Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cooling off at Poring Hot Springs

Finishing Under Challenging Konditions... what were you thinking?

After the hard ride yesterday, we slept in a bit longer than usual. Ranau is a sleepy but pretty town that reminded me of Banff, Canada in the sense that it offers a bird's eye view of splendid mountains, in this case Mount Kinabalu. Right next to our Orchid Hotel was a Muslim Eatery that served decent Roti Chanai, Fried Noodles and Nasi Lemak. That washed down with Teh Tarik made for a very satisfying breakfast.

Our agenda today was an easy one. Ride 22km to Poring Hot Springs to soak those aching muscles in thermal waters and then cool off at the nearby waterfall.
Unfortunately, it was a scorcher with blazing sun and at 10km mark, we had to cool off at a roadside durian store. It was providence that we met Uncle Lai and his wife Joana. We had a great time eating juicy rambutans and chatting with him about his life story and his experiences of living in Borneo. Durians were going to be our reward on our return leg. Turned out, he and his wife are Christians.

Sufficiently rested and feasted, we turned off the main highway to a quiet road towards the Hot Springs. This proved most enjoyable as it was a nice gentle gradient that we could simply glide down for about 5km non-stop. Celia learned the art of making herself more aerodynamic and enjoyed flying without wings on the Le Cuppa foldie.

Shortly after our second break, a group of cyclists from Spiceroads appeared and we quickly gave chase. As they zoomed past us while we were taking shelter, I had to pedal very hard on my tikit to catch up with them. Soon, I caught them on the mother of all hills and I saw almost everyone getting off to push their Mountain Bikes. Their support Landrover honked to encourage us and I was determined to test if foldies, with smaller wheels, were indeed better climbers.

I'm not sure if the technical theory had any merit but it was great to overtake all these cyclists one by one as I huffed and puffed my way up that hill. The death march ride yesterday had somehow made me stronger and I had to fly the flag for Bike Friday!

It was nice of the restaurant owner at Poring to allow us to park our foldies there and we unfolded them and placed them at the back together with his junk. Somehow, the broken distorted bikes look like part of the unwanted "furntiture" literally. Now, who would want to steal these heap of scrap metal?

Soaking into the hot mineral waters of Poring was indeed a most rejuvenating experience. Being a Sunday, it was chockers with locals and tourists. Then, a short 10 min hike saw us sheltered under the cool rainforest canopy just by a small waterfall. The dip there in its cold, crystal clear waters gave our bodies a natural wake up inital shock that was most stimulating.

What intrigued was a fish massage that followed. Lots of small fishes would nibble at the dead skin of our feet which was a rather strange but pleasant experience.

We were feeling rather lazy to cycle back to Ranau after such a relaxing time but it was getting late. Halfway back it poured kittens and we took shelter at a roadside shed. When the monsoon persisted, we decided to ride in the heavy rain which was very different from being burnt earlier on.

Just at sunset, we made it to Uncle Lai's Durian stall and tired and soaked as we were, we had the energy and excitement to sample his delectable collection of Sabah Durians.

As it was pitched dark, Uncle Lai kindly agreed to take us back to our hotel in his 4WD pick-up but we managed to persuade him to join us for a nice Chinese dinner first. We made a friend that night.

Honda had an ad once that said, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda". I think that definitely applies on foldies too, don't you think?

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