Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Penang Bike Ride 22/07/2012 : Tg Tokong - Telok Bahang

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Penang / Penang Ride 22nd July 2012
                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                   
Penang Ride : Tanjong Tokong to Telok Bahang Dam
22nd July 2012
Sunset at Tanjong Tokong.
Trio Ride from Tanjong Tokong to Telok Bahang Dam & back.
Distance covered : 35.50 km.
Time Taken : approx. 3hrs.
1. Good, scenic ride. Can be fast paced, but do be careful of traffic especially at the sharp bends after Tanjong Bungah as the roads are narrow too.
2. Best to start early or if not do it on a Sunday like we did when traffic is lighter. NOT RECOMMENDED to ride at night here!
3. Also, you will get to meet many friendly bikers as this is a favorite riding route.

After my first Penang Ride on my first bike XDS-AFB260 basic bike, I got my 2nd bike, a new Dahon Dash (see Buying My 2nd Foldie) and was itching to ride it out of town. The opportunity came when I had to go to Penang for a Satay Party organised by our FaceBook food group Eat Out With Sam.

My Dahon Dash in the express bus luggage hold.
So two days prior, I loaded my bike into the hold of the 5-Star express bus and left for Penang  from the 1-Utama Transportation Hub. I had packed my bike into the Dahon Carry Bag, carefully covering the gear derailleurs and other important components with bubble wrap. It's best to put the bike standing up, with other luggage restraining it.

Komtar Tower in George Town, Penang.
I arrived at the Komtar, Penang bus terminal in the mid-afternoon and had wanted to re-assemble my bike and ride to my parent's house. But the skies were getting cloudy dark, and I humbly called by younger brother Jimmy to come pick me up.

The Mini Velo Biking Group at Strait Quay.
Later that night as we were heading for supper in Tanjong Tokong, we saw about 50 bikers riding in a convoy. I got excited and wanted to meet these fellow bikers. We trailed them to their pit-stop at the Straits Quay.

AhPek with Mini Velo Bike Group leader, Chew
I managed to meet up with their ride leader Chew, exchanged pleasantries, mentioning that I was from the KL group, Malaysian Foldies. Chew mentioned that they are from the Mini Velo Group and ride every Friday, starting off at 9pm from the Shell petrol station next to the 1-Stop Midlands Park shopping complex at Jalan Burma.

And all too soon, they were off again, continuing their ride; and there I was wishing that I could join them, perhaps on my next trip to Penang. Well, it was back to supper - Penang good food again. Eating with dreams of joining these group for a ride and making new friends.

Start Point of Ride - Hock Hin Terrace, Tanjong Tokong.
I kicked off the ride alone, starting the ride from Hock Hin Terrace heading towards Fettes Park to meet up with my brother Vic and his son Will.

Penang Bike Ride 22nd July 2012 (click for Map Link)
Our riding route, will be slightly tough for an old man like me, taking us up and down several slopes and many sharp bends. But at the same time offering us many picturesque views of nice beaches and unique village life.

Vic & Will, my co-bikers
Fortunately for me, my co-bikers (Vic & Will) met up with me at Lintang Fettes, as the ride up to their house would have involved going up some pretty steep slopes!

College-General Penang at junction of Jalan Bintang & Jalan Cengai
We rode on, cycling briskly along Jalan Bintang and wanted to turn into the College-General grounds in Mariophile for a detour as that area would have given us some nice slopey ride. Too bad though, it was closed to the public.

Pulau Tikus Island
So we continued on, turning left towards Jalan Tanjong Bungah and rode pass a small little island called Pulau Tikus Island (Rat Island). I was wondering to myself how the island got it's name, its shape from various angles did not look like a rat. Perhaps they are many rats on the island!

Further along, we say a cute little stall selling Malay rice calling itself "Amigo's Nasi Melayu", nice name with a Mexican twist.

Opposite the stall was a slim high-rise condominium. There are many such slim, tall buildings in Penang as land is scarce and expensive.

The Tanjong Bungah Mosque
Further along to our left, on the beach-ward side, is the beautiful "floating" Tanjong Bungah Mosque, this mosque is even more scenic when viewed from the sea. A fairly new building, it replaced a much smaller, old mosque which was destroyed during the 2004 Inidan Ocean Tsumani.

MarVista Condominium at Tanjong Bungah
Across the road, the MarVista Condominium, sitting comfortably on a hill slope, looms upward to the sky, with each tower competing for the best view of the sea.

Signage indicating more development at Shamrock Beach
We rounded another corner and are at the start of the stretches of Tanjong Bungah beaches where locals frequent to escape the heat of the sun. These beaches may not be wide, but the locals come becuase they are closer to the city. This one is called Shamrock Beach, probably named by some Irish colonist.

Rocky Outcrop marking the end of Shamrock Beach
The boundaries for each of these beaches are marked by a bend in the coastline; and also at both ends of each beach are rocky outcrops that make going over to the other beaches difficult.
These beaches have very unique names, starting with this one, Shamrock Beach. Then comes Sunshine Beach and Miami Beach. Many curious tourists ask "Miami Beach in Penang?" Yes!

We reached moonlight bay, having ridden for about 45mins. and just warming up.

Development have reached up to Moonlight Bay too. With Penangites penchant for bungalows, the above ones seems to hang precariously, reaching higher for a better view of the sea.

