Thursday, July 2, 2015

Let's Cycle 2015 Day 2-2: Kuala Kurau To Butterworth

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Let's Cycle 2015 Day 2-2: Kuala Kurau To Butterworth
Perak & Penang: 20th June 2015
At the Tanjong Piandang Chinese temple (Photo by Shang Long).

Let's Cycle is Malaysia's 8TV program about two cyclists (Baki & Rickman) taking on Peninsular Malaysia in 2014, cycling around the peninsular within a month. They not just cycled but went on to meet the people at the places that they stopped at, learnt and participated in the distinct local culture. Wherever they went there was always a warm welcome for them, with the locals proud to show them the local culture.
This year, in 2015 8TV is doing another TV program but this time with a unique twist. They have invited three other cyclist to join them in their cycling adventures. These will be senior people whom many may think old but who are young at heart (and perhaps physically they are too). The objective is to demonstrate that older people can take on tough physical tasks like cycling and at the same time enjoy life even in their later years. The three who will join them are Uncle Lim (a septuagenarian); and my friends Sin (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) and Fenn, both of whom are in their fifties.
Together they will cycle from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Island in a week. Along the way they will pass the night at Kuala Kubu BaruBidorIpohSaukKuala SepetangBukit Mertajam. Their route will take them pass towns and villages where there will get to see and experience the distinctiveness of each place and their people. What an adventure it will be for them!


PRELUDE
Some of us had thought of joining our TV friends (to give them some moral support) along part of their journey. The previous day we had by train & bus gone up to Taiping and then cycled to intercept them at Simpang. We spent the night at Kuala Sepetang and today were looking forward to more cycling, a serious route from Kuala Sepetang to Butterworth.
It was suppose to be a manageable ninety kilometres ride, but in the end we took a detour to Kuala Kurau to savour their renown Cucur Udang (prawn fritters) that added thirty kilometres to our ride distance. We must have been crazy to cycle thirty kilometres for those prawn fritters..... but then they were exceptionally good!
Yup! We are crazy! Cycling crazy & food crazy!

BM Night Riders posing with Baki & Rickman at Kuala Kurau.
In the first part of Day 2 of our ride we had finished savouring those lovely Cucur Udang and we were now continuing our journey north to Butterworth.


THE RIDE
For the most part we would be cycling along quite rural roads (from Selinsing to Nibong Tebal). Other than that we used the old trunk road (Federal Route 1).

Route Recommendations :
1. The route is relatively flat.
2. Except for certain stretches along the rural roads, the route has hardly any shade, so do cover up or apply sun-block.
3. Federal Route 1 is a main trunk road with heavy traffic, do cycle with more care there.
4. Kuala Sepetang is a fishing village with many interesting things to view and food to eat:
    - Don't miss the bridge of Sungai Reba, from its mid-span there is the best of trawler boats parked at the riverside.
    - The Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve is one that preserves the pristine nature of the swamp. There are even chalets there to stay in but do look out for mosquitoes; they could also improve on security.
    - The are several charcoal factories nearby, do pop in and see how they make the charcoal the traditional way.
5. The are nice spots and foodie places along the route, some of which are:
    - The prawn fritters and coffee at Bagan Seberang, Kuala Kurau.
    - Nice prawn curry at Nibong Tebal, it goes well with bread.
    - Nibong Tebal has some dedicated cycling lanes, if time permits, do visit it.
    - In the Butterworth Raja Uda area are many food courts serving good Penang Hawker food.


After joyful meeting over the nice Cucur Udang & coffee at Bagan Seberang, Kuala Kurau, it was time to say goodbye to the town. Most of the BM Night Riders will be staying a night at the town; three of them Chris, Simon and Woon joined us. Although we were familiar with the route, they will ride-guide us; well, it's better safe than to be lost. Our TV friends stayed back a while to do some filming.
We rode out, but decided not to use the pedestrian bridge over the Kurau River, and instead back-tracked a bit then rode over their renown road bridge. This is the view of the road bridge, it looks good spanning of the Kurau River with its slim architecture.

The view from the bridge was totally different; on one side was the fishing village with trawler boats berthed at the piers. On the other side were these floating fish farms, perhaps they were used to farm the Ikan Kurau (Threadfin Fish), after which this town is named.


