Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Best Cycling Trails In Perak

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Best Cycling Trails In Perak
Perak, a state once rich in tin, is one of the largest states in Peninsular Malaysia, stretching from the border with Thailand in the north and running lengthwise down south to meet Selangor. Save for a few, the tin mines are almost gone but the state has turned its attention to tourism, dressing up its cities and even small towns to bring in the crowd. This is an added bonus for cyclists as it has brought more exciting, colourful places to ride in.
I have done some cycling here and have liked the places, and there should be even more areas to cycle in. Based on my experience, here are some of the cycling trails in the state that I liked best:

Kick off your ride of Ipoh, the state capital, from the Ipoh Railway Station, one of oldest and finest looking train stations in the country. At it's front courtyard is an Ipoh tree, of which the city is named after.
Take a short ride around the Ipoh Heritage Trail which will pass by several landmarks such as the Perak State Mosque (Sultan Idris Shah II Mosque), the Birch Memorial, and the Ipoh Courthouse, and other stately colonial buildings.
At Ipoh's old town ride through the well restored streets including the notorious Concubine Lane where the tin miners of old kept their mistresses. Of course while there, don't miss out on the yummy food such as the Ipoh Kai Si Hor Fun and the Pork Satay! From there things get even more exciting as you head for .....
The Kinta Riverside. Unbeknownst to many, right here at the centre of the city, there are beautiful tracks to ride on both sides of the Kinta River which separates Ipoh's old town and new town. Start from just below the Hugh Low Bridge at Jalan Sultan Iskandar, ride towards and slightly beyond the bridge at Jalan Bijeh Timah and loop back.
The riverside is shady and pleasant to cycle along with some giant rain trees good for posing photos on. Don't be surprised to see egrets nestling on some of the trees and people net-fishing on the river. Near the riverside is the Masjid India mosque with its unique blue dome and right round the corner are interesting street art at the famed Murals Art Lane. And all this happens right at the heart of the city!
(... see route map) (... see blog)
Ride slightly beyond old town and see the going-on at the Ipoh Old Market; nearby are restored brick-red houses that resembles those in suburban London.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
OR even go further onwards to Buntong (文冬), Bercham (巴占) , and Kampung Simee to experience slower-paced life at the outskirts, and also to try out other renown food such as the Ngah Choy Kai (broiled chicken with bean sprouts) and the delectable egg tarts!
(... see blog)

Established in 1880, the 160 acres Taiping Lake Gardens is the oldest public park in the country. It's a very green park with ten scenic lakes and ponds that beautifully reflects the blue sky. It's even possible to ride along the islets withing the lakes.
Riding a loop round here will bring one cycling below huge rain trees that are centuries old, the long overhanging branches reaching out towards the lakes, this loop also passes the Taiping Zoo, the oldest in the country. Another outer connecting loop will will bring one to the Burmese Pool, the War Cemetery and the foot hills of Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill).
(... see route map) (... see blog)

From the Taiping Lake Gardens one can ride a longer loop towards Kuala Sepetang, and along the way out and back pass by several notable historic buildings and area, hence the name Taiping Heritage Trail. First will be the Taiping Clock Tower and then slightly ahead the Taiping Old Market (which is famed for being used to wager on what time it it will rain, see Taiping is one of the wettest spots in the country).
Cyclists at the Matang Museum.
The route goes along to pass the Simpang outskirts where it intersects the old trunk road, Federal Route M1. In the evening nearby, an old man sells his famed fireworks char keow teow.
The next notable stop the Matang Museum, a former fort known as the Kota Ngah Ibrahim. These area also have several seafood shops like Lighthouse Seafood Restaurant which sells reasonably priced sea food.
The loop back point of the route is at Kuala Sepetang. It goes much along the same route along Jalan Taiping-Kuala Sepetang until the bend near Masjid Ngah Ibrahim where it cuts into a road which runs along the former Taiping-Port Weld Railway Line (Port Weld is the old colonial name of Kuala Sepetang). This was the first railway line in Malaya. Here it runs through villages and the happy children will come out to wave cyclists riding by, and don't be surprise to see stray cows crossing the road.
It leads back through an underpass below the North-South Highway to another outskirt, Assam Kumbang where one could stop and visit the Antong coffee mill) and then head back to Taiping town via an overpass next to the Taiping Railway Station. Ahead will be more heritage buildings - two centuries old colonial school, the St. George's Institution and the King Edward VII Institution; and further ahead the Perak Museum, the oldest museum in the country.
Then it's a final detour to the Taiping Municipal Council Building and a pass-by of the Taiping Prison. Taiping, although not the oldest town in the country seems to have a lot's of first; even this prison is the first and oldest in the country. And it's back to the Taiping Lake Gardens for a total loop length of around forty kilometres.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Kuala Sepetang is a small fishing village on the outskirts of Taiping. One can ride in from Taiping using the road on the former Taiping-Port Weld Railway Line or just park nearby and ride around the village. Go on a weekday, without all the tourists around, to appreciate the quiet life of the locals at a place which time seems to have forgotten and ride around the narrow lanes lined with timber houses, many of which are painted in green.
Stop by at the fishing pier, and see trawler boats moored at the piers. Nearby fishermen would be playing mahjong, hardly noticing out-of-towners. Life here is idyllistic, why be too bothered. Pop over to the bridge of Sungai Reba, from there are even better views of many trawlers parked at the riverside.
Some interesting spots to drop by and visit are the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, where mangrove trees are protected in a swampy reserve; and the charcoal factories nearby, where charcoal is still made in centuries old brick kilns. Kuala Sepetang has several good foodie spots such as the Xin Restaurant which provide a wide range of seafood, and Mee Udang Mak Jah which is renown for their prawn noodles.
For those who want to relax and spend a quiet night, there's the Happy Eight Retreat Hotel. Located next to the river, it has beautiful night scenes and one wakes up to twitting swallows.
(... see blog)

