Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day 36 : Betong - Baling - Parit Panjang - Pekan Batu Lima - Jeniang - Pdg.Lembu - Gurun

Date : April 7th, 2009
Distance travelled : 93 km
Time taken : 5 hours

Morning! We woke up slightly later and went to look for breakfast. Mak asked around and found out that we could go to the market to try some of the local dishes there. We walked to the market which wasn't too far away from our hotel and went upstairs where the food stalls were. The market reminded me of our local markets back here in Malaysia, where downstairs they sold the wet food while the upstairs were mainly dry stuff and food.

There were so many local savouries to choose from and colourful too! You could really tell that there were a mixture of the Malaysian and Thai culture here. We picked some to try and went to a food stall where we ordered thai noodle soup to try. The food was delicious and Nick and Jo had an interesting time trying out the different varieties :o)

The many different type of thai savouries available to us!

You could tell how happy Mak was with that big grin on his face! This was his second home!

After that food tasting episode, Mak took us to another stall, famous for its fish porridge. It was really good! I've never tasted such good porridge before! It was really smooth and tasty and no fishy smell at all!! Normally, I'm not a much of a porridge fan but this was exceptional :o)

Totally filled up for now, we went back to our hotel to get ready for our long ride out. Before leaving Betong, we biked over to the tallest post box in the world! It was really huge and tall!! If you don't believe me, just take a look below....

Can you see how big this post box is? I'm like a tiny spot standing next to it!!!

The four muskeeters!! :o)

Part of Betong town...

Ok, now that we have taken some photos of the tallest post box in the world, we were ready to hit the road again! We said farewell to Amin (Mak's bike shop friend) as well who was there to bid us goodbye too.

Did I tell you that Betong was really hilly? Man, the hills you have to climb to get out of Betong.....:o) After passing through the immigration area, we stopped to take some pictures along the border. We have crossed the border again!

Malaya??? Wow, this is ancient history man!!

Mak, me and Nick at the border.....

The welcome to Betong sign....

Satisfied with our pictures, we headed back to Malaysia! Nick and Jo were heading off to Penang while we were aiming to reach Alor Star which was about 125km! Our plan was to stay one night in Alor Star with my friend Cheah before heading back to Langkawi but that all changed eventually....

The day was starting to get hot and sunny. It was going to be another HOT day for cycling!! After cycling for about an hour, we stopped by a small stall to get some cold drinks and snacks. According to our "tour leader", there will be a 5km uphill climb ahead to Baling and we had to mentally prepare ourselves for this challenge. So after that quick stop, we continued on and I decided to be the last one because I was just going to take my time riding up this "hill". After cycling for awhile, we were actually going downhill. I thought that maybe this was the initial pleasure before the torture! So I went on, trying to look for the other three....they must have been flying down the road!!

The more I rode, the more downhill I encountered and I thought, man...ain't this fun! The scenery was awesome too!! I was really having a good time but all the time, kept thinking there was a 5km hill ahead! As I was zooming past, I saw Mak waiting for me at the side of the road. That was nice of him to do that :o) I thought he was already cruising with the other two!

I told him that this place was really beautiful and I asked him where was the hill. He told me that he got it mixed up!! He was so used to climbing the hill from Sungai Petani to Betong that he forgot that we were heading the opposite direction! Yay!!! I wasn't complaining when I found out that I didn't have to climb another 5km uphill!! Instead, I was cruising down that hill!! It was pure enjoyment!! hehehe

The beautiful scenery begins....

Just cruising, baby!!

Yay!! I was just playing downhill all the way!! Gunung Inas in front...

When we reached Baling, Nick and Jo were waiting for us and we suggested that since it was already noon time, to stop and have our lunch before each of us went on our own way. We had noodles for lunch and Jo took a picture of the food so that she could use them later when she wants to order the same type of food in Penang! It was Mak's suggestion that they did that because it was what he did when he was in Vietnam. He couldn't speak their language, so he took the photos of the food he wanted to eat and showed the food stall guys what he wanted each time he went out for meals! Pretty smart of him :o)

Part of our lunch dish :o)

Well, after lunch, we hit the road again and cycled further up before we went on our separate ways. It was great having them around for the last two days and it felt kind of sad to say our goodbyes to them. We promised to keep in touch and update each other with regards to our adventures!!

