Saturday, August 2, 2014

Selangor : Pulau Ketam Bike-packing

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Selangor / Pulau Ketam Bike-packing
                                                   AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                           
Selangor : Pulau Ketam Bike-packing

Subang Jaya to Pulau Ketam : 27th July 2014
Medium-sized Group Ride: Subang Jaya SS15>Klang>Port Klang>Pulau Ketam>Port Klang>Subang Jaya SS15
Distance Covered : 110.09 km. (including cycling, train & boat rides).
Time : 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Time Taken : 10 hrs. (including stops for breakfast, lunch, boat & train rides, regrouping & time touring island etc.)

Route Recommendations :
1. The ride route is fairly flat, with slight slopes between near Shah Alam.
2. Bagging your bike is a must for travelling by train. For more tips see "Bringing Your Foldies Onto Trains".
3. You can either take the regular air-conditioned ferry or the speed-boat to Pulau KetamThe fares are RM7-00 & RM10-00 respectively. For speed-boats, do agree on the price with the operator first.
4. Food-wise, there are good outlets at Klang for breakfast. On Pulau Ketam, there are many restaurants serving seafood. As a general rule of thumb, the eateries further away from the jetty charge slightly cheaper.
5. It's best to avoid visiting during holiday weekends as it will be crowded and getting a place to eat will be a hassle.

Cyclist group at Port Klang Jetty during World Car-free Day 2012, getting ready to board the ferry over to Pulau Ketam.
Imagine, even staying in the Klang Valley for decades, I had never visited Pulau Ketam once. It took my interest in cycling to get me there! It was World Car Free Day 2012, and Sam had organized a ride from Brickfields to the island. Back then the local authorities had not embraced the concept of car-free days; and in that ride we got to know more about that concept (... see World Car-free Day 2012 blog).
That ride was an eye-opener for a newbie like me. Since then I have bike-packed to the island a couple of times. Now, Jason had called for an adhoc ride to the island again, and I gladly joined, eager to enjoy the island again with friends.


View Pulau Ketam Ride (110.09 km) in a larger map
The ride includes cycling from Subang Jaya to Port Klang, a speed-boat ride to & from Pulau Ketam and finished with a train ride back.

7:30 am - Thirteen of us met up at SS15 Subang Jaya, unloaded and unfolded our bikes and went for breakfast at a nearby mamak coffee-shop facing the Subang Avenue condos.
It was the Hari Raya long week-end and the boss of the shop had left the running of the place to his employees. The staff were uncertain of the prices of the food of drinks, with one quoting one price and another quoting another. Of course, we did question them as some of the prices they quoted were pretty high, eg. RM2.50 for two half-boiled eggs. After we had paid, the staff began to argue among themselves and suddenly they came to blows at the kitchen. Worried that the scuffle would escalate into something more, we quickly left hoping that our absence would reduce their tension.

Leaving that nasty situation behind us we rode off, taking the road beside Subang Parade which will lead us to the motor-cycle lanes. Our good friends, Larry & Winnie had come down from Penang to join us.

8:20 am - Arriving at the Shell Petrol Station next to the Batu Tiga Toll, we were surprised to see the group of six of our friends already there. They had started off from Dataran Merdeka targeting to meet us here at 8:30 am; they must have cycled pretty fast to reach this place before us.

We are using the motorcycle lane, this being a Sunday, traffic was light and it was a good day to cycle. We rode through tunnels...

... over bridges ...

... and next to giant girders under construction.

9:15 am - Just into Klang, we stopped for a good dose of Klang Bak Kut Teh at Yeoh Bak Kut Teh.
What? Eat again? Our friends who had started from Dataran Merdeka had burnt off much and need to replenish. The rest of us joined in with small nips of the food.

Larry was in a jovial mood, smoking on a chilli!

We were suppose to have coffee at Chong Kok Kopitiam and then take the train from Klang to Port Klang. But as most of us had already eaten we decided to cycle the extra 12 km. to Port Klang, part of which was via Little India. This place is always colourful and gay with loud Indian music coming out from the shops. In the mood, I felt like doing some Indian dance swig on my bike.

The road to Port Klang is quite safe to cycle on; along Persiaran Raja Muda Musa we cycled along the quiet parallel residential road. It is only when one gets nearer the port that extra care have to be taken as large container trucks continuously ply these roads.