Teluk Intan was formely called Telok Anson, but even before, i.e. before colonial days, it was called Teluk Mak Intan, so it's name has come a full circle. It is a busy town, but one not so much frequented by tourists as it is a distance away from the main trunk roads. I like these type of places, one that are not tempered by outsiders influences that much. One can drive into the town, or take a train up to Tapah Road Railway Station and ride in from there; it's an interesting 30 km. route that goes via villages and irrigation canals.
A must do loop in the town itself, is around the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan, one with a tilt something similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Drop into the nearby Teck Kee Restaurant which sells Nyonya Kueh - what makes the shop interesting is that it is furnished with antique furniture and other collectibles... and almost everything is for sale including the chairs and tables one sits at while dining!
From the town centre take a short ride to the Bidor River riverside, a quieter river where timber houses still line its side. One of this houses the Tiger Biscuit Factory.
Also ride to the nearby market street where there are many food stalls selling curry noodles and also the famed Anson Chee Cheong Fun. And then pop in to visit many of the old temples dotting this area.
OR go a short distance out of town to see an unique temple dedicated to the East Sea Dragon King.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

On this route, riding the stretch along the coastal bund at Tanjung Piandang is already worth the journey going there. 
The bund stretches about four kilometres from Sungai Baru to Sungai Burung to Tanjung PiandangThis bund was put up on the coast to prevent erosion by the sea. It was constructed of L-shaped concrete sections that fit into each other like a jigsaw puzzle. With the geometrical patterned sea-wall on one side and padi fields on the other, all under a bright blue sky, this is a unique scenery that one seldom gets to see.
There is a local tale behind this bund called the story of the Broken Bund (Ban Pecah in Malay). It seems that an uncle had betrayed two young orphans of a land heritage that was endowed to them by their parent. He took the land and drove the children out. Before leaving the children prayed to God for justice. The waves came washed away the bund (it was made of earth then) and flooded the surrounding houses and padi fields. Such is the vengeance of God.
Either take a train up to Parit Buntar and cycle in from there;
(... see route map) (... see blog)
 OR to make things more exciting take a boat ride from Kuala Sepetang to Kuala Gula and ride from there. If time permits, visit the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary, it's part of the large Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
Food wise, at one end is Tanjung Piandang with it's numerous seafood restaurants, and on the other end is Kuala Kurau with it's famed prawn fritters and good frothy coffee.
And drop into the Joo Hong Chang Factory, it's a cottage industry that makes salted duck eggs; they have staff who caters to visitors and take them on a short educational tour of their factory.

