Monday, July 27, 2009


Bukit Tinggi stood at about 900m above sea level. It's not high above in the clouds, but the weather is a cool 22 degree C. We arrived yesterday from Danau Singkarak, where a day earlier we started our cycling from Padang. That's me and my brother Mahmood.

Touching down at 2:20 pm in Padang on Friday 24th July, it took us under an hour to assemble our bikes and rode off to Padang, 25km from the airport. We overnighted in Padang.

On Saturday, we headed out for Danau Singkarak, roughly 80kms away heading towards the mountains towards Solok. Danau Singkarak is 102km along its circumference, 52kms end to end and 6kms at its widest. So you can imagine its size. The mountain is a killer on a tour bike and we did what was sensible. 50,000 rupiah got us on a passenger van for about 10kms up the winding stretch to a lookout point. The view of Padang and the Indian Ocean was visible here. We still got to push an extra 2kms before we reached the real peak and started the downhill.

On Sunday, i.e. yesterday we headed for Ombilin, a small village on the shores of Danau Singkarak. From there, we branched right heading for Batu Sangkar and onwards to Pagar Ruyung to visit the famous Minangkabau Palace. The road was winding and hilly and almost maxed my heart rate limit. From there, with sun beating mercilessly we struggled towards Baso, a good 30kms of up and up and up. Though gradual, we decided against challenging both the heat and the gradient. A rickety bus came to the rescue. Up went the Surly and the Trek on the roof top, tightly secured. We seated in the business class section, together with Pak Azril, the pilot aka the driver. Arriving in good time to Bukit Tinggi, we headed straight for Hotel Bagindo, the hotel I stayed in back in 2007.

Today is a relaxed day exploring Bukit Tinggi. Tomorrow, we will descend down to Danau Maninjau, another old volcanic crater, where the famous Ulama Prof HAMKA grew up. We will have to ensure our brakes are in tip-top condition. We will descend down Kelok 44, i.e. 44 sharp corners over a stretch of 8kms down to Danau Maninjau.

From Danau Maninjau, we will make our way to the coastal town of Pariaman where we will overnight and from there complete the full circle back to Padang.

Insyallah, we will be back on Friday.

Full report will be upon my return home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I solo cycled the Minangkabau countryside in Sumatera back in Nov 2007. Then, I sang the all-time classic Minang song "Ayam den Lopeh".

This time around, I will add another song made famous by The Hollies in 1969 - HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER. Yes, this time around, it will be duo cycling with my younger brother MAHMOOD. That's the "healthier" and taller one in the colorful garb in the pic below! By the way, I only envy his height, not his waistline.

The lyrics of this once famous song go like this, with my comments

The road is long, with many a winding turn

From Bukit Tinggi, we'll do the famous Kelok 44 (44 sharp winding turns)down to Danau Maninjau

That leads us to who, knows where, who knows where

Who? Bapak Hamka! He was born in Danau Maninjau

But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him

Hmm...I'm not sure whether I can carry him. Take a look at the pic again!

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

He is heavy, he's my brother

So on we go

Yes, we have roughly 600 kms to cover

His welfare is my concern

Well, as the older brother, gotta look after the younger bro la

No burden is he to bear

No burden at all. We will share cost...ha..ha..

We'll get there


And I know, he woud not encumber me


He ain't heavy, he's my brother

I've said it earlier, he is heavy.................


We had ridden together on several occassions. During our high-powered motorbiking days, we did KL - Golden Triangle ride in 1969. When I quit motorbiking, we both began cycling. Together we had cycled Hadyai - Kota Bahru in 2002 and did Bentong - Kota Bharu 2 years ago. He lived in Kota Bharu. So, seperated by the Main Range we did our own cycling activities.

So Padang, here we come - 24th July to 31st July


Another number was etched to my age yesterday. My youngest daughter Shamimi penned her childhood on the occasion. Thanks for the memories.
May you have more fond memories, baby

Thursday, July 16, 2009



True to his National Geographic bandana he wore, he knew the nooks and corners of the East Coast. Even had a stake in a fresh-fish breeding project. His motto is "Ride to Eat". Rides a 26" Dahon foldable bike similar to Zaba's.


Our Mr Gadget. I was fascinated with his USB-driven external speaker hanged on the handle bar. Connected to his PDA, he had a medley of Hindi songs, old P Ramli songs and some hip-hops. Rides the Dahon 20" foldable bike.


The Rambo of BJCC. Before taking up cycling, he was a gym guy. He used to pump irons. Now he pumps tyres. Rides a Dahon 26" foldable bike.


The only non-Brooks guy in the team and now a full-fledged Brooks rider. Rides his Merida Hybrid, his first bike before upgrading to a racer. Slim and trim, the envy of other BJCC tourers.


The most "hardworking" tourer. He had 1 puncture and 2 slow-leaks and 18 visits to the toilet. Rides a full-fledged Bianchi tourer.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today would be the final day of the ride. It would be light and easy. 60kms to Kota Bharu would be easy meat to our strong BJCC riders. So, it was a lazy wake-up, an easy stroll for the complimentary breakfast and a no-hurry pack up.

