Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Best Cycling Trails In Perak

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Best Cycling Trails In Perak
Perak, a state once rich in tin, is one of the largest states in Peninsular Malaysia, stretching from the border with Thailand in the north and running lengthwise down south to meet Selangor. Save for a few, the tin mines are almost gone but the state has turned its attention to tourism, dressing up its cities and even small towns to bring in the crowd. This is an added bonus for cyclists as it has brought more exciting, colourful places to ride in.
I have done some cycling here and have liked the places, and there should be even more areas to cycle in. Based on my experience, here are some of the cycling trails in the state that I liked best:

Kick off your ride of Ipoh, the state capital, from the Ipoh Railway Station, one of oldest and finest looking train stations in the country. At it's front courtyard is an Ipoh tree, of which the city is named after.
Take a short ride around the Ipoh Heritage Trail which will pass by several landmarks such as the Perak State Mosque (Sultan Idris Shah II Mosque), the Birch Memorial, and the Ipoh Courthouse, and other stately colonial buildings.
At Ipoh's old town ride through the well restored streets including the notorious Concubine Lane where the tin miners of old kept their mistresses. Of course while there, don't miss out on the yummy food such as the Ipoh Kai Si Hor Fun and the Pork Satay! From there things get even more exciting as you head for .....
The Kinta Riverside. Unbeknownst to many, right here at the centre of the city, there are beautiful tracks to ride on both sides of the Kinta River which separates Ipoh's old town and new town. Start from just below the Hugh Low Bridge at Jalan Sultan Iskandar, ride towards and slightly beyond the bridge at Jalan Bijeh Timah and loop back.
The riverside is shady and pleasant to cycle along with some giant rain trees good for posing photos on. Don't be surprised to see egrets nestling on some of the trees and people net-fishing on the river. Near the riverside is the Masjid India mosque with its unique blue dome and right round the corner are interesting street art at the famed Murals Art Lane. And all this happens right at the heart of the city!
(... see route map) (... see blog)
Ride slightly beyond old town and see the going-on at the Ipoh Old Market; nearby are restored brick-red houses that resembles those in suburban London.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
OR even go further onwards to Buntong (文冬), Bercham (巴占) , and Kampung Simee to experience slower-paced life at the outskirts, and also to try out other renown food such as the Ngah Choy Kai (broiled chicken with bean sprouts) and the delectable egg tarts!
(... see blog)

Established in 1880, the 160 acres Taiping Lake Gardens is the oldest public park in the country. It's a very green park with ten scenic lakes and ponds that beautifully reflects the blue sky. It's even possible to ride along the islets withing the lakes.
Riding a loop round here will bring one cycling below huge rain trees that are centuries old, the long overhanging branches reaching out towards the lakes, this loop also passes the Taiping Zoo, the oldest in the country. Another outer connecting loop will will bring one to the Burmese Pool, the War Cemetery and the foot hills of Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill).
(... see route map) (... see blog)

From the Taiping Lake Gardens one can ride a longer loop towards Kuala Sepetang, and along the way out and back pass by several notable historic buildings and area, hence the name Taiping Heritage Trail. First will be the Taiping Clock Tower and then slightly ahead the Taiping Old Market (which is famed for being used to wager on what time it it will rain, see Taiping is one of the wettest spots in the country).
Cyclists at the Matang Museum.
The route goes along to pass the Simpang outskirts where it intersects the old trunk road, Federal Route M1. In the evening nearby, an old man sells his famed fireworks char keow teow.
The next notable stop the Matang Museum, a former fort known as the Kota Ngah Ibrahim. These area also have several seafood shops like Lighthouse Seafood Restaurant which sells reasonably priced sea food.
The loop back point of the route is at Kuala Sepetang. It goes much along the same route along Jalan Taiping-Kuala Sepetang until the bend near Masjid Ngah Ibrahim where it cuts into a road which runs along the former Taiping-Port Weld Railway Line (Port Weld is the old colonial name of Kuala Sepetang). This was the first railway line in Malaya. Here it runs through villages and the happy children will come out to wave cyclists riding by, and don't be surprise to see stray cows crossing the road.
It leads back through an underpass below the North-South Highway to another outskirt, Assam Kumbang where one could stop and visit the Antong coffee mill) and then head back to Taiping town via an overpass next to the Taiping Railway Station. Ahead will be more heritage buildings - two centuries old colonial school, the St. George's Institution and the King Edward VII Institution; and further ahead the Perak Museum, the oldest museum in the country.
Then it's a final detour to the Taiping Municipal Council Building and a pass-by of the Taiping Prison. Taiping, although not the oldest town in the country seems to have a lot's of first; even this prison is the first and oldest in the country. And it's back to the Taiping Lake Gardens for a total loop length of around forty kilometres.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Kuala Sepetang is a small fishing village on the outskirts of Taiping. One can ride in from Taiping using the road on the former Taiping-Port Weld Railway Line or just park nearby and ride around the village. Go on a weekday, without all the tourists around, to appreciate the quiet life of the locals at a place which time seems to have forgotten and ride around the narrow lanes lined with timber houses, many of which are painted in green.
Stop by at the fishing pier, and see trawler boats moored at the piers. Nearby fishermen would be playing mahjong, hardly noticing out-of-towners. Life here is idyllistic, why be too bothered. Pop over to the bridge of Sungai Reba, from there are even better views of many trawlers parked at the riverside.
Some interesting spots to drop by and visit are the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, where mangrove trees are protected in a swampy reserve; and the charcoal factories nearby, where charcoal is still made in centuries old brick kilns. Kuala Sepetang has several good foodie spots such as the Xin Restaurant which provide a wide range of seafood, and Mee Udang Mak Jah which is renown for their prawn noodles.
For those who want to relax and spend a quiet night, there's the Happy Eight Retreat Hotel. Located next to the river, it has beautiful night scenes and one wakes up to twitting swallows.
(... see blog)

