Monday, October 27, 2008



A potpouri of 5 cyclists agreed to do a 4-day trip to Taman Negara, starting from Bentong. The plan called for a start from Bentong Rest House where I had earlier obtained permission from En Nasaruddin, the Manager, to park the cars there. There were 2 Zuls, 1 Man, 1 Acid and yours truly, who agreed to do the journey. Acid and I met Man for the first time. Acid met the 2 Zuls also for the first time. We were therefore almost "new" to each other, but the bonding for a common interest would always be strong, whatever interest one pursues.

From Bentong, we planned to overnight in Jerantut. On Day 2, we planned to cycle from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan, the gateway to Taman Negara. The next 2 days would be a back-track of the same route.

By 0805 we pushed off. Cars securely locked, bikes checked and nothing was left behind. We free-wheeled down from the Rest House, situated on a small hill, into Bentong town. The cool air and little traffic made the start a pleasant one. Monitoring my POLAR HRM-cum-cyclometer, after 2 kms the road began to climb gradually. At 7.5km the altimeter was showing 94 metres and within 3.5kms, we climbed to 192 metres. I was on my lighter gears to reduce my heart-beat. The younger cyclists would not have problems and thereafter it was a small roller-coaster of ups and downs, nothing difficult.

The above data was downloaded from my POLAR. The green graph is the terrain we encountered for the 140kms ride from Bentong to Jerantut, lowest at 67 metres above sea level and highest of 192 metres a.s.l. The red graph is my Heart Beat per minute, with a high of 164bpm and a low of 100bpm for the entire journey.


I have passed this way several times before, on other cycling trips back to Kota Bharu. I was therefore pretty familiar with the villages that I passed through. Somehow, the "digging village" escaped me before!

There was this village called KG TANAH BERCANGKUL. Perhaps that was how the pioneers who came here opened up the village, with their bare hands and cangkul their way to make the village.

Other pioneers could have come and used the same traditional method, but would not be able to claim that theirs was also "tanah bercangkul". So I guessed they decided to call their village KAMPONG GALI.

Without proper surveys, some would have dug too far from their claimed boundaries and therefore were reminded to dig somewhere in the middle. Hence, KG GALI TENGAH was born.

Again, without proper surveys, they could have dug crooked. The chieftain would again reminded them to dig straight, so that you can then call the village KG GALI LURUS.

Durian was in season. While Durian and cycling do not quite match up, my eyes were also scouting for a Durian stall. There was none, and now I know why! With just one tree for the entire kampong, there would not be any durians for sale.

As we continued our cycling, the weather was heating up. A shower would be great to cool the body, but you would not want to disturb the birds having their dip.

The Bentong - Raub - Benta road was devoid of shade. It was almost a straight stretch, with very ample road shoulders, a plus for cyclists. It was a trade-off we accept - no shade but ample road shoulders.

We arrived Benta at 1230pm after completing 70kms. From here we would branch off to Jerantut. A cool shaded rest area at the Petronas Station in Benta was a welcomed sight. What was not welcomed was the non-existence of any retail outlet at the Petronas station. A lone refrigerator was empty, not even a bottle of mineral water was sold.

We had a good rest here. We were also hungry, and as we cycled into the Jerantut road, the cool shade was a welcomed relief. The road was winding, much like the old Gombak - Bentong road. Traffic was light too and we enjoyed this stretch inspite of the hunger pang.

Everyone was focussed on an eating stall. After 4 kms of the winding road, we came across a village KAMPUNG BUDU. Aha, and there was one stall about 10 metres from the road.

A group photo was in order. Next to the stall. Yeap, you guessed right what I asked for. What? No BUDU in Kg Budu? I just can't believe that. I made a remark. A man at the stall jokingly said there was no Kampong Budu in Kelantan either! I smiled and made a mental note to check it out. Budu or no budu, we cleaned up the stall of the chickens and fish and refills of 100 plus and mineral water. Then it was Jamak Zuhur and Asar at the nearby mosque, followed by a 15 mins siesta.

We reluctantly continued on. We were roughly half-way to Jerantut. Another 60 plus kms awaited us. The road gradually climbed as it wound its way up and soon another rest was in order. Acid sure knew how to maximise rest and recreation, anywhere, including at the petai stall. We brought "ong" to the stall. Several cars stopped by to buy petai. Me? I was quite shy to tell Acid that petai was not on my favorite list though I can readily "hirup" the budu!

At this time, the two Zuls were no where in sight. They rode much faster than us. Man decided to accompany the two senior citizens though he could easily be upfront with the Zuls. Here is Man, with the mountain range in the foreground.