Demong Resort is located in the Bukit Kluang enclave, a Par 3 distance to the beach. The building is hostel-like, double-story. Appeared to be popular for seminars. Located roughly 6kms from Besut town, one would not have the opportunity for any late night teh tarek at a warong. It is isolated, a retreat for holiday goers.

As we rolled our bikes for a photo shoot, the most relaxed rider would be Sham (extreme right) in his orange batek t-shirt with matching beach short and the Japanese slipper. He made the rest of us felt over-dressed for this final leg. Minus the helmet and the panniers, he could easily be mistaken for a local cycling to the pasar.

Our first destination was Tok Bali. Once in Tok Bali, we would already be in Negeri Cik Siti Wan Kembang, where budu is a staple delicacy! Look at us. We had just finished breakfast. Lunch was still 4 hours away and we could already smell Nasi Kerabu Yatis in Kota Bharu for tonight's dinner!

Leaving Besut, heading for Tok Bali we passed stalls after stalls selling keropok, either keping or lekor. It was too early for keropok and we make good progress.

From afar, the landmark at Tok Bali had to be the curved bridge spanning the river. From a small unknown fishing village, Tok Bali had been developed as a major fishing port for Kelantan and had seen growth over the years. It is also a major take-off point for holiday makers going to Pulau Perhentian. Tok Bali therefore now rivals Merang as a jetty to Pulau Perhentian.

We arrived a bit early and we could not find any warong to stop for a drink. We road to the "muka kuala" for a breathtaking view of the sea and a few photo shoots. There was an unmanned drink stall and fresh coconuts but there was no owner. We waited in vain and decided to move on.

We noticed this motorised bicycle, stored in a toilet. Whenever I see a motorised bicycle, I will remember my good friend in KL. No name mentioned, but he now owned a Surly tourer, just like mine. It was a daunting task to convert him to cycling. He had said that if ever he took up cycling, it would be on a bicycle like this one. Bu that was history. Soon, he will be a full-fledge tourer.

We said goodbye to Tok Bali and proceeded on towards Bachok, through Kampong Melawi. We stopped at a warong in Melawi where we had our drinks. For me it was "Sarsaparilla", a drink locally bottled in Kelantan. Lest you have wild ideas, it is not a carbon-copy of the alcohol laced Tequila from Mexico. It is actually Sarsi.

This drink used to be our drinks in our teenage years. The fact that it has survived the onslaught of Cokes and Pepsis, perhaps speaks volumes about Kelantanese with their own cliquish taste. It was also after this that Fendi and Jalil scooted off leaving us behind. I was wondering whether both of them had an overdose of Sarsaparilla.

They scooted off at their folly! They missed the junction to Bachok and headed straight towards Kg Gunong. We took the correct turn into Bachok, passed Pantai Irama and headed on towards Wakaf Aik.

5 kms outside Bachok, we waited for our lost brothers. We relaxed at this wakaf in a Siamese village.

Kelantan is where 1Malaysia example abound. This Siamese village is right smack in a Malay community.

A huge standing statue of Buddha can be seen from quite a distance.

If the Siamese here speak Malay, no one will bet an eyelid that they are Siamese. Don't be surprised if they too have Malay names. That's assimilation. Do they lose their identity? No! Thats 1Malaysia for you.

I still have 1 bayi classmate who speaks Kelantanese Malay. Lucky thing he is a modern bayi without turban. One would fell off the chair to hear a turbaned bayi "kecek Kelate". And I still have many close friends from my school days in Tumpat who are Chinese and Indians. We see no color, nor religion.

We waited for Fendi and Jalil to catch up then we peloton on in single file, now in a very disciplined way with yours truly leading the peloton. I already know where I will take them for lunch.

We passed Wakaf Aik, crossed the single-file rickety "Ghetok Tok Guru" in Pulau Melaka and soon in Jalan Padang Tembak, Pengkalan Chepa. We stopped for lunch at Restoran Cik Gu, a very popular lunch stop.

We were slightly past lunch time and I was worried that the famous deep-fried Ikan Keli would be gone. We looked glutton, and indeed we were! No one remembered even to take any shots of either the food or of ourselves diving into the food. Damage was a measly RM47 for 6 hungry cyclists and we had a lavish spread.

Hotel Impiana in Jalan Pengkalan Chepa was only 5 kms away and we reached our final stop in good time. With two rooms @ RM90 triple-sharing with 2 queen-size beds, we were ready to retire from our 3-day cycling.

The dinner was already decided at Restoran Yatis, that famous nasi kerabu and ayam percik restaurant. After such a heavy meal, Zaba was still craving for Durian (mabe he was pregnant!) and Razak called his contact. We were soon at the night Pasar Borong in Wakaf Che Yeh.

Following day was a relaxed day and time to pack our bikes for the trip back to KL.

Well done BJCC Tourers. Till we do it again...very soon!


Rain was threatening when we got ready to leave the warong. It's a wonder that for some, inspite of the heavy stomach, the mind was still creative. Take Sham for example. He believed in travelling light on the tour. Hence he purchased the lightest bike, the cute 20inch wheel foldable Dahon bike. He also carried no raincoat. But as a Mr. Gadget, he patented a rain coat. The warong was poorer by 1 garbage bag!


