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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.

 

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.