Thursday, January 10, 2013

Penang Cross Channel Ride - Tanjong Tokong to Butterworth 05/01/2013

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Penang Cross Channel Ride
Tanjong Tokong to Pantai Bersih, Butterworth : 5th January 2013
Duo Ride from Tanjong Tokong, Penang Island to Pantai Bersih, Butterworth & back.
Distance covered : 28.9 km.
Time Taken : Who cares? It was a leisure & tour ride.
Recommendation : Good, scenic ride and interesting riding across the Penang Ferry. Can be fast-paced but should take time at Clan Jetties, Heritage Trial Area, Khoo Kongsi etc.


PRELUDE

Many of us had registered for the event "Ride for Cleaner & Greener Penang 2013", and will be travelling up to this northern state of Malaysia.
As usual, lazy ol' me was too lazy to drive, so I rode to the 1-Utama Shopping Mall's, loaded my bike into the hold of the 5-Star express bus and left for Penang  from the 1-Utama Transportation Hub

The ride was on a Sunday & I was up there by Friday.
There was time to spare, so earlier I had contacted a few friends for a interesting ride from Penang Island to Butterworth via the Penang Ferry.
Upon reaching the Penang Komtar, I unpacked my bike and rode off to the Kimberley Street Food Court where I had this delicious Hailam Mee.
That's what people do in Penang - EAT! In a way it's the un-official food capital of the world.


Further along the way, I stopped to savor the thirst-quenching Penang Teochew Chendol (see Blog).


As I was cycling along Burma Road, this other cyclist rode past me, riding a another Dahon.
Riding along side me, he was happy to see a fellow biker and invited me for some drinks.
We stopped at the Midlands 1-Stop complex for a quick drink and chat.
He introduce himself as Daniel Shee, and more interestingly he's the chap who operates the on-line biking & outdoor sports accessories site at www.howei.com
It was good to get to know him personally.


Later in the evening, I went up to the Straits Quay Mall to collect my riding jersey for the Greener Penang event. Here I met Alvin Boo, a close friend and one of the organizers for the ride event.
Okay!! We are now ready for both rides.....


THE RIDE

Cycling Route - Tanjong Tokong, Penang Island to Pantai Bersih, Butterworth & back.
The plan was to meet a 8:00 am. at the CiMB Tanjong Prima Branch in
Fettes Park, ride down to the Penang Ferry Jetty, cross the North Channel over to Butterworth via the ferry, ride up to Pantai Bersih and then ride back.
The will be five of us : my friend Sin, my brother Victor, his son William, my cousin Harry & me.


But then a rain in the early morning put a damper to our plans.
It eased off and at 8:30 am. I rode of to meet my other 3 fellow bikers. Harry would be meeting us at the Church Street Pier.
In the light drizzle we rode off, but just about 2 km. down, it started pouring.
Here we are waiting it out at a bus stop for the rain to stop.


Even after 1/2 an hour the rain did not stop but it did slow down to a light rain.
A check on  the weather reports stated that the rain will continue well into the afternoon.
Well, might as well call off the ride; Victor & William decided to go back.
That left Sin & me. In the rain, we rode back to Island Plaza to meet up with Nash (another biker friend, who had by then arrived),


At the Coffee Bean in Island Plaza, we sat down, had drinks and chatted.
Unexpectedly, at 10:30 am. the rain stopped.
And Sin was like going, "Hey! Why don't we ride? If along the way if it rains again we can always stop at another bus-stop" *Grins*
I called Harry, but by then he had reached home and decided not to re-join us.


So it was just the two of us, and this two old heroes rode on. Heh! Heh!


We stopped at The Gurney Hotel and took a photo.


At the far end of Gurney Drive (near Northam Road), we lugged our bikes down to the beach and took photos with the sampans.
This is always my favorite photo stop.


We moved on riding along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (Northam Road). The roads were damp, but otherwise the weather was good - cloudy and no rain, just nice for riding.
These weather forecasts can just be so inaccurate!


At Lebuh Farquahar, we rode pass the E&O Hotel. It is one of the oldest hotels in this region, built way back in the 1800's by the Sarkies brothers.


And continued on to Lebuh Light (which is named after the founder of Penang, Sir Francis Light) we passed by the Dewan Sri Pinang.


Just a little bit further and we were at the Penang Ferry Terminal, the signages advising us to use the motorcycle/bicycle lane.
It had just took us 20 minutes to reach here.


And we are inside the Ferry Terminal, waiting for the next ferry to arrive - which should be  within 15 mins.


Not to far away are some other jetties, one of them had a huge cruise liner berthed, a smaller cruise ship looks so puny next to it.


Annnnndddd..... the ferry's here; approaching to dock.
Penang ferries are named after the various islands of Malaysia, this one is named Pulau Rawa, a coral island of the east coast of Johor.


