Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thoroughly baked from Malacca - Day 2 (113km)

Traditional way of making coffee - the good ole sock!

The awesome view of Spore Straits 20th floor up from Taman Perling.

Never slept with so many bicycles in my life in the same room.

Crystal Inn has always been our choice bike friendly hotel in Batu Pahat as they have good clean beds and powerful aircon, ensuring our laundry is 100% dry. Waking up fresh, we were ready to hit the road again but first order of the day was to fuel up at the buffet breakfast. Our target was firstly Pontian 73km away where we planned to meet our buddy Ying Chang for lunch at 1pm, then to Johor Baru.

Leaving at 745am, we worked our way through the morning traffic continuing along the coastal Highway 5 towards Pontian. Weather forecast indicated a chance of rain and that was so welcome in light of the previous day's blazing sun that really burnt us "hitam" (black).

Getting out of Batu Pahat was a little challenging as laid before us were about 7-8 km of rolling hills. Nothing too difficult to worry about but enough to ensure a decent workout. This agrees with my philosophy of life - work hard early to enjoy later.George was somehow notably stronger today and I struggled to follow him. With the hills out of the way, we maintained a steady cruise of 25km/h towards Senggarang where we stopped for a short break at the ever familiar airconditioned Shell station an hour later. Taking refuge in airconditioning is truly life-saving and prevents heat stroke!

My best friend on the Malaysian roads.

Here, I discovered a most "delicia" snack - Gardenia Sambal Billis bun. This has spicy chillies and anchovies as a filling and downed with cold Milo, I was in heaven! I must stock up on this.


Our next stop was Benut at the 48km mark. This town brings back memories as we had to put one newbie tourer on the bus here as she was exhausted coming from Pontian on our last trip up to Malacca in Feb last year. Happy to report that Judith has made huge progress since and is an extremely competent tourer now. As we passed along the shophouses, I spotted a coffeeshop selling Dim Sum and noodles which got me to a screeching stop. I cannot believe how hungry I was and needed to eat constantly but I suppose as a touring cyclist, we can do so without feeling the least guilty. As the famous Wanton Noodles with Ying Chang was in a mere 1 hour's time, George and I shared a Kway Teow Mee soup noodles which brought immense satisfaction for a princely RM$4!


For some reason, the last leg to Pontain was a real slog. Things were really hotting up and temperatures got to around 36c again at noon. What we did not expect were headwinds blowing directly in front of us. No matter how hard I peddled, my cyclometer showed a paltry 15km/h and it was sheer torture. It did not help that my old knee injury started to play up too. Never before riding 25km on a flat road brought so much misery!

But then suddenly like a life raft that appears unexpected before a fatique swimmer, Ying Chang came from nowhere and overtook us 5-6km before we reached Pontian. He had cycled from JB and was bored waiting for us at MacDonalds as he arrived one hour too soon. With tail winds, he was flying! He then gallantly came in front of us and allowed us to draft him. That really lifted our sagging spirits and we were doing a more decent 20+km/h into Pontian town where the first order of the day was to attack the famous ice cold Indian Chendol - a coconut milk with palm sugar dessert. It had many people enjoying themselves there and we were glad we got seating.


The town of Pontian is famous for its food, most notably Wanton Noodles. There are several eateries there but for today, we targetted Sin Kee Pontian Wanton mee which is conveniently located next to a bicycle shop. This one is unique in that it has a tomato sauce based gravy and is absolutely delicious. The chef is a very nice baldy guy and he chatted with us. For starters, we also had tasty Otak roasted in banana leaves which I could easily polish off a dozen myself.


Before this blog becomes LovetheFOOD, its back to the adventure. This being the hottest part of the day, we were doing our ride back to JB in short bits. An easy 20km or so to Pekan Nanas proved tough especially with so much food and liquid sloshing around in our bellies. When we saw the first petrol station upon reaching PN, we dove straight for some much needed airconditioning. I was at this stage looking like a drowned rat and a cold 100 Plus isotonic drink helped me maintain my sanity. At this stage, we were looking and smelling far from presentable. Ying Chang suggested we go for coffee to wait out the heat and we found a nice coffeeshop in town.


It was good that we took a short cut that led us to Gelang Patah where we parted ways with Ying Chang who parked his car at Nusantara. There, we rested at Amin Restaurant and finished off freshly made ice lime drinks and I took the opportunity to ice my aching knee. This injury occured when I was cycling up the very steep Wulin 3275m peak in Taiwan some years back and sadly, it does play out every now and then. Guess age is catching up on me.


As we had a dinner appointment with Claudine and her family at 7pm, we reluctantly got back on our saddle and cycled to Taman Perling where we were to spent the night in our friend's condo. The 12km ride there was on the coastal highway with fast traffic but fortunately, we enjoyed a very broad shoulder. The first thing that we did upon arrival at the condo was to hit the pool.

What a wonderful way to end a long and hot ride all the way from Malacca. I will never forget the refreshing dip in the cool blue pool and I leapt in joyful celebration for the 210km ride. My grateful thanks to God for his protection and provision on this adventure, and for great friends like George and Ying Chang for doing this together with me! You guys rock.


He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3 NIV

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