Moonlight Bay - Poor view of the sea from road level.
This is understandable as from road level, one can hardly see the sea. Moonlight Bay always conjures romantic memories as I recall the song "On Moonlight Bay"

Golden Sands Resort Hotel
We rode passed the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, this hotel marks the start of the Batu Ferringhi (Foreigner's Rock) beaches & numerous hotels. Further along is the Golden Sands Resort, one of the oldest hotels in this area.

Batu Feringhi was a small fishing village but is now a major tourist destination of Malaysia. The tourists likes the place as it has nice beaches, is still rustic and is not to far away from quaint George Town. A good mix of sea and history (see Penang Ride 7th July 2012 - Tajong Tokong to George Town).

Other than the hotels, new commercial buildings have cropped up to cater for the tourist industry.

There's even a spanking new Chinese School.

We have been riding for close to an hour now, and passing by this Reflexology Centre, we were tempeted to go in and have our feet pampered but desisted. Heh! heh!

Further on, we passed by the "Ship Restaurant" which is housed in a building that looks like a real ship. This place serves Western, Chinese and fusion cuisine.

And next to it is the "Golden Thai Seafood Village" restaurant. Well, the tourists have to eat, and this offers them variety.

Slightly further ahead is the renown "Hard Rock Hotel Penang"

Here I am in front of the Hard Rock Hotel - still the AhPek look as I didn't bring along my riding jersey on this trip to Penang.

We left the last of the Batu Ferringhi hotels behind us and prepared for more winding and steeper roads. The road signs warning us of the dangers ahead.

But we were getting close to our destination, only another 3km to Telok Bahang village and a further 2km to the Telok Bahang Dam.

But the bends are getting sharper with blind corners. There is even one hair-pin bend, one have to be slow and careful here.

But then the sea-scape is inspiring & the cloudy skies helped shade the sun and make our ride all the more pleasant.

Several companies have sponsored biking signage, to create awareness to the public that cycling is an ongoing activity here.

Many bicycle icons are painted on the roads themselves. These are not for indication of biking lanes but more to let other vehicles know that biking is ongoing here, and road courtesy should be given accordingly.
The effectiveness to educate the public was evident when I was rounding a sharp bend. As I slowed down to take the corner, over my shoulder I noticed a huge shadow approaching. It was a big bus, the driver slowed down as he could not overtake me at this narrow bend. No honking, no sudden braking - just patiently waiting for me. That's road courtesy!

AhPek at the Spice Garden Entrance
We reached Telok Bahang village, a single street place with a few shop-houses lining the road sides and stopped at Restoran Ibrahim for a breather and a quick bite.....

..... of Roti Chanai, what else?

After that simple meal, we continued on. The signage indicating Telok Bahang fishing village straight ahead, and Balik Pulau (translated meaning "Back of the Island") & the Titi Kerawang Forest reserve to the left.

We took the left turn, rode past the Butterfly Farm, and proceeded up the steep and slightly winding road. On our right, the embankment of the dam sloped sharply upwards. It wasn't an easy climb, but we made it to the top AND

was rewarded by this magnificent view of the dam.

Victory at the top.

AhPek & Will posing at the Telok Bahang Dam
After a good 15mins. breather of enjoying the view, it was time to make the return trip.We zoomed down the slope, cautiously applying our brakes and soon was back.....

..... at the famous pitcher-plant round-a-bout of Telok Bahang.

And rode pass the vacant and dilapidated Mutiara Beach Resort. Once a proud flagship 5-star hotel, it has now stopped operation, probably arising from some cooperate restructuring.

Passing by the  Hard Rock Cafe, but with no times for drinks, we proceeded on.

Rode pass Batu Ferringhi Village again, we are know cycling at a faster pace - hungry & eager to get to our lunch destination.

Thumbs up for the Indian Mee stall at Tanjong Bungah. Victory sign by the vendor!
At Tanjong Bungah village, we made a slight detour into Jalan Chan Siew Teong, for our lunch at this well-known Indian Mee stall.

Vic & Will had Mee Goreng.

While I, preferring something wetter, went for the Mee Rebus. Both of these were delicious as the mee goreng and mee rebus from the Penang are definitely better than those served by the Mamak coffe-shops in the Klang Valley.

Stomachs now sated, we took a slower leisurely ride pass some more nice beaches heading towards Tanjong Tokong.

View from Fettes Road towards the sea.
At the Island Plaza junction, we made a right turn into Fettes Road.

Near the entrance leading into Prima Tanjong, we couldn't help but stop at Raj's Nyonya Kueh Stall. Many nyonya kueh vendors in Penang are Indians (kueh made by the Nyonya Chinese and sold by the Indians, which not an unusual Penang cultural mix) and in the past they use to carry their wares on kandar sticks.

The smell of the Nyonya Penang Laksa and Nyonya kueh was too difficult to resist and we stopped by for snacks of both. Nyonya Laksa is a variation of the renown Penang Laksa, the former being spicier and hotter. (... see more)

To complement our meal, we had soya bean milk sweetened with thick Gula Melaka. Again, the Klang Valley version loses out, they use Gula Melaka that has been diluted with normal sugar making it lose its aroma and taste.

Having savored more of Penang's famous food, we rode on home. My obsidian Dahon Dash P18 was a much better ride than my first bike the XDS-AFB260 (see Buying My First Foldable Bike). The Dash was about 3kg lighter, and with it's 18-speed gear train, was much easier to ride up the many slopes and speedier on the flats.

Cheerio now! And until my next biking adventure - "Happy Riding!"

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Penang / Penang Ride 22nd July 2012
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