Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cycling New Zealand 2014 Day 15 : Of Festivals & Melancholy

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Cycling New Zealand Day 15 : Of Festivals & Melancholy
At Dunedin's Intercity Bus Terminal waiting for the bus to Christchurch.
Central Otago, New Zealand : 29th November 2014
Small Group Bike Ride: Around Christchurch City.
Today is a day of mixed feelings, it was a day of festivals as we saw the New Zealanders start their celebration for Christmas. It was also a day of sadness, as when we cycled around Christchurch, we saw how the city was still coping to recover from the earthquake of 2011Today will also be our last day in New Zealand, a tinge of melancholy has started to creep in.

6:45am - After checking out from the Chalet Backpackers (actually it was just a key-drop into a box as it was early and the staff had yet to come in), Yong Sin dropped the girls their bikes at the Dunedin Bus Terminal at Hasley Street, he came back to pick me up. We drove over to Pegasus Rental to drop off the rented car and cycled over to the bus terminal; together with the girls we waited for the bus. We were rather quiet and not that chatty with each other; I guess it was probably because of the thought that today will be our last day in New Zealand and we were deep in our thoughts of our past two weeks here.
Nevertheless, we looked forward to the six hours bus ride that will take us along the eastern coast of South Island. We hoped to catch some sleep/rest and some scenery along the way, and just not far out from Dunedin we went pass Blueskin Bay (see above photo), a scenic spot with waves breaking along the coast with green hills in the back ground.

 At a quick coffee stop at Oamaru, I noticed a number of tractors, construction back-hoes, etc. all of which seemed to be delivering Christmas decorations to some homes.
But I was wrong...

... they were not delivering but were in fact all decked up with Christmas decorations heading for the sea-side road where all sorts of vehicles, buses, vans and even concrete mixer trucks were queued up in a long line. This is the Oamaru Christmas Parade, too bad we were just passing through, it would be great to be part of the parade, to mingle round and share the joyful spirit.

Another coffee break at Timaru and sat with one of the early settlers of this town, Captain Henry Cain.

2:05pm - We arrived at Christchurch at were dropped of at Victoria Square. After unloading our bikes and luggage from the bus; we looked at them, after sixteen days in NZ we had quite a fair bit of more luggage than what we came with from Malaysia (some shopping etc.). We could cycle carrying them the ten kilometres to Leon's B&B Hostel but it wouldn't be easy.
Fortunately, our local friends Andrew & Dorothy were there to meet us and they had the foresight to come in two 4-wheeled drives and our problems were solved. They were god-sent kind souls, God-sent angels; and to think that I have met them only once! 

Having coffee with Andrew & Dorothy.
We had met six months back in Phnom Penh when I had carried my folded Brompton up to the first floor of the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club) for that beautiful view of the Mekong River. Being avid bikers themselves they saw my bike and struck up a conversation, we have been friends since then. They drove us over to one of the Westfield Riccarton Mall where we had coffee, chatted and caught up on the last six months.
Andrew & Dorothy dropped us of at Leon's; we said our goodbyes and thanks to them and invited them to come over to Malaysia anytime they are free so that we could also show them the same hospitably they had given us.

After unloading our stuff into Leon's garage - it's time to cycle! We will be heading down to Christchurch city centre as we did not had the time to do that on our first day here. But the first thing we did first was to ride back over to the Riccarton Mall to do some shopping for New Zealand food stuff (mostly chocolate stuff) to take back for friends back home.
"Huh? Shop now and carry all the stuff around Christchurch? Why not do it after viewing Christchurch?" No, we are not shopping fanatics, the thing is in NZ places close early and so does this shopping complex which closes at  6:00pm. Best we do our shopping first lest we disappoint our friend back home.

As we approached the city centre, we began to see the effects of the damage done by the earthquake - dark lines of repaired cracks on the roads...

In the city centre itself, sorry sights met us, half fallen buildings...

