Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A Taste of Singapore Ride (27 May 2017)

Thank goodness they did not leave without us!
Singapore's Iconic landscapes destroyed by us!
If you can't afford the expensive rooms, photo will be just fine!
Sparkling illusions
When the lights turn red...
...flick our the camera...'s selfie time!!!
First puncture on Lionel's bike
Philip's countless tyre problems
Singapore don't want us to leave!
ECP's bike repair center
Organic food fair... Hotel Jen...
...10th floor, Mezzanine area
Chilling out!
With Veronica, the brain behind the food fair!

At 5.15 am in the morning, VT and Claudine were the only souls on Jalan Dato Onn. The deserted street worried Claudine as the rest could have bailed on her! Even though she had arranged a secret roll out time of 5.45 am with Bernie, the lead rider, this was never mentioned to everyone. The official time of 5.30 am remain unchanged and yet, nobody was visible so near to flag off time!

Soon enough, TH rode in while Bernie's car pulled up at the parking lot. But the number of attendees is still half to the numbers that signed up. When the four decided to give a grace of 10 minutes, Lim arrived. Following later was Peter, Steven and Collin, in Peter's pick up truck.

Imagine the frustrations of waiting for everyone to set up their bikes, one after another! Three times too many, as Anna's car honk pierced through the quiet morning halting us, when we were just rolling out. Thankfully, with TH's help, she was all ready in 5 minutes!

Finally on the move, we rode along Jalan Ibrahim. Just after OCBC bank, we swerved to the right and went up the flyover. At the traffic lights ahead, we went straight across to Jalan Tanjung Puteri.

Approaching Grand Bluewave Hotel, the stench of a decaying organic compound repulsed TH and Claudine. The rest, just cruised past unaware of last Thursday's discovery of the decomposing body of a naked woman in the area. The news was further sensationalized as surrounding the deceased was many used condoms!

Grateful that none of us has any illusions of "a wandering woman" in the area, we turned left to Jalan Lingkaran Dalam. Here on, we kept going on the left lane until we reached the CIQ.

Just as we arrived, the lights turned green and a stream of motorcycles rushed into the motorlane with us. It became chaotic.

Bernie was told by the custom officer to take the extreme right lane, all the way to the first booth, in front. Calling for everyone to follow suit, Claudine's instructions fell on deaf ears. More chaos ensued after that!

As Bernie and Claudine were all the way to the front, they saw TH, VT, Anna and Lim gathering on the pavement after immigration. Then, to their horror, they saw them leaving! First TH, followed by the rest.

Bernie was hesitant after clearing immigration, but decided to roll as well!!! This left Claudine alone and cursing to herself as she went down the ramp.

After going over a few speed humps, her curses changed to prayer recitals! It was crazy! The sound of motorcycle engines revving past was deafening!

Almost down to the Causeway, Bernie was waiting by the side. Claudine stopped as well, relieved to have a traveling companion. It turned out, he had stopped to retrieve a water bottle.

By then, Peter and Steven had caught up but there was no signs of Collin who was behind them. They tried waiting but after a few phone calls which went unanswered, they decided to proceed to the Singapore side.

Once there, they were ushered to the left Gate which happens to be opened at that time. Luckily, the officer on duty noticed the error and told them to push their bikes over to the other side as there was a manual lane for them. Persons with work permits goes through the auto gates which comes with biometric scans. It was also at this time that TH and VT spotted them!

While clearing customs, contact was made with Collin who had a tyre puncture right after Malaysian immigration. Waiting for him near the LTA office, the officer allowed us to wait as long as he could before bumming us off with an apology. Thankfully, Collin finally caught up as we were moving out!

Anna and Lim left us perplexed. They were right behind VT and TH but somehow got separated from them. Inside the Singapore immigration, they took more than half an hour to clear. Leaving instructions to meet on Woodlands road, they ended up at Woodlands Center Road!!! Connectivity through hand phones finally saved the day!

Finally regrouped, our Taste of Singapore Ride began. Riding along Admiralty Road, we initially rode past a long series of high rise accommodations. Then, we passed Marsiling Food Center and its adjacent market.

As we proceeded further, the scenery took on an ugly side. We came by an industrial area. While some buildings were merely factories for light industries; a little further down the road, the landscape took a more serious look with oil storage tanks and flare stacks!

