Thursday, March 28, 2019

Perak-Kedah-Penang: Cycling Kuala Kangsar To Gerik To Penang Day 2 - Kuala Kangsar To Lenggong

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Cycling Kuala Kangsar>Gerik>Penang Day 2 Kuala Kangsar To Lenggong - Wild River Fish Territory
Central West Coast Peninsular Malaysia Day 2: Friday 8th March 2019
This is part of a small group cycling tour from Kuala Kangsar to Penang Island on a north-western central route of West Malaysia. Today's route is from Kuala Kangsar to Lenggong:
Distance: 49km.               |               Level: Medium 
Time : 6:45am to 2:00pm
Time Taken : 7hrs 15mins. (including stops at padi fields, bridge, temple, lake, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, and lots of photo opps).

This is page 2 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
  Go to D1 Kuala Kangsar      |     Go to Other Days           |           Go to D3 Gerik >

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 fairly flat with some undulating slopes at the rural kampung areas. Except for a short stretch along Federal Route 76 (the Baling-Kuala Kangsar trunk road), it was quite shady most of the way.

3. Places of Interest
    Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:
- Padi fields scenes at Kubang Terap (GPS: 4.79860, 100.95784) (See the red line on the route map, as could not plot directions using Google).
- Sultan Iskandar Bridge (Iskandariah Bridge) (GPS: 4.81813, 100.96398) over the Perak River.
- Victoria Bridge (GPS:4.83754, 100.9638 ) over the Perak River at Karai.
Sauk Thai Temple (GPS: 4.93025, 100.92296) at Sauk.
- Sauk Arch (GPS: 4.93453, 100.92303) at Sauk.
- Tasik Raban views from the Tasek Raban Rest Area (GPS: 5.00217, 100.94533).
Lenggong Archeological Museum (GPS: 5.05462, 100.97396) where can be seen the archaeological site for the Perak Man, on of the earliest man in history.

4. Food
Breakfast: Roti Canai at Mak Ina (GPS: 4.77967, 100.95092) next to Yana Corner in Kuala Kangsar. Go after 7:00am and this road-side stall will have interesting packed local ride dishes. Contact: +6017-5397941
Morning Tea: Wild Boar Curry Noodles at Karai/Enggor Curry Noodles Stall (GPS: 4.83655, 100.96572) in Karai. We missed trying the Kuih Kundas with Kuah Kacang sold from a stall on the opposite side of the road.
Lunch & Dinner: River Fish, Fried Noodles at Restoran Chat Sook (七叔饭店) (GPS: 5.10973, 100.96822in Lenggong.
Afternoon Tea: Ice Kacang at Mak Midah (GPS: in Lenggong.

5. Accomodations
    Our accommodations in Lenggong were two twin-bedder rooms at Soon Lee Hotel (GPS: 5.10957, 100.96844) at RM70 per room.
Address: 31, Jalan Besar, Kampung Sira, 33400 Lenggong, Perak, Malaysia.
Phone: +6014-3276204.
     Alternative accommodations can be found at Homestay Laman Bonda (GPS: 5.11524, 100.97425), Phone: 019-548 8791.

6. Weather
    March is within the tropical dry season, which is a hot period. At Kuala Kangsar, a previous night's rain had made the misty morning temperatures cooler ranging from 24°C to 26°C. At Lenggong, afternoon temperatures peaked at 34°C with the perceived temperature was 38°C.
    A useful weather forecast site is AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 especially in the rural and plantation areas.

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.


Yesterday, we had arrived at Kuala Kangsar from Kuala Lumpur by the ETS train; and had a quick short ride around the royal town to visit its attractions. Today we kicked off our actual tour and will try to maneuver along rustic, rural roads as we head for Lenggong. And YES... we will be heading into good river fish territory and also pass a scenic lake!

