Thursday, September 20, 2018

Johor: Brompton Malaysia Day 2018 Day 3 - Ride Day

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Johor: Brompton Malaysia Day 2018 Day 3 - Ride Day
Day 3: Sunday, 16th September 2018 - Johor Bahru
Distance: 20 km.     |     Level: Easy
Time : 8:30am to 10:45am
Time Taken : 2hrs 15mins (including regrouping, and refreshment stops).

This is page 2 of a 2-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1-2: KL-JB-Tg. Piai    |   Go to Other Days      |                                         

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Malaysia's traffic is right-hand drive, so cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, be careful and take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
   Generally the route were fairly flat, with some climbs at the Bukit SereneKampong Bahru and Kampung Nong Chik areas.

3. Places of Interest
Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru (GPS: 1.46032, 103.74213).
Laman Serene (GPS:1.48106, 103.72334 ).
Laman Mahkota Istana Bukit Serene (GPS: 1.48230, 103.72252).
Zero Kilometre (0 KM) of the Malaysia Peninsular (GPS: 1.45568, 103.76192).
Royal Palace of Johor (Istana Besar Johor) (GPS: 1.45500, 103.75636).
- Downtown Johor Bahru around the vicinity of Jalan Wong Ah Fook (GPS: 1.46140, 103.76364).
World Champion Lion Dance Landmark (麻坡世界狮王地标) (GPS: 2.04888, 102.57365) in Muar.

4. Food
- A simple breakfast of local kuehs (cakes) was provided at the meet up point of Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru.
- A sponsored lunch of rice with Malay dishes was provided at the Johor Heritage Foundation (Yayasan Warisan Johor) (GPS: 1.46301, 103.7412).
- Dinner was at the Muar Ginseng Fish Restaurant (原乡亚参鱼) (GPS: 2.02369, 102.56781) in Muar.
- We also bought take-away the renown Muar Otak-Otak from the Chun Long Frozen Food outlet (GPS: 2.04912, 102.57384) in Muar.

5. Accommodations
 Our stay in Johor Bahru was at the Potpourri Boutique Hotel (GPS: 1.46571, 103.73664), 2 pax rooms at around RM200 per room per night (note, a tourism tax is payable on checking in) :
Address: 30, Jalan Kolam Air 2, Kampung Nong Chik, 80200 Johor Bahru, Johor.
Phone: +607-2073800.



Our MY Brompton Malaysia Group holds regular events for it's members to cycle together and get to know each other better. The earliest official group ride that I can recall was one held in Putrajaya back in 2013, five years ago. Back then, we were a small group of not more than 100 members, all the same it was good to get together.

Since then the group has grown to almost 1,200 members, members who are eager to meet up and ride together. With that the group held its first international event with the Brompton Ipoh Mali Ride in March 2016. Our compatriots from Thailand and Singapore even came to join us to enjoy the thrills of Ipoh.
This was followed by the My Brompton Penang Ride in August 2016 where our Thailand and Singapore friends also came to join us. It was a unique ride as it had us riding into a Penang ferry to cross over from Penang Island to view the emerald pools of Guar Petai on the Penang Mainland. This ride  was also featured in an article in the Penang Monthly.
In 2017, the group officially held the annual event on September 16 in Malacca, which was apt as on that date we celebrate Malaysia Day. I missed this grand event as I was away on a cycling tour of Europe; read about it at my buddy's Sin's haPpY HaPpY blog.
This year we had an even grander ride, this time down in Johor Bahru (JB for short); one that was very well organised and even flagged off by a VIP.

We had started our trip down to JB a couple of days earlier stopping en-route at Pekan Nanas - not for pineapples but for very good coffee at a cozy place called Platform Coffee. And the day after that, we had made a road trip to Tanjong Piai, the landmark marking the southernmost tip of the mainland Euro-Asia continent. I had earlier planned to ride from Malacca down to JB via Pekan Nanas and Tanjong Piai; but due to work load could not do it. Anyway, this road trip was a good recce for a possible future southern bike tour.
Returning back from Tanjong Piai, we went to collect the goodies bag for the ride (Yes, there IS a goodie bag for all who registered for free. Best, yah?) And we were in for a surprise, the bag had one of the best goodies, much better than those paid events. Inside were: Brompton snap-on reflector band, reflective shoelaces, a collapsible water bottle, biscuits and heavy stuff like three packs of Antabax soap, a bag on instant oats. And of course a striking navy blue event T-shirt!
What more could one ask for; this really peps up one's mood for the ride.... Let's GO!


