Saturday, January 23, 2016

Penang Airport To Tanjung Tokong - A Homecoming Ride

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Penang Airport To Tanjung Tokong - A Homecoming Ride
Penang International Airport to Tanjung Tokong : 23rd October 2015
Distance  : 33.47 km     Level: Medium
Time : 12:15pm to 7:15pm
Time Taken :  7 hours (including stops for eats, exploring Penang's Cycling Lanes, and lots of photo ops and detours).

Route Recommendations :
1. The route is relatively flat; the only tough climb is the stretch going up to the War Museum. Other than the cycling lanes, traffic was moderate but the locals are considerate of cyclists.
2. Some highlights along the route:
    - the canal route along Sungai Bayan Lepas.
    - Permatang Damar Laut beach.
    - the Penang Cycling Lanes and it's crooked bridge.
    - Hin Bus Art Depot.
    - the Teochew Cendul at Penang Road.
    - Note: the War Museum at Batu Maung does allow bicycles to be parked inside! Parking is at the unsecured outside motorcycle parking bays. Fearing for that my bicycle could be stolen, I did not enter into the museum and only viewed it from the outside.
4. The food court at BSP Waterfront Food Court sells food at prices higher than average. The food there is only average in taste. I recommend eating in George Town where there should be lots of eating joints.
5. Malindo Air allows a checked-in luggage of 15kg inclusive of sports equipment. If you packed bike is within this limit, there is no need to purchase additional luggage. Take your other luggage (clothes, etc.) in as cabin luggage, but keep it within the 7kg that's allowed.


PRELUDE

Jubilation at the finishing line during CFAL 7
I always like cycling in Penang and try to cycle there as frequently as possible, and that's easy for me as it's my hometown! The last time I rode there was during the CFAL7 round Penang Island event during which a big bunch of us went up earlier to have some fun and good food.
This time round, I am going home with mixed feelings. One is that of sadness as there will be a visit to the cemetery to pray for my late father during the anniversary of his passing. The other is a happy occassion - to laugh and hugs during a celebration of my mom's birthday.

I had flown home and as usual my itchy legs demanded that I bring my bike along for some cycling fun on the island. The first stint was a ride back home from the airport to home. It was only a distance of thirty plus kilometres but it took me seven hours... even at a snail's pace one should have been able to do better than that.... but it was a slow ride with lots of detours; well that's the way this AhPek ride. Come ride with me and see what I saw!


THE RIDE

 
Cycling Route - Bayan Lepas>Batu Maung>Queensbay>Karpal Singh Drive>George Town>Tanjung Tokong.
Distance: 33.47km     Level: Medium
Instead of using the shorter inland route, I decided to use the coastal route and along the way explore the new cycling lanes. I started by riding south instead of north to go see the beach at Permatang Damar Laut.

After a short flight from Subang Airport, I had arrived at Penang International Airport. A tip here, I flew Malindo Air and they allow checked-in baggage of 15kg inclusive of sports equipment. My Brompton in a Dimpa bag together with protection boards was just within that limit. My other luggage (clothes, etc.) was in a Brompton C-bag which I carried in as cabin luggae.
As I headed out of the airport terminal I thought to myself, "Why not take a ride to a nearby beach?" and headed off towards Permatang Damar Laut. Just slightly out from the terminal, I asked a local for directions. Thank goodness I did that, as he directed me to a route that took me along the canals of Sungai Bayan Lepas. It was a quite route, hardly any cars... heck... there were hardly any motorbikes too. This route ran a nice two kilometeres among greenerey and rural kampong houses before exiting at the main road.


 Crossing the main road, I was into the another kampong area and rode lanes next to rivers where fishing boats were parked.


Reaching the beach at Permatang Damar Laut, I was in for a disappointment - no blue, blue skies, no beautiful sea with nice reflections. A haze from burning plantations in Sumatra had enveloped Peninsular Malaysia and part of southern Thailand, spoiling whatever good views that were there. Perhaps, I will come back another time.


