Friday, May 13, 2022

Ipoh Cycling Sojourn 2022 Day 2-1: Cycling The Hills Of Tanjung Rambutan

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Ipoh Cycling Sojourn 2022: Day 2-1: Cycling The Hills Of Tg Rambutan

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia Day 2-1: Wednesday 13th April 2022
This is part of a road/cycling trip from Kuala Lumpur to & around Ipoh.
The first part of today's adventure is a tough cycling ride around the foothills of Bukit Batu Suluh, near Tanjung Rambutan, to the KOA (Kampung Orang Asli) Tonggang:

Distance: 18 km.               |               Level: Very Hard
Time : 8:25am to 11:15am
Time Taken : 2hrs 50mins. (including stops for rest, first aid, and lots of photo opps).

This is page 2 of a 4-page blogClick Here To Go To Title Page.
< Go to D1 KL/Ipoh              |        Go to Other Days  |   Go To D2-2 Kinta Riverside >

Route Recommendations:
1. Traffic Directions!
    Malaysia's traffic is right-hand drive, so drive or cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, be careful and take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    We drove from Ipoh town to the Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve to begin our cycling, and parked our car at an open spot (GPS: ) near the entrance to the ?dam.
    Slightly more than half of the route are within the foot hills of Bukit Batu Suluh, with gentle to steep undulating roads, some of which run along the upper part of the Kinta River; here it's among rural villages and secondary forests and the roads are rather shady. Certain stretches of the rural roads have potholes, so do cycle with care. The other half of the route run along public roads which are fairly flat but without much shade. So do cover up or apply sun-block.

3. Places of Interest
    Enroute were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time (Note: click on GPS coordinates for directional map to respective places):
KTM Tg. Rambutan Railway Station (GPS: 4.67184, 101.15644), this is a defunct station which is now a food court.
Kampung Orang Asli Tonggang  (GPS: 4.69348, 101.19466an Orang Asli (native) village.
Kampung Orang Asli Cadak  (GPS: 4.67249, 101.19556an Orang Asli (native) village.

4. Food
Breakfast: Noodles at Chor Kee Restaurant (初记茶室) (GPS: 4.60670, 101.11994) in Taman Ipoh Selatan.
Lunch: Restoran Mapo (孖宝云吞面专店) (GPS: 4.63518, 101.12479) in Bercham.
       
5. Weather
    April is within the inter-monsoon period, although there could be short showers, weather can still be hot. The saving grace is the overcast skies do give some shade. At Ipoh, mid-afternoon temperatures were 32°C and night temperature averaged 27°C. There was some light drizzle in the late afternoon and evening.
    A useful weather forecast site is AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

6. 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). Most Malaysians can speak fairly good English; but in the rural areas the locals speak only some rudimentary English, so learning some basic phrases in Bahasa Malaysia will be helpful.
    This could be partly overcome 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.

7. 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.

8. 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 and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE
The previous day we had made a road-trip from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh. No cycling but acted as tourists 😆 and had explored Ipoh Old Town (including a good Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun lunch), then visited a Thai temple, a cave temple and a mirror lake, and ending the day with a good dinner at Durbar at FMS.
Today we will have two cycling rides; an easier one at the Kinta Riverside in the afternoon (which will be shown in the next blog), and this one, a tough ride from Tanjung Rambutan, along the scenic foot-hills of Bukit Batu Suluht, and upwards to visit an Orang Asli (native) village.
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THE RIDE 

  
This is a short but tough 18 km. route that takes us around the vicinity of TR and up to the foot hills of Bukit Batu Suluh, running along the upper part of the Kinta River; here it's among rural villages and secondary forests and the roads are rather shady. Certain stretches of the rural roads have potholes, so do cycle with care. The first half of the route run along public roads which are fairly flat but without much shade. So do cover up or apply sun-block.
(Click here for Tanjung Rambutan to the KOA (Kampung Orang Asli) Tonggang Google Route Map Link)