 Cycling Route: Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru>Laman Serene>Kilometre Zero>Swiss Inn JB>Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru.
(Note: Zoom out to see Muar attractions)
Distance: 20 km.     |     Level: Easy
This route goes starts from the outskirts of Johor Bahru town; heads towards downtown JB before looping back. It's mainly flat except for some climbs at the Bukit SereneKampong Bahru and Kampung Nong Chik areas.

7:15am - Arriving at Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru, the meet up point and under the watchful face of the conspicuous, tall grey clock tower, we arranged our bikes in rows for an easy head count (or more aptly a bike count). Not bad, there were close to two hundred of us, the best attendance as yet. Members came from the the the northern and central states, and a large contingent of our Singaporeans compatriots cycled over from the island republic via the Johor–Singapore Causeway, starting during the wee hours of the morning. A few cyclists cycled down from Muar, enjoying themselves on a few days tour down. But we did miss our friends from Thailand, who flew into Singapore but were caught in a long customs queue while trying to cross over and decided to turn back.

We mingled around, catching up with old friends and making new ones. I chatted with a few who had just started going on overseas cycling tours to places like Japan, South Thailand, etc. and admired their enthusiasm in sharing their experiences.
Also interesting was the way each owner had tried to personalize their bike; some with sausage-wrapping the main horizontal post and many with ding-a-lings mascots hanging down from the rear of their seats. This lady's bike had not one but a few mascots, including a macho Batman.

And this one had a cute little teddy bear...

No prizes for guessing who this yellow-blue beaded crocodile belongs to 😂.

Our friend Andrew even had a bag with a Malaysian Flag cover.

There were even a couple of quad-copters with remote cameras to record an aerial view our event.

All lined up and a sea of blue eager to go...

8:30am - Flag off by the VIPs!
And we rolled off in groups of ten, each followed by a ride marshal.
(The VIPs were: Major Azman Hamzah Al Rashid, Special Task Officer to Johor Bahru Member of Parliament; Tuan Haji Lokman bin Sulaiman, Official Representative of Johor Bahru City Mayor; and Mr. Denys Tan, Official Representative from Singapore Consulate  General in Johor Bahru)

Just less than a kilometre we turned off from the main roads and were onto the gentle slopes of Bukit Serene. The roads here were so quiet, almost devoid of other traffic. The leading police outriders did stop traffic at junctions for us to ride through, but still this place was serenely a pleasure to cycle along, it's so green and dotted with up-market bungalows.

Hey! This guy was not on a Brompton, and was instead casually riding a Jupiter V2 Electric Foldable Bike. It's okay, he's Fenggo, one of the emcees of the event and he's forgiven - don't want him to be breathless when he continues his emceeing when we get back 😅.

As we coasted down from Bukit Serene, we caught sight of a majestic arch. It looked really regal with a giant crown topping it; this is the Laman Mahkota Istana Bukit Serene. The crown arch was built in 2015 at the entrance of Istana Bukit Serene. The fountains and lighting here attracts many visitors and locals in the evening and it is a good place to relax.

We did not stop at the crowned park but instead stopped at the adjacent Laman Serene, which with it's large car-park was just suitable to house the many of us while regrouping.

It was a brief stop for a quick breather and to admire the surrounding parks.
Hey! This smart girl brought along an umbrella, nifty!

It was photo-op sessions for many of us: either with the crown arch, or the iconic giant silver crescent and star, or even with the beautiful high-rise condominiums in the background. Johor Bahru sure have change a lot since I last came many years back.

9:00am - We roll off from the beautiful parks and headed down Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar, a busy highway. But no worries here, the lead police outriders specially cleared one lane just for us to cycle on.

Support vehicles were a fleet of six vintage Morris Mini Minor cars, including this rare Mini Moke, which was carrying the camera man and our co-host, Johnny. The cars were small, but could easily fit in our compact folded Bromptons.

Here we are riding down the busy highway, with a young Brommie rider "leading us". Yes, a couple of young lads did join us, and there was also some riding with their infant on a specially fitted baby seat.

