Sunday, August 17, 2014

Perak : Kampar To Ipoh - Silverado Bike-Packing

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Perak : Kampar To Ipoh - Silverado Bike-Packing
Kampar-Ipoh, Perak : 9th August 2014
Distance: 80 km. (Bike ride only excludes train ride)
Time : 8:10 am - 6:00 pm
Time Taken : 9 hrs 50 mins (inclg. stops for breakfast, lunch, tea, castle visit, rests/regroup, etc.)

Route Recommendations :
1. With light traffic, shady Route A180 from Kampar to Kampung Baharu Timah is a pleasant place to ride on.
2. Eventhough the Udang Galah at Tanjung Tualang is getting touristy pricey, they are still relatively cheaper than in Kuala Lumpur. They are of a bigger size too, so if there, just go for it and have a feast.
3. The Last Dredge, a disused tin mining dredge should be an interesting place to visit. When opened for viewing, visitors can even go inside the dredge and view the monstrous mechanisms within, eg. mining buckets as huge as cars, etc.
4. Gopeng, slowly being revived as a tourist destination has some interesting street art; nearby is the calming Gaharu Tea Valley.
5. Kellie's Castle has also been spruced up and now even has a tourist office.
6. If time permits, stay a bit longer in Ipoh; go along it's Heritage Trail with stately colonial buildings and manors OR take a ride along the Kinta River. Of course, try not to miss out their renown food like the Kai Si Hor Fun or the Funny Mountain soy-bean milk.
7. Travelling with our foldies on trains is part of the cycling adventure, I encourage you to try it as it opens up another avenue to further the cycling experience.

Sweeeaating it out riding to Sekinchan.
It's been a while since I last rode with my cycling buddies of the OX (Outdoor Xplorer) team. They are a small group of close friends who likes to take on some out-of-town riding excursions. The first time I rode with them was on a hot dehydrating ride from Sungai Buloh to Sekinchan. It was hot, it was tough but it was fun (... see Scenic Sekinchan blog).

At Chamang, Bentong.
On the next ride with them, we went zooming down from Genting Sempah to Bentong on a cool early morning. After having one of the best coffees I have ever tasted and then visited a couple of green natural sites (... see Breakin' Bentong blog), we face a return ride, one that was an excruciating continuous upslope 35km ride!
We were to do this route again, this time at Bentong we had some unique Wild Boar Nasi Lemak and I took on the return climb better *smiles*; the wild boar meal must have helped!

Well stuffed Mini-O bag.
So when the OX team organized a ride from Kampar to Ipoh, I was real glad to join. Besides being able to ride with my buddies again, the ride would include some bike-packing onto the KTM ETS (Electric Train Service) Intercity Train. I have had some experience taking my bike onto the Komuter trains but bringing our bikes onto the ETS will be a first for me, so this ride will also be a learning opportunity.
We booked our train ticket online via KTM's Intranet service. As we will be staying only one night in Ipoh, I thought of travelling light and packed an overnighter stuff into my Mini-O bag. Surprisingly, much can fit into this little bag - spare clothes, sleeping clothes, toiletries, chargers, raincoat, first-aid kit, etc.


Cycling Route: Kuala Lumpur>Kampar>Tanjung Tualang>Batu Gajah>Ipoh
Starting from Kuala Lumpur, we will be taking the ETS train with our bikes to Kampar. From there we will kick off our ride to Ipoh with an early prawny lunch at Tanjung Tualang. Along there way we will have some successful and unsuccessful destinations. Like cowboys of old, we will be riding our iron-horses on a short tour of the Perak, the Silver State. Silverado!

5:30 am - We all met up early at the KL Sentral; it's a transit hub where the various local and out of town train lines have their stops. At a lower level, local and feeder buses stop here too; click here to see the transit services of this hub. Seven of us will be taking the train - Felix, Suit, Rivern, Kim, Xinme, David & me.
Taking the first ETS train to Kampar, we and our bikes were soon comfortably on board. From Felix, I learnt several important tips about riding on the ETS with our bikes (... see bringing bikes onto ETS blog).

Cafeteria at Coach C.
The ETS trains are very clean and brightly lit with comfortable reclining chairs. Facilities provided include video entertainment, toilets and even a cafeteria. It's a rail service that run from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh with stops along major towns en route. One can just pop into one of these trains and disembark at any of the stops, explore the vicinity and pop back onto the the train to return home; all within a day!

7:57 am - The train reaches Kampar Station. It was a snap for us to unfold our bikes as we did not bagged them. Here, we were met by Dr. Ang and Kevin B, and in the cool morning rode off towards Kampar town.

A quick ten-minutes ride and we were at the renown 36 Stalls food court in Kampar town. Here we had some good beef wantan noodles together with Pegaga Juice to cool down our bodies in preparation of the long ride ahead.

With breakfast over, it was time for some serious riding. I thought Felix would have taken us on the shorter Route A114 to head for Tanjung Tualang. But no, he took us on a slightly longer road via Route A180. He knew his roads well, although this route required some backtracking, it was a safer route with less traffic.
Kampar was a former tin-mining town, the tin-mining industry has died off but around here can still be seen huge tracks of sandy area where tin mining had been carried out. One would have imagined that these sandy areas would be hot desert-like. However, trees have grown over most of the sandy area and our ride was through pleasant shady roads most of the time.

The sandy region gave way to oil palm estate, it's still shady as the trees are matured and planted close to the road unlike those we passed by during our Taman Negara Ride.

We passed by nice kampong houses too. Just for note, this area of Perak has some of the oldest Malay villages to be found in Peninsular Malaysia.

Kevin, our sweeper, riding proud and strong. From Ipoh, he is familiar with this area.

