Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Perak-Kedah-Penang: Cycling Kuala Kangsar To Gerik To Penang Days 9 & 10 - Cycling George Town

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Cycling Kuala Kangsar>Gerik>Penang Days 9 & 10: Cycling George Town - The Penang Cycling Lanes
Central West Coast Peninsular Malaysia Day 9: Friday 15th 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 Tanjung Tokong to Queensbay via George Town on Penang Island:
Cycling Distance: 46 km.              |               Level: Medium
Time : 8:00am to 4:10pm
Time Taken : 8 hrs. 10 mins. (including stops for visiting temple, fort and other places of interest; re-orientation, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, rests, regrouping, and lots of photo opps).

This is page 9 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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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 goes from Tanjung Tokong into George Town and then onwards to the Cycling Spiral Bridge of Hope at Queensbay via a coastal route. Although it does go onto some main & secondary roads, most of the time the route ran along the Penang North Coast Cycling Lanes & the Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes.
     Traffic on the roads were fairly heavy but other users acknowledge the presence of cyclists. The cycling lanes were pleasant to cycle on as they were shady for most of the way. Using the North Coast Cycling Lanes along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah allows one to cycle counter-traffic.

3. Bringing Bicycles Onto Buses
     We took the Billion Stars Express Bus from Komtar (down in George Town) to get back to Kuala Lumpur, the fare was RM38/-. At Komtar, we were picked up at Jalan Ria by a shuttle van and sent up to the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal to board the bus for Kuala Lumpur. Both van & bus allowed bagged folded bicycles on board their storage holds. Tickets for the bus can be bought from the bus operator offices at Jalan Ria near Komtar or at the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal. OR can be bought on line via Easybook, redBus or Bus Online Ticket.

4. Places of Interest
    Along these route were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:
 - Gurney Drive shoreline views from end of Leith Street Ghaut (GPS: 5.42294, 100.33774) next to the St. Xavier's Institution school field.
- Goddess of Mercy Temple (觀音亭) (GPS: 5.41847, 100.33876).
- Esplanade (GPS: 5.42190, 100.34248).
- Fort Cornwallis (GPS: 5.42019, 100.3445).
- Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower (GPS: 5.41923, 100.34405).
Ghee Hiang Showroom/Store (GPS: 5.41557, 100.33991) at Beach Street for its renown sesame oil & Tambun Biscuits (淡汶餅).
- Karpal Singh Drive (GPS: 5.39654, 100.32864).
- Hean Chooi Temple (GPS: 5.39325, 100.3246).
- GSD Cycling Park (GPS: 5.33916, 100.31127) along the East Coast Cycling Lanes.
- Cycling Spiral Bridge of Hope (Jambatan Harapan) (GPS: 5.32784, 100.30631).
Queens Bay Sea Shore Park (GPS: 5.32975, 100.30848)
- Artwork at the Hin Bus Depot (GPS: 5.41208, 100.32807).
- Sampan boat views at far end of Gurney Drive (GPS: 5.42949, 100.32132); now there is even a Google view from the sea.

5. Food
a. Breakfast : Penang Lor Bak, Penang Hokkien Mee (檳城福建麵) at Kheng Phin Cafe (群宾茶餐室) (GPS: 5.42056, 100.33282).
b. Morning Tea : Local Malaysian coffee at warong/stall (GPS: 5.35773, 100.31626) near the Penang Bridge.
c. Lunch: Duck soup Kueh Teow SoupPenang Hokkien Mee, Chai Kueh, Koo Chai Kueh, Pasembur at Cecil Street Market (七条路巴刹, 7th Street Market) (GPS: 5.40720, 100.32875).

6. Weather
    March is within the tropical dry season, which is a hot period. At George Town  morning temperatures averaged 28°C. Afternoon and evening temperatures averaged at 31°C and 27°C respectively.
    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.

The previous day we rode from Kulim to Penang Island avoiding the main roads as much as possible. Instead of going through the busy roads at Bukit Mertajam, it takes the northern approach via Lunas and Kubang Semang to reach Butterworth through Permatang Pauh & Mak Mandin. From Butterworth we crossed over to George Town via the Penang Ferry. I left my friends at their home-stay in the city and went on to stay with family on the outskirts.
Having attended to family duties, today I take my buddies on a easy ride and show them the joy of cycling along the Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes! What was suppose to be an easy ride came close to 50km. Hah!

