Thursday, October 31, 2013

Penang : Up The Carpet

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                              AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                          
Penang : Up The Carpet
Sungai Aria, Penang : 26th October 2013
Duo Ride - Krystal Point>Sungai Nibong>Sungai Ara>The Carpet>Relau>Sungai Nibong.
Distance covered : 20.88 km.
Time Start : 8:00 am     Time End : 12:00 pm (including stops for rest, photos, breakfast & lunch).
Duration : 4 hrs.

Route Recommendations :
1. Foldies can be use for the lower reaches of the off-road route.
2. For the upper portion of the route, it is recommended to use a mountain bike as most paths are unpaved, and are narrow enough for just one bicycle.
3. The route coming down to Relau is steep, do apply brakes adequately.
4. Enjoy the scenery along the route - i.e. many streams, bubbling brooks, nice flora.

The gang from our previous trip into the Carpet region.
Having rode the route partly into The Carpet of Penang (... see Magic Carpet blog), and having heard much about it from other local bikers; I was eager to find out more about the place, eager to be enchanted again. Going up to Penang again, I made plans to ride all the way up to the Carpet; to see for myself what I had missed the previous ride there.
And who should I contact but my friend Winson who knows the route like the back of his palms. He was happy to oblige me but mentioned that the upper reaches of the route up is not accessible using a foldie bike.


Up The Carpet Penang Ride Map  (click for Map Link)
This time round we will be starting from Sungai Nibong head for Sungai Ara then ride up to the Carpet. The return trip will be down from The Carpet to Relau and back to Sungai Nibong.

Winson advised that it would be difficult to use a foldie to reach the upper portion of the route as the paths there are narrow, steep and often unpaved. He  graciously lent me his "Specialized" mountain bike. It relatively light and easy to handle. Hey! I can get used to riding a mountain bike, perhaps in the future.....

Riding through the main roads we reached Yoyo Huat coffee-shop. My previous experience of eating here was not too good, but I pleasantly found that in the morning this place has much more choices of food that were better than the evening's.
The food here is good but not the best that Penang has to offer. Nevertheless, this being the coffee-shop nearest to The Carpet  many cyclists and joggers frequent it either before or after going up. This was evident as Winson met a number of his cyclists friends here.

At The Carpet entry point, the greenery greeted us and the familiarity of the place jogs my memory of the previous ride here. Like an old friend it still enthral me with it's simple beauty.

I have had just a couple of hours of sleep the previous night, but the calming effects of the bustling streams rejuvenates me - making my ride easier and enjoyable.

That old rickety wooden bridge is still there bringing back fond memories; how I wish my friends from Kuala Lumpur were with me now to share this experience again.

It had rained the previous night making the tracks wet; we had to ride with more care. The rain had also made this place much cooler, nicer to ride along. But the cool weather is also causing my camera lens to fog up making most of the photos I took blurry.

At the rest shed we took a .... er .... rest. After this point it will be new territory for me and I am looking forward to see what will come next.

Beyond this point the tracks start getting steeper but I could still manage...

... as I am being tugged along by the beauty of the place.

Bubbling brooks and rivuleting streams abound!

Ahead, the track became a laterite path, so narrow that a we can only ride cycle single file.

Then it became mortar covered tracks again, but still narrow and got even steeper. At certain stretches, tired old me had to come down to push; I really must get back into form again, i.e. cycle more!

On an off there were rustic timber houses, the dwellings of the people who mind the durian orchards and banana groves here.

And even more streams. I like cycling here, the soft splashing of the cascading streams add music to the ambiance. Water always liven things up a bit, be it the waves of the sea, reflections on a calm lake or these energetic streams.

It is great to see that the streams here and the surroundings are very clean too, untainted by rubbish. Let's hope visitors do keep it that way.

The path was getting even steeper, and we stopped frequently for me to rest; our bicycles parked leaning against mossy rocks overflowing with creepers.

The surroundings changed from green to brown, we are at the upper reaches where there is less water. We are almost there, almost at The Carpet.

Hooray! We made it! It's time just to breath in the fresh morning air and relax. At a corner is a donation box, collecting funds for the maintenance of the tracks and paths leading up here.

