Monday, July 15, 2013

Discovering Lingga with the Fellas - Day 2

Cheeky Sol with a traditional mouse trap...

Pic KC

We slept well! Although it was a very basic aircon room with an ensuite (no wash basin though), we all had a good rest and woke up early. This was despite falling asleep a little later the night before. It was great getting to know my room mate Ravi better and how he found God after his near death motorcycle accident where he made a miraculous recovery. Uncle KC wrote this on his Facebook, "it's so great to witness the rebirth & be in the company of a young man having recovered from the brink of some dark place"...

Being Ramandan, the season of fasting for the Muslims, it was a challenge to find breakfast in small town Daik. It is mandatory for all food establishments to remain close. Some more enterprising ones remain open discretely. We were advised to knock on a particular shop just a few doors away, but to no avail. We asked some shopkeepers for help and one kind lady made a call and spoke in Teochew, a Chinese dialect. Lo and behold, the unlock doors opened and we were welcomed inside. I felt like we were doing some drug deal and what an exciting start to a brand new day.

This eatery is hidden behind a shop selling furniture and knick knacks in the front part. In this "den", there were 4 tables inside the kitchen and we enjoyed a simple breakfast of fried noodles, soft boiled eggs and coffee. We were joined a little later by other "illegal" customers, and that added only to the thrill of eating like this.

I was struck by the friendliness of the shopkeepers and took the opportunity to get to know 2 elderly Chinese ladies. Mdm Chng Neng Eng is very spritely at 83 and Mdm Quek Swee Tiang, much younger at 70. Neng Eng proudly told me that she has 4 children and all moved to Singapore but since she was born in Daik, she preferred staying in this friendly "kampong".  Swee Tiang has 7 children!

It was fascinating to learn that the Japanese Army occupied Lingga/Singkep during WW2. In July 1944, the Japanese Navy led by the battleship Musashi (one of the largest then together with Yamato) with over 3000 soldiers landed in Lingga, before fighting the Americans in the Philippines.

Our plans for today were ambitious - to explore the east of Lingga in the morning and the western part after lunch. The sealed roads on flat grounds were relatively good for 10km , passing by tranquil villages along rivers.

Pic MKhor

The 4 of us headed east until a T-junction appeared and then, it was a tough slog through dirt trails and many steep hills towards Centeng.

I was glad my Bridgestone MB3 handled these rough terrain with aplomb but the 2 foldies, the Tern P24 as well as the Speed Pro with skinny 1.1 Durano tires struggled. I felt very sorry for Ravi as I had promised him an easy ride but this was torture, especially for a newbie cyclist. It was no shame to push our bikes up and even the legends KC and Mike found the going a bit of a challenge.

Pic KC

I was surprised when one of the legends proposed turning back but I said, lets at least go on till we hit a village. At 18km, we managed to hit one at Bukit Langkap, the turn off to Kerandin and collapsed at a coffee shop hoping for cold drinks. There were drinks but none cold as there was no refrigerator, much to our disappointment.

After a bit of a rest and some munchies, we were ready to turn back. We had to as dark clouds were looming behind. It seemed much easier making our way back but what was dicey was coming down those steep slopes with loose gravel. One slip of the front wheel and its game over. Doing so on skinny 20" proved even more hair raising.

Pic KC

We were so glad when we finally reached sealed roads and we arrived Daik at noon. First order of business was lunch and once again, we had to find those illegal eateries. We struck gold at one Chinese seafood place in an inconspicuous wooden hut. Ravenous from the hard ride, we ordered 5 dishes of fish and vegetables with hot rice eaten in a large room with curtains drawn.

While waiting for our food, an Indonesia guy leading a work crew installing TV cables came to our table to chat with us. Herbert, like 99% of Indonesian men, smoked non stop much to our annoyance. But he was a very nice and friendly guy and a Catholic lay leader who does pastoral visitation during his spare time. Smoking, which is frown upon where we come from, seems ok even for church leaders.

