Monday, 26 June 2017

Hari Raya Hilly Breezy Ride (24 June 2017)

Part of the team at the junction to Jalan Besar

At Lotus Desaru, missing out BG, SC, Leo, Zoe, VT and CL
The boys enroute to Tg Sedili
At Aik Seng, with "the cats" starting their chase to Tg Leman. The remaining two returns to Desaru on their own
Scenic route
Rolling hills
Rolling hills
Rolling hills
Rolling hills
Rolling hills
Rolling hills

Driving into Tg Sedili on the eve of Hari Raya, the small village had a contrasting atmosphere. While the morning market in the village square was buzzing with last minute shopping, the old 1960's shop lots near the jetty, all had their shutters down except for a Kedai Runcit which was bustling with eleventh hour purchases. Taking a view of the river, all fishing vessels were cleaned and tied to timber bollards all along the river, ready for a week long rest, in lieu of Syawal.

Zoe and Iris had arrived at the doorsteps of Kar Pin Kopitiam even before it was opened for business. When Claudine and VT arrived, she bravely barged through its tiny opening to enquire about its opening hours. The proprietor was accommodating, pushing its collapsible metal doors wide open to welcome us. An old and traditional coffee shop, it still uses charcoal to toasts your bread!!! However, other than toasts and eggs, there was nothing else to eat there!

While the 3 ladies were settling down for toasts, VT had already set up his bike to recce the small village. He found an unassuming side lane that led up to Aik Seng Kopitiam. 

Tucked away from the village's square, this coffee shop serves pre-packed nasi lemak, fried mee and fried bee hoon besides the traditional kuih-muih stored in an equally traditional wooden box with mesh wire that keeps out insects! Directly opposite the coffee shop is a fisherman's wharf, all equipped with motorized hooks, crates, cold rooms and ice breaking machines.

As Aik Seng is the designated meet up point, we adjourned there to wait for the rest coming from Lotus Desaru. It was quite awhile before everyone arrived and another long wait for everyone to eat. Occupying the main exterior of Aik Seng were our riders BUT some village folks, not supposed to eat on this holy fasting month were hiding out at the VIP table set out in the kitchen, behind!!!

Today, Zoe brought her daughter, Iris, to serve in the support car while Chiam introduced Philip and Simson, both team players of KTBW. Stanley who appeared familiar to Claudine turned out to be Alwin's twin brother, whom she had rode with to Forest City!

We soon left for Tg Leman in staggered groups leaving JM and Amy to head back on their own.
The firsts to head out were Claudine, Zoe and VT. They needed a head start. Others in the JEC group, preferred to play a cat and mouse game....they were the cats!!!

The ride from Tg Sedili to Tg Leman was a mere 36 km but it was an arduous one. Laying the topography down on a line graph, it is filled with sharp pinnacles, some as steep as 11% to 13% !!!

The bridge in the background

The route initially takes us past a bridge that spans the river mouth. Climbing up the arch of the bridge, the mere 4% grade marks the first climb on this route. Thereafter, the onslaught ascend continues for another 10 km, until we reached a plateau where we were rewarded a fantastic view of the sea and the far horizon.

6-7 from Tg Sedili...
Note the far horizon

Somewhere in this vicinity is Tanjung Logok's Ground to Air Firing Range. Their last known official exercise was carried out on March 28, 2016 with the Thales Starstreak missile. The part of GBP100 million deal exercise was observed by Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Naturally, with the firing range so close by, it was not surprising the area is cordoned off with electric wires and a permanent police post, located a few kilometers away!

This plateau is not completely flat but the climbs were mild and gradual. This gave us time to normalize our heartbeat! At the end of its 5 km span, we started cruising downhill at breakneck speed! Racing down at optimal velocity, most of us faced a tough brake or to break limbs???

At the end of our descent, Suzanne was waiting with her support car. This was a major T junction where we had to turn right onto Jalan Besar. Cruising along a couple of kilometers later, we had to make another right turn to Jalan Tg Leman to begin our ascend all over again.

Knowing Tg Leman is a seaside village, we sensed our destination is near when we started descending all over again. Soon we spotted Felda Residence, an ambitious beach front project with dining and outdoor pool. Run by the Federal Land Development Authority, a stand alone statutory body with its own financials, it has come a long way from its original purpose of yester years i.e. development of land and relocation with the objective of poverty eradication.

Just a little ahead, we weaved through the boom gates of Tg Leman car park, finally rolling to a stop at its food court that links directly to the jetty. This is the embarkation point for holiday makers heading for Pulau Sibu and its surrounding archipelago. Sharing the property's location was KFC with its seafront verandah.

KFC's verandah overlooking the jetty
View of Tg Leman

Ideally, KFC would have been our lunch but most of us had drank so much water we were almost seasick!!! The sensible ones had a light lunch at the food court which helped to fuel their journey back. As for those who returned empty except for some fruits, they were completely and absolutely drained by the time they arrived at Tg Sedili.

While Leo and SC weathered on all the way back to Desaru, BG and Matt had drinks at Tg Sedili before continuing their journey back. The rest though, meekly ate their humble meals of fried mee, fried bee hoon and fried koey teow, all carbo, for the energy home.

Claudine, VT and Zoe must have been relieved their journey ends at lunchtime, for the rest of the guys had to labour on another 50 km back!!! While some arrived as early as 3.30 pm, the lasts to reach the checkpoint were as late as 6.30 pm!!!