Cycling Route: Tanjung Tokong>Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama)>Karpal Singh Drive>Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes>Cycling Spiral Bridge of Hope (Queensbay)>Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes>Hin Bus Depot>Penang North Coast Cycling Lanes>Gurney Drive>Tanjung Tokong.
The route goes from Tanjung Tokong to the Cycling Spiral Bridge of Hope (Queensbay)y mostly along the cycling paths of the Penang North Coast Cycling Lanes and Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes. When the route goes onto public roads it is onto the quieter roads.
Cycling Distance: 46 km.              |               Level: Medium

From Tanjung Tokong I headed down to town, and instead of using my usual route via Jalan Burma (where there are lots of things to eat!), I decided to go along Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney) riding along the newly opened Penang North Coast Cycling Lanes. There is a massive project to reclaim land along that coastline. Gurney Drive used to have a reasonably deep sea where the annual Penang Dragon Boat races were held. But perhaps due reclamation of land off Tanjung Tokong, the sea current had changed, and the sea off Gurney Drive became more silted with mud and got shallower and shallower.
In town, I noticed that the Leith Street Ghaut is now opened to the public; previously it was closed off to facilitate the construction of the adjacent the Azsia otthon, which sits on a former government office land. There's a good view of the Gurney Drive coastline from the far end of the road where it meets the sea. It would have been great if the government land had been turned into a park instead of privatizing it for development, then the public would have access to a great view and perhaps do some fishing too.
Leith Street Ghaut is also steeped in history and was once called Martina's Lane after the Portuguese Eurasian Martina Rozells "without whom Francis Light may never had founded Penang".

Anyway I detract, that beautiful view may not last as a the massive reclaimation development of Gurney Drive will change its coastline. For future reference, above is a Google Map screen capture of how the coastline is like presently. A bund has been created to demarcate the extent of the future reclamation.
On the seaward side of Gurney Drive, green fencing planted with creepers had been put up; these masked the massive 900 acres land reclamation project that stretches from Tanjung Tokong to Gurney Drive. A 24.28 hectare (60 acres) section fronting this present  promenade is expected to be completed by 2020, then there will be no more views of the sea from the old coffee-shops lining Gurney Drive. This 60-acre section will be called the Gurney Wharf - a seafront park which will comprise of four distinct recreational areas - a beach, a coastal grove, a water garden, and a seaside retail food and beverages (F&B) area. Also created will be a 760 acres new island for private housing and commercial development.
Gone will be the present public promenade lined with mobile hawker stalls; to many just sitting at the low walls here and enjoying the sea-breeze were just simple enough entertainment. With the modern park coming up, will these simple socializing be just memories of the past OR will the state government create a similar environment up at the new seafront? For a feel of Gurney Drive presently or in the past, click here. Read more of this reclamation project here. For a map of the project click here.
By then, hopefully there should be newer and more proper cycling lanes running along the future Gurney Wharf.

I met up with my friends at 33 Stewart Houze and it's time for a heavy breakfast at Kheng Phin Cafe (群宾茶餐室) where a stall sells one of the best lor bak in town. Here too are good Hokkien Mee (prawn noodles) and Curry Mee.

Today, I am a cycling tourist guide for by buddies, some of the place we visited or things we saw:
At Upper Penang Road is one of the best places to view the trishaws of Penang. A long row of them are usually parked in front of the entrance to the St. Francis Xavier Church.

But first, show my friends some places of interest like Fort Cornwallis, we did not go in, just posed for photos at the entrance.

and the Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower clock tower. This clock tower was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's 1897 Diamond Jubilee, the tower is sixty feet tall, one foot for each year of Victoria's reign

And even on a short detour into the grounds of the Swettenham Pier, where old godowns/warehouse now lay closed and empty..... OR maybe they are not so empty after all, who knows!

From there it was to the Ghee Hiang Showroom/Store at Beach Street for my friends to order their renown sesame oil & Tambun Biscuits (淡汶餅..... to take back home for their relatives and friends.

Richard and the girls had never cycled at the Penang Cycling Lanes, and soon we were off heading for the Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes
Beautiful jumps by the girls at the Karpal Singh Drive.

Richard beat them with an even more beautiful jump! Dang, he can JUMP!

Sooi Ying posing at a nice seaside scene. Little does she know that decades ago those concrete structures on the right use to hold big pipes that drain the island's sewage into the sea. Oops..... I better don't tell her!
These days, the sewage are not dumped into the sea anymore and are treated at  centralized treatment plants, including the big District Sewage Plant at Jelutong.

Nearby to Karpal Singh Drive and next to the BSP Waterfront Food Court, I had often rode by a temple with dark pastel red walls and had been curious about it. But form the lanes the door to the temple was always locked!

Today, curiosity got the best of us and we searched for the temple's entrance. We couldn't enter from the cycling lanes as those were the temple's rear doors; the front entrance is located at Lebuh Sungai Pinang 1. We were to find out that this is the Hean Chooi Temple.

Back on the lanes, they meandered onto green reserves that ran next to the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Expressway. We were so near the highway but with lots of trees and greenery around, it felt like in a different world.

The lanes weave away from the highway and reached a good place for some photo shoot, near the First Penang Bridge.

Then an even better experience - riding below the approach ramp leading to the bridge. It's so low that we could almost touch the beams!