And here is Acid, strong enough to waive at me as he cycled past

At 1615 hrs, we stopped at a stall in Kg Batu Balai. The owner said this kampong is a Kelantanese village, mostly related to Tok Guru Nik Aziz. Every one spoke "french" here. She said, even the orang asli spoke "french". It actually struck me earlier. I noticed most of the kampong folks spoke Kelantanese, but I thought I must have chanced upon them. I didn't have time to be a historian. We still had 30kms to reach Jerantut.

Roughly 6 kms into Jerantut, the rain came. We cycled in the rain, our panniers weather-proofed. We were soaking wet when we reached Jerantut Rest House, where I had earlier booked in for the night. A good bath thereafter and we borrowed the caretaker's van to go for dinner. The Rest House could not provide food as it was busy preparing for a wedding the following day.

We retired early, ready for Day 2 tomorrow to Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara)


AMJ said...

My daughter's friend bought for me a bottle of budu which is already mixed with chilli and limau nipis. This is the first time I came across such 'instant' budu. The first time I ate budu was during the varsity days when I stayed with Kelantanese students.

Anonymous said...

U're on the road, no wonder x de new entry.Batu Balai(best Pahang 's durian), is one of the wilyah, my wife's uncle one of the peneroka with TGNA families,Us Tuan Ibrahim is TGNA's nephew from Batu Balai.
i just found that my colleague here every day cycle 35 km one way everyday to office,he is 50 plus.

Anonymous said...

Miss this tour last min change of plan got training to attend. Frust tak dapat pergi homemade pannier dah siap baju dah packing tapi tak dapat ikut serta. Malam khamis dua Zul itu datang ke rumah saya tunjuk pannier deuter baru mereka.

Father Sez said...

Great pictures lah, Rambo. No need to see Nat Geo anymore.

Will follow your journey. I still remember with great memories the trip to Taman Negara made that so many years ago.

ARZ said...


The pre-mixed budu your daughter bought would have been purchased from the Projek DiRaja Tg Anis (Sultan Kelantan's wife)outlet at Peng Chepa airport.
You didn't get hooked to a royal concoction?

ARZ said...

So the lady at the Batu Balai stall was correct about the villagers being descendants of TGNA and that the entire village speaks "french". You seemed to have relatives everywhere ya!
By the way, do take up cycling like your friend did. If you do have excesses, you will be several sizes smaller in no time. More importantly, the cardio workout is just great.

ARZ said...

Hi anynamous,
U must be the one "missing" in our entourage. Indeed, you missed the adventure, and at times, you miss the pain. The 2 Zuls are now experienced tourers, so you can always tag along with them.

ARZ said...

Of-course I too remembered our trip to Tmn Negara eons ago. I brought Rafeq (now 29) when he was in Primary school. Imagine how long ago that was. It was like down memory lane for me, except that the mode of transport was totally different!

Al-Manar said...

Each time I read your posting I feel soorry for not taking up cycling. The hole-in-one trophy does not give me any more pleasure but just the glory of one's past, vain and vakueless. On the other hand every thing one misses has its 'hikmah'. I miss and envy the joy of cycling but I do not want to lose the joy of what I am doing. Such is life.

Salaam to all
from Almanar

ARZ said...

Pak Chik Hassan,

What you do now surpasses most other things that many others do, me included. It's priceless. If ever one ought to be recognised in your state of abode, yours was long overdue. But I do know, you do what you do not for personal glory. It's kerana Allah!

Like you, my hole-in-one was just a fleeting joy too.

May allah blesses you and Mak Chik with continued health - to serve!

acid said...

This was my first taste on cycle touring, and it happened to be quite along journey too. Thanks to ARZ for making this trip a success. An experience that money cannot buy.

The killer hills, (refering to steep long inclines) were truly amazing experience. I m a motorbike touring guy, and it is always a welcome sight to have hills once in a while for a change of scenery and riding style, just a molehill.. but on a biccyle its a different story altogether,. and at times it makes you psychophatic, and wished you had left the bicycle at home and took the motorcycle instead,.. but yet the good thing is... it doest kill ya. hehehe. I still live to tell the story... looking forward, sulawesi next year!

manxkiwi said...

Hi ARZ and fellow cycle travellers.
I'm delighted and full of admiration for your tours and adventures.
The benefits of man-powered travel is one of the hidden pleasures of life. It should be a compulsory subject in all primary schools.
I would give an arm and a leg to join you in Sulawesi ARZ, though it might hard on the hills with so many bits missing.
I am just getting back into regular weekly spins, after moving from Auckland to Pukekohe. I'm further away from my club rides now, but I enjoy riding on my own. Since retiring, I've enjoyed tutoring a bicycle maintenance course at a local Community College. I'm not complaining, but most of the students have been girls. I would like to ride somewhere in Australia. Tasmania is probably top of the list.It would be a nice 70th birthday present next year. Pity they don't do roti chanai.
Just a thought - Many people don't cycle because they might have an accident. So why do they persist in eating when they might get food poisoning?
Happy cycling.
Ed Austin.