The system at the jetty at port seems to have changed. Previously, one can buy tickets at the entrance building near the main road. Now we were advised to buy go in and board the boats as tickets will be sold on board. To make matters worst, the corridor leading to the jetty is a long narrow one, with only one fenced corridor for both entry and exit. I dread to think of what will happen if some mishap happen and there is a stampede like what happened at a Phnom Penh bridge.

Down below at the embarking platform the situation was chaotic with boat operators canvassing for passengers, and passengers rushing to board the regular ferry.
We wanted to use the air-conditioned regularferry berthed at one end of the platform, hoping that all twenty of us could board together together with our bicycles. But there were too many other tourists squeezing to board; and the operators were not to keen to let us in seeing that they will have to waste time loading up our bicycles to the top of the ferry.
Fortunately for us, a speedboat came over to berth at the other end of the platform and we quickly boarded with other passengers without even asking how much the fare was.
The fare was for speedboat was RM10-00 per pax whilst that for the ferry was RM7-00 per pax. No complaints here though, as long as all of us were together, and most importantly, they allowed our bikes in too.

(Click on photo to see a YouTube video of our speed boat ride)
Happily, we were soon speeding towards the island. It was quite an adrenaline pumping experience, with the roar of the engines and the splashing of the water as the boat skimmed over the choppy waters.

Approaching the Pulau Ketam Jetty, I noticed that it was low tide and the barnacled stilts are exposed. A regular ferry can be seen on the right and a speedboat, like the one we are taking, is on the left.

Low tide disadvantage - more steps to climb while carrying our bikes but only small matter for us bikers.

A relevant shot of Harry at the Jalan Merdeka road sign. To him "Merdeka" (Malay for Indepndence, Freedom) means having the freedom to ride. I believe that applies to many of us.

While the rest went off to have a cyclo-adventure of the island, a few of us were just contented to sit and chat for a while at the Restoran Kuai Lok Hian. There were just too many people around and most of the eateries were packed and we quickly grabbed the first available table. Here we had lunch too; some of the nice dishes we had were the Har Lok Prawn which were very fresh. (seen above) ...

This one dish I found to be very nice - Bitter Kai Choy vegetables fried with fish maw, fish paste and some prawns. A good balance of tastes, and the Kai Choy have good cleansing properties too.

Ok.... time to stop lazing around, time to cycle! We pedalled around the narrow streets and across several bridges. Larry was most happy to go cycling up and down the hump bridges. These are quite steep but cycleable, but we had to be careful when coming down as due to their steepness our pedals may hit the ground. We had to make sure that our pedal arms were in horizontal positions to avoid this from happening. 

Pulau Ketam from outside still look like that idyllic fishing village; but I lament that it is slowly losing it's quiet charm. It's not the same place that I visited a couple of years ago; back then the locals used to cycle around. Now there are electric motorcycles zooming around.
Perhaps, we should have not have come to the place during a long holiday weekend, crowd is just maddening during the holidays.

2:45 pm - At the jetty there are young boys canvassing for passengers. We negotiated with one and booked a speedboat for RM200/-. It worked out to be the same RM10-00 per head for the twenty of us, and we had the added privacy of the boat all to ourselves.

The boatman was however a stern jerky fellow. He kept on scolding the young boat boy (the one who had canvassed us), grumbling that should the charge should have been more as there were bicycles.
Hey! We did agree to charter the whole boat, did we not?

We put the incident behind us, just too tired to be bothered. Reaching Port Klang we split up into several groups. A smaller group cycled all the way back to Dataran Merdeka, one larger group decided to cycle for ice-kacang and then head to Klang to take the train.
I joined another smaller group who took the train straight from 
Port Klang to Subang Jaya.

Our friends who wanted to take the train from Klang Station faced an adamant station-master who refused to let them board the trains with their bicycles stating that folding bikes are not allowed onto trains during peak hours. He wanted to charge them RM20-00 per bike.
That was until Anne, pointing to a notice on KTM's notice board, politely told him that it was a Sunday and thus not peak hours.

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Gallery - Street Art of Gopeng, Perak : July 2014 
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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Selangor / Pulau Ketam Bike-packing
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