Friday, August 25, 2017

Selangor-Perak-Penang: Cycling Selangor to Penang Day 2 - Sekinchan to Hutan Melintang

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Cycling Selangor to Penang : Day 2 - Sekinchan to Hutan Melintang
West Coast Peninsular Malaysia -  Day 2 : 8th August 2017
Small Group Cycling Tour of the west coast of West Malaysia : Sekinchan>Sekinchan Padi Fields>Sungai Nibong>Sungai Besar>Sungai Ayer Tawar>by ferry>Hutan Melintang.
Cycling Distance - 62.70 km.     Level: Medium
Cycling Time : 10:15 am to 6:00 pm (Excluding fun loop at Sekinchan Padi Fields)
Time Taken :  7hrs 45mins (inclusive of stops for morning tea, long lunch while waiting out the rain, many stops to enjoy the sceneries, regrouping, rests and many,many photo opps).

This is page 2 of a 5-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1 Sekinchan           |          Go to Other Days      |     Go to D3 Ayer Tawar >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Malaysia is right-hand drive so ride on the left side of the road.

2. Bringing Bikes Onto Trains & Ferries
- One can just ride into the ferry at Hutan Melintang. The fare is RM1-50 per passenger and RM1-00 for each bicycle.

3. Communicating with Locals
    For the uninitiated cycling in foreign lands can be a daunting experience, especially when one can only speak a smattering of the local language or if there is no common language to speak to each other (like English). The language of the country is Bahasa Malaysia, and many urban Malaysians can speak fairly good English; but in the rural areas the locals speak only some rudimentary English, so learning some basic phrases will be helpful.
    This could be partly overcomed by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    And do install memory-resident translation apps into your mobile phone.

4. Staying in Touch
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost or just to share photos and moments. Pre-paid phone sim-cards are easily available from most phone shops in the main towns.

5. Accomodations
At Hutan Melintang, we stayed at Hotel Lagenda (GPS: 3.88548, 100.93516) at RM115/- for a deluxe room for two.
Address: 2, Lorong Lagenda 2, Medaniaga Lagenda, 36400 Hutan Melintang, Perak, Malaysia.
Contact: +605-6411195.

6. Places of Interests
Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
- the Padi Fields of Sekinchan (GPS: 3.51307, 101.11704), the acres of paddies here is very scenic. At different times of the year, the colour of the fields changes from bright green to a golden brown.
Pantai Redang (熱浪沙灘) (GPS: 3.50285, 101.09447), this is a nice beach in Sekinchan. The sunset here is lovely.
- the PLS padi processing factory at Sekinchan (GPS: 3.52074, 101.129)
- the seaside bund from Pantai Redang to Sungai Nibong (GPS: 3.50351, 101.09374).
- Pasir Panjang Beach in Sekinchan (GPS: 3.54987, 101.07444).
- the coconut plantations of the Sabak Bernam District (GPS: 3.81441, 100.89684).
- The ferry ride from Sungai Ayer Tawar to Hutan Melintang (GPS: 3.86688, 100.9334).

7. Food
- Porridge breakfast at Restoran Sin Ming Kee (GPS: 3.50753, 101.10609), a food court next to the Sekinchan wet market.
- mango desserts at Mango King (GPS: 3.52797, 101.13938) in Sekinchan.
- Mee Udang (Prawn Noodles) Brunch at Mee Udang KIng Original (GPS: 3.59386, 101.05737) at Sungai Nibong.
- Coffee Break at Shadina Warisan (GPS: 3.68644, 100.96862) at Sungai Besar.
- afternoon tea noodles at Chop Hon Sing (GPS: 3.8724, 100.9316) at Hutan Melintang.
- dinner at Restoran Seafood Happiness (GPS: 3.89303, 100.93742) at Hutan Melintang

8. Weather
As August is the beginning of the wet season do have your raincoats ready. However it does not rain everyday, so do cover up or use sun-block lotions when necessary.
Temperature ranges from 27°- 32°C; on hot days it could go up to 34°C.

9. Navigation
Where data signal is available and strong, one can use Google Maps to navigate around. If the cycling options may not be available, just use the walking options.
In cases where data signal is weak or unavailable (like in remote rural areas), install MAP.ME into your phone. It's an off-line map app.   
Alternatively, use a dedicated GPS unit like those from Garmin. However ensure that one install the Malaysia maps into the unit.

10. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads with the relevant tools.