Cycle Route: Kuala Kangsar (Sayong)>Kubang Terap>Karai (Victoria Bridge)>Kg. Temong Hulu>Kg. Chuar Hulu>Sauk>Tasek Raban>Lenggong.
The route starts off with a ride into the padi fields at Kubang Terap and heads for the Victoria Bridge at Karai . It continues along quieter rural and village roads through villages like Kg. Temong Hulu and Kg. Chuar Hulu. before exiting for a short stretch on Federal Route 76 (the Baling-Kuala Kangsar trunk road) up till Sauk after which it continues on quieter rural roads onwards to Lenggong via Tasek Raban. The route is fairly flat with some gentle undulating slopes within the village kampung roads. Except for the main road stretch, most of the route is fairly shaded.
Distance: 49km.               |               Level: Medium 

Seeing that it's the day we kick off our actual cycling tour, we started the day with gusto.... and also with a couple of errors!
Mistake numero uno was proof of my notoriety of taking people on the wrong way of getting them lost. As I would be leading this tour and in order to avoid this, I had taken pains to study and plot the route, and to make it more interesting, to avoid as much as the main roads as possible. All these planned routes were transferred to my Garmin GPS unit, which that morning led us to "Horlan!" by taking us to a dead end route; what appeared as a road on the map wasn't there at all!. I swallowed my pride and sheepishly led the team on a U-turn back to the main road 😅.

Nasi Lemuni.
Error number Two was starting off to early! Hoping to avoid the mid-afternoon heat, we had started off at 6:30am and rode off happily to look for a breakfast. To our despair most of the shops were still closed! They only start opening at or after 7:00am.
But Lady Luck did not totally desert us - at the main road, Mak Ina was just opening up her stall. But at this early hour, she had only Roti Canai with light dahl, the other curries were not ready yet! Well beggars can't be choosers, so we just dug into our first breakfast of the tour.
Twenty minutes later, as we were finishing off the rotis, an associate of theirs made a delivery of a carton filled with boxes of pre-packed meals such as Nasi Pulut Jagung, Nasi Lemak and even a local specialty called Nasi Lemuni.
Nasi Lemuni is a rice-dish renown in north of the country as the  lemuni leaves, the main element of this dish, are easily obtained in northern states such as Penang and Kedah. Nasi Lemuni is cooked in the same way as Nasi Lemak. However, the coconut milk used in Nasi Lemak is replaced with lemuni leaf juice. The rice will absorb the essence of the lemuni leaves that make this dish a healthy meal. Among the medicinal properties of this leaf is to reduce fever, cough and sputum. Having had our fill of roti we could only look at the delicious rice dishes in curious awe.

We took our time with our breakfast and only rode off at close to 7:20am, when the skies had started to brighten up. We will be riding into the kampung and padi-fields, and there is now point riding in the dark and not being able to see the scenic rustic scenes. As we rode along, we did pass by several nice Rumah Perak (Perak kampung houses) at Kampung Kandang Hulu.
 We were trying to emulate a route which our buddy, Wong KT, had taken us on an earlier tour to the Victoria Bridge. From the kampung there was supposed to be a road that connects to the padi fields, but somehow we had missed a junction and had to ride out to the main road before cutting in again into the padi fields.  I have indicated this missed junction (GPS: 4.78562, 100.95571) in the route map above.

Finally, riding at the padi fields of Kubang Terap. It's gravel roads here but they were easily ride-able. The air here is so fresh and a previous night's rain had made the morning air SUPER FRESH! We could literally smell the greenness 💚.

As we rode further in, nearer to the foothills, the morning mist made the place looked so surreal and the canals reflected the bright colors of my buddies shirts.

The place is so serene, so picturesque; we just had to stop often to grab photos.

 See what I mean?

We rode inwards right to the fringe of the secondary forest before turning out and exiting at Kampung Padang Ampang. It was a physical short 2 km. ride, but an emotionally beautiful long ride of taking in the simple wonders of Mother Earth.

Don't be surprised to find dedicated cycling lanes on this Kampung Kota Lama Kanan side of Kuala Kangsar.

