Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pahang: Taman Negara v2 Pt.1 - Riding The Dragon

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Pahang: Taman Negara v2 Pt.1 - Riding The Dragon
Day 1 - Road Trip From Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut : 7th July 2017
Day 2- Riding the Dragon from Kuala Tembeling to Taman Negara : 8th July 2017
Cycling: Kuala Tembeling>Labu Sentral>Felda Sungai Retang>Taman Negara.
Distance: 52.06 km.          |          Level: Hard
Cycling Time : 8:05 am to 1:58pm
Cycling Time Taken : 5 hrs 53 mins.

Route Recommendations :
1. The East Coast Highway is pleasant to drive on but note that there not many rest stops for toilet duties.
2. Temerloh is famous for it's Patin (river Cat fish) but for a change one could try their ikan bakar (grilled fish).
3. We stayed in Jerantut overnight as the bike ride starts early the following day. There are many hotels at Jerantut, do choose one to suit your budget and comfort level.
    - Jerantut Hill Resort (GPS: 3.92161, 102.35264) where we stayed in is reasonably priced. Our room for 3-pax was at MYR90-00 which excluded breakfast.
    - Presently there are no accommodations at Kuala Tembeling.

4. We were fortunate that a light rain the previous evening had made the day's temperature cooler. However, it did get hot just past noon time, so do be prepared to cover up. Also since our previous ride three years ago, the place has got more developed with trees maturing to provid shade for much of the way. There was only a stretch about fifteen km. through oil palm plantations that was not shaded. More stalls have opened up, so there are no worries of getting water.
5. Food
   - Dinner on the first day was at Temerloh ABC Ikan Bakar (GPS: 3.44766, 102.41354that serves very good grilled fishes, etc.
   - Breakfast was wantan noodles at a coffee-shop at Picadilly Restoran & Hotel (GPS: 3.93853, 102.36525) in Temerloh
   - Lunch along the cycling route was at a small stall (GPS: ) near Felda Sungai Retang. Seeing that we were out of town, the operator sold us food at more expensiver prices; they did have quite good Durian Tempoyak.

This is blog comes in two parts, part one here is on our road trip from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut followed by our cycle ride from Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan (Taman Negaraon the first half of the following day . Click the following to go to the second part:
Taman Negara v2 Pt. 2: Riding The River.

Taming the dragon-backs during our 2014 ride.
How time has passed, it was three years ago that we first rode this Taman Negara route. It was an memorable expereince for us of a hard, hot ride, but one that we will always think back to and say "We did it!"
Wong KT has planned another ride to Taman Negara, his rides are always interesting as he takes the time to recce the route for interesting places.... and also good food along the way (... see his blogs at "The Great Outdoors"). This time there were fewer riders as many were occupied elsewhere. In a way this was good as it meant less re-grouping time.... but how will tackle this ride. Memories from our previous ride was of one that stretched almost the whole day, one where the sun shone strongly on us and zapped up much of our energy. So, how will we fare this time? Worst or better? Read on to find out!

In two cars, seven of us drove up from Petaling Jaya, enroute we used the DUKE Highway and were pleasantly surprised to find this new archway spanning across the road. The arch was topped with a clocktower and minarets similar to that of the Sultan Abdul Samad building in Kuala Lumpur.

At Temerloh we made a detour into the town. This town is famous for it's river catfish (Patin); but we won't be eating those (as they are easily available in the Klang Valley), instead we headed for our favourite foodie place, the Ikan Bakar ABC stall located along Jalan Temerloh-Mentakab. The food here never fail to impress us, well seasoned in rempa and nicely grilled on a hot pan. We had grilled ray fish, chicken-fish, squid, prawns and fish cake. We also had boiled cockles that went very well with the pounded ground nuts chilli sauce. From the next stall (which is renown for their ABC and desserts), we orders some other dishes together with white rice. Their bean sprouts stir-fried with salted fish should not be missed; instead of the usual dry stir-fry, this one had more gravy full of the salted fish gravy. Also not to be missed is their tong-sui made from tofu skin.

Our stay for the night (recommended by Wong) was a much better place than the last time. This was at the Jerantut Hill Resort, situated up on a small hill. The road leading up to the hotel was rather steep and we counted our blessings that we did not have to cycle up!
The hotel comes with a nice swimming pool and at the grown floor car-park their is a shrine with a four-faced Buddha.

In the early morning, we checked out and drove over to the Piccadily Restoran & Hotel to meet up with the rest of the gang - Wong, Lilian, Ian, Thomas and Donald. Together we would later form a good team that clicked well with each other and were full of laughter.
At this early hour of the morning not many shops were opened, so we made do with the average tasting wantan noodles sold here... and also our booster of two soft-boiled eggs!


The route starts from from Kampung Tanjung Jelai after a short boat ride across the Pahang River from Kuala Tembeling. It will take us on a road that has numerous dragon-backs.

7:15am - After a half-hour drive from Jerantut we reached the jetty at Kuala Tembeling, all excited to start off on another mini-adventure....
But hold on to your horses! Poor Donald discovered that his bike had a puncture. He's a cheerful fellow and took this in stride, and was ever-smiling while repairing the puncture.