The view from here is not a great as I imagined it to be. One can see about half of Penang Island's coastline, but it is not an obstructed view. On a fine day, the new Second Penang Bridge can even be spotted.
The beauty of the place is not the Carpet itself; it is in the journey up here both in terms of beauty of the environs and in the physical challenge to ride up those slopes.

We rode down through the Relau way. It's not a beautiful as the Sungai Ara way, there are hardly any streams and fewer farms. But it is a shorter, steeper route with wider tracks, wide enough for cars to drive on.

The exit point here is at Jalan Fettes; new houses are being built at the foothills here. I do hope that these will not extend further up and encroach onto the splendour of the place.
We rode back using the main roads and stopped for a quick lunch at Sungai Nibong.

Thanks Winson, you have been a good guide and a true friend.

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Penang / Up The Carpet
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)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Selangor : The Sampah Ride - Cleaning Sungai Chiling

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Selangor / The Sampah Ride - Cleaning Sungai Chiling
                          AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                       
Selangor : The Sampah Ride - Cleaning Sungai Chiling 20th October 2013
We had previously rode to the Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary, and have like and enjoyed the naturalness of the place with its friendly fishes swimming around us (... see Chiling @ Sg Chiling blog). The thing is the place is attracting more and more visitors, many of them irresponsibly throwing rubbish all over.
Johnny Ng of My Bicycle Shop issued a call of arms to cyclists to help out, it was a call to come help clean up the fish sanctuary. Some cyclist jokingly called this ride the" Sampah Ride"; well it's a good name; short and precise. (Note: "sampah" means rubbish in Bahasa Malaysia).

This time round I drove up to the Kuala Kubu Bharu railway station to meet some others who were taking the train there. I was a bit disheartened to see that only about 15 of us over here. Together we rode in to Kual Kubu's town centre for breakfast, with me still feeling disappointed by the lukewarm response.

But when we reached the town, was I in for a surprise! More than thirty cyclists were already there, much earlier than us. My confidence in my fellow cyclists was restored. 
We cyclists, moving along at a slower pace, do see things up close, making us even more aware of the environment.
That's the fun part of cycling, enjoying nature. Unfortunately, we also get to see the damage that has been inflicted to our surroundings up close.

At Kuala Kubu Bharu, we never miss ordering the kaya (coconut-egg jam) puffs from Teng Wun Bakery. These are delicious with their crispy multi-layered crusts (... see more at Kaya Puffs @ Teng Wun blog).

Eats time's is over, time to do our civic duties. Johnny led the way with his XDS FA16, he had come by train and the compact-fold of this bike was very suitable for brining onto the train.

The ride is up slope most of the way but the road is not too steep so it's manageable. The nice sceneries and cool breeze makes this route interesting and a joy to ride one.

Along the way we met some super-bikers heading uphill...

... and some skate-boarders heading downhill. Seems like we are not the only ones who know how to enjoy this route.

The scene that met us when we reached the Sungai Selangor Dam was totally different from the one during our last ride here. The dry weather has lowered the water level drastically.

The beauty of the white water rushing down the overflow outlet chamber was not there, it was a pale shadow of it's former self.

Nevertheless, we took a group photo of ourselves here - there were more than fifty of us!

Reaching Sungai Chiling, we started our rubbish collection even before we entered the place...

... there is so much rubbish left at the roadside drains of the main road. Visitors just lazily through out their rubbish into these drains. They just know how to enjoy the place but do not know how to keep it clean!

More enthusiastic cyclists formed a chain on a steep slope to get to those hard to reach garbage.

Even the younger ones chipped in.

A lighter moment while collecting tossed away empty beer bottles.

Even the area around the rubbish bin is not spared by those irresponsible visitors. Perhaps there are not enough of these bins (we only saw one), and perhaps located 500 metres from the entrance is just to "far" for those lazy people.

All in all, we collected twenty huge bags of rubbish.
Well done Johnny!
Well done all those who came to help!

Our civic duty responsibly carried out, it was time to relax and enjoy the place ...

... it is time to just let go and dunk our heads into the chilling water of Sungai Chiling.

It was time to play with the fishes and reflect on our efforts to preserve this place and its surrounding.

These fishes are beautiful and are worthwhile protecting.

En route down, we stopped for ice-cream treats. Life is good.

Nature is beautiful, it is even more beautiful when kept clean.

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Selangor / The Sampah Ride - Cleaning Sungai Chiling
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)