We met up with a local Ipoh-Brompton buddy, Eugene Lee, at the Taman Ipoh Selatan where we had some simple noodles breakfast at Chor Kee Restaurant. Tummy boosted WE ARE READY TO RIDE! We drive-followed Eugene to a small patch of open space near the entrance to the Sultan Azlan Shah Dam. Parking our cars we unloaded and unfolded our Brompton bikes. It's amazing that three of us together with our folded bikes could fit into our sedan car - that;s the wonder of the tri-fold compactness of the Brompton.
(Note: some of the photos are by my buddy Anne)

Nearby is the Ulu Kinta Waterfall, it's actually a water outlet from the dam, but to many it looked like a waterfall. It's nearby here that many start their hiking up Bukit Batu Suluh for a scenic view of the dam.

8:25am - But we're not here for hiking, and soon rode off  to cycle along the Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve. The roads here are shady and quiet as not many come up to the dam area, except for the native, hikers and ....... some crazy cyclists like us, heheh! - so it was a pleasure to ride along, with the cool morning air billowing through our hair!

But that shady ride lasted for only 5km, and soon we were onto busy, and hot un-shaded roads. The saving grace were some beautiful limestone hills dotting the area.

Nestled in one of these limestone hills is the Dong Hua Cave Temple, its red walls and green roof made it stand out from the hillside. We didn't have time to make a detour to visit it, but made a mental note for a future visit.

Eugene led at a brisk pace, and soon we passed by the Tg. Rambutan Railway Station. But one won't be able to catch a train here as it's a defunct station; trains do pass by but don't make a stop anymore. It's now serves as a food court.
Near by is the Gurudwara Sahib Tanjung Rambutan. Gurdwaras are Sikh temples. Recently I was interviewed by a buddy Sandakan Eagle, who is a Sikh, and he has kicked of a series of cycling tours that will take him to visit and stay at the gurdwaras around the country. So of late, I am more aware of gurdwaras, and notice them more easily. Follow him, in spirit, via his Gurdwara Cycling Tour blogs; or better still go physically follow him and learn more of the Sikh culture!

Passed by this interesting chalets made of logs/bamboo situated among shady trees. This is the Roots Eco Resort and their tag-line is "Peaceful bamboo resort with great food, swimming pool, trampolines and more. Kids love it, and so too their parents". The kid in me would definitely love it!

About a hundred meters away from the resort, we made a right turn at an inconspicuous junction. Google Maps just shows it as "Sri Vaithianatha Muneeswara Alayam Junction" (GPS: 4.67756, 101.16235).
This is where the real riding adventure starts!

The area here is wonderfully green, but one have to will have to cycle here with care as there are many pot holes dotting the route. Some are so large that there is no avoiding them!

But there are the rewards of cycling here, a fair portion of the early section of the route runs along the upper reaches of the Kinta River; and at several spots it goes right up to the banks of the river!

An on one of this banks sits an interesting temple - the Sri Vaithyanatha Muneeswarar Alayam Indian Temple. The main attraction of this temple is a tall statue of the Indian god, Muneeswarar,sitting facing the river, with a leg crossed over the other. At fifty-two feet high it's one of the tallest statue in the country.

Except for the potholes, the initial section of the route was quite flat; but after the temple the route started taxing our muscles. We are treading the foot-hills of Bukit Batu Suluh, and the gentle slopes gave way to many undulating ones, some so steep that it was better to be humble and come down and push!

Surprisingly, Lynne was taking in all of these slopes quite well. Her she is pushing her bike through some sandy patch, and happily waving at me. She doesn't like hills, and I do hope she'll still wave at me as the undulating slopes become steeper and steeper, and take their toll on her.

Oh-OH! A much steeper and longer slope ahead. Anne's face tells it all 😱😱😱.
Eugene & Lynne have already started pushing!

