(written by Dave)
We had a good night sleep at the mushroom farm. It was pretty quiet, in fact I think only one other room had guests (and it was next to ours). They ran their TV late but you could only hear it when the AC stopped. Somehow Nancy slept through it, and it really didn’t bother me. We broke the buffet circuit this morning and had oatmeal in the room, with fresh mango from last night’s wander about town.
Today we followed highway 5 up the coast again with some more nice views. The coast here is pretty flat so it would not be Oregon coast or Great Ocean Road-like from a scenic perspective. All the same, they don’t really seemed to have made much of an effort to maximise the view.
After about 10k we saw a sign for the Kuan Wellness Ecopark. There was a flyer for it at the Mushroom farm and it sounded intriguing. It was a K off the road along a river which smelled really bad, perhaps another sewage issue… Anyway, when we arrived it was pretty quiet with only one car in the parking lot and the store was not open. The cafe was open and they were serving various “bird’s nest” drinks. Well we’d never had birds nest anything so we tried a glass -it was actually quite tasty.
What was even more interesting was all the information on bird nests, how they were managed and harvested. It turns out that we’ve seen many bird’s nest buildings in Malaysia. They are special built for swallows (sometimes called swiftlets). The nests have been harvested since around 1350 when the Chinese discovered the medicinal properties of the nests. Today, the birds get a special building and here at the Ecopark they get extra special eco treatment (producing nests of the highest quality). We have seen these big concrete buildings and heard the birds throughout Malaysia but until now, we had thought the buildings were for drying palm nuts or something, and we also thought that the birds flying round them might have been a pest… who would have known?
Traffic was pretty good until we reached the town of Banting and here it got really busy. We stopped for a water break before joining the fray. First we had to cross a large bridge over the Langat River – I stopped for a quick photo over protests from the crew (Nancy). From here to Klang, there were two lanes going both directions and as per normal here in Malaysia, that generally means no shoulder. There was a constant stream of cars and trucks for the last 30k and many times we had no where to get out of the way. I kept telling Nancy that her 20+ years of riding had prepared her for this very moment – we both passed the test but it was pretty scary. Not fun when you see a truck in your mirror, then you hear it honk “coming through” and you have about 3 inches of white line to ride. We made it… And we’ll try riding out of here on a weekend day for sure. I guess we should have expected it being this close to KL, a city of 7.2 million people.
We had planned on staying at the Euro Hotel and we even stopped at it to book in. Getting there was crazy, we had to turn right, crossing two lanes of traffic and there was no turn lane. So instead we turned left and made a u-turn on the side road where there was a traffic light. We waited for the light then rode out only to discover traffic on the road we were joining did not stop and we were supposed to merge into the left lanes. We had to cross two lanes of fast moving traffic to get to the hotel. It took forever for a gap to open but we made it… Only to discover that strip mall where the hotel was located had no place to eat. If we stayed there, we would have to run across four lanes of insanely busy road. Ok – I give, back to the nice 4-star Premiere Hotel by the mall on the way into town. It costs a lot more but being able to eat here requires no track sprinting skills.
We had a late lunch in the room, after a quick run to Tesco just next to the hotel. First time in Malaysia that we have seen such a big grocery store. Then for dinner we walked across the street to an Indian restaurant called Tetra. The bellman who helped us at check-in highly recommended it and he was right, it was great. I should note how smooth check-in didn’t go. Like all the hotels this month, they have a Ramahdan special. This hotel would not give you the special rate unless you booked it on-line. The normal rate was almost 2x the special. So, once Nancy discovered this, she came back out front where I was watching the bikes and talking to the bellman (who was a cyclist). We fired up the iPhone, booked on-line and received a confirmation email. Back at the front desk, voila, Nancy got the discount rate – pretty ridiculous. I don’t blame the check-in person, rather hotel management – bad management just sets the desk staff up for a confrontation with customers by making these rules. Once we check out, I’ll note this on “tripadvisor” website. We’ve been using it for hotel reviews throughout Malaysia. This hotel gets high marks and it should, but bad customer service is not just about clean sheets (though Nancy would say they are pretty important).
Nancy has picked up my cold but is well on the mend. We are going to stay here one more night to help her fully recover. We are still debating if the trip into the towers in KL are worth it. If we go, we’ll go on Sunday and leave the bikes here at the hotel (unless they have a rule against that!). So, tomorrow’s update will be bike free.