A rustic charm soon ensued as we passed the last remaining Malay fishing village in Singapore. It is strange that there are still fishermen in a cosmopolitan city but the small motorized fishing boats stood as testaments.

Rolling past Yishun dam, it was strange to see the sea to our left and the water catchment area to our right. It was also here the littering of rental bikes began; and continued all the way to East Coast Park and Woodlands Road; basically throughout our 100 km route!!! Not only are the bikes not parked properly but strewn everywhere, as if thrown as junk!

Just after the dam, we spotted small propeller planes at Seletar airport. Leaving Budgie, we soon entered the Dubai of Singapore! Punggol West, with its huge stockpile of sand imported from various countries left us in awe! Meant for construction, it hit us hard, how we have always taken our country's resources for granted!

The scenery took a prettier turn at Marina Country Club. Besides the wet dock; a huge warehouse offers dry rack storage for smaller boats, all stacked up in 4-5 levels!!!

We soon made a stop at Punggol Waterways, a canal flanked by high rise accommodations. It was more like a recreational park with beautiful landscaping that also offers public amenities like toilets, water fountains, jogging paths and playground. All along the canals, scenic bridges both quaint and modern, connects the two sides of the river bank.


Arriving at Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk which overlooks the reservoir, we received a warm welcome from the rest of the Singapore team. Everyone including Roy, hailing from Bangalore could still afford us smiles even though we had made them wait a good 1 hour!!!

Henceforth, we hastily posed for the customary group photos before crossing the Lorong Halus bridge to the other side. The ground rules require cyclists to disembark from their bikes but taking the cue from Philip, we all got over the other side in no time at all!!!

Changi Village finally came! The cross border riders were famished by then, gorging on the food while most of our fellow Singaporeans were merely sipping on their drinks! Anna even had a second bowl of noodles!! Never mind our rice planting forefathers' genes!!! We needed the energy, thank you very much!!!

After breakfast, we continued on to the new Tanah Merah bike path. TH, Anna and Lim left with the first group while lingering behind with the 4 vintage bikers were Philip Lim, VT, Bernie and Claudine.

Initially, everyone were all smiles, taking selfies and enjoying the ride. When the strava segments began, they started pumping on the pedals. Andre was the first to take off. Trying to keep up with him, Claudine finally pulled the white flag after a mere short distance.

Thereafter, everyone started overtaking her. First with Tony, then with Philip. Beyond that, everything was a blur except for Bernie who took turns pulling and drafting her all the way to the finish line.

Kai was waiting at the junction to East Coast Park. When Lim and Anna went missing for the second time, he went back in search for them.

Regrouping outside Safra, Lionel had a puncture. Philip, Joyce and a few others who opted for the so-called short cut to ECP, took longer than usual to arrive! But they were wise as the Tanah Merah bike path was not all honey and no sting! It was not an entirely pleasant ride as the path was strewn with pebbles swept in by lorries!

We had a good taste of Singapore life along the ECP. We rode along the coasts flanked by food outlets and accommodations with premium beachfront views. On a Saturday and the first day of school holidays, there were a lot of joggers, picnickers and all sorts of outdoor activities! Amidst all this, not far in the horizon, ships and tankers were slowly polluting the waters in internationally acceptable standards!!!

On the way to Hotel Jen, but had to wait for Philip with tyre problems

Right after that, we crossed over to Marina Barrage to enjoy the beautiful view of The Eye of Singapore, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. Then, we proceed on to Hotel Jen at Orchard for an interesting experience of an organic food fair.

Cramped in the service lift!
Bikes on the 10th floor!
Bikes on the 10th floor
Held once every 3 months, we were really lucky our ride coincides with the event. Philip had made special arrangements with Veronica to secure us entry to the 10th floor via the service lift. It was an eye opener to alternative foods.

Sourdough bread from Vburg, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Johor
Daily juices to your doorstep for SGD260 per month by Adeline, The Healing Concierge!
Once on the mezzanine floor, the first waft of petai salad assaulted our senses. There were organic jams, juices, ice creams, biscuits, Sourdough bread; even up to sauces, oils and salts! The hotel chef cooks a selection of heathy food of your choice but going around to sample the food is enough to tide you over lunch!

