Thursday, October 31, 2013

Penang : Up The Carpet

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Penang / Up The Carpet
                              AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                          
Penang : Up The Carpet
Sungai Aria, Penang : 26th October 2013
Duo Ride - Krystal Point>Sungai Nibong>Sungai Ara>The Carpet>Relau>Sungai Nibong.
Distance covered : 20.88 km.
Time Start : 8:00 am     Time End : 12:00 pm (including stops for rest, photos, breakfast & lunch).
Duration : 4 hrs.

Route Recommendations :
1. Foldies can be use for the lower reaches of the off-road route.
2. For the upper portion of the route, it is recommended to use a mountain bike as most paths are unpaved, and are narrow enough for just one bicycle.
3. The route coming down to Relau is steep, do apply brakes adequately.
4. Enjoy the scenery along the route - i.e. many streams, bubbling brooks, nice flora.



PRELUDE
The gang from our previous trip into the Carpet region.
Having rode the route partly into The Carpet of Penang (... see Magic Carpet blog), and having heard much about it from other local bikers; I was eager to find out more about the place, eager to be enchanted again. Going up to Penang again, I made plans to ride all the way up to the Carpet; to see for myself what I had missed the previous ride there.
And who should I contact but my friend Winson who knows the route like the back of his palms. He was happy to oblige me but mentioned that the upper reaches of the route up is not accessible using a foldie bike.



THE RIDE

Up The Carpet Penang Ride Map  (click for Map Link)
This time round we will be starting from Sungai Nibong head for Sungai Ara then ride up to the Carpet. The return trip will be down from The Carpet to Relau and back to Sungai Nibong.

Winson advised that it would be difficult to use a foldie to reach the upper portion of the route as the paths there are narrow, steep and often unpaved. He  graciously lent me his "Specialized" mountain bike. It relatively light and easy to handle. Hey! I can get used to riding a mountain bike, perhaps in the future.....

Riding through the main roads we reached Yoyo Huat coffee-shop. My previous experience of eating here was not too good, but I pleasantly found that in the morning this place has much more choices of food that were better than the evening's.
The food here is good but not the best that Penang has to offer. Nevertheless, this being the coffee-shop nearest to The Carpet  many cyclists and joggers frequent it either before or after going up. This was evident as Winson met a number of his cyclists friends here.

At The Carpet entry point, the greenery greeted us and the familiarity of the place jogs my memory of the previous ride here. Like an old friend it still enthral me with it's simple beauty.

I have had just a couple of hours of sleep the previous night, but the calming effects of the bustling streams rejuvenates me - making my ride easier and enjoyable.

That old rickety wooden bridge is still there bringing back fond memories; how I wish my friends from Kuala Lumpur were with me now to share this experience again.

It had rained the previous night making the tracks wet; we had to ride with more care. The rain had also made this place much cooler, nicer to ride along. But the cool weather is also causing my camera lens to fog up making most of the photos I took blurry.

At the rest shed we took a .... er .... rest. After this point it will be new territory for me and I am looking forward to see what will come next.

Beyond this point the tracks start getting steeper but I could still manage...

... as I am being tugged along by the beauty of the place.

Bubbling brooks and rivuleting streams abound!


Ahead, the track became a laterite path, so narrow that a we can only ride cycle single file.

Then it became mortar covered tracks again, but still narrow and got even steeper. At certain stretches, tired old me had to come down to push; I really must get back into form again, i.e. cycle more!

On an off there were rustic timber houses, the dwellings of the people who mind the durian orchards and banana groves here.

And even more streams. I like cycling here, the soft splashing of the cascading streams add music to the ambiance. Water always liven things up a bit, be it the waves of the sea, reflections on a calm lake or these energetic streams.

It is great to see that the streams here and the surroundings are very clean too, untainted by rubbish. Let's hope visitors do keep it that way.

The path was getting even steeper, and we stopped frequently for me to rest; our bicycles parked leaning against mossy rocks overflowing with creepers.

The surroundings changed from green to brown, we are at the upper reaches where there is less water. We are almost there, almost at The Carpet.

Hooray! We made it! It's time just to breath in the fresh morning air and relax. At a corner is a donation box, collecting funds for the maintenance of the tracks and paths leading up here.

The view from here is not a great as I imagined it to be. One can see about half of Penang Island's coastline, but it is not an obstructed view. On a fine day, the new Second Penang Bridge can even be spotted.
The beauty of the place is not the Carpet itself; it is in the journey up here both in terms of beauty of the environs and in the physical challenge to ride up those slopes.

We rode down through the Relau way. It's not a beautiful as the Sungai Ara way, there are hardly any streams and fewer farms. But it is a shorter, steeper route with wider tracks, wide enough for cars to drive on.

The exit point here is at Jalan Fettes; new houses are being built at the foothills here. I do hope that these will not extend further up and encroach onto the splendour of the place.
We rode back using the main roads and stopped for a quick lunch at Sungai Nibong.

Thanks Winson, you have been a good guide and a true friend.


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