Saturday, September 22, 2018

Perlis-Kedah-Penang: Cycling Perlis to Penang The Coastal Route

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Perlis to Penang Via The Coastal Route
West Coast Peninsular Malaysia : 7th August - 11th August 2018
Small Group Cycling Tour of the west coast of West Malaysia :
(See day-to-day blogs for more detailed routes)

Just a year ago we had followed our buddy Sin(of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) on part of his 45 days cycling tour around Peninsular Malaysia. We cycled from Selangor to Penang to be part of the CFAL 9 round Penang Island event.
This year a few of us a trying something different, cycling from Perlis to Penang for the CFAL10 event. Starting with a train journey from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar, after which we cycle to 
Penang Island along a coastal route, one which is often almost bare of traffic.
Here is the tale of our adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. (Note: further below are cycling tips, and write-ups on food and places along the route)

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... New Zealand!)

Below are the combined route maps for the whole tour. Due to limitations of Google Maps the whole route is presented in two maps, for detailed route maps showing places of interests, etc. go to the maps shown on the daily blogs:

Padang Besar To Kuala Kedah Perlis-Kedah Cycling Route Map (106km)

This is a combined map of the cycling routes done over a few days shown here for easier reference. It starts at Padang Besar going to the Timah Tasoh Lake and then heads towards the coast at Kuala Perlis, passing by the padi fields at Kg. Sungai Abi, Padang Melangit, the Perlis Snake Park and the very green Taman Sakura Kangar. From Kuala Perlis it heads along a beautiful coastal route to Sanglang before crossing the border to Kedah at Ayer Hitam. It then continues through several small fishing villages to Kuala Kuar before ending at Kuala Kedah. The route is relatively flat with nice coastal views of padi fields on on side and the sea on the other.
Cycling Distance: 106.00 km.     Level: Medium
(.... click here to view the Padang Besar to Lake Tasoh Ride Blog)

Kuala Kedah To Penang Island Kedah-Penang Cycling Route Map (115km)

This is a combined map of the cycling routes done over a few days shown here for easier reference. It starts from Kuala Kedah heading on a relatively flat coastal route to cross over to Pulau Bunting and then continuing on to Pantai Murni in Yan. From there its onwards to Tanjung Dawai to take a short boat ride over Pantai Merdeka and then crossing from Kedah to Penang at Kuala Muda. It ends at Penang Island via a Penang Ferry ride from Butterworth. Along the way will be a Kuala Muda Whispering Fish Market and a Tsunami Memorial Monument. The route is relatively flat except for a short climb at anjung Jaga.
Cycling Distance: 115.00 km.     Level: Medium
(.... click here to view the Ayer Itam to Yan Ride Blog)
(.... click here to view the Yan to Penang Ride Blog)
(.... click here to view the Penang Island North & East Coast Cycling Paths Ride Blog)


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'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. 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 NOT allowed on board even if bagged. So how did we get our bikes on board? Read the blogs to find out.
- The Rapid Ferry 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 in Bahasa Malaysia 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, accommodations are easy to find, there are hotels and home-stays around; use Google maps to search for these. We did not pre-book accommodations except for those at Timah Tasoh Lake (as we were arriving late and did not want to waste time looking), and in Penang Island which is a favourite tourist destination and as there was also a major cycling event during that time. Our accommodations cost averaged about RM90 per room per night.
(See individual daily blogs for our accommodations 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, many Mamak coffeeshops are opened 24 hours. Do note the exception in Padang Besar, where most stalls only open after 7-00pm for dinner.
 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°-33°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.
We plotted routes both on Google Maps and Garmin: Google maps are more up to date and some roads are not shown on the Garmin maps; on the other hand the Garmin GPS units becomes handy when data signal is weak or not available.

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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