At the Pulau Jerejak jetty: I had wanted to take by friends on a ferry ride over to the island for a short cycling stint there.

But these days one can't just buy a boat ticket to go over, one have to buy one of the Pulau Jerejak Tour Packages which of course is not as cheap as a ferry ticket AND apparently bicycles are not allowed to be brought over!

Any way, there are other nice spots we can enjoy along the cycling lanes FOR FREE!
Like here at the GSD Cycling Park.
Do note that off Persiaran Bayan Indah, land is still being reclaimed for development. But fret not, as they do not interrupt the lanes; the authorities construct detours on the affected stretches.

12:45pm - We reached the Cycling Spiral Bridge of Hope just as a plane flew overhead. Wow!

We rode right up to the top of the 3-storey structure, lined up our bikes and enjoyed the view from there.
From the top, another ramp leads downwards to link to the cycling lanes that head inland, but we are not going there and went back down.

To continute on the coastal cycling lanes, one don't have to really use the Cycling Spiral Bridge of Hope, just next to it is a ramp that spans across a stream and leads to Phase 2 of the Penang East Coast Cycling Lanes that presently reaches almost to the 2nd Penang Bridge.
Short of time as this AhPek had to return to family duties, we turned back.

Along the lanes are a couple of cute but meaningful signboards: this one warns motorcyclists not to use the cycling lanes.....

And this one tells cyclists to ride with care and give way to pedestrians at the sections where the lanes are shared with them.
Just for note; this stretch of was at the Queens Bay Sea Shore Park. With benches under shady trees and a nice seaview, it's a favourite for locals to come relax.

We backtracked back-tracked along the cycling lanes, reach the famous Crooked Cycling Bridge AND it's time for lunch!

Lunch was at the largest hawker centre on the island, the Cecil Street Market.
It is also known in local Hokkien as "Chit Teow Lor Ban San", meaning the "7th Street Market" as it is located at Cecil Street. The area here has roads that run parallel to each other, spanning from Jalan C.Y. Chow to Jalan Gudawara. All in there are nine streets in this area starting from Street No. 1 which is Jalan Magazine and ending at Street No. 9 which is Lebuh Sandilands. Thank goodness, the British names has been maintained, at least it gives a link back to the colonial days of Penang.
But British sounding or not, this area used to be a notorious gangster area up till about 20 years ago.... er.... I think. Who knows the black-shirt gangs may have turned white or may have just gone underground. So whenever I am at this area, I tend not to talk boisterously.
Okay.... I detract..... again. Here there are lots of renown Penang Street Food, among which we had Char Keow Teow, Cheh Hoo (that's a salad almost similar to the Indian Pasembur), etc. together with glasses of Pegaga juice to cool our cycling heat down. I went for this bowl of duck-meat keow teow soup as it is one of the best, and also the duck-meat versions are harder to find as most vendors sell with chicken meat.

Despite it's notorious history, this area has strong ties to Chinese culture with many tea-houses and also several associations with Lion Dance troupes.

From the the predominantly Chinese area, we crossed Jalan Gudawara to one last attraction to show my friends - the famous Hin Bus Depot with it's display of street art many of which were painted by Lithuanian Ernest Zacharevic, the artist who made street art in Penang renown.
Most of the murals here are painted on the abandoned walls of delabitated houses; the above is of a dreamy woman peering skywards.

This one is of a tiger-head Iban warrior belting out some rock songs. Perhaps he just came from Santubong in Sarawak; that's where the annual Rainforest World Music Festival is held. This is a festival that celebrates the diversity of world music, especially tribal music.

With one last stop for eats of Teowchew Cendol desserts at Penang Road. This time I had my friends try the less renown stall (the one on the left if coming in from Penang Road), I feel this one's quality has surpassed the more famous one.
My trip back to Tanjung Tokong was made easy by using the North Coast Cycling Lanes which allowed me to go contra-traffic and avoid a long detour!

It also allowed me to stop at my favourite viewpoint at Gurney Drive, one that sees sampan boats moored within the city. I do hope that these boats will still be allowed here even after the massive reclamation. In these modern rat-race days, the sampans act as an anchor to a slower paced past.

The following day, I met my friends and together we rode to have breakfast before ending up in Komtar where our bagged bikes were loaded onto the shuttle van that will take us to the Sungei Nibong Bus Terminal for our Billion Star express bus to Kuala Lumpur Sentral. Arriving in Kuala Lumpur, I took the MRT and cycled the last kilometre back to my house.
See, multi-mode cycling tours with the Brompton is easy .... & fun. Yeah!

(that's Goodbye in Portuguese.....
..... giving a hint of where our next cycling tour will be 😉)

(For more photos of the days 9 & 10Click Here)
This is page 9 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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Related / Similar Blogs:

Street Art @ Hin Bus Art Depot, George Town, Penang : February 2014
An exhibition of interesting art by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic

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