Teluk Intan was formely called Telok Anson, but even before, i.e. before colonial days, it was called Teluk Mak Intan, so it's name has come a full circle. It is a busy town, but one not so much frequented by tourists as it is a distance away from the main trunk roads. I like these type of places, one that are not tempered by outsiders influences that much. One can drive into the town, or take a train up to Tapah Road Railway Station and ride in from there; it's an interesting 30 km. route that goes via villages and irrigation canals.
A must do loop in the town itself, is around the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan, one with a tilt something similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Drop into the nearby Teck Kee Restaurant which sells Nyonya Kueh - what makes the shop interesting is that it is furnished with antique furniture and other collectibles... and almost everything is for sale including the chairs and tables one sits at while dining!
From the town centre take a short ride to the Bidor River riverside, a quieter river where timber houses still line its side. One of this houses the Tiger Biscuit Factory.
Also ride to the nearby market street where there are many food stalls selling curry noodles and also the famed Anson Chee Cheong Fun. And then pop in to visit many of the old temples dotting this area.
OR go a short distance out of town to see an unique temple dedicated to the East Sea Dragon King.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

On this route, riding the stretch along the coastal bund at Tanjung Piandang is already worth the journey going there. 
The bund stretches about four kilometres from Sungai Baru to Sungai Burung to Tanjung PiandangThis bund was put up on the coast to prevent erosion by the sea. It was constructed of L-shaped concrete sections that fit into each other like a jigsaw puzzle. With the geometrical patterned sea-wall on one side and padi fields on the other, all under a bright blue sky, this is a unique scenery that one seldom gets to see.
There is a local tale behind this bund called the story of the Broken Bund (Ban Pecah in Malay). It seems that an uncle had betrayed two young orphans of a land heritage that was endowed to them by their parent. He took the land and drove the children out. Before leaving the children prayed to God for justice. The waves came washed away the bund (it was made of earth then) and flooded the surrounding houses and padi fields. Such is the vengeance of God.
Either take a train up to Parit Buntar and cycle in from there;
(... see route map) (... see blog)
 OR to make things more exciting take a boat ride from Kuala Sepetang to Kuala Gula and ride from there. If time permits, visit the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary, it's part of the large Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
Food wise, at one end is Tanjung Piandang with it's numerous seafood restaurants, and on the other end is Kuala Kurau with it's famed prawn fritters and good frothy coffee.
And drop into the Joo Hong Chang Factory, it's a cottage industry that makes salted duck eggs; they have staff who caters to visitors and take them on a short educational tour of their factory.

The Victoria Bridge near Karai Town is a disused railway bridge. Disused it may be, but its dark steel structure sitting on huge red-brick columns spanning over the Perak River is indeed a sight to behold.
Getting there is also half the fun, start the ride from Kuala Kangsar and take a route cutting through the padi fields of Kampong Kota Lama Kanan, then leads through some rubber estates .....
Then cut back to the left bank and ride through several rustic kampongs with friendly, smiling locals while heading for the bridge.
After viewing the bridge, one can extend the ride to Sauk where a couple of shops serve good seafood. Other good food is the Restoran Yat Lai Chciken chop at Kuala Kangsar and the Laksa Burung at Kota Lama Kiri on the route back.
(... see route map) (... see blog)
OR extend the ride even further to the beautiful Tasik Raban in Lenggong .....
... and then reward yourselves with a night stay at kampung-style chalets at the Suka Suka Lake Retreat sitting on the lake's edge, before returning back the next day.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

Take a drive or ride a train with your bike up to Kampar for something a little bit more challenging. It's not a long route, just over fifty kilometres but it goes up into the hills of the Sungai Salu Forest Reserve. Starting from Kampar the route is fairly flat going through Temoh until it reaches Chenderiang.
From there it climbs up passing by the Kijang Waterfalls (Lata Kijang) and several kampongs at the edge of the forest reserve before sloping down to the rear of the Gua Tempurung hills, followed by more climbs before returning back to Kampar.
Along the way, pop into the Hebron Organic Farm, for a short conducted tour and to buy some organic-grown fruits and jams - some off-road riding is required.
(... see route map) (... see blog)

To see other interesting cycling trails in Perak, click here.
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