9:30am - Pit stop #2 was a special one. It was at Zero Kilometre marker of the Malaysia Peninsular, located near the Johor Bahru General Post Office. It is one of the rare cases where the national kilometre zero is not located at the national capital, due to the fact that the distances for three major backbone routes (Federal Routes 13 and 5) are measured from Johor Bahru, where the three routes meet and connect to Singapore via the Johor–Singapore Causeway.

Further down, we cycled through Downtown Johor Bahru around the vicinity of Jalan Wong Ah Fook, and then passed the gaily decorated Old Chinese Temple of Johor Bahru (柔佛古廟) (GPS: 1.46061, 103.7631). Pedestrians happily waved at us as we rode by.

Nearby was a large wall mural depicting the Malaysian flag and the Johor flag built from Lego blocks, representing a united country and state made up of people of various creed and colour closely "locked" together.

There are wide cycling lanes here too! (And with no cars obstructing them)/

10:00am: Water & rest stop at Swiss Inn. The hotel was one of the sponsors of the event and had even offered discounted rates for those who wanted to stay here during the event. Today itself, they provided cold cordial drinks and bananas to all riders. Participants could even use their restrooms.

What can be better - a good rest, fresh drinks while eating bananas while enjoying the good company of a beautiful co-rider.

Further along, the road was lined with Trumpet Trees, their pink blossoms were a tropical version of the Sakura flowers, often showering and paving the road a bright pink.

With fairly challenging climbs along the quiet Kampong Bahru and Kampung Nong Chik areas .....

... and then onto a short stretch below the flyovers of Jalan Lingkaran Dalam and we were back to our start point. It was a short but interesting ride, an eye-opener for many who have not visited JB before.

Just as we entered the finishing point, a couple of stall selling cycling caps, jerserys, etc. attracted many of us...

... then it was a group photo session for memories of this great event.
But we are not finished yet, they were games and competitions to take part in.

The were several competitions like the quickest folding, and one of the 
lightest bike. I tried entering Goofy (my bike), but then it is a heavy-weight weighing in at 15.2kg, much heavier that that cuddling baby on the side!
For the record, Mokti have the lightest bike, weighing in at 7.2 kg. Dang, Goofy is even heavier than two of his bikes combined!

There were races too: Mens' Individual, Womens' Individual, Team Relays. Here's Rita Rider zooming ahead, she came from behind at the last lap to overtake the leader and won. Speeding does has its pits and falls, and one rider found out when taking a sharp corner too quickly and fell. Fortunately, he only suffered minor abrasions and perhaps a bruised ego.

With the races and competitions over, we adjourned over to the nearby Johor Heritage Foundation for a sponsored lunch. Here, lucky draws were held, with winners getting water bottles, nice T-shirts, bags, etc. But in the end, everyone was a winner for taking part in this event with it's many freebies, making new friends, and having a wonderful ride.

Many thanks to the organisers, ride marshals, sweepers, lead vehicle and support car drivers, the police and Rela members.
(Read about the behind the scenes efforts at Ah Moi's blog)

Great Job!

(For more photos of the dayClick Here)
This is page 2 of a 2-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1-2: KL-JB-Tg. Piai    |   Go to Other Days      |                                         

After the event, we drove back to Kuala Lumpur and en route took a short detour into Muar for dinner with some local friends at Muar Ginseng Fish Restaurant. The food here is pretty good, and I recommend not to miss the deep fried sole fish, which is so crispy that it can be eaten fins, tails and all, leaving behind only the main bones.

Our local friend brought along this "Mama" Tau foo Fa (soft soya bean curd) which was made by her brother. It was smooth and not overly soft; and most importantly had a robust soya bean flavour and aroma. I will definitely be looking out for this smoothie when I am here next.

Grilling otak-otak wrapped in coconut leaf.
And while in Muar, one should not miss their renown Otak-Otak. We visited the Chun Long Frozen Food outlet at the town centre, they have the freshly grilled thin type wrapped in coconut leaves and the frozen thicker slab versions. We got the slab version which when defrosted makes a good spread for sandwiches.

Nearby is a small niche park and within it was a statue of lion dancers; this is the World Champion Lion Dance Landmark. The lion dance troupe from the Kun Seng Keng Lion Dance Association of Muar is renown for their fine and lively acrobatic lion dance and have won the World's Lion Dance Championship several times.
(Watch a video presentation of their championship lion dance)

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