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Tag Archives: Teh Tarik

Alternative Reality

I have been driving on the Federal Highway since the 1980s.  It is Malaysia’s first expressway, and it runs for 45 km from Kuala Lumpur to Klang on the west coast.  During the four years before I left Kuala Lumpur for Houston I lived just off the Federal Highway in Pantai Hill Park.  I drove along the Federal Highway almost daily.  The Mid-Valley Megamall was a frequent destination.  I took my mother for regular medical checkups at the University Malaya Medical Centre.  I ate many meals at the restaurants in the Petaling Jaya Hilton.  A corollary to all those car journeys on the Federal Highway was the number of hours I wasted whilst inching along in the traffic jams for which the highway has become infamous.

I didn’t think it was possible to cycle along the Federal Highway.  But that is exactly what I found myself doing last Saturday morning.  I had agreed to help out with a cycling safety class being run by YC and Albert K. at Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.  So after a brief talk about the do’s and don’ts of riding on city streets  Albert led us from the shop to the motorcycle lane running alongside the Federal Highway headed toward Kuala Lumpur.

Photo courtesy of Albert Koo

Before long we were cycling under the Kota Darul Ehsan arch, which marks the border between the state of Selangor and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.  From the vantage point of a bicycle saddle it certainly looks like the the biggest arch in Malaysia.

Photo courtesy of Albert Koo

Apparently the motorcycle lanes were originally intended for bicycles.  We cyclists were definitely in the minority though.  Riding single file was essential as we were continually being passed by motorcycles.  You can see them in the distance in these photos.  That motorcyclist on the right in the picture below should be on the motorcycle lane by the way.  The skyscraper is the Menara Telekom.

Photo courtesy of Albert Koo

Less than ten minutes later we were at the Mid-Valley Megamall.  It has often taken me at least three times that long to drive from the Menara Telekom to the Mid-Valley Megamall.  Now I know there is an alternative I’m going to see if there is a place to safely park a bicycle at the mall.

We turned around at the mall and headed back on the opposite side of the Federal Highway.  We took a different route from the highway back to Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.  Conveniently there is a mamak restaurant below Van’s.  Ravi’s Banana Leaf, which as the name suggests, uses banana leaves as plates.  If you read my post about the ride from Bukit Jelutong you already know what we had at Ravi’s.  Teh tarik and roti canai of course!

Photo courtesy of Albert Koo

Reverse Dragon’s Back

I was so excited to finally do my first long ride in Kuala Lumpur today that I could hardly sleep last night.  So it was no hardship to be up at 5.30am for breakfast.  That gave me time to drive the 27 km to Bukit Jelutong.  I got to the rendezvous point at 6.50am.  Mark L. arrived shortly thereafter, followed by Wan A.  By 7.30am we were a Racun Cycling Gang of four roadies and three foldies, ready to get on the road.  We weren’t the only ones heading out for a ride this morning.  The car park quickly filled up with all sorts of vehicles that disgorged all sorts of bikes and riders.

Mark led us on what he described as a Reverse Dragon’s Back ride.  Which meant tackling the six hills that make up the Dragon’s Back at the start of the ride rather than at the end.  A wise choice in my book given the potential for roasting sunshine by midmorning.

As it turned out we were lucky with the sun.  It was humid and fairly warm, but it stayed overcast for most of the morning.  I was glad that I had sunscreen on though.  I picked up some color in spite of the cloud cover.

Riding in Kuala Lumpur reminds me of riding in Houston.  The Houston weather, at least in the summer, rivals Kuala Lumpur’s for heat and humidity.  More to the point, riding in Kuala Lumpur requires cycling alongside all manner of motorized vehicles.  Fortunately I had a gentle reintroduction to sharing the road.  The Sunday traffic was relatively light.  This is Mark coasting down one of the humps on the Dragon’s Back with just the occasional car for company.

Some of the major tollroads have separate motorcycle lanes.  Which of course make excellent bike paths.  Almost like the ones in the Netherlands.  After the Dragon’s Back and a stop for a drink we rode for 30 km on the motorcycle lanes alongside the Guthrie Corridor Highway.  The road surface is excellent and as it was a Sunday there were very few motorbikes out.

What is different here as compared to Houston and Den Haag is the lush and verdant foliage that covers everything beyond the shoulders of the roads.  Vegetation quickly reclaims any cleared land.  In just a few years secondary jungle takes hold.

The route that Mark chose was one that few other riders were on today.  We had long stretches to ourselves, including one 5 km section where Mark and and I were able to cruise along at better than 40 kph.  We stopped at regular intervals to regroup, including at the point where we would leave the highway.  Once back together again we returned to the urban roads.  From there we gently pedaled the last 2 km to where we had parked our cars.  Which just coincidentally was right in front of a ‘restoran mamak.’

These are very popular restaurants run by Indian Muslims.  These restaurants grew out of the roadside stall equivalent known as ‘gerai mamak.’  Some gerai and restoran mamak are open 24 hours a day.  All serve a variety of food and drink, including the ubiquitous roti canai and teh tarik.  Those make up the standard order at the end of a ride in Kuala Lumpur, in the same way a koffie verkeerd and an appelgebak met slagroom put the finishing touch to a ride in Den Haag.