I gave it a good pump up, and Johan S., Mark, Ridzuwan and I headed to our hotel.

Alan and Chee Seng were heading back to KL that evening.  They first rode to Jonker Walk and Dutch Square for obligatory tourist photographs.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 1 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

And a refreshing recovery beverage.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 2 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

The rest of us checked in to the Hallmark Crown Hotel.  I had booked the hotel sight unseen.  Welcome to the Internet Age!  The price was right – about USD25 per night for a double occupancy room, including buffet breakfast.

We weren’t expecting much, but were pleasantly surprised when we got to our rooms.  Which were clean and comfortable, and had air-conditioning and a mini-fridge which worked.  Plus there was lots of hot water on the shower, and the free wifi signal was strong.

Showered and changed, we walked to the next food destination on our list.  The Makko Nyonya Restaurant.  Another repeat visit venue for Mark and I.  Fortunately for the two of us, Makko was open!

Fried eggplant with chilli, beancurd skin rolls, cincalok omelette, chicken rendang, curry prawns with pineapple, and chendol.

The 180km / 112mi bike ride was worth it for this meal alone.

While we were stuffing our faces at dinner, Alan and Chee Seng had made it to Tampin, and were on the KTM Komuter train back to KL.  Comfortably so.

Melaka Train Alan Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

Not to be outdone in the food stakes, Alan and Chee Seng had supper in KL.

On Friday morning the four of us attacked the hotel buffet breakfast.  An observer would have thought that we hadn’t eaten at all the night before!

Then it was out turn for tourist photographs.

Melaka Tourist 3 Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Melaka Tourist 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had, briefly, considered cycling back to KL.  Riding to Tampin and taking the train seemed like a more reasonable thing to do.

Melaka Lebuhraya AMH Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

40km / 25mi of pedalling got us to the Pulau Sebang (Tampin) KTM station.

Melaka Tampin 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We loaded our bikes and ourselves into the last carriage of the train.

Two and a bit hours later, we were at the Bank Negara KTM station in KL.  It is a short ride from there to where I live.

It was lunch time, so we made a side trip first, to Santa Chapati House on Jalan Sarikei.  A fitting end to our two-day adventure.  It was, after all, an eating trip with some cycling thrown in for variety.

Melaka Santa 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Thank you Alan, Chee Seng, Johan S., Ridzuwan and Mark for your enjoyable company.  We had a lot of laughs and good riding.  To be repeated for sure.

Footnote

The graphic at the top of this post is a mashup of our coconut shakes and the logo for a anti-littering campaign which was launched by the Melaka state government in 2014.  A take on the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign started there in 1986.

 

More Train Adventures

Marco, Mark and I attempted a ride to the KTM Komuter station at Tanjung Malim.  We started from Mark’s house in Taman Mayang Jaya.  We followed our usual route toward Rawang via the Guthrie Corridor Expressway.  Our plan had been to get onto the LATAR Expressway and ride into Rawang from the south east.

But as we circled around the cloverleaf intersection to get onto the LATAR Expressway, we noticed very dark clouds and rain over Rawang in the distance.  So we looped around the cloverleaf again and got onto LATAR going in the opposite direction, toward Kampung Baru Kundang.  The skies were clear in that direction.

Our new plan was to stop at our favourite noodle shop in Kundang, and weather permitting, get to Rawang from the south west.

KKB Noodles Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

It was spotting with rain when we had finished our noodles.  We took a chance and rode toward Rawang anyway.  The drizzle soon stopped, but it had already rained quite hard, and the roads were very wet.  Why do I always have a white jersey on when we hit wet roads?

We rode through Rawang and onto Federal Route 1.  Federal Route 1 is the oldest federal road in Malaysia, as is one of the nation’s earliest public roadways ever constructed.  It runs the length of the Malay peninsula, from the causeway into Singapore up to the Thai border in the north.  As we left Rawang toward Serendah the road dried up.  We had pleasant, overcast riding conditions.  The skies were gloomy, but we thought we had dodged the rain.

KKB Rain Coming Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Not so.  The rain caught up with us while we were stopped at the Petron station in Rasa.  We waited at the petrol station for about fifteen minutes in the hope that the rain would stop.  It did not.

KKB Petron Rasa Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

So we rode out into the rain.  By then the conditions were miserable.  Federal Route 1 is a busy road.  We were riding through rain and the spray thrown up by passing vehicles.  We decided to stop at the nearest KTM station, which was 8km / 5mi away in Kuala Kubu Bharu.  Tanjung Malim was a further 20km / 12.5mi away.  Too far given the very wet conditions.

We bought a ticket for our bikes, and tickets for ourselves, and sat at the station with a drink in our hands, waiting for the train.

KKB Bikes Ticket Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The towns along the KTM Komuter line to the north of Kuala Lumpur are smaller than the towns to the south of the city.  Which may explain why there are less people on the trains going south from Kuala Kubu Bharu than there are on the trains going north from Seremban.  We shared the carriage with only two or three others all the way to our stop at Sungai Buloh.

