Sunday, December 9, 2007

Biking KL to Rompin Part 2

Part 1

It was an idea 2 years ago. But we only got to do it in Nov 07. Sounds crazy but actually not when you think that there are even more crazy people who have cycled round the world. Then think about the Japanese soldiers who were said to have conquered Malaya on bicycles. I'm sure they didn't use the ones with 10 gears.

Here was our actual itenary:
(all distances are an approximate. Details are recorded in Ben's blog)

Day 1: 110km
Taman Melawati -> Ulu Langat Bt 18 ..... via Ampang Old Town (30km)
Ulu Langat Bt 18 -> Kuala Klawang (52km)
Kuala Klawang -> Simpang Pertang ( 30km)

Day 2: 180km
Simpang Pertang -> Bandar Baru Serting .....via Ayer Hitam (30km)
Bandar Baru Serting -> Bandar Muadzam Shah (88 km)
Bandar Muadzam Shah -> Sommerset Rompin Hotel (60km)

Total Distance: Approx 300 km (+/- 10km)

Part 2

Stop-over at the half way point
If we could say that everything was sorted out, there was this lingering question that was still unresolved. Where to spend the night??
Would have been ideal if we could get accomodation for the night at the half way point ie Bandar Baru Serting or Simpang Pertang. But after searching the internet and even making some phone calls to some guy who used to live in Felda Serting, it was more or less confirmed that there were NO hotels/budget motels in the radius of 20 km. The next nearest place was Bahau.

But we also had read an article from Berita Harian in one of the blogs promoting the Ulu Serting Recreational Park that there were some chalets. Somehow it didn't sound convincing that these chalets actually existed. There was absolutely no mention about them even from the Negri Sembilan Tourism website.

So we had a few options in hand:
i) Doubtful existence of the Ulu Serting Recreational Park Chalets

ii) Bahau - 20 km off the route, lots of hotels

ii) Push all the way to Bandar Muadzam Shah (bike 240 km on the first day !! ).
There's one hotel there.

iv) Put up in one of the kampung houses in Serting. Kampung folks should be quite accommodating.

Bahau was not a good option as it was 20 km off our planned route. To and fro would make it an additional 40km. When you have to cover 170 km in a day on a bicycle, an additional 40 km is a big deal.

Pushing 240km to Bandar Muadzam Shah on day 1 is prob not the best idea considering our fitness level. Well at least not for amatuer biker. Too risky with the 88 km stretch of Oil Palm estate roads. It might end up a "do or die" kind of scenario.

So we decide just to include some sponataneity in our very trademark - "Spontaneity"...I hope I spelt it correctly.
We would look around Bandar Baru Serting and check out the Ulu Serting Recreational Park for the chalets. Hopefully the article from Berita Harian was not written a decade ago and that those chalets still existed.

Well if all else fails, we would detour to Bahau.

We reached Simpang Pertang at 2pm, had a drink and proceeded to check out the Ulu Serting Recretional Park which was 4 km from Simpang Pertang.

When we got to the gate of the park some 2 km off the main road through a small kampung road - Kampung Ulu Serting we asked this shop owner selling some snacks and drinks just outside the gate. He said that there were no chalets or hotels in that area. Nearest would be Bahau or Kuala Pilah.....not what I wanted to hear.

The entrance of Ulu Serting Recreational Park - most of it still a virgin forest

Nope I'm not giving up that easily. I asked another shop owner just across the his shop to make sure. huh....they gave some hope. They actually gave me the name of the person to contact for the chalet !! ...Encik Nan who lives in the house just across the field.
It's quite amazing the differing level of information from one person to another even in such a small village. Kampung Ulu Serting is a small village.

So we back tracked 2km out of the kampung road and found this house just across the field. We asked for Encik Nan. We were greeted by a lady who was his older sister. Apparently he had gone out for a kenduri. Asked her about the chalet.

Great!! We got the correct house and indeed there are some chalets which can be rented out. And Encik Nan was the person to contact.

Since it was still early in the afternoon, we thought of checking of Bahau. But after some considerations, we thought better conserve energy for the next day. Let's call it a day....was only 3pm. Still waiting for Encik Nan to get back, it started to drizzle.

Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the folks in that house, (I could not recall the lady's name, Ben has all the details in his blog) asked us to join them for tea. ..since it was raining. We did. Parked our bikes and sat around a table in their verandah. The lady was having their family tea time with her husband and 2 kids. (Again I wished I could write this with their all sounds so clinical memory is failing me !!! )

They served us teh tarik. had some satay and biscuits. She was talking about her of them had just scored 4A's and 1B in the last UPSR . She went on about her other kids. Of course the natural topic of conversation was also about our cycling trip. We told them our agenda.
Her husband used to work in RTM in KL some years back. One of her sons was with MAS kargo before. They all eventually shifted back here which was her family kampung house. They are now into farming. Her husband taps rubber in the morning and manages some other crops. Lots to talk about. Very friendly and simple people. The actual kampung environment.

At around 5.30pm we got hold of Encik Nan and he brought us the chalets. There were only 2 chalets built in a gate compound beside a fish pond. Well equipped with 2 single beds and a clean and funtional bathroom. I would say to our surprise everything was rather well maintained.
No complaints. ..actually very thankful. Only RM30 per night. Clean and most importantly we had a roof our our head for the night.

Looking at the overall plan, we were not too far off. Ideally Bandar Baru Serting would be good to spend the night being the half way point. But Ulu Serting, 30km away is still ok considering the fact that we did not have to detour 20km off route to Bahau. That means the first day we stop short of 30km but would have to add on this distance to the second day. So it's 110km for the first day and 180km for the second day.

I had some reservations initially...I've never done more that 120 km in a day. I was willing to push to 150km per day but to do 180km on the second day.... not much choice have I??

The little hut just beside the chalet.

Encik Nan - the caretaker of the chalet

We checked in at 5.30pm. rested for a while, took a short walk into the recreational forest, showered and then dinner. For dinner, we had to ride 4km out to Simpang Pertang to get dinner. 2 km out through the dark kampung road and 2 km on the trunk road..which was also dark.
It was a bit strange that while we were cycling through the kampung at 7.30pm it felt like it was 10pm. Most houses were dark and whole area was quiet. Are they all asleep already? Coming from KL...this is a stark contrast.
7.30pm in KL is when things start to happen. People leaving their offices, food stalls starting to get busy, KLCC bustling with the after work crowd, hundreds of cars crawling on the Middle Ring Road, Jalan Tun Razak is virtually on a stand still, Putra LRT jammed packed with people, even Deens, a mamak shop in a quiet suburb like Taman Melawati, is packed.
But here, the sound of crickets is all you hear. Occasionally you get a motorcycle zooming past and the faint sound of muslim prayers from a nearby mosque. Then as we approach the main road, the sound of lorries every few minutes.

Another 2km on the trunk road (highway no. 9), we reach Simpang Pertang. We decided to go for Malay food at the row of shops facing the main road. I ordered my usual nasi Padprik Ayam. Ben ordered nasi goreng. Was better than expected. Sat around having a few more orange juices and enjoyed the coolness of the night. It was truly a kampung environment. After a seemingly long dinner, it was only 9pm. Most of the town had already shut down. It must have felt like 11pm.

Rest was good. Lots of mosquitoes but the Ridsect Mosquitoe coil did its job perfectly.
Woke up at 6.30am. Had to have an early start. Day 2 was going to be long....

We left Kampung Ulu Sering at 7.30am. Absolutely no regrets spending the night here. We had got a glimpse of kampung life....not much but when else can you actually get this sort of experience? Definitely not when you're driving your car past this kampung rushing to your next destination. It's a fact that you actually meet more people when cycling than driving..and this is one the examples.

The next morning.... (to be continued)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Old KTM Stations

I had always wanted to take the KTM Mail Train from KL to Butterworth to see all the small stations along the way. This year I said I would actually get down to doing it...

A little too late though. They had already constructed the double track all the way from KL to Ipoh. This resulted in the closure of most of the smaller stations.

This was a photo of the old Kuala Kubu Road Station I took sometime early this year. Incidentally I found some photos of similar stations during their better days.

If anyone has more of these photos, care to share them with me.

Ghost Town - Kg Kepayang

I passed this town several times. It kind of hit when I noticed the simple layout of the town - two rows of shop houses with most of the structure in tact....but no inhabitants !!.
Never seen anything like this before.

It's on the trunk road north bound, 15 mins north of Gopeng just before entering Ipoh.