Malaysia is right-hand drive so ride on the left side of the road.
2. Bringing Bikes Onto Trains & Ferries
- There's a boat crossing of the Sungai Perak at Kg. Sungai Dulang to Kg. Hunung Rentis. Ii is operated by an Enc. Ipin but is not a regular service. Best to call him to make arrangements at +6013-4497058.
3. Communicating with Locals
For the uninitiated cycling in foreign lands can be a daunting experience, especially when one can only speak a smattering of the local language or if there is no common language to speak to each other (like English). Most Malaysians can speak fairly good English; but in the rural areas the locals speak only some rudimentary English, so learning some basic phrases will be helpful.
This could be partly overcomed by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
And do install memory-resident translation apps into your mobile phone.
4. Staying in Touch
When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost or just to share photos and moments. Pre-paid phone sim-cards are easily available from most phone shops in the main towns.
At Ayer Tawar, we stayed at Ting Residence (GPS: 4.30054, 100.75896) at RM89/- for a room for two. It's a cozy homestay, with a warm host. Washing machine is available at a nominal charge.
Address: Lot 1122, Jalan Ling Sing Hang 2, 32400 Ayer Tawar, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel/Fax : +605-672 9196, Mr. Tai: +6012-5461733; Janice Ting: +6019-2221191
Our buddy Sin (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) was a 45-days cycling tour around Peninsular Malaysia. Five of us joined him for stage 1 that spanned from Sungai Buloh (in Selangor) to George Town (in Penang). In Day 2, we had cycled fromSekinchan, to Hutan Melintang one that took us along rustic roads, some rural villages, quiet coconut plantations, and lots of eats. This here is the third day of our adventure which took us from Hutan Melintang, to Ayer Tawar with a surprise boat crossing over the Perak River and of course there were lots of eats too! _________________________________________________________________________
The route runs still runs mainly along less busy rural roads, until we hit the busier Route 5 just after Kg. Kota Setia. There is an intresting boat crossing of the Perak River at Kampung Sungai Dulang.
We started the day with breakfast at the nearby E Nam Wan Kopitiam, a stall here sells an interesting fusion of Bak Kut Teh Keow Teow Soup. With a light herbal soup, it tasted rather good.
As we rode on the slightly busy Jalan Simpang Empat-Jalan Bagan Datoh (Route 69) which was lined with kampong houses... and then saw TIGERS from afar! As we approached them they made no move to chase us. They were live-size tiger dolls; an enterprising locals were selling them from his car. They looked so comfortable lazing on the car ..... Phew!
We were suppose to be heading for Teluk Intan along Route 69. But somehow we took a wrong turn and was heading the another way. I gave a yell to Sin to stop; we double checked and indeed we were following the wrong GPS track which would lead us to a river crossing where there is no regular ferry. Fortunately Sin managed to call up a boatman (Ipin), and we continued in this direction. This route took us through quieter roads passing through oil palm plantations. So a wrong turn had turned out to be a blessing in disguise!
We passed by large tracks of plantations, some were newly planted and the workers tending to the new plants waved backed at us. Their curiosity must have been tickled, seeing this bunch of people cycle here, especially on bikes with teeny-weeny wheels.
This scene looks a bit comical; these area had new roads and some don't even appear on the map! Sin was double-checking whether we were on the right way to the river crossing. There seems to be some contradiction; but all was okay, the friendly local cyclist confirmed it.
9:30am - We have left the coconut plantations of Sabak Bernam behind, now all is oil palms. As we headed for Kampung Sungai Dulang where we would be taking the boat, we passed by several oil palm harvesting stations. Although it's just mid-morning, the work of these tractors were done, they are parked and their operators taking it easy somewhere.
We reached Kampung Sungai Dulang situated at the edge of the Perak River, Sin made another call to Boatman Ipin telling him we had arrived. He was based on the other the other side of the river, while he was coming the girls waited at an abandoned stall; I guess that not many use this crossing, hence the irregular boat service and vacated stall.
AND HERE COMES IPIN! He was a warm but quiet guy and his boat was a small fishing boat, about half the size of a trawler. It's not that big but was good enough to fit the five of us and our bikes.