KKB Carriage All to Ourselves Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We hopped off the train at Sungai Buloh, which was the closest station to Taman Mayang Jaya.  By then the rain had stopped, and the sun was out.  We had to negotiate some busy roads for the first few kilometers, but once we were in Kota Damansara the traffic was less fraught.

It was lunchtime when we got to Aman Suria, which is the neighbourhood adjoining Taman Mayang Jaya.  Patty & Pie is in Aman Suria.  Their burger lunch special hit the spot.

KKB Patty & Pie Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Another overall enjoyable ride (bike) and ride (train), despite the rain.

Bicycle Out, Train Home

I wrote about taking road bicycles onto KTM Komuter trains in Bikes on Trains in Kuala Lumpur.  Since then I have incorporated a train into my ride a few more times.

Once was over the Chinese New Year holiday in early February.  In the last week I’ve done two more bike and train rides.

The KTM Komuter network operates on two lines.  The Port Klang line runs east to west, from Batu Caves to Port Klang.  Batu Caves is less than 15km / 10mi from home, so a train ride from there doesn’t make sense.  Port Klang, at 50km / 31mi away, is further, but not far enough away to make a one-way ride to that station seem worth it.  And the ride to Port Klang through an entirely urban landscape is boring anyway.

The Seremban line runs from Tanjung Malim in the north to Rembau in the south.  Tanjung Malim is about 90km / 56mi from Kuala Lumpur.  Rembau is more than 120km / 75mi from Kuala Lumpur.  Those are reasonable distances to cover during a morning’s ride.  Much of the riding in either direction is through countryside and villages, so the views from the bike are pleasant.

KTM Map

We covered both directions last week.

Train Routes

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

 

Five of us did a mid-week ride to Rasa station in the north.  The destination was meant to be the railway station in Kuala Kubu Bharu.  Afternoon plans meant that we had to be on the train by noon.  A series of flat tires in Rawang and Bukit Beruntung slowed us down.  We were at risk of missing the train at Kuala Kubu Bharu.

Rasa Station 4 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

So we had something to drink in Rasa town, and were in the station with plenty of time to spare.

Rasa Station 1 Evelyn

Photograph courtesy of Evelyn Bird

Rasa Station 2 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Eight of us rode out on Friday morning, bound for Seremban.  The early challenges were to get over the Ampang Lookout Point and Bukit Hantu climbs.

It was a clear morning, so it was worth stopping halfway up Lookout point for a photograph.  The Twin Towers are just about visible to the left of Liang’s head.

Seremban Lookout Point Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We needed a bit of sustenance after the 200 meters / 650 feet or so up climb to Lookout Point, and before the 259 meters / 820 feet up Bukit Hantu.

Seremban Batu 14 Breakfast Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Coming off the descent of Bukit Hantu, it was nice to see the Semenyih Dam full again after such a long time.

Seremban Tekala Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

25km / 15.5mi later we were in the town of Broga, and desperate for a drink.  It was turning into a hot day.

This caught our attention.

Seremban Broga Drinks Menu Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Waiting for our coconut shakes and pineapple shakes to arrive.

Seremban Broga Evelyn

Photograph courtesy of Evelyn Bird

Delicious!

Seremban Broga Drinks Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Seremban was 30km / 18.5mi away.  Unlike Wednesday’s ride, we all got there with only one flat tire between us.  Which happened, unfortunately, just seven kilometers from Seremban.  Or to put a positive spin on things, fortunately, because the flat came just after a 150 meter / 490 feet climb.  Which gave everyone the opportunity for a rest.

Seremban Flat Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We got to Seremban in time for food and drinks at the Pasar Besar Seremban, which is the main wet market in the city.  The fresh vegetables, meat and fish are sold on the first floor, and part of the second floor.  The rest of the second floor is occupied by food stalls.

There are ramps leading up to the second floor, so we rode our bicycles right up the the food stalls.

Seremban Market Evelyn

Photograph courtesy of Evelyn Bird

The railway station is a short ride from the market.  Marvin forgot his cycling shoes, but his sandals were a good stand-in.

Seremban Station 4 Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We discovered that Fridays are not the best day to ride the train with our bikes.  There were a lot of people waiting on the platform for the 2.15pm train.  Luckily there was space in the last carriage for us and our bikes.

Seremban Train

More people with luggage got on at each successive station, and before long it was standing room only, with people squeezed in between our bikes.  Friday afternoons must be a popular time for people to start their weekend trips.

Quite a lot of people got off at the Bandar Tasik Selatan station, which is linked to the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, KL’s main long distance bus terminal.   Some people got on at that station too though.  So it wasn’t until the train had passed through KL Sentral station that seats became available again.

Lay and I got off the train at Bank Negara station.  The others in our ride group got off one stop later, at Putra station.

We needed food and drink en route to home from the station.  League of Captains provided the coffee, and Souled Out on Jalan Ampang provided the satay.

We may never go this far to get our bicycles onto train tracks,

Seremban Rail Bike

but we will definitely be on the train with our bikes again and again.