3:20pm - We reached Tanjong Piandang a small fishing town near the coast. At a temple in the town we stopped for a rest, some of us went inside to have a quick look.


I always like the features and architecture of temples. This one though not very large had some unique features, like this ceiling made up of small golden lanterns with red tails...


... and this nicely carved stone dragon railing.
Cycling along this route bring back memories of the nice dim sum we had at Lee King Coffee-shop in Tanjong Piandang. It's a small place but serves one of the best dim-sum and koo-chai kueh, and at very reasonable prices too.


Us heading in the direction of Sungai Udang brought back another memories, a photo taken there with local bare-top AhPeks and me showing of our "muscles"! This was about a year ago when Sin and me rode around the same vicinity (... see his blog on that ride).
Some where along the road from Tanjong Piandang to Sungai Udang, we crossed the border from Perak to Penang; pity there was no signboard to indicate this.


(Photo by Kong M6R)
We did not go to Sungai Udang (it's a dead end road there, but it's name is easy to remember), instead at Sungai Acheh we made a right turn to head for Nibong Tebal. Somewhere along that road are the Nibong Tebal cycling lanes, it's entrance is marked by a cyclist monument (where we took a group photo).


4:30pm - At Nibong Tebal (actually at the other end of the Teluk Ipil pedestrian bridge) we met Jin. He was on a working trip and had drove there to meet us.... to have some good curry prawns.


At this end of the bridge is the Lim Aik Chew coffee-shop that serves very good prawn curry. The prawns were very fresh and the curry was very flavourful; it's so flavourful that most customers order thick slices of bread to dip into it! We still had some distance to cycle and these should sustain us for the moment.


(Photo by Kong M6R)
Time to continue riding, we took the pedestrian bridge over the Kerian River, the one just next to the shop. It's a short cut that leads right into the old town section of Nibong Tebal.
That's the advantage of cycling, we get through where cars can't.


At the old town on some walls of pre-war houses were some bright and colourful mural, painted to celebrate Nibong Tebal Carnival 2.0 which was held in July 2014.


Another of the bright and cheery murals, this one a larger one.


(Photo by Kong M6R)
Just out of Nibong Tebal we rode back onto the Federal Route 1 trunk road, and crossed this iconic steel bridge. This bridge does not span over a river but instead span over railroad tracks below.


6:00pm - Passing through Jawi, we saw this nice small monument that marks the Jawi Village, behind it seems to be a small park.
The emergency lanes on which we rode narrowed down and traffic at this time was getting heavier, we had to ride more carefully now.


Most of the small towns along the trunk road has now grown bigger, with new houses and a even a few medium-rise building. But some remnants of colonial days still remain, like this Gothic looking Church of The Holy Name of Mary, situated just outside Permatang Tinggi. Built in 1893 for the congregation of Chinese and Indian immigrants, it is more than a century old.



At a lay-by near Valdor, we met up with Winnie and the Yellow Man, Larry. We had sent word ahead and they were expecting us. Larry had chosen this spot well as the lay-by was sufficiently wide to greet friends without exposing them to the fast passing traffic.
I had thought that the name Valdor was of Indian origin, but it is actually of French origin coming from the word Val d'Or which means Golden Valley in French.... Hey what were the French doing in Penang? I am sure there must be a story of this somewhere.


 A little while later, our TV friends came cycling in... each being greeted by Larry with high fives.


It was a great meet up. They we were at a non-descript spot, seemingly in the middle of no where taking a break, greeting each other, making introductions and sharing stories.


While the filming cast and crew stayed back for some filming, the rest of us continued ahead with Larry guiding us. At the Bukit Tengah round-a-bout, our BM Night Riders friends, with a goodbye wave, peeled off and headed for home. The rest of us continued on via Permatang Pauh to our accommodations for the night near Aroma Hotel in Raja Uda.
Needless to say, later we went out to the Chai Leng Park food street to have a good dinner, one of nice steam boat and fantastic Penang hawker food.
After a long ride, tired but happy, we adjourned for the night looking forward to tomorrow when we will cross over to Penang Island.

This blog comes in a several parts. To go to other parts click on the following link to return to the summary page:


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