Thursday, September 27, 2018

Perlis-Kedah-Penang: Cycling Perlis to Penang Day 2 - Lake Tasoh To Sanglang

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Cycling Perlis to Penang : Day 2 Lake Tasoh To Sanglang - Of Snakes & Padi Fields
West Coast Peninsular Malaysia - Day 2 : Wednesday, 8th August 2018
Small Group Cycling Tour of the west coast of West Malaysia, from Perlis to Penang :
Cycling Distance: 68.00 km.     Level: Medium
Cycling Time : 7:20 am to 4:30pm
Time Taken :  9hrs 10mins (inclusive of stops for breakfast, lunch, tea, visiting snake farm, bike repair, rest, regrouping, and many photo opps).

This is page 2 of a 5-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1 Padang Besar         |       Go to Other Days             |             Go to D3 Yan>

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
The route is generally flat and road conditions good.

3. 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.

4. Weather
At Kangar, daytime temperatures averaged 32°C, but overcast skies made it feel cooler. Evening temperatures averaged 25°CA useful weather forecast sites is AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

5. Places of Interests
Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
- Padi fields scenery at Kampung Sungai Abi (GPS: 6.52492, 100.20978).
- Perlis Snake Farm (GPS: 6.50875, 100.17386).
Taman Sakura (GPS: 6.43469, 100.18588) in Kangar.
- Kota Kayang Museum (GPS: 6.41576, 100.14881) near Kuala Perlis.
- Fisherman's wharf near Kuala Perlis Market (GPS: 6.40433, 100.13489).
- Ferry Port (GPS: 6.39795, 100.12760) at Kuala Perlis.
- coastal fishing villages along the way with scenery of paddies on one side and the sea on the other.

6. Food
- Breakfast: Nasi lemak & traditional Malay kuehs at road side stall (GPS: 6.56452, 100.20768) at Kampung Guar Jentik.
- Lunch: Rice with Chinese dishes at Kedai Makanan & Minuman OK (GPS: 6.43638, 100.19095) in Kangar.
- Rest & Refreshment: Rambutans with drinks at road-side stall (GPS: 6.30294, 100.16624) in Kampung Sungai Padang
- Dinner: Laksa Utara at Medan Selera Kerpan food court (GPS: 6.25856, 100.22937) in Ayer Hitam.

7. Accomodations
At Ayer Hitam, we stayed at the Tam Teh Homestay (GPS: 6.25403, 100.23451). We took three 2-pax rooms for a night at a total of RM250/-.
Address: Jalan Kangar-Alor Setar, Kampung Matang Kenanga, 06150 Ayer Hitam, Kedah.
Tel.: +6012-5521278 / +6013-3993322 / +6019-4144343

8. 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). The language of the country is Bahasa Malaysia, and many urban 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.



The previous day we had taken a train up from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar and from there cycled to the Timah Tasoh Lake. It was a short 21km. ride that we did so as to cut down today's riding distance. Today's plan was to cycle to Sanglang situated right at the Perlis-Kedah border, but we ended up in Kedah!

The cycling route starts near the Timah Tasoh Lake and heads towards to coast at Kuala Perlis. It is relatively flat with nice coastal views of padi fields on on side and the sea on the other. It passes through a nice park in Kangar and several coastal fishing villages en route.
Cycling Distance: 68.00 km.     Level: Medium

7:30am - Okay, this is suppose to be a coastal route and the Timah Tasoh Lake lies about 20km inland, so we started off by heading west for the coast.
After yesterday's evening of having difficulty finding shops that were opened for dinner, we were a bit wary of hoping to find a shop opened for breakfast. The locals here seems to take life easy, and many shops we passed were still closed. Fortunately, just after cycling 3.5km, we found an opened shop at Kampung Guar Jentik.
This was a great place for breakfast, good and cheap food and best of all a fantastic view of the padi fields and faraway hills. IT'S MEALS WITH A VIEW!

