Sunday, 8 September 2019

Interstate 5 (4-8 June 2019) : Day 1 - Melaka to Segamat

The complete group 
Durian courtesy of the Tay family
Paku Pakis Farmstay
Riding out of the gates of Paku Pakis Farmstay
Coming to our first regrouping point
Meng with his chick magnet
Simon on his Surly
Dirt road

It was the last day of Ramadhan and whilst the muslims woke for sahur and subuh prayers, VT and Claudine were making their way to Melaka. Rendezvousing at Paku Pakis Farmstay, all Interstate 5 participants were generously treated to fresh durians from the fruit orchard, courtesy of the Tay family.

KL riders taking the train to Pulau Sebang
Pre-ride dinner at Paku Pakis Farmstay

It was indeed an overwhelming event that saw more than 30 riders coming together from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Melaka. While most of the riders from up north had come by train a day before and the Melakans had had the luxury of riding to meet up point on the same morning, what was left in the care of Abu when we finally rolled out were 2 cars; belonging to VT and Seng Kiat who drove from home. 

Our first 12 km was a pleasant ride that traversed mostly through palm oil estates and a few kampungs. Sometimes we rolled on dirt roads that ran parallel to Ayer Panas River whilst other times we rolled along single lane tarred roads that ran along the perimeters of some rubber estates.

Kampung Ulu Duyong mosque is located directly opposite a Hindu temple, a clear testimony of racial harmony in Malaysia 

At Kampung Ulu Duyong, we made our first official stop. As everyone were taking sips of water from their respective water bottles, the distinctive smell of woodfire wafted through the air. Up on the road on M109’s Jalan Jasin, a malay trader was roasting lemang, cashing in on tomorrow’s festival of Hari Raya, which marks the first day of Syawal and the end of the fasting month for all muslims.

The trunk road to Jasin was an unpleasant narrow route filled with cars. We were all on full alert, stopping less than 10 km later for regrouping at S.K Kesang Tua, a school in Jasin. The gates were locked for mid-year school break which happened to coincide with the Raya holidays, thus cheating the school children off additional leave!

Regrouped, we did not roll more than 200 m when the back riders called for a stop. A tyre puncture equates to additional rest time and a “stolen” mango picked up from a remarkably dry and clean drain by Ivan! Thankfully, we did not wait to get caught for Captain Kim Chai had the good sense to split the group in order for the rest to go ahead.

Arriving in Jasin, we were disappointed the promised beef noodle was not opened ending an unnecessary debate on beef, religion and being vegan! Splitting the group into 2, some chose to dine over coffee shop fares while some enjoyed eating over a dingy food court set between 2 shop lots with zinc roofing. Our short stay at Jasin can be summed up as small town with a small roundabout and a monopoly of Indian traders!

Moving on, we headed for Asahan. Scattered along the road, led by 2 group leaders, Meng found himself riding alone with no sights of the leading group nor the back riders. Thankfully, his sixth sense made him stop at the junction to Asahan. Rescued by Bert, they both rode on to Simpang Bekoh where VT, Kelvin and Claudine were waiting.

We had a simple lunch at Asahan. The economy rice spread were painfully sparse but surprisingly delicious especially the stir fried spinach. The noodles though were a bit lacking.

It was scorching hot when we headed out to Jementah. Flanked by palm oil estates, the route did not offer any shades. Everyone were flushed red  when we finally made the stop at the food court next to Jementah’s beautiful temple.

3 km to Segamat
Intensely hot day

Heading out for our last 21 km, half the riders drenched themselves at the taps, a cooling respite from the heat. However, this was just a short measure as the blazing sun was quick to dry everything up!

Entering the town, we came upon a water edge. Hotel Golden Lake, located a few hundred meters away, must have drew inspiration from this body of water. Boy, were we relieved to finally roll to a stop!

That night, we enjoyed a distinguished dinner at a Chinese association cum restaurant which must be a favourite choice for wedding banquets. Dressed in shorts and t-shirts, we looked totally out of place in a hall beautifully decorated with a traditional rosewood wedding bed, tiffins and splashes of auspicious red!


Golden Lake Hotel, Segamat

Friday, 18 January 2019

Let's Celebrate His Life...Philip Sim !!!

Dear all,

Philip’s Wake will be held at 666 Punggol Drive S821666. Philip's body is expected to arrive in the evening (19/1/19). Cremation will be on Tuesday at Mandai.

With Audrey's permission, we are organizing a get together at the same multi purpose hall (address as above) to celebrate his life. Please come in your cycling jerseys and if possible print out a photo or card to be compiled together in a box for his family.

THEME : Let's Celebrate His Life!

DATE : 20 January 2019, Sunday
VENUE : 666 Punggol Drive S821666
TIME : 9.00 - 10.00 pm

WHAT TO WEAR : Cycling jersey
WHAT TO BRING : A print out photo or a card

The passing of a friend : 18 January 2019

Many people knew Philip Sim through A Taste of Johor which he developed over 2 years. And through Asia Cycling Network, he got to know many Malaysian riders.

What happened to him this evening is sad and shocking though his good friends could see it coming... Philip had a heart attack a few years back while cycling and he wasn't quite himself in our recent AST Ride.

As I have been getting many calls and texts from concerned friends, I thought it necessary to let his friends know what exactly happened to him this evening.

