Friday, 26 October 2018

Camping in Kuala Perlis

Kuala Perlis was the stop before I could board the ferry together with Bluey towards Langkawi. Only at Kuala Perlis can one take a vehicle on a RoRo ferry to Langkawi hence the other port at Kuala Kedah was out of the option.

A quick check online and shows no hostels in Kuala Perlis and all the cheap hotels were at least RM70 per night. I took a risk and did not book anything just starting the ride as late as possible from Alor Setar since it was only a 50km ride to Kuala Perlis. 

Camping at a Grass Patch in Kuala Perlis (Chinese Restaurant Behind)

Camping Front View of the Beach - Kuala Perlis 

The ride was beautiful in a way going by the coastal road with barely any people around. The loneliness of travel and the peace that comes without thinking of anything. Thoughts wandered everywhere and nowhere at the same time. 

Coastal Road to Kuala Perlis 
Patch of Grass for Camping ??? but that is swampy paddy fields  

However one thing at the back of my mind constantly was, where am I going to sleep tonight.

Oh that patch along the side of the road looks like camp worthy ... a lil dangerous since if a car pass-by he might hit me since the patch is only so large. On and on I go enjoying the view and ride while looking for a possible place to rest for the night.

Reached Kuala Perlis and checking the location of Ferry and also the check-in counter, I was all good by 4pm and it was time to make a decision, go to a hotel or really really find a place to camp the night. 

Langkawi RoRo Ferry Counter at Kuala Perlis 

Loading Port to Drive on the Bike / Car onto the Ferry 

Along a small park was a grass-patch which was facing the sea, lots of lovers and bikers would ride up and hang out by the parapet of the beach lepaking as the Malaysian way it was. Behind was a Chinese restaurant, large but not open. A few small huts for resting was around and I thought ... yea this will do ... I could camp here nicely with Bluey parked just next to me. 

Lepak Corner with a View - Kuala Perlis 

Time to burn time .... time passes very slow when you want it to go faster ... I was outdoors and wont be able to pitch a tent till sundown ... Dinner nearby at a restaurant was a 2 hours agenda to purposely pass more time and use the toilet one last time

I rode back to the spot at 7pm and dammit the Chinese restaurant that was close was now fully open with loads and loads of customer. .... so i decided to eat a second round since I was getting feasted by the mosquito at the park. Most people lepak no more than 30 minutes for after blood donation to the mosquitoes it was time to go.

I saw so many police cars and policemen at the Chinese restaurant too ... oh boy ... just lay low and wait it out I thought ... wait till everything is close then pitch the tent. So apparently the restaurant was quite popular with the King of Perlis state, that the car park had a special reserved spot for him .... I wondered if he was there that night since there was so many police around.

10 pm arrive somehow slowly and the restaurant had no signs of slowing down ... lepak group was small enough now and I was now too tired to bother of what people think of me. Pitch up the tent in darkness with a few street light away while donating more blood to the mosquitoes.

Seaside breeze ... where the f*ck is the seaside breeze ... there was no seaside breeze at all and all i got was still warm air. Google weather said a thunderstorm would arrive at 10pm but no signs of it. Avoiding the mosquitoes was a priority now with me sticky and sweaty pitching up the tent but alas inside the tent where the was no mosquitoes there was also no wind and hence an even more hotter environment. ...

I had to remember back to childhood days where one had to master the art of fanning oneself to sleep and once asleep try to dream of stuff such as sleeping in a puddle of water shipwreck in the middle of the ocean with nothing around floating and sleeping in the comfort of dampness ...

I was sweating and semi-sleeping .... at least I was saving RM 70 i thought ... its just one day ... too late to back out now. Somehow by 2am by my estimation the restaurant closes and the morning dew came making sleep possible ... by early morning it was a lovely sleep only to wake up by 7am to pack and get out before someone ask me what I was doing there that night.

More time burning till 1245pm and it was a sweet ride on the ferry to Langkawi ... 3 hours on the boat and once i checked in to the hostel it was a shower a beer and sleep in that order ....

Traveled on: Sep 2018

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Detour of Yan – Kedah

The target destination for today was from Georgetown-Penang to Alor Setar-Kedah. The distance was not large with the shortest route on google gives me about 115km. I took my trusted travel website (wiki travel) advice and did the tour of Yan. 