Here the Perak River is closed to its mouth at the Straits of Malacca, and here it is rather wide - almost a kilometer across. As the boat chugged along, it was time for some fun, some Titanic romantic pose; or was Sin just awed by the width of the river?
At the other side of the river is KKg. Hujung Rintis. It's a larger village and some of the locals were hanging around after their days' work. The penghulu (kampung headman), Enc. Mohd. Ngaluan, together with his chums were intrigued by our bikes. They were most surprised that we could go touring with such small bikes and insisted on taking a group photo with us.
Although a more populated place, this area was still quite. Cows could be seen taking it easy among the oil palms, undisturbed by curious eyes.
The slow pace of the place got to us too, and like the cows we too took it easy and made a stop at Kg. Kota Setia. Near a stall there were even hammocks for us to take a short nap.....
..... whilst our bikes took in the river scene.
Our quite, easy ride ended when the route connected back to Route 5. Here traffric was back to being heavy, and ongoing contruction works narrowed down the emergency lanes on which we cycled. To top it all, strong head winds came lashing down on us.
At Lekir, time for another stop, this time at a small road side stall. I am always intrigued by these small stalls, here one can find locally produced carbonated drinks, brands that seldom could be found in larger towns and cities.
And here too we had one of the best coconut water. The water from these Pandan Coconuts were refreshingly sweet, and best of all the coconut flesh, although thick it had s soft, jellyish consistency. YummY!
Ahead, a local had put up a life-size model of a German Messerschmitt 109 plane, one that was used during World War II. It's odd though to see this, as these planes were hardly used at the Far East theatre of that war. Probably, the owner must be a plane or war enthusiast.
2:00pm - we reached the outskirts of Sitiawan. Our hungry stomachs were shouting at us "Heh Koo Pai Yoh", that's a phrase that we learnt from our South Korean cycling tour, which meant "I am hungry!" Cannot ignore our tummies, can't we? So it was a quick detour into Kampung Koh to savour some of the local delights.
Lunch was at a place aptly called "Kuai Kuai Lai" which means "Quickly quicly come". It's a small coffeeshop selling Hockchew food. Sitiawan's main Chinese population are Hockchew, so one can expect find authentic Hockchew fare here. Even better was that this place sells street-style food! As we approached the shop, the first thing that grabbed our attention was this young guy frying prawn fritters under a large parasol parked at the road side. These prawn fritters were fairly good but not as good as the ones we had at Kuala Kurau.
Other dishes were this fride noodles that goes with the vegetable curry (seen at the large pot above).
And the local favourite - Hockchew Lor Mee. This comes with pickled bamboo shoot which is sour and smells of urine. As a friend puts it, it's an acquired taste - meaning either you like it or don't.(..... read more of Kuai Kua Lai)
Nearby, another surprise.... a Thai temple. Thai always had an influence in Malaysia as in the historical past, the Thais did occupy some of the Northern states of Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis. The surpise was to find that their influence had reach this far south.
Here one can literally see them making the biscuits. At one side, some ladies were kneading the dough, cutting them up into round pieces and filling them up with some veggie mix. While on the outer side guys were handling the oven where the biscuits were baked in. The baking needed strong heat; and a table fan blew air into the oven via an odd shaped metal propeller shaped tool.
The oven were large earthenware pots, almost like the ones used by the Indians in making their Naan bread. In fact the process is similar, like the naans, the biscuits are stuck to the inner walls of the pot to be baked.
Opposite the biscuit shop was a large hotel.... one with boarded and darkened windows. Who would stay in such a squalid place.... see this place is a hotel for swallows. Large speakers blared out twitting sounds to attract the birds to fly in through small holes in the wall of the building. Inside, the rooms are vacant and dark, emulating the atmosphere within a cave. This environmnet encourages the birds to nest here AND it's the birds' nest that are a well priced prize and are collected for exporting.
Another must stop place in Sitiawan - Jame's Cendul stall. Was it good? Well, from the faces of the ladies one can tell.
To cut down the distance of the following day's ride, we rode to Ayer Tawar about twelve kilometre away. Our stay was at the Ting Residence; and if you are in Ayer Tawar I would recommend this place. It's a cosy place, clean and well decorated. With a friendly host it made us feel at home. Washing machines are available too.