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Brompton Sarawak Tribal Ride 2023
After seven years we are riding in Sarawak again!
The last time we were there was during our Cycling Sarawak Gawai 2015, a private group ride organised by our buddies, Freda & Kimmiskie. This time round we are joining a public event organised by Brompton Sarawak, which will be a landmark event for Brompton riders as it will be an international event with participants coming from several countries; one which will span three days with pre-rides (including a Kuching night ride and a tough rustic ride at Singai), and the main event. It was well planned, coordinated and executed by W.G. Cycles, the distributor of Bromptons in the state. Read on to see what a great time we had cycling in Sarawak!
(Note: further below are Sarawak cycling & travel tips, and write-ups on food and places along the route)
Below are the daily ride blogs, click on the respective photos to read:
Above is a combo YouTube video of the 3-day rides (credits: just2excorporates)
(Click here for photos of the rides & more)
CYCLING & TRAVEL TIPS FOR SARAWAK
Here's, some general tips on cycling & travelling in Sarawak, more detailed tips will be included in the day to day blogs:
1. Getting to Kuching.
2. Traffic Directions!
Traffic in Sarawak and the rest of Malaysia, is right-hand drive, so drive/cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!
For Sarawak in September, the weather will be moderate. The average air temperature ranges from 31°C (88 °F) during the day to 22°C (72 °F) at night. September is the wet season month in Sarawak, which means that there could be frequent rains.
4. Bringing Bikes Onto Planes
We flew Batik Air from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching via KLIA1 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport - Terminal 1); 20kg of free checked-in baggage is allowed (which includes sports equipment for bicycles). We booked a couple of months earlier and the fare was MYR129. Sports equipment is considered over-sized luggage, after physically checking in, one will have to take the packed bicycle to the over-sized section (at the far right end of KLIA1)
Return from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur (KLIA2) was by Air Asia which does not provide for free check-in luggage. We had to purchase 20kg of sports equipment luggage at MYR60. Total fare was MYR165, inclusive of this sports equipment. For Air Asia, it is cheaper to buy additional luggage, sport equipment, food during the purchase of the main ticket. Buying these as add-ons later can be more costly. At Kuching International Airport, sports equipment (our packed folded bikes) can be checked in a the same counter.
A tip, simple but important. Ensure that you DO NOT carry your tool kits or any long/sharp metal objects in your hand luggage. Put your tool kit into your checked-in bike bags. I often seen friends forgetting about this, only to have their tools confiscated at the security checkpoints.
We packed our bikes into a Dimpa; our helmet, some clothes, & Mini-O bag into a second IKEA Dimpa Bag and checked them in a part of our sports equipment luggage. There was no necessity to release tire pressure.
5. Places of Interest
Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia, and has many attractions, not to be missed are (Note: click on the GPS coordinates for directional map to the respective places):
- The Bako National Park (website) (GPS: 1.71666, 110.46666), the oldest national park in Sarawak, with interesting wild-life such as the proboscis monkeys and Bornean bearded pigs;
- The New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building (GPS: 1.56937, 110.35005) and Kuching South City Hall (GPS: 1.54880, 110.36390), with their unique architecture,
Sarawakian Food not to be missed:
- Kolo Mee, &
- Kueh Chap.
Kuching offers a range of hotels, hotel-suites from affordable to 5-starred, with prices ranging from MYR100 per pax per night onwards. Three of us stayed at a 3-bedroom suite at the newer wing of the Merdeka Palace Hotel (GPS: 1.55627, 110.34400), at about MYR103 per pax per night.
8. Communicating with Each Other
When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
Pre-paid Malaysin SIM cards can be obtained at most airport or from any mobile phone shop. Click here for a guide to buying Malaysian Sim Cards.
9. Communicating with Locals
Bahasa Malaysia is the official language of Malaysia, it will be good to know some basic Bahasa Malaysia for daily conversation. Most older Malaysians speaks quite fluent English, while many of the younger ones have a good grasp of English. Many Chinese Sarawakian speaks Mandarin or Hokkien or Teochew.
Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.
At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests. Do note that Google Maps does not work in Cycling Mode in Malaysia, so use Walking Mode but do be aware that sometimes recommended routes are against traffic.
11. 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 and the relevant tools.
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