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The short way home

We checked out of the hotel at 7.30am.  We rode out in a drizzle to look for breakfast.  You can always count on a mamak restaurant to be open at any hour of the night or day.

After breakfast, we rode to the usual photograph spots.  First the Porta de Santiago, a small gatehouse which is the only part of A Famosa, a former Portuguese fortress, still standing today.  A Famosa is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia and the Far East.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Then we went to Christ Church Melaka.  Construction of Christ Church Malacca started in 1741 and it was completed in 1753.  When the British took over Malacca they added a weathercock and bell to Christ Church and transformed it from a Protestant church into an Anglican one.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had decided over dinner the night before to amend our plan for the day.  Originally we were going to ride to the KTM station in Rembau, where we would catch a Komuter train to KL Sentral station.  The Rembau station is 58km / 36mi from Melaka.

We decided instead to ride to the KTM station in Tampin, which is 40km / 25mi from Melaka.  We would be very glad that we chose to ride to the closer station.

We rode through the narrow streets of historic Melaka to the AMJ highway.  The highway took us north to Alor Gajah. 

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We left the AMJ highway at Alor Gajah for the 14km / 9mi remainder of the distance to Tampin.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

The cool and overcast conditions had quickly given way to hot and muggy conditions.  It was 30º C / 86º F at 10.00am.  We were relieved to have opted to ride to Tampin rather than Rembau.

We had time for a cold drink after buying our tickets.  The train left on time at 10.55am.  And in only a few minutes we were cold.  The air-conditioning on the KTM Komuter trains is quite chilly.

We warmed up once our damp jerseys had dried out.  By the second half of the journey, we could feel the heat of the sun coming through the train windows.

Photograph courtesy of Jake Sow

The train takes about two hours to get to KL Sentral station.  On the way we messaged Jeff Liew of The Bike Artisans, asking him to book duck rice lunches at the restaurant next door to his bike shop.  We would be riding in that direction to get back to my place from KL Sentral station.

It was an easier task to get out of KL Sentral station that it had been to get into Tampin station, where the lift had broken down.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We rode the escalator up to the main hall of KL Sentral station and then wheeled our bikes fifty metres to the exit.  In less than a minute we were on Jalan Tun Sambanthan headed towards the Bike Artisans and lunch.

In less than 4.5km / 3mi we were at Jeff’s doorstep.  Which was a good thing because it was another hot day. 

Kelin joined us for lunch.  

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

As did TH.

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We made short work of the chicken and duck rice.  Thank you Jeff for buying us lunch, and Kelin and TH for joining us.

All that remained was to ride the hot 3km / 2mi to my place.

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We had moaned at times about the heat over the two days.  But we did agree that it had been a fun couple of days, and that we looked forward to more such rides.  

And there are already some R@SKLs asking to join the next overnight ride.

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.