The warong was poorer by 3 garbage bags. Zaba followed suit and patented a new pannier cover for the rain. Looked like the group was scraping the barrel on this maiden cheap tour. Ha...ha...

At the lunch stop, we had covered 67kms and would have another 30 kms to Besut. The dark clouds cleared and as the sun once again bore on us, our rain-coat man quickly discarded his invention. He would otherwise be in a mobile sauna.

Next stop was Merang. I captured the Magnificent 5 of BJCC as they cycled towards the beach, itching for another stop.

Stop we did yet again. Drinks and some local puluts for tea was in order. That's the beauty of cycling. You easily burned the calories you put in.

Merang is the take-off point for holiday-makers to some of the beautiful islands of Trengganu. During my diving days, I had used the jetty to go diving in Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang.
Many passengers boats were moored here.

One caught my eye - SHAMIMI 1. During this trip, my youngest daughter had been on the phone with me. She was down with some ailments. Far away from home in Dublin, her dad was her "counsel". I am glad she is bubbling back on her feet. This boat is for you mean the pic is for you!

Today being a Saturday, there were hives of activities too. Passengers were arriving and leaving.

Sham and Zaba were also hunting for souvenirs to bring home - the gift to the loved ones for visa approvals for future tours.

Thereafter, we proceeded on the journey to Besut, to our second day accomodation at Demong Resort.
Another 94kms of riding, we were ready for a relaxed evening.


28th Jun 2007 : Batu Rakit to Dungun

We had no intention of troubling Pak Chik Hassan for breakfast. We could just say our goodbyes and rode off and have breakfast on the road. But, Pak Chik was already in the kitchen deep-frying the keropok lekor. The jar filled with hot water for the 3-in-1 Nescafe, tea and coffee was also ready. We could not refused such hospitality.

We finished off two plates of lekor rather quickly. Good host, good cook (or at least a good "frier"). Thank you again.

As we rolled out the bikes from the garage, Fendi had another mishap. He had a flat on his rear tyre. Yesterday, he was punctured from the runs. Today his bike punctured! What luck. All these in his maiden tour. But that did not deter Fendi. Again, well done my friend.

Flat fixed, we had a parting shot at the gate of Al-Manar with the good host. We bade farewell and resumed our second day ride to Besut, leaving behind Pak Chik to continue his good deeds at Al-Manar.

Kg Penarik was our first destination stop. I had travelled this route several times and I have always been "tertarik" with Penarik - beautiful white sandy beach, blue waters, gentle breeze and swaying coconut trees.

Our first R&R was under this shady tree to top up our drinks. This location is a popular stop for all travellers. A few food stalls and a mini market serve the travellers.

We could have had our lunch here but Razak had already arranged it in Kg Gong Batu. While cooling off here, a purple coloured bus stopped and ladies in purple literally poured out of the bus. I was able to catch only the tail-end of the purple ladies alighting, otherwise it would have been a better shot. All the ladies were wearing the bus corporate color - purple.

Kg Penarik had a long coast line and a beach front with very little dwellings. So, a bungalow of this stature, facing the South China Sea would immediately catch everyone's attention. A getaway home, a retreat, whatever you called it, it would still be a dream home for everyone.

Since the gate was opened, we stole a quick shot. It's a memory we wanted to bring home to city dwellers.

Next destination, Kg Gong Batu. Razak said he had arranged lunch there, confidently telling us it was 5 kms away. We passed the 5km mark and no sign of a lunch stop. We continued on..and on...wondering and "hungering". My dear Razak, a hungry man is an angry man.

Rain was already threatening. Razak and Jalil was out of sight in front. Sham was ahead of me with Zaba and Fendi tailing me. Suddenly the sky opened up without warning. Sham immediately "konar baring" left. I followed suit. Zaba and Fendi "konar baring" right. They seeked shelter in an empty house. Sham and I seeked shelter in a warong. We did the right "konar baring"!

Since lunch was no where in sight, Sham and I coined a new song "cendol in the rain". But our hearts wept for Zaba and Fendi stranded in the empty house across the road. They saw our joy. Zaba braved the rain and crossed over. Crossing over certainly has its benefits, political or otherwise!

Zaba the cross-over tourer

Cendol anyway can't replace the lunch. After the rain subsided, we cycled on towards our elusive lunch destination.When we finally arrived at the designated warong, were we angry with Razak? NOOOO! Instantly we loved Razak. Instantly we forgave him for his poor kilometre calculation. Second day motto "ride to eat" was about to be honored again.

Laid on the table were four large size Ikan Kerapu, deep fried and sweet-soured. 2 large bowls of tomyam soup, prawns and veges. So, one bare chested and 5 fully clothed cyclists immediately went to work to wipe clean the dishes. And there were no left-overs.

Our Razak seemed to have friends everywhere too, just like Sham. No wonder, they are a great pair. A few teh tareks later, we were ready to move. We left Al-Manar with heavy hearts. We left this warong with heavy stomachs.