.. a church partly destroyed by the earthquake.

In sections of the city, we saw flattened lots where buildings used to stand. The rubble has been cleared, for us who had not visited an area affected by an earthquake before it was a touching sight. We can only imagine how it was really like just after the earthquake struck, and said some silent prayers for those affected and hope it does not happen again.

Surely and steadily the city is recovering, most of the debris has been cleared. Construction equipment can be seen attending to repairs, and containers filled with load are used to buttress an affected building. More importantly, the people have recovered, their spirit united in rebuilding themselves and their city.

One of the recovery signs is this Cardboard Cathedral has been built to carry on services while the damaged on is being rebuilt.

It's called a cardboard cathedral as the roof rafters are made from semi-cylindrical rafters.

Posing in front of Captain Cook's statue.
From there it was a short distance to Victoria Square, yup we are back to where the bus dropped us.

Over at the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park, residents were coming in hordes, many of them carrying food, tables and even barbecues sets. Happily they are here to attend a public Christmas gathering.

7:30pm - It's time to end our tour of the city, we have a plane to catch later on but first some dinner bites. This was at the Saigon Star Restaurant at the Windmill Centre off Riccarton Road. I went for the spicy Pho noodles, spicy but it was not spicy enough for me Malaysian palate and I added on lots of chilli oil from the sauce bottle.

We also shared a plate of Vietnamese spring rolls, this was very good and comes close to those from Vietnam. This is to be expected as the restaurant is operated by a Vietnamese lady. We liked it so much that we ordered another plate!

Back at Leon's B&B Homestay, we collected our bike bags from his garage. Also the honey we had ordered from the Hunny Bee shop in Garston a few days earlier had arrived (...see blog). Together with our luggage, it was quite a load that we had to lugged on our bikes to the airport. Fortunately, the airport was just about three kilometres away, so it was just a short lug.
We were quite tempted to take a shower at Leon's but as we would not be staying the night here and as Leon was not around too, we thought the better of it.

9:30pm - We arrive at at Christchurch Airport. Our flight out will only be at 7:00am the following day, not wanting to having get up early in the morning we had opted to come here and pass the night. This will also save us some money in accommodations.
We folded our bikes, packed them in and got ready for some sleeping on chairs. Was it going to be an uncomfortable night? Perhaps not, we will see...

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Be captivated by the water-puppets and awed by the beauty of Ha Long Bay

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling NZ 2014 / Day 15 : Of Festivals & Melancholy     | Jump to Day 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 /14 / 16
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perak : Ipoh-Teluk Intan-Kampar Bike-Packers Day 3

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Perak : Ipoh-Teluk Intan-Kampar Bike-Packers Day 3

Perak : Day 3, 28th September 2014 - Around Teluk Intan
Medium Group Ride : Around Teluk Intan town.
Distance: 6.54 km.
Time : Just a fun ride.
Time Taken : Just a fun ride.

Route Recommendations :
1. Teluk Intan town has several interesting spots to see and some good food outlets too:
    - The Leaning Clock Tower.
    - Temple of the East Sea Dragon King.
    - Liew Kee Ansoon Chee Cheong Fun are sold by vendors in town, but for real fresh ones
      get it from their cottage factory which is opened only at night.
    - Teck Kee Restaurant serves good Nyonya food and the place comes with a bonus; all
      antique furniture and decorations in the shop are up for sale.
    - Tiger Brand Biscuit Factory.
    - On return journey south, if using the coastal road, Sungai Besar has some good and
      cheap seafood place, one of which is Keong Hin Seafood Restaurant. Do try their
      signature shark meat soup.
This blog comes in a few parts. This Day 3 blog, is on the ride around Teluk Itan town. To see other parts:

Firstly, I must apologise to my friends and readers, this blog has been long overdue. With a busy travelling and cycling schedule, I had not been able to get down to penning it; so here it is.
The previous day (Day 2), we had cycled from Ipoh to Teluk Intan. It was a taxing ride that started well until the mid-day sun set in causing the day to be scorching hot, but this was made up for by a good fresh water prawny lunch at Tanjung Tualang. A short while after leaving Tanjung Tualang it started to rain; not those normal rain but the torrential monsoon type rain. We got caught in the rain and were fortunate to find shelter at a remote hardware warehouse. Burning hot and then drenching wet, we were glad to reach Teluk Intan after a more than 12-hours journey.