Besides the few types of Nasi lemak, they also sold a good range of Malay kuehs; such as Kueh Lapis, Seri Muka, Kueh Bengka Ubi, Pulut/Rempah Udang, etc. We were spoilt for choices!

The view from the food shop just tempted us to go over to the padi fields; just a kilometer further we turned off the road onto tracks leading into the padi field: it's so green and the unique solitary, rounded limestone hills of the Bukit Ayer Forest Reserve just formed a perfect backdrop. Location is at off Jalan Padang MelangitKampung Guar Jentik (GPS: 6.55387, 100.21038).

... and there were petrified trees too!

We headed down the main road lined with young teak trees, their waving leaves warmly  beckoned us onward.

Using Google Maps, I had plotted a route to avoid as much of the main roads as possible. These routes were on narrow roads that ran through the padi fields of Padang Melangit which means "Fields of Heaven", a very appropriate name as the green fields of padi stretched onward to meet the sky at the horizon. Along the way kampong houses comfortably sit below swaying coconut trees.

See what I mean by the fields stretching to the horizon to meet the blue sky.
But I put this photo here not just to show this: I was leading ahead when I got a call from Chow to turned back. And this was the view that met me: of him, Mindy and Fenn seemingly wandering lost. Mindy's chain had snapped at the Master Link, they had found one side of the link and were trying hard to look for the other side. Even passing locals pitted in to help us! We just could not find it. Options ran through our heads: use a cable tie or a thin cord to link the chain back, etc. The locals informed that there were no bicycle shops nearby and the nearest one would be at Kangar, a good 12 km. away.

Yes, with multiple replacement of the cord and at a slower pace we would eventually reach Kangar. But we did a better thing: hailed a GRAB taxi! Yup, in the middle of nowhere we could still do that! That's the wonder of the Brompton, it folds so compactly and could easily fit into the boot of the taxi. Haha!
Here's Mindy getting into the taxi, still smiling despite the fact that she would miss out on our next destination, the Perlis Snake Farm.

Kok Kin & Fenn having snaky fun at the snake farm.
10:15am: The rest of us continued on the route through the padi fields riding on narrow tracks (some of which were tarred, some just gravel and others muddy trails) before getting back onto the main road that led to the Perlis Snake Farm. Entry to the farm is RM6-00 per pax. There is a large indoor section housing a museum and display on live snakes in glass cages.

A display of one of the longest python ever caught (more than 10 metres long). The display shows a exaggerated large snake head with the skin of the snake in a glass case behind. Fenn is standing there to show how long that snake skin is.

(Photo credits: Fenn)
Within the glass cages were many snakes, many of which were poisonous. It's the cobras that attracted us. These are fierce creatures often hiss and flaring their hood ready to strike when provoked.

12:00pm - Lunch at Kedai Makanan & Minuman OK. By then Mindy had resolved her broken chain problem and was waiting for us at this coffee shop. The kind GRAB driver had taken her to a nearby bicycle shop and where a technician had fixed an appropriate-size Master Link. She had also bought a spare one; Since then, so have I - better play safe and it's a very small and light item to carry.
The shop is one of the best places to have a meal in Kangar, the dishes they served are very home-style cooking, just the way my mother would have cooked it. We had delicious ray fish curry served in a pot, a nice blend of bean sprouts stir-fired with slices of bitter gourd, Thai-style tofu, etc.
(... read more of Kedai Makanan & Minuman OK)

My Google Maps plot had more surprises for us; it led us through the Taman Sakura This place is just built for cycling with cycling/walking tracks that run through lush green foilage along the Perlis River.

The best thing about this shady, wooded park is that it's car-free, and today being a week day, save for a few anglers, it was almost devoid of other visitors.

Leaving the park, our route still hugged the Perlis River, going along quiet roads that passed through brush land and banana plantations.