We went back to Hotel Persona for a quick shower, packed our stuff and headed for Pt 2 of our adventure, westwards towards the Resun Waterfall - 13km away. Once again, the road there was good until the 3km mark where road works were underway and big trucks were plying up and down doing road works. Bad roads seem to be the order of the day here at Lingga, but there is some progress. We had to pass through 2 villages before we arrived at the turn off to Resun Waterfall, and there, it was another 1.5km straight up on surprisingly great roads.  The last hill was so steep that even Uncle KC on his low geared titanium MTB, pushed and that was the first time I saw this Legend pushed a bike!

Pic KC

Our hard work was worth it as the waterfall was absolutely delightful. An Indonesian family holidaying there was intrigued with us crazy guys on our bikes and asked us to pose with them for photos. It was really fun to soak our tired feet in cold, fresh mountain water and enjoying the greeneries surrounding us. We took lots of photos and even Sol Sol and Ollie, our lego companions were in the picture.

Unfortunately, we overstayed and could not make the 4pm boat pickup as it was already 330pm. It was a good thing that Mike had bought an Indo mobile package and could text the boat man that we were going to be a bit late. It was a good 18km to the ferry terminal and we had to hurry scurry. To add to the adventure, the dark skies burst and we bore the full brunt of a tropical monsoon shower.

It did not help that I forgot to fit the mudguards on my MTB and as a result, had a complimentary mud bath especially on my back. Our panniers also started to turn brown and it was really an experience like never before - riding through muddy roads, shivering from the cold and we can hardly see despite our Da Brim hats on.

Pic KC

We had to re-grouped often and finally decided to wait out at a shelter as we were totally and completely drenched. It was already 5pm when we had had to press on, hoping our chartered speed boat was still waiting. While riding, a motorcycle stopped us to enquire if we were going to Singkep. He was sent by the boatman to find out what happened to us. That was much appreciated and we doubled up and zoomed to the ferry terminal, aided by easing showers. We arrived at the coast to clear skies and a beautiful setting sun. That really lifted our spirits.

Pic KC

The boatman was very patient with us and wasted no time to load our dirty bikes into his boat. We felt bad entering his clean boat all wet and muddy, and felt really bad we were 1hr 20 mins late. I supposed he wanted to land in Singkep before sunset and we did at 550pm.

Pic KC

At the long and familiar jetty, we were greeted with evening prayers coming from the nearby mosque and this one really busted our ears. It is really inspiring to see their devotion to their God but we had to saddle up quickly as it was still a 20km ride in the dark to the capital town of Dabo. Though we were all pretty worn down by now, Uncle KC still had enough energy to clown around especially when we passed by this sign "Jual Semen", which translated means Cement for Sale. 

Pic KC

It was tough riding in pitch darkness towards Dabo and poor Ravi by now was on his last legs. 90km over tough hills and bad roads is not exactly a good introduction for a newbie but Ravi soldiered on bravely with pain written all over his face, and even more pain on his bottom. We made many stops and took our time to make sure he didn't collapsed and stopped by to say hello to our old friend, Harry who ran a grocery shop with wife and his 2 young boys. Even though there were no cold drinks, his sugared drinks refreshed us!

Pic KC

We arrived at Dabo town about 8pm and checked into the brand new Armanda Hotel, which is like an oasis in the desert of old wooden buildings. For just US16 per night, their rooms even had a bidet and were spotlessly clean. Flat screen TV included too. It helped that they were bike friendly too. We showered, cleaned up all the mud and gung off our clothes and panniers before proceeding for dinner.

While exploring what to eat on foot, we stumbled upon a restaurant selling delicious grilled fish. But what was more surprising was meeting Hardiono and Devi, a lovely couple we got to know on our last trip. They run the local bicycle shop as well as the Honda dealership. We made plans to have dinner the next day and he told us about a brand new food court that was having their opening ceremony then! 

After our most enjoyable spicy grill fish dinner, round 2 was Char Kway Teow or fried noodles. Just looking at how it was prepared with a flaming wok and the rhythmic clanging of the Chef's hand  got us succumbing to its call.

Ravi was the most hungry and he ate like there was no tomorrow - fully understandable considering the energy he expanded today.  Dessert was Magnum ice creams and that was the perfect finish to a long and hard day.

It didn't take much for us to disappear into dream-land in our comfortable rooms, having burnt at least 4000 calories today. I think we are going to take it easy tomorrow.

1 comment:

Taiwoon said...

wow! thats some ride! Well done Ravi!