So once again, it was back to us again! We really weren't sure how far we could go because Alor Star seemed a long, long way ahead still! The road we cycled on was more of rolling hills and so, the fun began!! We did the momentum thingy for awhile before we got too tired!!

As we were cycling, Mak who was ahead of me, saw a cow with a big bell around its neck just standing by the roadside a bit further ahead. I almost fell off my bike laughing at what he did next!! He swerved to the other side of the road and continued cycling on that side until he passed the cow! He only moved back to the right side of the road after a safe distance from the cow!! hahaha....I know I'm being mean but I just couldn't help it :o) After I cycled passed the cow without any " incident", he stopped and asked me "You weren't scared of the cow meh? It was so BIG!!" I just gave him a huge smile because I thought it was so refreshing to see that he was really opened and honest in admitting he was really scared of cows :o) Ok, ok, I do have my own fear of animals.....snakes for example!!

Lovely countryside roads :o)

Boy, if only it was this shady all the way to Alor Star!!!

Another glimpse of a beautiful scenery along the way :o)

After cycling in the hot sun for more than 2 hours, the weather started to change and it began to rain! We stopped by an empty food stall and decided to have some rest and some snacks while waiting for the rain to stop. It didn't really stop completely so with our faithful rainjackets on, we started riding again after waiting for about half an hour.

The rain continued to pour down on us and it got even heavier as we were heading towards Jeniang! We were thoroughly soaked but we had to go on because if we stopped for shelter, we would be freezing our hats off!! As we cycled towards Gurun, the real thunderstorm came upon us and I was literally singing in the rain!! It was so heavy that we couldn't see far with the strong wind blowing against us! It was like the heavens opened up and decided to dump water on us on our second last day of our tour!!

At one point, I decided to stop at a bus stop because I was getting hungry! I signaled to Mak, who was behind me to stop and have our buns from Betong. (Good thing I bought them!!) He told me that we have to stop in Gurun as he was suffering from heat loss and couldn't cycle anymore. It was also getting dark at 5.30pm. I was pretty amazed that you could get heat loss in Malaysia but apparently, some people do when cycling in the rain. His face was pretty pale and so was mine apparently but I was feeling alright :o) You see, I'd prefer cycling in the rain anytime compared to the scorching hot sun, even though some might deem it to be dangerous!! The best weather would be cool and cloudy hehehe....

We were a bit worried that we couldn't find a motel or a hotel in Gurun but when we passed one hotel signboard along the way, I told Mak that we should just go for it. It turned out to be a pretty new hotel and reasonably priced. After pushing our bikes into the corridor of the hotel, I told Mak to go and shower first since he was feeling cold. He told me that he would be fast and boy, was he fast! It took him all but 5 minutes to come out of the bathroom!! Amazing because if only you knew how much he loved having his shower, you would be amazed too hahaha.....

After our shower, we felt like human beings again :o) Since it was still pouring down, we decided to have a rest before going for dinner. During dinner, Mak made me go through all the places that we have cycled and wow, it was pretty long! It just hit us what an enormous task it was for us and that we actualy did it! We also realised that this was our last night of our tour and I felt really sad to have come to an end so soon!! I guess the saying "Time flies when you are having such a great time!" was true eh??

Initially, Mak had always planned to come back with me to Langkawi before cycling back to Sg. Petani but since he had to go back to Sg. Petani to attend to a personal matter rather importantly, he asked whether I could ride back alone to Alor Star while he cycled back to Sg. Petani since Gurun was like a midway point between Alor Star and Sg. Petani. I told him that since he promised he would send me back to Langkawi first, I would expect him to keep his word. As usual, being the gentleman that he was, he agreed to send me back before heading home the next day.

That night, I got to thinking it would definitely make more sense for him to cycle back from Gurun which was only 25km now rather than cycle back tomorrow from Alor Star which was about 70km away without having much rest since he was already tight for time. Besides, having cycled for over 2,600km, both of us were already pretty tired of cycling and I could understand that he would want to go home using the shorter way. I could cycle 45km to Alor Star alone and that wouldn't be a problem for me.

So with that in mind, I went to sleep and I would let him know of my decision tomorrow.....

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