As for Stanley, a bad cramp on the return route to Tg Sedili was flagged as a technical problem. He was given a free ride on the support car, a blessing backup on this torturous journey!!!


Morning market at Tg Sedili
Morning market at Tg Sedili

Parking is free in Tg Sedili's village square so do not be intimidated to part with your money unless you are feeling charitable. If you are unsure, walk over and ask our friendly coffee brewer at Kar Pin Kopitiam!

Photo Credits :
1. Suzanne 
2. Chiam
3. Leo

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Elusive Shortcut to Pendas! (10 June 2017)

Congregating at Pan Kobo Cafe
Riding out on Iskandar Coastal Highway
Highway not officially opened yet!
Sue's first 45 km comeback after her accident in February

It was the second half of 2014 when my friend, YC did a solo recce ride in search of the new route to Pendas. Separated by Sungai Pendas, the village's only access back then was via Gelang Patah town and the old trunk road of J4. This new route got everyone really excited but few could give good testimony as the road back then, was nothing more than loose gravels and the bridge, a metal truss for construction vehicles.

The desire to find this elusive shortcut was reignited by TH recently. He reported a brand new access, complete with paved road and new bridge. However, it is still not accessible to the public.
Muddy 5 foot way
This morning, we rode to the link with a few backup plans but were clearly disappointed! The boom gate was down and the guard was firm. Trying to find detours, all road access leads to a dead end, except for a dirt road plied by lorries. Getting to it requires sliding down a slope, climbing over a collapsed fence and crossing a 5 feet wide stream! 
Pendas Hill overlooking Kg Pendas
Kg Pendas Laut separated from Kg Pendas by Pendas River
The road into Kg Pendas Laut
Without a mtb, we gave up!!! Instead, we detoured to Pendas Hill and Kg Pendas Laut before riding to Bukit Indah for a bowl of beef noodle....

Photo Credits :
1. Sue
2. Paul Eddie

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Foldies Day Out (4 June 2017)

Making charcoal is NOT burning the wood
...but to remove the moisture from the wood...
...charcoal is the remaining carbon residue when water is removed from wood!
Mangrove trunks have to be debarked before they are arranged in the kilns
Inside a kiln made with at least 30,000 bricks
Goofing before rolling
Gearing up
Rolling on Iskandar Coastal Highway
Rolling on Iskandar Coastal Highway
Lebuh Kota Iskandar, turning off to Gelang Patah
Junction to Kg Sg Arang
Fighting for space with the lorries
Roads can be very bad!
Just by the nursery
Even foreigners frequent this place!
Foldie galore
Ladies galore!
River view
Note our support car in the background
Banana break
Guns and muscles?
With Pak Dollah
On the way to breakfast
Restoran Xing Ho
River view
River view

Arriving at Kg Simpang Arang, we were relieved the village is still pristine and untouched. Not a single tree is chopped, not a single brick is laid! Everything remains the same including the piles of rubbish along the road. 

This village differs from the many kampungs we frequent. Located at the river estuary along the coastal area, the Chinese and Malay lives in harmony with the Orang Asli of Temuan descent. Modern day, they no longer don their tribal clothings but it is easy to pick them out from the standard Malays.

Riding through the village, the smell of durian trees opposite the Muslim cemetery, permeates the air. Together with the hot weather comes the fruits season where we are spoilt for choice! Taking a closer scrutiny, the rambutans nearing the Chinese cemetery were turning a red hue; and the lime plus jackfruit, a sun kissed tinge of yellow!

At the end of the road are two charcoal factories that lay side by side. Entering the one straight ahead, we were greeted by the noise of heavy machinery. A forklift was busy lifting thin mangrove trunks onto the bed of a lorry. These will be used for constructions.

Parking our bikes at the fork of the road, we entered the muddy compound. A motorboat was just leaving the jetty with our young cherubic girl and her parents. The father, a worker of the kiln waved to Claudine as they left on their only mode of transport out of the village!

Hailing from Endau, Pak Dollah has been in this trade since 1965

Soon Pak Dollah appeared from the brightly painted office at the edge of the river. The Buddhist altar hung to the wall on brackets, gave the telltale signs of a Chinese ownership. As usual, he was eager to share with us the trade secrets to charcoal making.

Once we had had enough of this factory, we went to the adjacent unit which has a better river view. By the side of the gates were piles of neatly stacked timber remains, waiting to be picked up for sale as firewood. A man was lugging tree logs from his sampan to the riverbank. Watching his nimble walk, balancing himself on the bobbing boat with burden on his shoulder as he leaped across the waters, made our hearts skipped a beat! It was not easy as each log weighs at least 20-30 kg!!!

Hungry, we soon left the village, rolling past the Taoist temple and the surau which are located less than 50 meters from each other. Then, we rode parallel to the unassuming railway tracks, went under the railway bridge and were out of the village!

Riding past the nursery, our eyebrows automatically unfurrowed as we enjoyed the serenity and tranquility of the whole place. However, halfway through the palm oil estates, our eyebrows soon knitted again as we fought for passage with the dump trucks that plied the road all the way to Gelang Patah town. The highway is coming and together with it, comes development and gone will be the days of village life!

Click for a short video by Desmond Lai :
Charcoal Factory Tour 

A short detour to Legoland
Legoland Hotel
Friends from across the border
Friends from across the border

Photo credits :
1. KC
2. Desmond
3. David
4. Daniel