The ferry docked, vehicles from the other side disembarked.
And vehicles from our side boarded, we cyclists were the last to go on.


With everyone on board, the metal ramps lifted and the entrance gates closed.
Tally Ho! We are ready to sail!


A WARNING though.
One should stay clear of the rising ramp, in case something fails and it comes crashing down.


Since the Penang Bridge was built, it has been ages since I took one of these ferries.
It was exhilarating  the sound of the on-rushing waves and the salty sea breeze blowing onto the face brought back fond memories.


I went up to the top deck to check things out.
Things have changed. Back then this deck was solely for walk-on passengers; now it's shared with vehicles.
I guess not many walk around these days.


Looking back to the island, the KOMTAR tower soared up, dwarfing the other buildings.


Across the Penang North Channel, on the mainland side, are the giant derrick cranes of the Butterworth Port.


Sin was doing some inspection of his own, checking out how solid this mooring block is!


LAND AHOY!
And the ferry docked onto the Butterworth side, everyone impatient to disembark.


We are on land again, eager to ride & explore onwards.


Just at the exit are the ferry toll booths, we will be returning to these later.


Things have changed, instead of a leveled road leading out, there is now a spiral ramp that goes up and down to connect to a new highway.
But it was okay, as from the elevated height we had a better view of things, like this ship moored at the docks.


Or these giant gantry cranes of the Butterworth port.


Or this interesting view of the Butterworth Ferry Terminal.


Coming down from that spiral ramp, we rode along Jalan Pantai, passing the temporary Butterworth Transportation Hub. A new terminal at the old location will integrate bus, taxi & train services.


Further along were the huge petroleum storage tank, where oil tankers dock just off-shore here and pump there load in.


Seems like my memory of this place is outdated. *Smirks*
Jalan Pantai is no more that narrow stretch of road I thought it would be, it now merges with and form part of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR).


But no worries here, traffic on this Highway is light.
Seems like the Penang people (who are reputed to be stingy) seldom use this road.
I am one of those Penang people, so I should know... Haha!


And further on, near the North Butterworth Container Terminal, the emergency lane starts - that's where we can cycle safely.
The rail line enters into this port itself.


Here's Sin trying to hitch a ride from one of those trains - perhaps all the way to Thailand?
Naawww... he's a strong fella, just posing here.


We are approaching the BORR toll plaza, here the highway runs parallel to the sea, so close to it that we can even smell the sea salt.


About 1 km. beyond the toll plaza, there is a exit road leading to Pantai Bersih.
In no time we reached our destination - 323 Seafood Restaurant.
It's "323" signage cleverly formed by swimming dolphins.


I can see why the locals come here, the scenic view with the cool salty sea breeze all adds up to a wonderful experience of dining here.
Imagine how much better it would look in the evenings, with the bright night lights shining over from the island.


We did have a pleasant surprise there.
Phang Chin Kiat (General Phang to his friends) who was up here for the Greener Penang Event drove all the way from the island across the Penang Bridge to join us.


The stir-fried Mee Teow that we had was good, and it had big chunks of deep-fried grouper fish in it too!
This was great! A good meal, a good view AND a good friend. We could not ask for more.


Well time to ride back.
We decided not to take the BORR but instead headed inland towards Bagan Ajam.
It was a good move as we passed by the picturesque Thean Hock Keong Temple.


The BORR also made a swing inland to connect with the North-South Highway, and we had to ride under it.


Riding along Jalan Kampung Gajah (Elephant Village Road).
No, we did not see any elephants here, the urbanization here must have driven them away.


At Jalan Bagan Luar, we passed by this red building.
And No again. It's NOT a fire station, it's a dental clinic.


Soon, we are back riding up the ramp leading to the ferry terminal.


The fare for the ferry is collected only on the Butterworth side.
Sin here trying to negotiate, but the fare is fixed - no nego!


Actually Sin was just paying the fare for the both of us.
It's RM1-40 for the return fare per cyclist.


Like this "No Pets" signage in the terminal. The parrot and pussy cat looks so cute.


While waiting for the ferry's arrival, we say this other ferry with matching colors as our t-shirts. Sin's staking a claim for it on behalf on the Malaysian Foldies group.


With the on-rushing, turbulent wake of the ferry, we said our goodbye to Butterworth and set sail for the island.


A peep through port-hole, seeing those luxury liners, told us that we are approaching Penang Island.


We are two happy bikers for having completed a cross-channel bike ride.


Oh... BTW, after leaving the ferry, we went to the Chew Jetty...


... and the Khoo Kongsi (see Khoo Kongsi Blog) before riding back to Fettes Park.

Adieu!
Ride well & ride save.

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