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50 years to Kluang (88/5889ks)

(written by Dave)

First let me say thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes.  I don’t really feel 50 years old but I checked my passport and indeed I am.  And what better way to spend your 50th birthday than riding your bike?  Who would have thought that the ride would have been from the east coast to the west coast of Malaysia.?

In case you had not figured it out, we decided to skip Tioman Island.  We looked hard at it but with few roads on the island, we would have been dependent on the ferries to get us from resort to resort.  All the advice about going to the island says that you should not book lodging until you arrive on the island.  As we’ve quickly learned travelling in Malaysia, inspecting the room before agreeing to take it is very important.  Price has almost no bearing on the quality of the room – some of our worst rooms were the most expensive.  Hauling the bikes on and off the ferry multiple times while we sought out appropriate accommodation just seemed too much effort.

So, we decided to leave Mersing this morning and ride over to the west coast of Malaysia.  We enjoyed a nice breakfast in the hotel (including a fried egg on toast – not bad) then hit the road by 8:15.  We took the most direct route over the interior mountains, the first half being on a nice quiet secondary road.  The second half was on highway 50, the major route across the island.  In general, traffic was not too bad.  There were some bigger trucks full of palm nut bunches but they were polite and waited to pass if it was not clear.  Around Kluang, traffic picked up but we managed to find the centre of town and an ok hotel pretty easily.

We rode 88ks for the day which was pretty hard.  Not so much because of expected hills – it was hilly but not mountainous – more because of lots of little ups and downs, plus a headwind.  Though completely unfair being that it was my birthday, somehow, I managed to break another spoke on my rear wheel.  This was a weird break as it was in the middle of the spoke, which I’ve never seen before.  This happened only 20k from Kluang but we found a nice shady spot and it only took 30 minutes to replace the spoke.  The only real downside was that the 30 minutes delayed us just about enough to get pelted by one of those SE Asia downpours.  We passed under some really dark clouds at about 12k, picking up a few drops on the far edge of the cloud.  We rode hard for 5k and managed to just miss the full impact – phew – broken spoke and downpour just don’t seem fair for a birthday…

We found a hotel right in old-town – The Hotel Ria – it’s not flash but mostly adequate.  It is just on the edge of “Little India” and after asking a couple Indian shop owners for recommendations we chose the “best” Indian restaurant.  We had a bit of a language gap and probably ordered too much food but it was sure good.  We like Malay food but with anything, it is nice to have a break.  The Indian food was just perfect in this regard.

Later we wandered town and the local mall area.  We found a coffee at “OldTaste” coffee.  Quite a funny name.  I wanted to know why they didn’t call the shop “Old Dirty Socks” or something like that.  We tried most diligently to order ice coffee with no sugar but alas we failed again.  I’m pretty sure that the guy who took the order got it but there doesn’t seem to be a button on the machine they use that generates this result.  Anyway, the coffee was pretty good.  In one shop, we also found Akemi bed-sheets  – “Akemi in Love” sheets no less – Akemi, if you are reading and want us to pick some up for you, let us know…

Nancy refused to let me go without a cake on my 50th birthday.  In fact, she would not even let me go with one small single serve cake (they didn’t look near as good).  So, we ended up with a small black forest chocolate cake and ate way too much.  Our hotel desk manager was more than happy to take the leftovers (and it only cost $7 for the full cake…).

Tomorrow we are heading for Batu Pahat.  We are also going to by-pass the farm stay.  We did some more reading and it sounds pretty campy, more targeted at kids than anything.  Instead, we’ve found a nice hotel in Batu that where we’ll take a day off and really give the bikes a good cleaning.  They are filthy.  And the hotel looks great on the internet – who knows, after room inspection, we may end up changing plans once again.

All in all not a bad day for my 50th birthday.

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14 responses to “50 years to Kluang (88/5889ks)

  1. Well happy belated birthday… So you used to travel in Malaysia for work. This must be very different. Tell us how it is different, please.

  2. Elaine Goddard-Tame

    Nancy and Dave
    Hey Dave – HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Wish we could have followed you to enjoy your birthday cake! Welcome to the fabulous fifties.
    It was great to meet you both on the cycle trail.
    Good to know the trip to Mersing was fairly painless – and amazing you met Anneke at end of it! Small world….
    We enjoyed a last day/night of luxury at Sebana Cove before returning back by bumboat to Singapore. ( If you cycle the road there from Kota Tinggi – don’t do it on a Friday – it was busy!)
    Hope to see you again one day in Singapore or Hong Kong…or a little chalet by the sea somewhere.
    Elaine and Ken

  3. Happy Birthday Dave! Great way to spend your birthday (except for the broken spoke).

  4. Happy Birthday Dave, many happy returns and cheers to great riding with Nancy.

    Take a couple of days to unwind in Melaka … A Formosa fort, Dutch colony, Peranakan village with their cuisine, etc.

  5. Glad you had a fun, memorable day! The food looks yummy and finally sounds a little familiar! You, David, look great for 50! Keep eating more! The delicious choice for cake was a good start to your weight-gain program!!! How many e-cards did you open? I got a confirmation on two, but I actually sent another one or two. Funny, eh?

  6. WOW! 50! We are having a Birthday Dinner today 7/31/11 to celebrate both yours and Linda’s birthday! Last night I made a Rhubarb, strawberry, blueberry cobbler for the Birthday’s and we will write your name in whipped cream! Keep eating and have a good time!

  7. Dave – I couldn’t have given you a better birthday present … A broken spoke? …. getting caught in a downpour? … on your 50th birthday? Perfect. I do feel sorry for Nancy though … stuck on the side of the road … getting wet … now she’s married to an old guy too. ;^)) Welcome to the Club! It’s not so bad …
    Pete

  8. Happy Belated Birthday Dave. Welcome to 50! It’s the new 40 ya know. LOL. . . “Akemi in Love” bed sheets. . . how funny is that! Well, I think I’m a little too late in having you get me a set (jk) 🙂 The picture is quite sufficient, thank you!

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