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PRELUDE

Our buddy Sin (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) was on a 45-days cycling tour around Peninsular Malaysia. Five of us joined him for stage 1 that spanned from Sungai Buloh (in Selangor) to George Town (in Penang).
In Day 1, we had cycled from Sungai Buloh to Sekinchan, one that took us along rustic roads, rural villages and lots of eats. This here is the second day of our adventure which took us from Sekinchan to Hutan Melintang, crossing over the Bernam River from Selangor into Perak via a ferry from a little known jetty.
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THE RIDE

The route runs mainly along less busy rural roads, goes along a seaside bund in Sekinchan, cuts through large coconut estates in Sabak Bernam and includes a little known ferry crossing over the Bernam River into Perak at Hutan Melintang.

7:45am - We left our luggage at Wong Corner Homestay for a quick ride loop to view the renown Sekinchan padi fields. Enroute, we stopped at Restoran Sin Ming Kee for a good Sekinchan breakfast. This place although called a restaurant was actually a food court with opened walls and a zinc roof. Whatever it's called, there are several hawkers here selling a range of local food to cater for varying tastes. Some of us had wanton noodles while others had this delicious pork and fish porridge, something nice and warm to start of our day. For mine, I had the vendor put more cut spring onions, more roughage to ease my tummy for later toilet duties.
(..... read more of Sekinchan Porridge)

This place is situated next to the Sekinchan Wet Market, and is usually patronised by local who took their time eating, having a cup of coffee, reading newspapers and chatting with friends.
Oh yah.... often, if I like a place I try to put my sticker there (with the owner's permission). So if you do see one of my stickers, do let me know and I will treat you to a cuppa.

It was a cool morning as we headed for the padi fields, a light mist hung over the town. Still early, the roads were quiet and there were hardly an people around unlike the weekends when tourists will be thronging into the place.

Although early, some of the farmers were already returning after having tended to the crops. They do this early so as to avoid the later hot mid-morning sun. This time round the rice had just been harvested and most of the fields had just been re-planted making them look brownish bare. Amanda did stop by some of the slightly green fields to take some photos though.
To appreciate how beautiful this place can be, click here.

A quick stop at the PLS Rice Factory, this place processes the harvest rice and pack them for selling. It is still too early here too, so no other visitors around which was all the better for us!
Here I am posing in one of my favourite Ah Pek poses, squatting on a bamboo stool next to a cute cartoon rice character.
(..... for more about the factory, click here)

Further ahead was the Mango King outlet which sells mangoes and some other fruits. They had just opened and we ordered a plate of sweet, tangy mango for a delayed dessert to our breakfast.
Oh yah.... they also sell prawn/fish crackers for which Sekinchan is renown (that's in the plastic packet shown above).
(..... to see how these crackers are made, click here)

10:30 - Back at our homestay, we packed our bags and started off on our day's journey to head for Hutan Melintang. Wong, the operator of the homestay, accompanied us a short distance on his electric scooter before waving us goodbye and good luck.
He's a real friendly and helpful chap; we will stay at his place again when the next time we come here.

But we are not done with Sekinchan yet!
When here, one should not miss cyling along the Sekinchan Bund, it's one that runs parallel to the coast, with a rocky beach on one side and irrigation canals on the other side. At some stretches in veers inland a bit to cut through some brushland.

Along this bund is the Pasir Panjang Beach, a beautiful sandy beach which was quite deserted as many don't know about it. It's low tide now and the sea is calm, reflecting the beautiful sky above; perhaps this place will be the next Sky Mirror, one similar to the renown one at Sasaran/Jeram. The two Ah Pohs sure took opportunity of this place for lots of beautiful photos.

We spent quite some time here, taking in the calm scenery - like this one of a leafless tree standing starkingly alone in the mud flats.

On the landward side, the irrigation canals also reflect the blue sky. On one side they are fringed by sugar cane and on the other oil palms.

It's such a beautiful place, one can't help but jump for joy.
Sooi Ying and Fenn execute a perfect jump.... but... er... what's Kimmi doing? Waving her fingers like a ochestra conductor?

11:45 am - It's time for.... er.... eats!
This was further down at the Mee Udang King Original in Sungai Nibong.  I had previously eaten here before and didn't quite like their mee udang (prawn noodles) finding the gravy a tad too sweet. This time round, they have improved, reduced the sweetnes and their gravy had more prawny flavours. Also they had slightly deep fired the prawns to bring out even more of the tastiness. Needless to say the prawns were large and super fresh.

A little while later we left the rural roads but still did not cycle on the main road (i.e. Jalan Kuala Selangor-Teluk Intan, Route M5); instead we cycled on a parallel secondary road, the Jalan Kuala Selangor Lama, Route B53. Along the way were several fruit stalls selling mangosteens and durian.
These couple of years, the prices of durians have sky-rocketed and eating them is almost like eating gold - the price of one good durian can range between RM100 to RM200. The reason for this is because many of the fruits are exported to China where there is a growing craze for them... to the disadvantage of the local eaters.