A quick stop near the Sultan Iskandar Bridge (Iskandariah Bridge) for a memorable photo. Constructed in 1932 to replace the Enggor pontoon bridge which was washed away during the big flood in December 1931, the Iskandariah Bridge has 7 steel arches mounted on concrete piers. With a total length is 308 meters, the bridge spanning over the Perak River remains as the longest steel arch bridge in Malaysia. Along our tour, we will be meeting the Perak River pretty often, and on latter days will get close to it's source. Just past the bridge we slipped onto Federal Route #1 for a short stint and at Kampung Enggor we went back onto quieter roads.

Ahead was Karai, a small one street town which would have been oblivious if not for the Victoria Bridge located at one end of the town. It's the first time we are approaching the town from this direction; riding in through the colonial houses was a bit of a blast to the past.

We had often stopped at Karai for eats before, and had found the food to be mediocre. But of late, with more visitors coming to the Victoria Bridge, the quality has improved. One shouldn't be miss this Karai/Enggor Curry Noodles, surprisingly the meat didn't had the usual strong boar smell and toughness. I tasted good and was easy to chew on.
A stall on the opposite side of the road is also becoming a favorite, it sells Kuih Kundas which is eating with Kuah Kacang (spicy groundnut sauce). 

And the girls will attest that the local Arabica coffee sold here was the best they had for the whole duration of our tour.

9:15am - At the Victoria Bridge..... Yahooooooo!
It is the oldest railway bridge in Malaysia and one of the most impressive.
"Construction started in 1897 and it was officially opened in 1900. The single track railway truss bridge is over 1000 feet long and rests on six brick piers which still look in excellent condition despite the frequent severe flooding in this area. At each end of the bridge is a stone sentry post, a hangover from the days of the Malayan Emergency when strategic communications links such as this bridge would have been prize targets for the Communist terrorists of the MNLANow in more peaceful times, the bridge has become a venue for pre-wedding photo shoots." (quoted from the Thrifty Traveller).

Visitors can still go onto the now un-used railway bridge for photos, but one has to be careful as there are large gaps between the timber railway sleepers. One slip and it's a dangerous 40-foot drop into the river below. To the right, in the above photo, is the new concrete railway bridge.

Met another tourist, who by coincidence was from the Klang Valley and related to a cycling buddy, Kenny Kwan.

The Victoria Bridge remained in use until 2002, when a wider concrete girder bridge built parallel to the old bridge was completed to take over the role of handling rail traffic.
On both the old and new bridges are adjoining footbridges on which pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycles can use to cross the river.

Across on the other side of the river we rode off along rustic rural roads, ones that were narrow, quiet and undulating, cutting through small kampungs with names like Kampung Rimba Badak (which meant Rhinoceros Forest; no, we did not see any rhinos here), Kampung Suak Parang. At Kampung Cheh Hilir we slipped onto even quieter roads before exiting back again at Kampung Chuar Hulu.

The roads through the kampungs were quite shady, but in this hot season Mr. Sun's hot rays managed to slipped through between the branches of the trees. Fortunately a couple of us had brought the Asian Conical Hats that we had bought during our cycling tour of Vietnam's Mekong Delta.
Sooi Ying here was playing it safe, wearing her conical hat over her helmet!

Back on a short stretch along Federal Route 76 (the Baling-Kuala Kangsar trunk road) and just before Sauk is a temple which I called the Sauk Thai Temple (it's actual name is "Persatuan Penganut Buddha Thai Kuala Kangsar". We had passed this place many times but it's another first again as we stepped into it for the first time. Inside the temple were many murals of Buddha lining the walls. In front on low shelves were statues of Buddha in different poses. Also there were life-like wax statues of past elder monks of the temples.

