DAY 2 : JERANTUT - KUALA TAHAN (24th OCT 08)
We retired early. After 140kms of cycling, sleep came easy. The body hibernates in a jiffy. Day 2 ride would be about 70kms, half of yesterday's distance. So there was no sense of urgency to start early. We awoke to a fine day. The heavy rain and storm the night earlier cleansed this part of the world where we were now.
We cycled to the town in a leisurely fashion, looking for breakfast. Somehow, Roti Canai seemed to be the common desire. It wasn't long before we found our breakfast cafe. It wasn't mamak, it was a Pak Haji who skillfully converted the dough into roti canai, a skill he must have acquired as an apprentice in a Mamak shop decades ago. This Pak Haji must have also learned the art of managing, to finally open a restaurant he proudly can call his. A great marketeer he was too.
As soon as we sat down, a crispy roti chanai was served. "Sample" this Pak Haji said. Crispy indeed. As we enjoyed extra orders of roti canai, half-boiled eggs and nasi lemak, the Pak Haji was giving some jungle "petua" since he knew we were heading for Taman Negara.
Before departing, we booked a hotel for our return journey. The Rest House was fully booked for the wedding.
We bought some extra provisions - mineral water, kek pisang, biscuits for carbo-loading along the route. We rolled off about 0930 and it was getting warm. We headed towards Maran and at the 10th km, branched off left into Padang Piol Felda Scheme which ultimately led to Kuala Tahan.
A quick photo shoot was in order at the signboard showing Taman Negara, 56kms away.
Curious but shy kids were amused at these 5 "old kids" posing at the signboard. They must be wondering about the significance of the signboard. Pretty ordinary to them. I took several shots of them, darting in and out of my camera range shyly. I managed to catch this pose. I always make it a point to show them the shots I took and never missed to see their innocent smiles.
Leaving the signboard intact, we continued on and were greeted by a rolling hill, the first of the many that we would encounter.
The graph below showed there were more rolling hills on this route than yesterday's 130km road.
Indeed, on a superbike revving a 750cc (or above) on this twisting rolling hills would be a joy. On a bicycle, burning those unwanted calories and sweats oozing out from your helmet while you tackle the uphills was a feat, but a very satisfying one. And when you get to the top and the slope was in your favor, you free-wheeled down sometimes reaching 60kph. The wind in your face quickly dried the sweat and your body temperature dropped and you feel sheer joy. Then you gave a thumb-up
and you gave a smile.
Then, another uphill greeted you. The whole process began again, on and on and on. It was, as Acid commented, a mental game.
But there would always be the joy of stopping for a break. It could be just a cool shade by the parit where you find a comfortable gradient to lean back and stare into nothing. Or better still, if you can find a great cool shady stop as well as help the economy of the kampong folk, like this "jagung" break.
The jagungs were steaming hot and we were hot too. Two hots cannot equal to joy. We took our time as time was on our side. The jagungs were sweet because it was fresh, plucked only a day before. What we usually get in the city would probably be a week old, after all the distribution channels from plucking to eating.
Then it was another rolling hill. We had covered 50 odd kms and the sun was beating.
It was about 3pm when 3 of us, Acid, Man and self took another rest reaching the top of a hill. Acid playfully posed for a lift! Or was it a thumbs-up for his first maiden touring, in preparation for our 14-day ride in Sulawesi in Jan 2009.
Man was in his natural self. I like this man. He is very adaptable to the surroundings. He loves off-road biking. He loves solo rides. He carried the bare minimum. He can sleep anywhere, and everywhere. He loves his "cancer break". He's natural!
After 20kms of coninuing rolling hills, the three of us arrived Kuala Tahan at 4:10 pm. The 2 Zuls arrived earlier. Kuala Tahan was a hive of activities with both locals and tourists. First on our agenda was the late lunch at the floating restaurant. No 5-star restaurant can beat this no star ambience. Natural breeze from the river helped cooled our temperature. The strong current flowed beneath. Occasionally the floating restaurant gave a gentle rock as the waves from passing passenger boats passed by. We were ready to spoil ourselves and put back the thousands of calories we burned. We had no guilty feeling about food. We deserved this.
Fully satiated, we stop for a quick photo shoot to record our arrival.
Then it was off to AGOH CHALET to check-in, to park our "horses", to shower, to change to fresh clothes and later, to explore Taman Negara.
An exciting evening would await us.
Distance : 71.8 kms
Ride Time : 4hrs 10 mins
Avg Speed : 17.3 kph
Avg Temp : 28 C