Monday, 10 December 2018

East Coast Ride (19-31 March 2018), Day 11 : Kota Bahru to Sg Golok

We did it !!! 0km mark on the East Coast route from Johor to Kelantan
CIQ at Pengkalan Kubor
Riding towards the Duty Free outlets
Some charming deco at the Duty Free area
Xiao Mei Mei just had to sit on the strawberry seats
More sober choice!
With fellow Kelantanese rider at the Duty Free area
Malaysia's side; note the breakwater
Thailand's side; note the lighthouse and breakwater
Thai fishing boats
The river that separates both countries
On the beach overlooking Thailand
Inside Infogaleri Sungai Golok
Riding out from Pulau Seratus Pauh and Pulau Ubi
South China Sea is totally obscured by the casuarina trees
On our way out from Kampung Geting
KC trying his hand out as a fisherman; Kampung Geting
Route 196 which follows Sg Golok
Sg Golok with Thailand right across the narrow river
CIQ Rantau Panjang
Passports stamped
Don't cry for me, Malaysia...I will be back tomorrow!!!
Bye Bye, Malaysia!
Hello Thailand!
We come with respect!

Oh boy! We are crossing borders today and weren’t we excited! So much so, that we were down for breakfast even before the lights at the hotel's dining area were even switched on. Waiting patiently for our food, we were the only guests at the dining hall; making us wonder on their occupancy rate. 

When the food was finally served, we were given a free hand to the buffet spread. Though the varieties were not extensive, they were sufficient. Claudine could only remember the well seasoned turmeric fried chicken which went down well with her nasi lemak.

Leaving the hotel, the sun was already starting to burn. We followed the side lane of Diamond Hotel, before joining the busy hospital road. Circling the stadium, traffic built up considerably, all the way to Istana Kota Lama, the old palace with huge gardens but humble settings. 

Jalan Sultanah Zainab
On the way towards Aeon
Crossing the Kelantan River; after Aeon
Getting out of Kota Bahru

Surprisingly, motorists were considerate, giving way to our party of 6 when we took on Kota Bahru’s Tower Clock Roundabout and steered right towards the major interchange on Jalan Sultanah Zainab. Turning right, we fought our way on Route 3, passing by Tesco and Aeon. 

After the Kelantan River, we took on F 134 for Pengkalan Kubor instead, as we were in no hurry to get into Sg Golok. Besides, we had plans to ride along its bordering river, as suggested by Bernie. 

8.40 am, short water break at temple in Bunohan
It took us slightly more than an hour to roll into Pengkalan Kubor’s CIQ. As this border crossing requires the use of ferry, it is naturally not as popular as Rantau Panjang’s.

At 9.00 am, the CIQ was quiet with a few parked vehicles. Having no intentions to cross into Thailand via this border crossing, we checked out the adjacent duty free outlets and took a coffee break instead.

Spot the little blue dot!

Plotting our next move, Claudine became intrigued by a trail leading to the north-eastern most tip of Peninsula Malaysia. Google street view provided a 360 degrees view of the road with weeping casuarina trees. Managing to convince the others, we set off for Kampung Geting on D176 which runs parallel to F134.

Once we got inside Kampung Geting, we were in for a treat! Kampung houses were clustered closely together. The webbed streets were narrow, making it hard to navigate. Every wrong turn led to charming surprises.

We found the local jetties where fishing boats were moored. Nearby, the fishery department’s white washed buildings were a stark contrast to the shabby but delightful local docks.

Next, we made our way to Pulau Seratus Pauh and Pulau Ubi, which formed a natural cape, protecting the fishing village from the elements. This long strip of land saw moderate vegetation by the sea front, totally obscuring the South China Sea. Along the way, farm animals roamed free.

Arriving at the north-eastern most tip of Peninsula Malaysia, we were delighted to see the Infogaleri Sungai Golok Tengku Anis building as reflected on Google Street View. Sadly, this ambitious project was allowed to fall apart due to neglect, just as the road leading to it!

Right across the river, Sg Kolok or Sg Golok beckons. Seeing people from the same ethnic group, going about their daily life under different currencies evoke a strange feeling. What was once the Kingdom of Siam is now Malaysia and Thailand, separated by a narrow river.

Moving on, we headed for Rantau Panjang. As intended, we made our way to Route 196, which follows the river. Approximately 30 km, the ride along the river border was not as exciting as it sounds! Close to noon, the sweeping paddy fields offered a soothing sight but there were few trees to offer the soothing shades we needed so much!

Soon we found our water supply running out as well. Other than KC, who spilt his precious supply when his bike fell during a brief stop, we were all desperately hot and thirsty. Taunting us further, he decided to take a nature’s call, watering the trees!!!

Other than a flowing river, there were no roadside stalls offering water. Instead, the countryside was sparsely dotted with riverside homes, army barracks and the occasional army checkpoints.

Security was tight despite the idyllic landscapes. Army personnel, on watch from the barracks were always on alert when we passed through. Once, Claudine was cautioned against taking any photos!

Our respite came at Kampung Siram, near Pasir Mas. Turning right at the T junction, we came upon a stall selling ais kacang and pisang goreng. It was such a relief to be able to hydrate ourselves finally!

A little ahead was Kampung Bukit Perdah, a small hamlet made memorable by the smell of fried chicken. Two well-dressed malay ladies, on a business trip were dining in the stall when we dropped by; but as Tom Yam beckons, we ploughed ahead. After all, with not more than 12 km to the CIQ, we were more determined than ever!

However, we had to wait till dinner time to get our first taste of Tom Yam. Arriving at Rantau Panjang way past lunch hour, we followed KC’s advise to dine in the town.  It was a wise move as all border crossings takes time no matter how simple it may seems!

Circling the town in search of a good place to eat, we followed the local’s advice to dine at Restoran Syed. There we met a group of Uni students, all on a day trip on motorcycles. While we ventured on into Thailand, their journey ends at this border town!

Making our way from the CIQ to our hotel in hot scorching weather, we found ourselves leaving the new part of town and venturing into the old quarters. Our hotel, located a few blocks behind the main street was surprisingly new and comfy.

Meeting up an hour later, we were ready to drench ourselves in sweat for a second time. Braving the heat, we explored the town, on a look out for the elusive bike shop that pops up on google search. Even though our search was futile, it brought us to the railway station, the local fair and the money changer.

Unable to take spicy food, Jenny decided to find her own dinner elsewhere!

That evening, we enjoyed a deliciously, spicy dinner at a restaurant opposite our hotel. A fusion outlet, offering both Thai and Western dishes, the Tom Yam was authentically Thai, just like the rest of the Thai dishes!

After dinner, we explored the quiet town on foot. Turning left on the main street, we found the food court in modern settings suffering from lack of patrons. On the street, a food vendor dishing out “tong sui” aka assorted sweet desserts was faring better! Deciding to sit down for some, we bumped into a friendly customer who pointed out to us our breakfast venue for the next day….Khao Tum!!!

That night, we turned in early. As Narathiwat province is muslim populated, we found no massage parlour and other vices for entertainment. Even the night market and eateries shuts down before 9 pm. Resorting to 7 Eleven which thrives in most parts of Thailand,  we picked our snacks from the first of 3 stores within the 1 km stretch before returning to our rooms for good.

Photo courtesy :


Hotel Green View, Sg Golok

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