Back on the main roads and passing by the Kota Kayang Museum. Although entry is free; after the broken chain incident, we did not have time to visit.

1:15pm - We reached the Kuala Perlis fishermen's wharf, it's located just behind the Kuala Perlis Market. The fishing boats were all colourfully lined moored onto the banks of the  Perlis River, but at this hour the market was almost empty and the fishermen where nowhere to be seen; it's already way pass their fishing time and they have returned home.

Not far away is the Kuala Perlis-Langkawi Ferry Terminal, from here vehicle ferries ply several times daily to head for Langkawi, where they will dock at the Kuah Jetty.
It would have been great to board one of this ferry and head over to Langkawi to cycle on the island.... if only we had an extra day, sigh!

But we stopped here not to board the ferry, it was for a short rest and perhaps even a siesta.

Leaving the town we were onto the Changlun-Kuala Perlis Highway, although a wide four-lane highway, traffic was light. Devoid of trees, it looked like a hot stretch to ride on.

Fortunately, we veered away from the highway (or rather the highway veered away from the sea) and we were back onto quieter shady roads that hugged the coastline. Here, it's so quiet that we seldom saw other traffic.

And it's a scenic stretch too; one with padi fields on one side and the sea on the other.

What a nice experience, green on one side, blue on the other and a strong sea breeze blowing in.

Around here were many fishing villages, with houses standing on stilts at river banks and fishing boats moored next to them.

Suddenly we heard loud cheering, it came from many locals assembled at a coffee-shop. They were watching some foreign football games and cheering the their favourite team.

We met a group of local young boys on their bicycles, and the escorted us part way and even raced with Brian. Brian calls them mosquito bikes as they are small, and zoomed in and out between us like mosquitoes!

3:00pm - At Kampung Sungai Padang, we had a short break at a lean-to coffee-shop. The locals were very friendly, chatty and even shared their rambutans with us. In the photo above, Kok Kin was just coming to join us after buying some rambutans from a nearby stall. Hey! Kok Kin, we are already enjoying rambutans. Anyway it was good to share and share alike.

We not only shared our fruits with the locals, but also with their pet musang (civet cat), it was an infant but was already quite adept at eating rambutans. The boy owner was very "paternal" and even had a small bottle fitted with a small rubber nipple to wean his pet with milk!

Riding into Sanglang, we found it to be a small town with many wooden houses. But the thing is there were now homestays here so we had to continue on forward to look for accommodations. Leaving Sanglang by crossing a bridge we had effectively crossed over from Perlis into Kedah). We rode inland along an irrigation canal and headed for the next homestay on our list.

4:30pm - We checked into the Tam Teh Homestay at Ayer Hitam, located just into Kedah. It had a nice location right next to the padi fields; only thing is that it was not well maintained with the showers not working well. Also the windows were not properly netted and insects from the padi fields flew in to "deocrate" the bed. I just sprayed mosquito repellant onto the bed covers to repel as many away as possible.

A bowl of Laksa Utara.
In the evening we walked out to the local pasar malam (night market); there were many food stalls there but without any seating to eat as most catered for take-aways. So for us, it was a proper sit-down dinner at the nearby Medan Selera Kerpan food court. We had Laksa Utara (it's a Malay version of Penang Laksa but not so spicy) and also some Mee Goreng.

Back at the pasar malam, which had stalls running along a street next to the food court, we strolled down looking for goodies to buy. There were several durians stalls, but we decided to skip them and headed for a stall selling cempedak. Mindy is an expected in selecting these fruits, just by a whiff smell, she could tell whether the fruit was excellent or not.
Back at the home-stay, we wolfed down the fruit, and they were really very good, Mindy's sure is an expect on cempedaks!

(that's "Have you eaten?" in Bahasa Malaysia)

(For more photos of the day Click Here)

This is page 2 of a 5-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D1 Padang Besar         |       Go to Other Days             |             Go to D3 Yan>


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