Leaving Penang (Background is Georgetown)

The detour of Yan was pretty simple, exit at Sungai Petani and go by the coastal road circling back to Alor Setar. Along the way there are few stops for pictures and little visits to peoples home estates which most times invites stares from the neighborhood. Not the bad kind, just the what is this idiot doing here where the is nothing to see kind. 

Route for Detour of Yan 
It was really the peaceful nature of just riding and seeing the countryside starting from the fishing village of Tanjung Dawai towards Small Yan, seaside jetty for Yan then finally the abandon bridge of Pulau Bunting. 

Sungai Petani - Turn off the main road towards the Detour 

Tanjung Dawai Jetty

The Jetty 

Pulau Bunting was an accidental find. When I was in Yan for a stop taking some rest drinking tea along the beach I looked at the map and the nearby Pulau Bunting had a Bridge across the sea to it. Quick check on Wikipedia tells me the bridge is there and abandon. So someone built the bridge across the sea to the island but did not developed the island. 

Detour Stop at Yan 

Viewpoint at Pantai Murni - Yan 

The bridge was really abandon and not maintained and at the end of the bridge where it joint up with Pulau Bunting there was practically nothing, a very dense forest at the end of the road. It was as if they built the bridge for the start of something but something never came.

The locals all took advantage of the bridge and was all along the bridge doing deep sea fishing. I had only one thought when I was here ..... I could have camp out here at Pulau Bunting. Alas i had already booked the Hotel in Alor Setar and made appointment with a friend for ol time catch up. 

Abandon Bridge to Pulau Bunting 

End of the Road ... Pulau Bunting 
Optional additional route is to also go further up to Kuala Kedah before turning right towards Alor Setar. I had time so I actually split it for the next day.

Kedah is a nice state of Malaysia that keeps its tourism compacted in Langkawi and the rest of the state quint and peaceful. You never feel bored seeing the same things all around Kedah. Paddy fields and fishing village all over the state and in the main town of Alor Setar, beautiful architecture of the old and the new somehow stick together.

Alor Setar Tower 

The Zahir Mosque - One of the Grandest and Oldest Mosque in Malaysia 

Kuala Kedah River Mouth 

Sunset at Kuala Kedah 
Traveled on : Sep 2018

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Motorbiking The Other Side of Penang

Google Penang & Travel and you will find all the top 10 things to do in Penang, top 10 things to eat in Penang, top 10 things to see, top 10 Museum, Top 10 etc etc. Write up’s are so predictable nowadays that the top 10 shit still works, heck I still read those top 10 write up when I see a sponsored top 10 advert on Facebook. Its packaged so nicely that its intriguing to open it up for a good read to only be disappointed when you notice the repetitive cycle of expert plagiarism

I'm Ranting .... I know ...

Hence I only have one place to suggest seeing in Penang, the other side, the west side of Penang.

Fishing Boats by the Beach at South of Penang

Balik Pulau is known as the west side of Penang, with only two roads to get over either from the north or the south of Penang Island with both climbing a mountain on either edge crossing over to the other side only to descend to a very very flat plain which main activity is either farming (Rice) or fishing.

Road to Balik Pulau from the south of Penang
The view of Balik Pulau coming down the other side of the mountain
I did the loop from the south to the north and it was a nice ride alone with no traffic. The western side of Penang seamed to be untouched, with the old ‘kampung’ lifestyle intact with a few new development springing up but somehow seamed abandon. 

It looked like Balik Pulau is resisting the need for change and modernization for the new development of houses or shop-lots were left empty with no occupancy. 

Patriotic Kampung House - Balik Pulau Penang 
Fishing village was everywhere, there is no real beach at Balik Pulau although the whole west side of Penang is along the coast, instead it is covered by mangroves and the fisherman navigates the boats inland through the mangrove and park’s them next to their houses. 

Fishing Village sheltered within the Mangroves 
The only beach I managed to find with a fishing village was on the southern side of Penang, with clear waters and anchored colorful fishing boats. 

Restaurants or food stalls was also a rarity on Balik Pulau. Most restaurant gathered along the wet markets where fisherman goes to sell their catch of the day. One restaurant which was at Kuala Pulau Betong a very secluded corner of Penang where only the locals go to buy fresh fish. 

Restaurant at Kuala Pulau Betong - Penang 

The place caught my eye and I parked Bluey for a rest and drink. The restaurant seamed to be busy with lots of people but upon closer look, they were not eating nor drinking but all playing Mahjong at each and every table.