Not everyone are into healthy eating. While most of us enjoy browsing around, some made their way into the hotel's restaurant for drinks. Some others who preferred food with blood left for chicken rice as in the case of our 4 vintage bikers! Besides Tony who seems to value life more; Andre, Dean and Michael were seen riding above 35 kph on Tanah Merah without helmets! They were all out with the 1990's fashion of polo tshirts, boat shoes and shorts!!!

Street Yoga, around Orchard area!
Water stop just before we leave Singapore
We were way off our schedule! It was time to leave but Singapore will not allow us an easy exit. Philip who had a deflated tyre at Marina Barrage had to pump up the rear tyre again, right after Hotel Jen. 50 meters later, TH had a puncture!!!

When we finally arrived at Woodlands CIQ, we realized the rain had come and go, leaving us with a light drizzle. By then, TH had left us to meet up with his wife somewhere in Woodlands. With no conflicting leadership, we obediently followed Bernie!

Turning left after Woodlands Road, we initially followed the car lane before switching over to the motorcycle lane. However, the congestion soon forced us back into the car lane. We had no choice but to ride right to the CIQ complex. Once there, we were relieved the officers on duty opened the gates and stopped traffic to allow us back on the motorcycle lane.

This time, we were told to queue by the extreme left lane which is a manual lane. Even though, we got to the front, it was till awhile before we cleared immigration.

Back on Malaysian soil, while the foreigners went on lanes designated for foreign passports, Bernie led us on the extreme left lane. The diversion was not chaotic as we patiently waited to regroup. Once everyone cleared, we exited together taking the first left turn on the ram which eventually led us to the road that ran parallel to JB Sentral and JB City Square. At the interchange ahead, we turned onto Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and finally made it back to base!

It was a real major feat for us. Unlike our fellow Singaporean friends, most of us are new to border crossings. Besides, traffic into Singapore is extremely heavy during morning rush hours and the Causeway has often been quoted as one of the busiest border crossings in the world!!!

Photo Credits :
1. Anna
2. Lionel
3. Bernie
4. Philip
5. Michael

Monday, 1 May 2017

North and South Social Ride (29 April 2017)

Man in the Mirror...If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change!
In the palm oil estate
At Puteri Harbour
At Legoland
Ladies in action!!!
Art at Puteri Harbour
Art at Puteri Harbour
Kampung Pendas and Second Link Bridge in the background

It was an amazing morning that started with the continuous sound of rumbling thunders in the far horizon. By daylight, the promise of a good day was evident as we met our new friends from KL and Singapore. Gone are the rain clouds, blown away by the winds.

We finally met Freda in person, although we had connected with her on Asia Cycling Network. Besides Freda; Betty and Robert were familiar faces to Sue, who had previously rode with them in KL. Meanwhile, it was Claudine's first ride with Raymond although both had met at Khass, worked together on RfR 2016 and finally ACN.

Riding out, we headed for Kg Sg Melayu, leaving Robert to nurse a flu. Passing Marlborough College and finally away from the noisy highways, we entered the labyrinth of the palm oil estate. As we cruised on the narrow kampung road, we spotted squirrels and birds in the lush greenery. Crepuscular rays of the sun radiates through the canopies, exuding an ethereal feel.
At the end of the road, we did not find the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs but Kg Sg Melayu, a malay fishing village. What lay before our eyes were fishing boats, stranded like beached whales on the river bed at low tide. On the far right, JB city's Country Garden was a silhouette of condoland.

As we rode through the kampung, meeting the folks along the way, the children greeted us happily while the women folk smiled and waved shyly. Behind the school and across the river was Singapore.

After paying our respects to the four private ancestral burial grounds, we exited the kampung. Back on Lebuh Kota Iskandar, Freda's back wheel was finally given a good look by Raymond. The lopsided wheel problem was corrected with a simple adjustment to the skewer!!!

Moving on, we took a short detour to JSNAC before meeting up with Sue again at Puteri Harbour for breakfast. Thereafter, we headed for Sunway Iskandar, passing Pinewood Studios before climbing the steep knoll that overlooks Pendas, Second Link Bridge and Singapore.

Heading home, we cruised past Gleneagles Medini, making a quick stop at Legoland. Raymond left us at Southgate Horizon Hills, going straight to Khass instead. The remaining four of us arrived back at Pan Kobo, sealing a friendship we meant to keep forever! 

A World without Borders!