This is a quick stint around down-town Teluk Intan to grab some breakfast, view the renown Leaning Clock Tower and do some shopping for biscuits. After cycling around the town; the younger ones will ride to Kampar and take a ETS train back to Kuala Lumpur.
The previous day's riding under the alternate scorching heat and torrential rained had zapped the older ones, so we will just leave it to the young 'uns to continue the riding adventure. Us? How did we get back to Kuala Lumpur... well we had our means... heh! heh!

Here we are cycling down Glutton Street in Teluk Intan looking for a suitable stall to eat. The one selling beef noodles that we wanted to try was closed, so we had to settle for "less".

"Less" wasn't that bad, in fact it was pretty good. We ended up having some good dry "kon loh" wantan noodles and some Curry Yong Tau Foo together with fairly good coffee and tea.
The wantan noodles were good, with the noodles of the springy QQ type. Mine was the wide flat noodles with some curry added. The Yong Tau Foo was respectably good with the fish paste really tasting fishy - Hey! Teluk Intan is fairly near the coast so one should not expect less.

The problem with eating Ala Street is that many street food area don't have toilets around. Nature called so I asked the stall owner whether there is a toilet around. There was none at the glutton street but there was one at a small temple around the corner.
My natural problem turned out to be a bonus, as it gave me a chance to have a quick look at the temple, the Hock Soon Keong Temple. It's a small temple, under renovation and was rather deserted, i.e. no devotees praying there.

I was a bit concerned about being all alone in the temple and hoped those temple guards painted on the entrance doors will protect me while I answered nature's call. All was good and I left after saying my thanks to the guards.

Stomachs sated and bladders eased, it's time to see the town.
First of course will be the famed The Leaning Clock Tower of Teluk Intan. We parked our bicycles and had a good view from outside before going in for a view. The tilt of the tower is most pronounce when viewed from the junction of Jalan Bandar and Jalan Ah Cheong, near the Hong Leong Bank..

Inside, at the ground level is a museum of sorts with photos and write-ups recounting the history of the tower. The Perak River, back about a century ago, was deep enough for small ships to come up-river to the town. Teluk Intan was a fairly busy inland port back then, and the very visible clock tower acted as beacon for the ships.
At the ground level is also a well which is still filled with water. Back then, water from this well was pumped up to the tanks at the top-most level and the tower was a reservoir until it started tilting. The well is now a wishing well for visitors to throw in coins and make hopeful wishes.

The water tanks are now empty but the tower is still an operating clock tower, its clock working along the principle of a Swiss Cuckoo clock. At mid levels of the tower, the cables holding the weights of the clock shows the pronounced tilt of the structure.

From the top there is a good view of the surrounding houses, which I believe has been kept to not more than three-storeys high.
(... read more at Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan blog)

9:30am - It's time to say goodbye to our younger friends; they will be riding via kampong roads to Kampar and from there take the ETS train back to Kuala Lumpur.
Ride Well & Ride Safe, my friends!

Over the years, I have enjoyed eating the Tiger Head "Biskut Kosong", these are semi-spherical, crispy biscuit with nothing inside; just layers and layers of crispy skin - empty biscuits as the name implies. Without the usual sweet molasses inside, it goes very well with hot black coffee.
I have always bought these biscuits from elsewhere. Knowing that they are manufactured in Teluk Intan, it was time to make a short cycling pilgrimage there. I am that loyal a fan of the brand!
The factory was in fact and timber house at the old quarters of the town, quite near the river; so my "pilgrimage" turned out to be a good ride through the quaint area.