The road was fairly quiet until we neared Sungai Besar, then the more cars were zooming bye us. Above is us cycling pass the older part of the town where decades old timber houses can still be seen on the right.
Slightly past the new section of the town, it was a short coffee break at Shadina Warisan, a small cozy place that serves hot plate noodles that seems to be a favourite among the locals.

Ahead, at Sungai Ayer Tawarr town, we made a right turn and headed into rural roads. It's so much more pleasant to cycle here, the roads may be narrower but the traffic was very light and shady trees lined the roads. The population here is low and houses are spread fairly far apart.

We are at the border of the oil palm growing area and coconut plantations; at coconut harvesting station, piles of de-husked old coconuts could be seen piling up. They will later be de-shelled and their thick meat taken out to be dried in the sun or sent to a factory to be processed into copra. The Sabak Bernam District has been a coconut growing and copra producing area for centuries.

Away from the coastal area, we see are less Chinese temples and more mosques and Indian temples. Malays populated the kampongs here, while the Indian community have been working in the estates for ages.

The roads are getting more and more quiet, but suddencly in front of us was a bright scene - many Jalur Gemilang (our Malaysian flag) flying proudly in the wind. This here is a local kindergarten and nursery, they start their children at a young age here to be proud of their nation.

According to Sin, there is a ferry jetty somewhere in front. But after cycling for more than ten kilometres, the road was getting very lonely. We only saw a couple of motorcycles passing by us, and all around us we had only coconut trees for companionship.... no dwellings, no huts, no kampongs - Yup, it's all silently eerie! We were getting a bit worried that we may have to turn back and seek an alternate route. AND it was starting to rain, which got us even more worried!

Finally after cycling fifteen kilometres into the estates, we saw the jetty.... Phew!
It is not a well known jetty, many have heard about it but were not sure exactly where it was! Now we know.

From this quiet jetty, a regulary ferry takes passengers across the Bernam River over to Hutan Melintang on the other side. Here the Bernam is near the sea and quite wide. The ferry, the sized of a small tug boat, only takes on passengers, motorcycles and bicycles. It's to small to fit in cars, but there was a docking ramp and we could just cycle into the ferry.
The fare was RM1-50 per passengers, RM3-00 for a motorcycle including its rider, and our bicycles were charged RM1-00.

The captain and his mates were local Indians; from loud-speakers next to him were blaring out loud and lively Tamil songs. The songs may be loud but they were catchy too, after listineng to them a while, I wanted to break into a jig and dance 💃💃💃.

The Bernam River for most of its length is the boundary between Selangor and Perak; by crossing it we left Selangor and had entered Perak. If on the Selangorr side it was sparsely populated coconut plantations with a quiet jetty, then on the Perak side it was much more livelier. Fishing boats with large nets dock at a wharf, and into jetty town itself it was a hustle and bustle of activity.

This part of Hutan Melintang is called Bagan Tepi Sungai (which translates into Riverside Quay, a very appropriate name). We decided to stop at a small shop for drinks and some snacks while waiting out the drizzle. What is interesting about small towns and villages is that the shops here sells all sorts of bottled drinks which one could hardly find in the big cities. Some are locally made soda pop, while the above is a bottle of "Oldenlandia Water" from China. With an odd sounding name it made me wonder what drink it is? Suffice to say, with my sensitive tummy, I did not try to experiment.

The drizzle turned into a tropical thunderstorm with heavy rain. Well, we just had to wait it out la while onger. After an hour it had abated slightly; and as it was getting late we just donned our raincoats and cycled in the rain.

The road heading away from the river was a very busy road and not that wide too. We had to cycle carefully as traffic zoomed by us very closely.
At a junction, a couple of drivers were not that careful and their cars collided, with one ending up in the ditch.

In the town proper, we cycled around to look for a suitable hotel. There were several and we settled for Hotel Lagenda, which was housed in a row of new shoplots. It was a good choice as the hotel was very clean, the staff very friendly AND it even has a lift so that we could take our bicycles up into our rooms easily.
After a short rest and a refreshing bath, we headed out looking for dinner and landed at a place called Restoran Seafood Happiness. The food was quite good, so there were reasons to be Happy!
We had several dishes including the plate of Sambal Petai which are called stink beans as it does smell rather awful. And the odor remains for a day so that whenever on pee or poo, the smell was still there. It may not smell that good, but petai does have good healthy benefits.

We also had this huge platter of Red Snapper curry, which was very good and goes well with white rice.

This is our hotel, looks bright and colourful on the outside. Inside it was equally bright.
As we entered the lift, there was a whiff and then an odor.
Did someone just farted? Damn! It smelled of 
Petai!

GOOD NIGHT!
(Hahaha... and fainted)


This is page 2 of a 5-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1 Sekinchan           |          Go to Other Days      |     Go to D3 Ayer Tawar >

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