Malaysia, Heading North to Penang !

Our time in Kuala Lumpur was over and we were heading north on yet another busy road out of the city to Batu Caves. Light drizzle but still very hot and humid, flattish roads but fast moving cars and trucks everywhere, just got to keep moving and have your wits about you. It was only 13km to the caves but with all the concentration we were relieved to get there and rest. We pulled into the carpark looking for somewhere to leave our bikes and found a good sturdy post opposite some cafΓ©s and soon had them locked up. We decided to climb the steps to the caves first and take breakfast as a reward for the climb, there were a lot of stairs !!
To be honest neither of us was dressed appropriately to visit a temple even one in a cave but we were ushered through with a smile and a polite “it’s ok”, I think they realised that we’d traveled a long way and had nothing else to wear. As I said there were a lot of stairs and our legs are not used to climbing so it really took it out of us but it did provide great views looking back to the city. The caves themselves were quite impressive, I’m not much into temples other than the engineering and architecture but I have to admit this was petty good. Several good size caves each one with its own temple, the last cave was open in part to the sky and as the sunlight poured in through the opening it lit up the space, very impressive !!

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The stairs and huge Buddha, the view over the city and some photos inside the cave, it’s not small !!

The walk back down was much easier, and as we headed towards a cafe we were approached by an Indian gentleman, we later learned his name, Harcharan Singh. I’ve mentioned this story in an earlier blog but it’s worth repeating πŸ˜‰
This guy we’d never met before struck up a conversation in the carpark, he had just finished his early morning run and was about to have breakfast. He invited us to join him, he ordered for us and made sure we had drinks. We chatted about our trip and his time in the UK working and meeting the lady that would later become his wife. When it was time to leave this guy paid, his and ours, we were dumbfounded ! We’ve had several occasions on our trip where people have treated us with this level of generosity but it’s still a very humbling experience.
The rest of the days ride was still on or next to motorways and just for once this one was very quiet, we made good progress and 65km later we arrived in Kuala Selangor, pleasant hotel with helpful staff. The only reason I’m mentioning this town is because we took a trip later that day to go and see the fireflies !! It just meant a short ride out of town in a tuk tuk then a boat trip on the river, the boats are electric, very quiet, and your all asked to be silent. It’s quite impressive, like thousands of tiny little white Christmas lights, the trips only about twenty minutes but it’s enough.
The following day we made it to Teluk Intan, 105k, hot and humid weather and flat roads with nothing much to look at. The Hotel Angsoka would be our bed for the night, not much to go and see in this town so it was all about food. We ventured into a place called White Coffee, the coffee was fantastic but the food was awful, I handed it back and we left !!
Still heading north up the west coast and our next stop would be Lamut but before we got going we went to see the wonky wooden clock tower, it’s famous round these parts but it’s no Leaning Tower of Pisa…

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It was worth a small diversion and at least we’ve got a photo of the two of us, it doesn’t happen often !

We soon had enough and got going, then disaster struck I managed to break my Brooks saddle, the rails just snapped and despite attempts to weld them it just kept breaking. So here’s the good bit about staying in a larger town, it has a bike shop and they had a saddle. It wasn’t a Brooks but it was better than nothing, it would certainly do until we got into Penang and a better shop. So with new saddle fitted we got under way, only 70km today and a day off to look forward to. By the end of the day I was in pain, it was a relief to get of my bike and walk away from that saddle ! How I’d get through the next few days I really didn’t know, but somehow I’d have to !
The Lead View Hotel would be our base for two nights and unusually we were asked to keep our bikes in our room as the hotel didn’t want to take responsibility for them. Getting them up in the lift was ok and the corridors were long, wide and marble….great for riding on πŸ˜‰
Our day off became a day trip to Pankur Island, we caught a ferry across with our bikes and set off. Our aim was to cycle round the island but I was in so much pain that we turned back after only about 15km, we ended up at a cafe by the beach drinking lemon sodas and eating noodles πŸ˜‰ I gave it another go after lunch and we visited the historic rock and Dutch fort before heading back on the ferry. In all I only managed 35km all day and I was in trouble, I had 110km to do the next day !!