A surprise was in store for me when we arrived at the "factory"; it turned out to be a modern looking sales outlet for the Sin Joo Heong Confectionery. There were shelves after shelves of all sorts of biscuits and similar items; it seems many others also have that quirky taste for empty biscuits. Hah!
To be fair to them, the place also sell a good range of biscuits (including durian flavoured ones) and other sweet stuff which they made themselves. They also sell favourite confectioneries from other manufacturers.

Ok, for those curious people wondering what the hue and cry about the biscuit is about, above is a photo of the biscuit in the conspicuous pink packaging with the iconic red Tiger Head label. Try it, it's good.

Our tour of the town had to come to a quick end. See, we had the previous night contacted a friend who is on a business trip in Sitiawan. Today, he will be driving back south and has agreed to pick us up and was on the way. We checked out just in the nick of time as he arrived soon after.
But our appetite to see more of Teluk Intan was not sated yet so we dropped in to visit the Dragon King of the East Sea Temple which is just behind our hotel.

This temple is dedicated to Au Guang, the Dragon King who controls the eastern sea. And as to be expected the place is full of dragons - dragons on the roof, dragons wrapped round columns, dragon paintings, etc. It is a relatively new temple and yet a very beautiful temple, one that should not be missed when in Teluk Intan.
(... see more at Temple of The East Sea Dragon King blog)

It's bye to the Dragon King and his beautiful temple and it's time for desserts.
We are back in town for that, at a place called Teck Kee Nyonya Restaurant which is another place not to be missed. Other than serving pretty good Nyonya Food, the place is a living antique shop; meaning all the antiquities on display at the shop is up for sale. The shop is stuffed full of antiques from old posters hanging on the walls to old clocks and statues on shelves.

Heck! Even the old bamboo chairs and tables on which we are sitting while eating is up for sale!
(... see more at Teck Kee blog)

It's time to leave Teluk Intan, but just before that a quick stop at a place just on the outskirts of the town, to check out a home-stay for future overnight trips to the town. This is the TnT Novelty House which have a large, comfortable and homely decorated common living and dining area. We found out that the rooms are very reasonably priced too, much cheaper than a hotel offering similar comforts. The contact numbers and email address in in the photo above.

Okay.... finally.... it's time to begin our road trip back. But instead of using the North-South Highway or the federal old trunk road, we will be using the coastal road that will take as pass Sabak Bernam, Sungai Besar, Sekinchan before reaching Kuala Lumpur. Why that road? Well... hmmm..... it has more interesting foodie places for us to have lunch than those boring food courts at the highway R&Rs.
This being a Sunday, we decided to avoid Sekinchan which will definitely be crowded with tourists and instead headed for Sungai Besar to have a seafood lunch at Keong Hing Restuarant where amongst other things we had their signature shark-meat soup (shown above). Shark meat? What can I say, there are man-eating sharks and their are sharks-eating men! Suffice to say the food was very good and very reasonably priced and anytime better than the limited choices along the highway.
(... read more at Keong Hing Seafood Restaurant).

Er.... you must be wondering what happened to our young friends....
Well, after a good letting-off-steam cycling trip, on reaching Kampar they had their own foodie adventure at the 36-stalls food court. At one of the stall they had what is claimed to be the best Assam Laksa in south of Penang!

 And then a memorial photo at the train station before boarding the ETS train back home.

Overall it was a good trip, one with a challenging ride, good food and somewhere in between cyclo-tours of Ipoh and Teluk Intan.
Thanks Kong for including us into your adventure.

This blog comes in a few parts. This Day 3 blog, is on the ride around Teluk Itan town. To see other parts:

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Perak / Ipoh-Teluk Intan-Kampar Bike-Packers Day 3     | Go to Day 1 / Day 2-1 / Day 2-2
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)