Bin Soo joined us for the Taiping to Penang leg. She and Ai Lei had driven to Taiping. Mark told Bin Soo that we would all meet in the hotel lobby at 6:30 am.
I am sure we were all still asleep when Bin Soo and Ai Lei got to our hotel at 5:11 am 😲. They were there early to take us to breakfast. Ham chim peng (Chinese fried doughnuts) and coffee.
Amy and I didn’t make it to breakfast. I for one was nowhere near ready to head out of my room before 6:15 am.
We rolled out of Taiping at 6:30 am. I used Ride With GPS to plot the shortest route from our hotel to Federal Route 1. We would spend most of the day on that road.
All went well until 7km from the hotel. We came to a right turn where the paved road became a narrow gravel track. Too narrow for the truck.
So Marvin had to find a driveable way to get to Federal Route 1. We forged ahead into the unknown. I had no idea how long we would be riding off-road.
All credit to Bin Soo for being willing to ride over gravel and through puddles on her brand-new bike.
No one dared to ride across this bridge.
The track was luckily rideable enough to get us to Federal Route 1. Except that we were on the wrong side of a divided highway. That required a dismount and quick sprint over the highway divider.
We came to another interesting bridge across the Sungai Sepetang 14km into the day.
We made our first restroom stop at the PETRONAS station in Bagan Serai after ninety minutes of cycling. The ride itself was unremarkable. So much so that trailing a tractor for a short time was exciting.
The reason we didn’t draft behind the tractor for longer was that it was moving too slowly.
We took a short detour off Federal Route 1 for a pit stop at Bandar Baharu. Marvin guided us to this place on the Sungai Kerian. The food here was excellent and cheap.
We were back on our bikes at about 10:00 am. One hour later we were sitting in Nasi Kandar Rizq in Simpang Ampat. It was already 35º C / 95º F. Significantly warmer than it had been at the same time the day before. We all needed cold liquids and some shade.
There were 22km to go to the Penang Sentral ferry terminal. The run from Simpang Ampat was in the most traffic we had encountered on the entire trip. There is a lot of commercial traffic on the roads to Butterworth. For the most part, we had no other route option to take. We did a detour to avoid riding on the Butterworth Outer Ring Road over the last 5km to the ferry terminal.
We were on a ferry at 12:50 pm, having paid the princely sum of RM1.40 / USD0.34 each for the privilege. Which is incredibly cheap because no ticket is needed for the return trip from the island.
The ferry ride takes fifteen minutes. There is a nice view of the Penang Bridge during the crossing.
It is just over 1km from the Raja Tun Uda ferry terminal on Penang island to our respective hotels on Lebuh Chulia.
After getting cleaned up we wasted no time getting to one of the main reasons to come to Penang.
Food glorious food! Both on the streets and in the cafés.
Lots of Penang food was a very nice way to celebrate riding about 330km / 205mi over three days. Without a single puncture amongst us.
We are already talking about where to ride to next.
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.