The Victoria Bridge near Karai Town is a disused railway bridge. Disused it may be, but its dark steel structure sitting on huge red-brick columns spanning over the Perak River is indeed a sight to behold.
Getting there is also half the fun, start the ride from Kuala Kangsar and take a route cutting through the padi fields of Kampong Kota Lama Kanan, then leads through some rubber estates .....
Then cut back to the left bank and ride through several rustic kampongs with friendly, smiling locals while heading for the bridge.
After viewing the bridge, one can extend the ride to Sauk where a couple of shops serve good seafood. Other good food is the Restoran Yat Lai Chciken chop at Kuala Kangsar and the Laksa Burung at Kota Lama Kiri on the route back.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
OR extend the ride even further to the beautiful Tasik Raban in Lenggong .....
... and then reward yourselves with a night stay at kampung-style chalets at the Suka Suka Lake Retreat sitting on the lake's edge, before returning back the next day.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Take a drive or ride a train with your bike up to Kampar for something a little bit more challenging. It's not a long route, just over fifty kilometres but it goes up into the hills of the Sungai Salu Forest Reserve. Starting from Kampar the route is fairly flat going through Temoh until it reaches Chenderiang.
From there it climbs up passing by the Kijang Waterfalls (Lata Kijang) and several kampongs at the edge of the forest reserve before sloping down to the rear of the Gua Tempurung hills, followed by more climbs before returning back to Kampar.
Along the way, pop into the Hebron Organic Farm, for a short conducted tour and to buy some organic-grown fruits and jams - some off-road riding is required.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

To see other interesting cycling trails in Perak, click here.
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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Perak / Best Cycling Trails In Perak
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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Best Cycling Trails In Penang

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Best Cycling Trails In Penang
Penang, although a small state within Malaysia, is an interesting place of melding cultures, of a fusion of people resulting in an unique society showing the best of each culture. It has a long history of a port which has led to many interesting old buildings and on the other hand has also preserved its many green areas. It's a state with two parts, Penang Island with some nice beaches, coastal roads and hills; and Province Wellesely (officially called Seberang Prai) on mainland Peninsular Malaysia. And there is George Town, the capital which is an UNESCO Heritage Site. Together they provide an attractive range of rides, from easy to hard.
Here are some of the cycling trails in the state that I liked best:

Although in Malaysia dedicated cycling lanes are in its infancy, Penang is leading the country and is making headway in implementing cycling lanes. Phase 1 of the East Coast Cycling Lanes was completed three years ago, and Phase 2 is being constructed and almost reaching up to the Second Penang Bridge. Phase 1 connects to Phase 2 at Queensbay via a three-storey cycling/pedestrian spiral bridge, call the Jambatan Harapan (Bridge of Hope). Cycling in Penang won't feel complete until having done these lanes.
These lanes goes along nice stretches of beaches, green reserves, boat piers and spectacular views of both the First Penang Bridge and Second Penang Bridge. Several dedicated cycling bridges have been built to facilitate these lanes including a crooked one, and the Jambatan Harapan, a three-storey ramp bridge. One can start any where along the lanes, either from down-town George Town, or at Karpal Singh Drive or from Queensbay.
Or use it to commute down from the Penang International Airport.
There is a Penang Cycling Lane Master Plan to provide a full circuit of dedicated bike lanes around the coastal fringe with radial paths linking inwards to the island centre.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Stronger cyclists can take on an adventure of cycling an eighty-three kilometre loop around the island. Start point can be anywhere along the coastal area; a good place to start is at the Penang Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama) and cycle clock-wise so that the one is always on the coastal side. It will take half a day or even more if one stops often to appreciate the people and the countryside along the way (like yours truly here!).
Participants of the CFAL ride taking on the viaduct at Bayan Lepas.
The route will take one along the east coast up to the hills beyond Bayan Lepas where road viaducts present a majestic view. Then it's across the hills to the Telok Bahang Dam and down the sandy beaches of Batu Ferringhi before returning to the Esplanade. It's a good mix of urban, rural and green views with a challenge of some moderately steep and curvy slopes.
If it's in season, one can get to savour the durian, the King of Fruits, or take a detour into Balik Pulau for some good Penang Laksa.
For those interested in taking part in a public group round island event, there's the annual CFAL (Cycle For A Lane) Ride. One will have to ride faster in the event as there is a cut off time of five hours.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