Philip passed away....

Apparently Anna Ong texted him about a night ride in JB. Instead of hearing his voice, she was shocked when a doctor spoke over the phone to her. He had used his phone to call her, asking her who she is. Then, explained that Philip was brought to his 
clinic by a passer by but pronounced dead upon arrival. He died of a heart attack.

Like I always tell him, he is surrounded by a lot of guardian angels. Good samaritan Al Tamil sent him to a nearby clinic. Dr Yogi assisted. Khan on his way back from KL dropped by to verify it was him. Frankie bumped into his family at a food court and is on his way bringing his sister to JB.

As of now, Philip is transfered from the clinic to Mutiara Rini police station. He will soon be taken to the General Hospital before his body will be claimed by his sister.

Rest in Peace, Philip. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

East Coast Ride (19-31 March 2018), Day 12 : Sg Golok to Johor via Koto Bahru

One for the road before parting ways near the roundabout to Wakaf Baru
Stuffing our faces with yu tiao
Goodbye, Thailand
Hello, Malaysia!
We are going home!

This morning, we spent a leisurely time in Sg Golok. As it was less than 50 km to Kota Bahru, we were in no hurry to leave this little town by the Thai border. Besides, with a night bus to catch, we had lots of time in our hands.

Morning street view of from restaurant
Flowers and gifts sold for children graduation
Kids in their graduation robes
First restaurant
First breakfast
Khao Tum shop
Khao Tum
Yu Tiao

Meeting the gang for a second breakfast, VT found a nice shop selling khao tum, yu tiao and soy bean not more than 200m from Greenview Hotel. Before that, he had gone out with Claudine, landing themselves at a coffee shop right opposite a primary school. Dining over hot bowls of pho served with roasted pork and khao tum, they had watched the school’s graduation in process. The roads leading to the entrance were blocked with securities on alert whilst vendors ply bouquets of flowers and soft toys on the streets.

When we were done with breakfast, we started our journey home only to be alarmed by Mr Lim. He could not find his passport! The search party which extended back to the hotel turned up empty as well. Thankfully, we did not have to leave him in Thailand for after the umpteenth search, his little red book turned up, tucked away in a different compartment of his bag!!!

Still adamant to check out some bike shops in Sg Golok, we followed the instructions given by the hotel reception, landing ourselves at a local bike shop not more than 400m away from Greenview. Striking up a conversation with a friendly local bike tourer we found out he has a brother living in Kota Bahru. As there was a grey line on border crossings back in the olden days, families were not compelled to choose sides. Choice of stays weighed heavily on economic viability until they found themselves separated by lines set by governments!

Sg Golok’s close proximity to Malaysia sees some cultural blending. With a good presence of Malay ethnicity, Bahasa Malaysia is widely spoken as in the case of the bike shop owner; not forgetting Mandarin as our medium of command with our local bike tourer.

As our new friend had suggested another bike shop near a 7 Eleven not far away, we went in search but what we found were more of the latter store! Along the way, we lost ourselves in the pub districts which were surprisingly quiet in the morning. Coming to a dead end, we made a U Turn before making our way back to the main road and the CIQ.

Back on Malaysian soil, we rode rapidly along Route 3, focusing on an early arrival in Kota Bahru. Right after the Kelantan River, we took the left fork for Route 130’s Jalan Salor -  Pasir Mas, which runs parallel to Route 207’s highway. A treat indeed as the route took us on a quiet road, passing kampung houses and a school.

Just before the major roundabout, we had a tea break before splitting up. York Fuan, KC and Jenny left for Wakaf Bahru, hoping to catch the train home whilst the remaining team with pre-purchased bus tickets headed for Kota Bahru.

In Kota Bahru, VT, Mr Lim and Claudine checked out a few budget hotels near the local bus station before settling down at Suria hotel. At RM 50 per room shared amongst 3, they were grateful for the hot shower before boarding the night bus home. Besides, it provided a safe place to keep their luggage while they went on to explore more of Kota Bahru.

That afternoon, while Mr Lim met an old friend for tea, VT and Claudine explored Siti Khadijah’s market. Other than the conventional wet market on the ground floor, the second level comes with a huge eatery with stalls after stalls offering amazing Kelantanese delights. Almost every stall have a good following which explains the mountains of food offered. When lunch was done, the duo lost themselves in the abyss of the dimly lit dry market, buying bags of keropok ikan.

Keeping in touch with the rests on whatsapp, they found out Jenny and KC did not make the train journey as bikes are not allowed on trains. York Fuan though managed to win a plea bargain with a smile and a promise to keep her tiny Brompton in a bag.

Offering their rooms for Jenny and KC to take a shower, it was politely declined. No, they prefer to wait out the time at Aeon rather than come over….


Then… dawned on them that the intercity bus station was not the same as the local bus station!!! Oops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Luckily, the journey to the “other” bus station was not far. Arriving in the new part of town, they managed an early dinner at a malay restaurant before proceeding to the “correct” bus station, bumping into KC and Jenny who had bought tickets with another bus company. Goodbyes were made with promises to keep in touch.

As they boarded their respective buses, VT, Mr Lim and Claudine soon learnt that not all bus drivers allow bikes on board, even when “coffee money” is offered. They prefer to earn a second income as couriers, transporting keropok ikan and the likes!!!

Photo courtesy :