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About to get on the ferry, Daddy’s Cafe on the beach, the historic rock which has inscriptions on it from the time of the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch Fort and the thorny character is a puffer fish !!

Semanggol and the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort would be our destination and it would be a mixed day, on one hand it was bloody
agony for me to ride and a did a fair bit standing up. On the other hand we were treated to breakfast by some lovely ladies in a roadside restaurant. The teenage kids tried out there English on us and were so impressed with our exploits that they wouldn’t take any money.
Later the same day we stopped for drinks and a man we’d neither spoken to or knew paid for them, seriously it really brightens your day. I made it to the resort and despite a huge hill to end on I didn’t care, I could finally get of my bike, it’s hard when you and your bike just don’t gel, after all we still have a long way to go so I need to be comfy πŸ˜‰

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Our saviours, the ladies that bought us lunch and the mystery man who paid for our drinks….thanks πŸ˜‰

The hotel was your typical resort hotel, naff, no atmosphere, crap Wi Fi, ok food and rooms but it wasn’t a patch on the little places we love to stay in. It served its purpose though and got us a little further up the coast, only one more day to Penang and my new Brooks saddle πŸ˜‰
84km is what Google says we’ll be doing today and we should be in Penang by then, a short ferry ride is also needed so we best get going. Despite being very uncomfortable on my bike we made good progress and managed to navigate our way to Butterworth ferry terminal with no problems. In next to no time we’d paid our money and were on our way across to Penang, as I said earlier it’s a short trip and we were soon getting off again. First stop, the bike shop, they had one Brooks saddle left and despite it being brown rather than black it was mine !! They fitted it for me while I paid and we were soon on our way to the Grand Inn. The good news is that I feel better already, I know it will take a while to bed in properly but it’s a good start !

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On the ferry to Penang from Butterworth and the Chin Aik bike shop that saved the day πŸ˜‰

With only two nights and one full day before we left here for Langkawi, we had to hustle. The remainder of the day we arrived was taken up with, washing, email, Facebook and working out what we wanted to do the following day.
We decided to go and see, Kek Lok Si Temple, take the funicular railway up Penang Hill, visit The Blue House or Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion as it’s known and take a stroll around the waterfront and local sights. On top of that we would also need to eat and drink and in this town your spoilt for choice, Malay, Indian, Italian, German, French……just about anything you want πŸ˜‰
We started with a taxi to the Temple, climbed the stairs and spent the next couple of hours wandering around this beautiful complex, we even took the funicular railway to the top most level. We took so many photos, some of which you’ll find below….

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Come on admit it it’s stunning !!
Next up, Penang hill, it means another funicular railway but this one is incredible. I’ve never been on one that travels so fast, and the gradient is so steep, quite an exhilarating ride. At the top there is of course the stunning views across Penang, Temples, Mosques and the ubiquitous cafe and souvenir shops. All in all it was well worth the time and money to get up there and again so many photos, see below…

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Another fantastic experience, well worth the money πŸ˜‰

Now for something with a little less adrenaline, The Blue House or to give it it’s proper name, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, it belonged to a China man who came with nothing but made good, real good by the look of this place. It’s beautiful and incorporates some fantastic architectural pieces that at the time of building would have been very expensive and futuristic. For example the cast iron supports, all beautifully cast with ornate decorations came from Scotland !! We were shown around as part of a group and given some very good information and a little time to take photos both inside and out. If your ever in Penang I’d recommend seeing this place…….

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The detail and craftsmanship in this place is amazing, well worth taking a look πŸ˜‰
To round of the day we just meandered along the waterfront, past the Cornwallis Fort, or at least what there is left of it. Took a drink and snack in the Irish bar before heading back to the hotel to sort out our kit ready for the trip to Langkawi. We’d crammed in quite a lot in one day and were knackered, being a tourist is tough !!
Any way I’ll leave you with this…

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About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
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