Outside were several shrines, one of which had a Phra_Phrom (Four-faced Buddha); but somehow I was attracted to this dragon that had draped itself around a column - it reminded me of similar but larger dragons at the Temple Of The East Sea Dragon King in Teluk Intan.
Important note: for those with sensitive tummies and usually drink filtered water, in this temple there's a sink with a filtered tap.

At the Sauk Arch; just for a photo, our tummy is still full from the wild boar curry and we decided to skip eating here as we had tried the food here on previous rides.

Passed by this barber shop with a cute; weather is hot, perhaps we could let the Good Father crop our hair 😅.

Our tummies were okay, but the heat was getting to us. Fortunately, we heeded Richard's advise of each getting a 1.5l bottle of 100 Plus isotonic drink to replenish our stock. By the time we reached Lenggong we would have finished the whole bottle.

12:10pm - At Tasek Raban, the lake was still as beautiful, but today a stronger wind rippled through the lake's surface and the reflections were not that clear.

We had a longer break at the Tasek Raban Rest Area located on a small island within the lake. I took a quick forty winks on an army hammock (the soldiers were having a break from army maneuvers).....

..... while the girls went around happily snapping their photos.
We had used the local roads that led to this island; alternatively one can use Federal Route 76 (the Baling-Kuala Kangsar trunk road) which goes onto a tall bridge spanning over the lake. The bridge can be seen at the top-left corner of the above photo; from it's taller vantage point will be bird's-eye views of the lake.

1:45pm - After passing by several villages with names like Kg. Ngor, Kg, Kuak - which reminded us of geese (Cantonese for geese is Ngor) and the sound that they made, we arrived at Lenggong. Perhaps the village people here do rear many geese as in lieu of actual dogs, geese with their loud honking do make good "watch-dogs".
At the entrance into the town was an armored car from Emergency-days, but oddly painted in a striking purple - perhaps they were trying to emulate the Beatle's "Yellow Submarine". Perhaps a local band will come out with a song titled "Purple Armour Car" 😇.

Main streetLenggong, it's a larger town then Karai and has a large main bus terminal and a bank too.
We contacted Pinky of Soon Lee Hotel; she was a lively, jovial person. Unfortunately, we can't say the same of her lodgings. Our rooms were at the second floor and the air-conditioning continuously dripped water onto the floor, she had to supply extra towels to act as mats to seep up the water. Our bikes were put into a room on the first floor,.

An attractive platter of deliciously sweet, steamed Tengalan.
The plus point of staying in Lenggong is the availability of "rare" river fishes like TengalanSebarauTapah FishJelawat, & Kelah, These fishes may be rare in the big towns, except for the Kelah, the rest are quite readily available here.
2:30pm - After checking in, we adjourned to Restoran Chat Sook (七叔饭店) for a late lunch; one of our buddy tried to order Patin and was given a incredulous stare from the Captain, who retorted, "That's not a fish!", alluding to the fact that most Patin fish are bred and not wild. In the cities, the Patin is a prized fish, here it's relegated to a second-class fish!
We ordered a Tengalan which tasted great - steamed just right and with not too much over-bearing sauce, it's meat was super sweet. Only thing is one has to eat it carefully as it has lots of small bones. Other than the fish we also had their bouncy Saituo (西刀) fish balls, very good fried noodles with Saituo fish paste, stir-fried  "Yau Mak" (Romaine Lettuce) and their signature "Choon Kin" meat spring rolls.
(... read more of Chat Sook)

After lunch, we just lazed and whiled away the afternoon snucked in our cool air-conditioned rooms. The afternoon heat was just a deterrent to step out. Closer to 7pm we managed to drag ourselves out to face the still hot day for a walk at the local night market and then a walk down the shopping strip of Main Street where we stopped for a refreshing dessert of Ice-kacang. Dinner time and it was back to Chat Sook for another round of their delicious noodles.

Like these swallows, we will be having an early night as we will be starting early again tomorrow morning in order to beat the afternoon heat.


(For more photos of the Day 2Click Here)
This is page 2 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.

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