She gave a shot at it; pedaling furiously hard to try to conquer the slope.
Can she make it?
Nope, she ate humble pie and joined the T&T gang!
(T&T stands for Turun & Tolak, meaning "Dismount & Pushe")

After taking on that tough slope, a well-earned rest AND thumbs up!
 👍👍👍 

10:00am - We arrived at Orang Asli (native) village called Kampung Orang Asli Tonggang.
But truth to tell (or in Manglish - "Shy. shy to say!"), the slope leading up to the village is one of the steepest. And just short of 300m form the village, Lynne's legs gave way on her and locked in a terrible cramp. She couldn't even get up and had to sit it out for almost half an hour, massaging and waiting for the tensed muscle to relaxed back, before she managed to walk, with our help, to the village!
Do cycle-explore the village a bit, above on of the photos shows the village entrance archway done with beautiful Malaysian aboriginal artwork pattern.

The village is a small one, sitting atop one of the lower hills, with a few rows of single-storey, timber houses, a shop, a surau, and a school called Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Tanjung. The original name of the school was Sekolah Kebangsaan Tonggang. The students of this school are orang asli students from the Temiar tribe. They come from 5 nearby villages, namely Kg. Tonggang, Kg. Petai, Kg. SuluhKg. Chadak and Kg. Makmur.

Like most village houses, they sit on stilt, this is to avoid wild animals and floods, to deter thieves, and for added ventilation. Some still have attap roofs, while others are with more modern zinc or non-asbestos roof. The attap roofs are cooler but are harder to maintain and need regular replacement.

A better view of one of the stilt houses, with drying sarongs draped over the timber railings.
And a view of the only sundry shop in the village - it was where we got the badly needed 100 Plus isotonic drinks to replenish ourselves!

Here we are taking a rest before Eugene and me rode down to our cars to come back up to pick up the girls.

While we were away, the Orang Asli school children from SK Seri Tanjung were getting acquainted with the girls and their bikes. A couple of boys were intrigued by our Bromptons, and took turns to "ride" on Lynne's M6R!
The children here are so used to the freedom of the jungle that they sauntered in and out of the school casually, and a school teacher would firmly guide them back in!

Eugene and me left, to ride down to our start point to get our cars and come pick up the girls. The route down was not without its rewards; our start from the village was a happy downhill ride to this bridge (GPS: 4.68564, 101.19478) with a nice scenery of the Kinta River with clear waters.

But our happiness was short-lived, further ahead the undulating slopes were back! And worse still a section was affected by a landslide; we had to ride carefully over the sand-covered trail and make short detour to avoid a sunken section.

The return journey seems easier, and soon we were almost at the end of the route, at Kampung Orang Asli Cadak, which seems to have a gateway to deter unwanted visitors.... elephants, perhaps.... naaaw...

Hahaha.... our punishment was over yet! One last humbling T&T just after Kampung Orang Asli Cadak.

We got our cars and drove back to pick up the girls.... and were greeted by a warm, welcoming party of school-children of SK Seri Tanjung. School's over and they were happy to see us without having to be shooed by their teacher 😉!

On our drive to lunch passed by the Gurudwara Sahib Kampung Bercham. Situated at the main road, I was able to admire it's architectural design with its ribbed-lotus main dome topped by an ornamental pinnacle; and  arched copings, and solid dome-lets as complementary exterior decorations. The gold colour of the domes reminds me of the grand Golden Temple in Amritsar.
To learn more of Sikhism, click here.

(Restoran Mapo lunch, photo cr. Anne)
Our lunch at Restoran Mapo in Bercham, clockwise from top-left:

Many thanks to Eugene for taking us on this tough but very memorable ride.

See a YouTube Video of part of the route(i.e. within the rural roads).
(For more photos of the ride Click Here)

This is page 2 of a 4-page blogClick Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1 KL/Ipoh              |        Go to Other Days  |   Go To D2-2 Kinta Riverside >
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