Monday, August 14, 2017

Selangor-Perak-Penang: Cycling Selangor to Penang The Coastal Route

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Selangor to Penang Via The Coastal Route
West Coast Peninsular Malaysia : 7th August - 13th August 2017

Our buddy Sin (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) would be going on 45 days cycling tour around Peninsular Malaysia. Being the magnimous chap that he is, he has invited friends to join him along the way.
He has divided his tour into several stages. Five of us joined him for stage 1 that spanned from Sungai Buloh (in Selangor) to George Town (in Penang). It was an interesting route that took us monsly along quieter rural roads, opening our eyes to the beauty of our country that city folk's seldom see. This here is the tale of our adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. (Note: further below are cycing tips, and write-ups on food and places along the route)


RIDE BLOGS
Below are the blogs of our cycling tour, click on the respective photos to read. It was a good cycling tour, so come see our rides:






(Next... Europe?)
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CYCLING TIPS / TRAVEL TIPS FOR WEST MALAYSIA

Here's, some general tips on cycling in Malaysia, more detailed tips will be included in the day to day blogs:

1. Traffic Directions!
    Malaysia is right-hand drive so ride on the left side of the road.

2. Bringing Bikes Onto Trains & Ferries
- KTM (Keretapi Tanah Malaysia) Peninsular Malaysia's rail service provider runs an electric train service called the ETS from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar. Folded bicycles are allowed on board but should be bagged. Un-bagged bicycles could be subject to additional fares of RM10 per 150km of travel or part thereof.
- The Klang Valley MRT operated by MYMRT provides mass rapid transit for the Greater Kuala Lumpur area. Foldies are allowed on board without extra charges but must be folded.
- The Penang Port Commision runs a regular ferry service between Butterworth on the mainland to George Town on the Penang Island. One can ride straight into the ferry, just follow the motorcycle lane in. The fare is RM1-40 for each bicycle and it's rider.

3. Communicating with Locals
    For the uninitiated cycling in foreign lands can be a daunting experience, especially when one can only speak a smattering of the local language or if there is no common language to speak to each other (like English). Most Malaysians can speak fairly good English; but in the rural areas the locals speak only some rudimentary English, so learning some basic phrases will be helpful.
    This could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    And do install memory-resident translation apps into your mobile phone.

4. Staying in Touch
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost or just to share photos and moments. Pre-paid phone sim-cards are easily available from most phone shops in the main towns.

5. Accomodations
In most of the towns, accomodations are easy to find, there are hotels and homestays around; use Google maps to search for these. We did not pre-book accomodations except for those in George Town which is a favourite tourist destination and as there was also a major cycling event during that time. Our accomodation cost averaged about RM90 per room per night.
(See individual daily blogs for our accomodations at that specific localities).

6. Food
Malaysia is a multi-racial country and a range of reasonably priced delicious food is easily available from most shops that usually open up til 10pm. For late night eats, Mamak coffeeshops are opened 24 hours. Along the route food can be found at road-side stalls or coffee shops. Also at coastal route are many seafood restaurants and one would be spoilt for choices. Penang has been rated as the best place in the world to eat by food writer James Oseland of the Saveur food and travel magazine.

7. Weather
August is the beginning of the wet season of the country do have your raincoats ready. However it does not rain everyday, so do cover up or use sun-block lotions when necessary.
Temperature ranges from 27°-32°C; on hot days it could go up to 34°C.

8. Navigation
Where data signal is available and strong, one can use Google Maps to navigate around. If the cycling options may not be available, just use the walking options.
In cases where data signal is weak or unavailable (like in remote rural areas), install MAP.ME into your phone. It's an off-line map app.   
Alternatively, use a dedicated GPS unit like those from Garmin. However ensure that one install the Malaysia maps into the unit.

9. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads with the relevant tools.

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FOOD
Part of a cycling tour is to discover good food along the way, and we did just that. In fact, we had about five meals a day (i.e. including some light tea and coffee breaks). Below are some of the food that we had:





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