9:50 am - At the Kwan Yin Temple in Kampung Timah we stopped for a short break. This is a nice temple with a beautiful unique entrance arch topped with large carvings of lotus blooms.

Kampung Timah is at the junction that will lead us to Route A15, a much busier road with less shade. We covered up or applied Sunbloc and rode with more care as the traffic on this road is heavier; frequently large trucks ferrying sand passed closed by to us.

10:15 am - Arriving at Tanjung Tualang, we found that we were too early for lunch as the restaurants here only open at 11:30 am. While the rest chatted and had drinks at a coffee-shop, Rivern (who is always looking for a good climb) led a couple of us on a short ride up a nearby hill to even work up our appetite more.

YummY! time. At Sun Swee Kiong Restaurant we had a feast. The main dish was of course Udang Galah (large freshwater prawns); the above was spartantly seasoned with some soy sauce, Chinese white wine and garnished with strips of ginger and spring onions. The meat of the prawn were slightly harder than sea prawns but softer than lobsters; and it was SWEET!

And this really super big-headed curried Udang Galah; spicy but not too chilli hot.

This is a 2 kg. wild grouper, one of this size is not easy to come by especially if caught in the wild and not bred. The wild ones like the above have firmer flesh which taste so sweet. Steamed with oil-soy sauce it was just heavenly.
We also had Deep-fried Tofu in creamy butter-plum sauce and Stir-fried Paku (... see more at what we ate at Udang Galah blog).

Dr. Ang with Kim.
Lunch is over and Dr. Ang will not be continuing with us; he will be riding back to Kampar by himself. I first met Dr. Ang during the UTAR Charity Ride, he's a simple, humble and friendly person. Riding with him here again, I got to know him better and will look forward to meeting him again.

1:30 pm - After a ten km. ride we reached The Last Dredge, it's a preserved tin-mining dredge that has been turned into a museum of sorts. Unfortunately the place was temporarily closed for repairs. There was a caretaker sitting at the porch of one of the buildings, but our calls to him went unheeded. We just wanted to go in and take some photos from the compound. As it was, we had to be contented to view the place from the locked entrance gate; and, Oh.... we were so looking forward to catch a glimpse of our tin-mining history here.

The photo of the dredge gave us some imagination of what we missed. For those who want to see this, call ahead to 0605-546 5229 to see whether they have reopened.

Leaving the Last Dredge, we continued along Route A15. As Rivern was riding pass some cows, they suddenly rushed away. Luckily, they did not rush towards us. They must have been agitated by Rivern's red MIT bicycle; so a point to note, don't ride bright red bicycles near cows!

2:00 pm - We arrived at Batu Gajah. The growth of the town coupled with the relocation of KTM's maintenance and storage workshops here has seen the quiet town's traffic increasing. Large lorries and trailers ply the roads here. Well, we had to ride with more care then.

At Batu Gajah KTM Station; we were here to purchase our return train tickets to Kuala Lumpur. We could have bought the ticket later on at the Ipoh Station but this station is not so packed with people so there's no worries about long queues.

Route A108 has been extended to join the station to Jalan Gopeng (Route A8); it's a four-lane carriageway. Even better for us, there is an emergency lane for us to cycle on.

2:50 pm - Riding into our next scheduled destination, Kellie's Castle, I was impressed to see that the building has been repaired and spruced up, looking new and clean. Previously it was run down and derelict, now it has been turned into a tourist destination.

Time was running short. A few of our cycling buddies had to get back to Ipoh to catch the 5:00 pm train back to Kuala Lumpur. So we did not go into the castle, just posed on the outside for some photos. And we had to scrape our plans to cycle into Gopeng too, thus missing out the street art there and also the Gaharu Tea Valley.
Yes, those are rain clouds up there, best we hurry as it's 25 km. ride to the Ipoh Station, with the rain we had better allow for some spare time.

3:35 pm - Still along Route A8, we passed by another tourist spot - the Perak Herbal Garden; I made a mental note to come see this place. For the moment, we had to concentrate on riding as fast as we could.
The photo seems a bit blurry; no my camera is not spoilt, that's rain water on my lens - it has started to drizzle lightly.

We are now riding along Federal Route 1, the main trunk road that serves the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Passing by Kampung Kepayang, I noticed that the houses on both sides of the road are still vacant AND they have been vacant for decades. I wonder what's the story behind this place, is it haunted?
No, the eeriness did not affect the above photo, it's not spooked. It's now drizzling more heavily and my photo taking is affected. Fortunately my camera, an Olympus TG-2, is waterproofed, but water on the lens splotches the photo.
Still, I said a silent prayer as we passed by this place.

We pedalled on continuously, stopping only at traffic lights. It's best that our friends arrive early so as not to miss the train.
Good, those are limestone hills behind us, we should now be on the outskirts of Ipoh.
We had by then lost sight of David, who was riding more slowly and had lagged behind.

Into Ipoh City, we opted not to go up this fly-over as traffic is heavy on that road...

... instead we took a left to cycle through a quieter part of the city that passes by the Perak Turf Club and Golf Club areas. This will take us a slightly longer time, it's better to be safe than sorry.

4:20 pm - We arrived at the Ipoh Railway Station. Moments later we were surprised to see David arriving, he had taken the straight route in, i.e. over the fly-over that we avoided and through busier roads. We were glad that he made it on time and safely too.
Our friends quickly folded their bikes and got ready to board the train.

Goodbye my friends, till we ride again:

Related Blogs:

You May Also Like :

Malaysia - Street Art of Gopeng, Perak : July 2014 
The street art culture is spreading and is now budding in Gopeng.

Gaharu Tea Valley, Gopeng, Perak : July 2014
A 22-year old plantation of the precious agarwood, now only becoming renown through eco-tourism.

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