An easy ride to appreciate the charms of old Penang is around the UNESCO Heritage Core Area. See the city's colonial past in the many old houses and also enjoy George Town's renown street art. And pop into the many coffee-shops to savour Penang Laksa, Char Keow Teow, Penang Cendul and other delectable street food for which the island is famous for.
Those without bikes can rent them from several shops in the core zone.
Venture slightly out of the core area to Persiaran Gurney (Gurney Drive) and there are sampan boats moored at the seaside waiting for photos to be taken.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Victory at the Teluk Bahang Dam.
For a good half-day exercise, this is a favourite week-end route among local cyclists. Most will start from the Esplanade (but one can literally start anyway near one's residence) and ride up along the north coast to Tanjung Bungah or Batu Ferringhi. If time permits, one can ride all the way up to the Telok Bahang Dam.
The route will take one from the city to the rural outskirts and onwards to through nice beaches with unique names such as Sunshine Beach, Shamrock Beach and even Miami Beach.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Balik Pulau in Malay literally means "Back of the Island" and this town is really at the other side of the island. Bring your bike up for a half-day's romp at the outskirts of this small rural town, a good place to start is at the Balik Pulau new market and head outwards to enjoy the rural charms of this back-of-the-island place.
Ride through the rustic narrow sandy lanes of the kampungs, onto roads fringing padi fields and even head for a mangrove swamp, and at the same time enjoy the warm hospitality of the rural folks. Then return back to town for some good Penang Laksa and perhaps view the beautiful murals there.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

The CARPET is a small piece of turfed area somewhere mid-way up the hills at Sungai Ara; from there one can have a good view of Penang's east coast and the two iconic bridges. Getting up there is the exciting thing and it ends with a reward of the good views.
For those who do not want to tax themselves and go all the way up, the lower fringes within a forest reserve is a beautiful place to enjoy a serene ride among the greenery to the sound of bustling brooks and babbling springs.
A good start point is from the Palazzia complex at Bukit Gambier as en route there are small villages too.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

OR take up the challenge and cycle all the way up to the Carpet, certain stretches can be a bit steep but the quiet route through a secondary forest is very rewarding.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
For those who want a real hilly challenge, ride all the way up to Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera), start point is from the entrance to the Penang Botanical Gardens (..... see map).

Pearl Hill is a pearl within the PEARL OF THE ORIENT. It's a small hill at north-east part of the island, easy to get to and gives a good climb on a medium distance stretch. One can make it as part of the North Coast Ride (#4 above), or just start from somewhere in Tanjung Bungah (eg. the Mutiara Food Court).
Right up at the top is the Datuk Kong Temple (珍珠山大伯公) which has a location that affords good views of the coastal city-scape on one side and the sandy beaches on the other side. The hill's strategic position was so important that during the Second World War the Japanese built bunkers along it's slopes; take a hike around and one will be able to discover these bunkers.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Start from the Raja Uda Ferry Terminal on the island side and bring your bicycles along for a Penang ferry ride across the sea to Butterworth.
On arriving at the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal on the Butterworth side, ride up the ramps leading away from the terminal. From there is a great view of the port with ships moored at the harbour. Then head outwards along the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) that hugs the coastline. One will pass by large container areas and with views of the gigantic yellow container cranes. Traffic is light here, but do watch out for motorcycles who go contra-traffic.
A good via point, is the Pantai Bersih R&R, for some drinks or seafood while having a good view of the sea with Penang Island on the other side. The peak point for this ride can be the Tow Boo Kong Temple at ,with it's magnificent entrance archway, before turning back.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Guar Petai was a former quarry, stones from the hills were mined and clay from the pools were excavated for a nearby brick factory. This quarrying and mining activity surprisingly had not marred nature but in fact had unintentionally left pools of clear emerald-blue water, turning the place into one of the most beautiful spots here.
One can start from Butterworth or Bukit Mertajam OR just continue onward from the BORR trail. Along the way are scenes of streams surrounded by green or golden padi fields.
The final stretch is a short off-road track passing the brick factory before reaching a reddish alien-looking landscape which is Guar Petai. Take some time to hike a short distance up the red hillocks for a good view of the emerald pools set amidst green foliage.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Gertak Sanggul is located at the remote south-western corner of Penang Island. Presently it's an off-the-radar place which makes it a nice solitude place for some peace. There's a nice short stretch of beach with wooden boating piers sticking outward to the sea. And nearby is the Hai Boey Seafood Restuarant (海尾海鲜), an appropriate name as Hai Boey means Sea's End in the local Penang Hokkien.

Start off from Queensbay and ride towards Bayan Lepas, if one is lucky one will catch sight of a plane approaching to land at the far end runway of the Penang International Airport. At Teluk Kumbar town, taking a left will lead away from the bustling roads onto a quiet road leading to Gertak Sanggul. The hard-core, can take the road at the far end, it leads to the outskirts of Balik Pulau on the other side of the hill - use a mountain bike for this as many stretches are steep and off-road.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

To see other interesting cycling trails in Penang, click here.
_________________________________________________________________________ Related Blogs :

You may also like :

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Penang / Best Cycling Trails In Penang

If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)