Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Mimi's elder sister, Shakira joined her in Dublin 2 weeks ago and they had celebrated the Hari Raya Puasa together. Shakira will be there for at least 2 years to pursue her degree in Cinema and TV. I hope she will remain there for couple of years to gain working experience before returning home, just like what Mimi is currently doing there.
2 years ago we stayed in Dublin for a month. Have we not have enough of Dublin? In a way yes. But we will never have enough of our children! To me, they remained my little kids...ha..ha...
My respected elder Pak Chik Hassan expects me to cycle there, together with my kids. Sorry Pak Chik, this is a cycle-less trip. When I do Europe on my own, Insyallah, then that will be a different story.
Anyway, Dublin is a cyclist haven with dedicated cycling lanes in the city. If only, and if only....we have this in Malaysia!
Mimi told me Dublin recently introduced a park-and-cycle facilities, just like in Paris. Will I try out the facility? It goes without saying.
So Mimi and Ila, here we come!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
This day would be the final lap in our round-trip from Padang back to Padang. Quite a number of my cycling tours were arranged in this manner, i.e. returning to the starting place, so long as I did not take the same route back to where I started.
The advantage was in ending the trip at a familiar place, and at the same hotel. More importantly, I could leave the bicycle bag which weighed 2kg at the hotel. One might think 2kg is nothing. On a fully laden bicycle, any kg we could shave off is a bonus. Of course, a bigger bonus would be to shave off the extra kgs from our own tummy!
We left the hotel 10 mins before 7, after breakfast. The street was almost empty. The only people up and about were parents sending their kids to school, or kids walking to schools.
We did not expect anything exciting to see on this last lap and we actually covered the 60kms quite fast. We did however, as usual, stop for lunch at quite an upmarket Rumah Makan Lamun Ombak. This restaurant is a popular stop for tourist buses and travellers. It is clean and could sit in excess of 100 customers. The name "Lamun Ombak" struck me as not quite in place as this restaurant is not located anywhere near the sea. If it had been "Lambong Ombak" we would not have stopped here for lunch. We would not want to throw out what we ate kerana dilambong ombak!
Anyway, after 6 days of Nasi Padang we settled in for a change. We opted for Murtabak Mesir. We were happy with our choice but we were not really in the mood to ask the origin of Murtabak Mesir.
At the outskirts of Padang, the usual noise, dust and vehicles welcomed us back to the city. We wished we were back in the hills of Danau Maninjau, with its fresh air and crystal clear streams. Wishful thinking!
Padang hosts an annual international dragon boat race. We have plenty of time to kill. We have not seen a dragon boat race.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Another easy ride was in store for us today. It would be slightly more than double yesterday's distance from Bukit Tinggi. From the hotel, we would cycle 14kms to Muko Muko. We would be having a constant view of the lake on our left as we cycle to Muko Muko where the lake ends. From there it would be a very generous downhill.
The spillover from the massive lake form kilometres of cascading stream passing through several villages as we spin downhill. One can feel the fresh and cool ambience of the hilly landscape and hear the continous rumbling of the stream as it made its way to the sea. As usual, we would be in no hurry. We would slowly meander down to the plains below and play with nature - two "old" boys on bicycles.
We planned to leave at around 8 am. By 7:30 our panniers were already secured to the bikes. We now need to secure our stomach. Breakfast menu was simple. I caught Muhamud looking forlonly into the distance of Danau Maninjau. Perhaps he was missing his home and family. An elder brother was certainly not an emotional substitute. On my solo trips, I did experience such lonely moments. Absence anyway, makes the heart grow fonder.
Muko-Muko boasts of a mini hydro-electric station. The station took advantage of the abundance of water of Danau Maninjau and the generous drop in elevation that naturally speeded up the turbine as water from the lake poured out into the stream. I am no engineer, but I believe my theory is sound!
We just have to stop at this place to dip our feet and wash our faces in the stream.
Once we reached the plains heading to Pariaman, the landscape became monotonous. We passed several small towns and and passed this "lady" giving us direction to Pariaman. In my earlier blog, I said I would not want to argue with her. I did not argue with her this time around too!
We settled in into the most expensive hotel for this entire trip. Hotel Nan Tongga Beach damaged us IR300,000 (RM100).
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Today would be another interesting ride. There would be 1 fast downhill followed with 1 uphill push and another 1 fast downhill as we make our way from Bukit Tinggi to the lower altitude of Danau Maninjau. In between would be rolling hills through several villages.
The drizzle yesterday was gone. It was a great day for cycling. Today's destination Danau Maninjau, is a short distance of 32kms from Bukit Tinggi.
The altitudes recorded on my Polar (below) shows the terrain we would cover over the 30 odd kms. The sharp drop at almost the end of the journey is the winding downhill of Kelok 44. Kelok 44 is the famous 44 sharp downhill corners from 1060m above sea level to 422m when where Danau Maninjau is.
Elly Kassim, the famous Indonesian singer of yesteryears has a song penned for Kelok 44.
Bidding farewell to Hotel Bagindo, we pushed off heading towards Lubang Jepang for Ngiarah Sianok (Ngiarah Canyon) where we would have our first downhill. It would be a mini version of Kelok 44. The village we passed before the descent was already alive with parents sending their kids to school. Traffic was just slowly building up. We had our hands constantly on the brakes to slow down the speed as some parts of the road was wet, always careful not to jam the brakes to avoid skidding. The canyon whizzed past rather quickly and in no time we were down to the bottom of the canyon. Had a quick stop for a photo shoot on a bridge before we moved on.
Selamat jalan Bukit Tinggi. Sampe ketemu lagi.
From the valley, it was a steep climb of 3kms. So, we did what was sensible to do - push the bikes up the slope.
And after the push, the poor bike needs the rest. Ha...ha
Continuing on, we passed several more villages along the route. I recalled passing Kampong Pisang. It is obvious what the main crop here is, except that in the early morning, no one was enterprising enough to open a stall yet. We continued on the rolling hills and just 6kms after Bukti Tinggi, we climbed back to 935m.
We passed a milestone indicating we were 11kms from Maninjau. Padang was a cool 151kms away. We would reach Padang 2 days later.
I came across this man washing clothes by a pond. The pond was fed by running water but the water was murky. Just wondering whether he would have a good wash. Also wondering where was his wife to do the washing?
Villages dotted the slopes and at one corner, these kids caught my attention. Initially, they were shy to be photographed but the parents gently urged them on to pose. And when you show them their pics on the camera screen, they laughed. Simple joys. They braved a wave at us as we started pedalling and we waved back.
Next on our must visit was Bapak Hamka's musuem, about 8 kms from the hotel. We cycled there but the weather was threatening. We managed to find a shelter at a warong and waited out the rain, a good 45mins of heavy rain.