Leaving that desolate scene, I headed for Batu Maung. As I approached the village, on a right junction I saw a big sign-board proclaiming the War Museum. Having passed this place many times but not having visited it, I decided to go in. Asking a local how far up it is, I got a reply that it was just about a kilometre uphill. Uphill? Hmmm.... but it's only one kilometre so shouldn't be a problem.
But it did turn out to be a problem, certain stretches were rather steep and others had lot's of sand (from some nearby construction work). Nevertheless, as I got nearer the sight of pillboxes got my heart pumping (or perhaps it was the tough ride up that did this). These were mock-up pillboxes, but dotted along the island's coast and slopes facing the sea, there are remnants of actual ones built during the Second World War.


After huffing and puffing up, I was in for another disappointment. As I was about to purchase an entry I was told that bicycles are not allowed to be parked in the museum's compound. They can be parked outside the gate at a motor-cycle parking bay; I had a look at that parking place, it looked dodgy. No choice then, I wouldn't risk losing my bike and decided to skip visiting the place.
Hey! Don't they know that Penang is suppose to be a bicycle-friendly place? Well, it's their loss not mine.



I did have a look around the reception area, and post this plan of the War Museum for those keen on visiting it.


On one wall was a painting of a Japanese Shinzan (Liz) bomber. During the war these planes bombed much of George Town, other parts of Malaya and Singapore too.


Shaking my disappointment away, I rode onwards and somewhere in front made a U-turn to go to this spot. It's called Point 01 of the Penang Second Bridge. From here there is a good view of the bridge.
(GPS coordinates for this point is 5.29259, 100.29454)


Ahead, construction was ongoing for an elevated highway to independently lead traffic to the second bridge without having to be caught in the heavy local traffic of the industrial area below. But I wonder, where does this leave the poor cyclist? On both sides of the road, I saw wide pavements under construction, perhaps there will be cycling lanes here... some hope then!


Eventhough this is a developed area, along the way can be spotted pocket of villages with their fishing boats. On the beach side were some stretches with seafood stalls.


Nearing Queensbay, I was on the look out for the new Penang cycling lanes that starts somewhere around here. I saw it, but it was on the other side of the road. Somehow, with an eye on on-coming traffic, I managed to carry my bike over the central divider and crossed over.
Yeah! I am onto the lanes!



The lanes are a pleasure to ride on. Near Queensbay, they skirt a few housing area and then head into very green territory - green, quiet and peaceful territory.


At a point near the Gold Coast Condominiums, they conveniently pass by some seafood stall. But unfortunately for me, it's a Friday and these stalls were closed.


Nearby there is even a monument to cyclists at a small park.


The lanes were well constructed, I had a smooth ride... no bumpity-bump. At some stretches the were two lanes, one for cyclists and the other for joggers/strollers - at intervals the merged at node points.


Along some stretches near Batu Uban, the lanes were shared ones - with boats lining the sides of the road.


Stopped by for a view of the First Penang Bridge. This was at an open space near where the bridge starts; it would have been wonderful if this space is turned into a small park.
(GPS coordinates for this place is 5.35793, 100.31643)


At Persiaran Karpal Singh are these four towers, each standing straight and tall, shooting upwards to the sky. It is a sculpture titled "Celebration Of The Blue Sky" by renown Japanese artist Nakayama Hitori and was created on 25th January 2008.


Just after that, I was in for a nice surprise... a crooked bridge! To achieve a gentle gradient suitable for cycling, ramps run parallel to the river before reaching the main crossing span.


Almost at the end of the dedicated lanes was this stretch of meandering path. Yes, there is a crooked bridge and here too is a crooked lane.
(... click here to read more of Penang's dedicated cycling lanes)


Happy to have cycled on those new cycling lane, I rode over to the Teochew Chendul stall off Penang Road for a small celebration.


Time to head back home; it almost seven hours since I started my journey. I did a lot of back-tracking to explore and take photos of the cycling lanes; and also had some detours to view the two Penang bridges.
Riding along Burma Road, I passed this Tiger Head biscuit shop. These biscuits from Teluk Intan are one of my favourites, and looks like they are favourites for many others too.


Along Pangkor Road is a short stretch of cycling lane, this continue on to Kelawei Road. The ones at Kelawei Road was rather bumpy to ride on though.


7:00pm - Reached the Tanjung Tokong-Bagan Jermal intersection.
Yeah! This old man is HOME, and his even older mother was very happy to see him ^_^.



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