And here we are, on the long boat crossing the river. Surprisingly the weather was rather cooling for this time of the year (it had been raining the previous night) and it was a misty crossing... It's a short five-minute boat ride but I do hope we don't bump into another boat though!
It's here that the Pahang River officialy starts, being formed by the Tembeling River and another unnamed river.

Even though the rive water level was higher than previously, on reaching the other side, we still had to get our trudge our bikes across a sandy/pebblish river bank that was about twenty-five metres wide. After a while we found that it was less tiresome to carry our bikes than push them on the sandy bank.

And off we went riding... straight off there were already some slopes to climb!
For a change, it was still misty on the roads; as we rode on we felt the mist coming down on us like a light drizzle and forming droplets on us and on our bikes. Interesting.

Soon we were getting into the mood of the place, getting used to some kids lieing at the centre of the road unbothered and not budgeing by us cycling pass ... they are goat kids and not the kampong kids.

It's so green here, wild plants line the road and every once in a while we stop take photos of the flora.

Donald was taking photos of this bunch of red flowers that looked like blooms of the Flame of the Forest tree. But this was not definitely from that tree, it was from a shrub with different looking leaves.

Another interesting plant, a palm with seeds hanging down, looking like braided hair. The sees were round and had a pulpy inside.
I have tried to identify these two (the flower and the seeds) through searches on the net, but was unsuccesful, perhaps some kind soul can help.

Onwards we cycled, the route has become harder with mini-dragonbacks; but the cool weather helped and we were able to take these slopes quite well.

9:30am - We reached the Labu Sentral R&R station. This is a fairly large place with a park and large statues of labu (labu is the Malay word for gourd).
We stopped here for quite a while to rest and take photos of ourselves and the serene place. Besides the statues, there were small replicas of Malay timber hut architecture designed and built by Kayuma (... see bottom for more photos to view these). Kayuma can be contacted via their mobile +6019-9890468.

Their is a nice extension to this park, a souvenir shop which sold nice rattan (not real rattan but plastic rattan) hats for a cheap price of MYR2-00. Here we are wearing these hats, looking like a gang going to attend a Sunday Derby.

We passed by several kampongs (villages), some with interesting names such as:
1. Kampung Gemuruh: Gemuruh means rumble or nervous, so we wonder what had happened here to cause the place to rumble or the denizens to be nervous. 
2. Kampung Pasir Durian: pasir durian translates durian sand, probably this place has sandy soil suitable for planting durian trees.
3. Kampun Hulu Retang: Google translates "retang" as retard. But I think it should mean "slow".
Whatever the name of the places, life was at a slow pace. There was no rat-race rush here and more importantly, the locals were very friendly waving or calling our to us without hesitation.

An unique annex to a house, a smaller house on floats made of blue plastic drums; this area must be subject to floods and this is a great idea - a refuge when the nearby river overflows.

A sign of the remoteness of the place, a excavator just left at the roadside to be overgrown with weeds.

10:30am - Brunch time at the row of roadside stalls near to the Felda Sungai Retang. Jui Li is scooping up some Tempoyak (an unique a Malay condiment made from fermented durian) to add to her plate. Tempoyak is made by taking the flesh of durian and mixing it with some salt and kept in room temperature for three or five days for fermentation. It is thus seasonal dish depending on the availability of the King of Fruits.
We were making good pace, and a couple of short cuts before and after Labu Sentral had shorten our route by about ten kilometres. More importantly, the detour has also avoided a series of steep dragon backs after Labu Sentral.

The roads were still fairly shady, AND GREEN as we passed by secondary jungles and also this slope overgrown with bright green ferns.

Passed by this "Elephant Crossing" sign... but unfortunately did not see any elephants stomping across the road.

12:00pm - Finally we reached the stretch that most of us feared, a continuing series of dragonbacks with oilpalm plantations on both sides, totally devoid of any shade.AND with hardly any strong phone signal strength. This was the stretch that a friend had cramps and had to push his bike for kilometres, and we could not contact him.

Hot! HOT! HOT!So hot that Kimmi had to take a shower while On-The-Go!

When the heat start zapping one to the core, Taman Negara is so near yet so far...

One final series of dragon-backs that seem unending!

One final rest/regroup at a coffee-shop that we had stop by during the previous event. It was then just a timber shanty,
As Donald arrived, his legs suddenly gave way... CRAMP!
This seems repeat of events of three years back when we waited for our cramped friend, couldn't contact him and had to borrow a motor-bike from the operator of this shop to go look for him.

Here, a wasped landed on my Keens sandal and stayed there for a couple of minutes, giving me time to get this macro photo of it. Must be my lucky day... shall I go buy some lottery?

2:00pm - WE MADE IT!!
And at a faster pace too, compared to the previous time when we took two and a half hours longer. I guess the cooler weather and the short cuts did help. Still the last fifteen kilometres was zappping hot!

We checked into the Han Rainforest Resort our stay for the night.
Time to stretch back our riding muscles, a friendly tug was most helpful.

Arriving early, we had time to spare. So what shall we do?
Find out in the next part!

This is blog comes in two parts, part one here is on our road trip from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut followed by our cycle ride from Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara) on the first half of the following day . Click the following to go to the second part:
Taman Negara v2 Pt. 2: Riding The River.

 (For more photos of Day 1, click here)
(For more photos of the cycle ride on Day 2, click here)

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