I managed to get a drink, and watch the locals enjoy their game. As tempting as it was I had no way to join in the fun ....

Roads were good in Balik Pulau, very flat plain and superbly stright. It can get boring at times riding too straight so I tend to detour off the main road to explore people’s housing estate. It was really sureel feel seeing people drying out fish and shrimp along the front yard cement floor and cows roaming around everywhere. 

Back Lane Bicycle Road - Balik Pulau Penang
There were surprisingly marked bicycle roads as well, dirt road for the mountain bikes with trails going off everywhere. I did a small circuit with the Bluey on the bicycle trail and could see the fun of running off with a proper ragged bike.

Along the way back through the northern pass, was the nutmeg factory. Natural remedy and very popular with old people as the nutmeg medicine oil was good for arthritis. Buah Pala as the local calls them and a delicious drink as well. 

 Nutmeg Factory cum Temple 

Heading back to main-town Penang through the northern pass I passed two more places of interest. The viewpoint where it was a good spot to actually see the sunset. They had two big Chinese sort of word art which I have no idea what it means. The other stop was Titi Kerawang waterfall. The waterfall was a good place to picnic and go swimming and relax during a hot day.

View Point for Sunset 

Titi Kerawang Waterfall 

Traveled on: Sep 2018

Friday, 12 October 2018

Homemade “Pao” Meat Buns in Cameron Highlands

Nothing makes me more thrilled when i get local recommendations for stuff that are purely for locals and not the hoard of tourist. So one morning chit chatting with the lady hostel owner became a treasure hunt for a local ‘Pao’ shop and it would be the best day I spent in Cameron Highlands. 

Not the bee farm, nor the Rose Farm nor the Tea Plantation or the Mossy Forest but the adventure of the mundane and the excitement of a possible story.

Hostel Owner: What’s your plan for today ?

Me: Thinking of just Riding to the last town of Cameron Highlands, Blue Valley and roam around

Hostel Owner: Oh ... then i will recommend you some place for food.

There is this local shop at Kampung Raja, the last town before Blue Valley which they handmade the ‘Pao’ everyday fresh and only sells them at 4pm. I’ll draw you a map ...

Hence The Map !! 
Treasure Map of Cameron Highlands Fresh Local Made 'Pao'

Hostel Owner : When you get there don’t go putting your hand up and calling the restaurant people for orders, just sit down keep quiet and wait. Even if they don't serve you, don't disturb them just wait. Wait till they come and ask you what you want, then order a tea maybe. 

At 4pm roughly the ‘Pao’ will be ready, then it will come out and you will know what to do when all the locals just shows up and start buying ‘Pao’. We drive all the way there sometimes just for the ‘Pao’

Remember, don't disturb them ... they don't like tourist and sometimes chase the tourist away without selling anything to them because they only make enough for the locals everyday so by 6pm its usually sold out. They don't need tourist money and sometime the local tourist can be very rude thinking that with money they should be serve like Kings. But you alone .... I think you can blend in ...

Hearing the Lady Owner story, this was already becoming a compulsory treasure hunt and mission to obtain that ‘Pao’

The shop was easy enough to locate, its a small town really so i found it quickly enough but continued riding by and return at 345pm. Walking in and going to a table to sit down iIcould feel all the shop workers eyes staring at me ... crap ... was something wrong ?? so i meekly sat down smiled and made some gesture asking if its was ok to sit there. 

Restaurant Yat Yee - Kampung Raja

Quiet Just before 4pm 
A bemused smile was my reply from one of the server but they all practically ignored me continuing with their handmade preparation of the ‘Pao’ near the back of the shop. So I sat and kept to myself and about 10 minutes later a server came up to me asking what I wanted ... Kopi I ordered, and got the Kopi another 10 minutes later.

Close to 4pm the crowd trickle in all smooth just strolling in and sitting down. I notice that the customers also waited patiently till they came up to take their order. One particular customer asked if there was anything to eat and a hand gesture saying there is nothing here was all he got. Still he stuck around waiting. This shop sure have some strange customs.

The ‘Pao’ came out slightly after 4pm and suddenly people all stood up and grab the ‘Pao’ while it was hot and more people trickled in ordering takeaway by the dozens. When the crowd thin down I strode up to get one. 

Freshly Made 'Pao'

'Pao' Time ... 
I got the Char Siew Pao ... Yummy ... 

Cost of the Adventure RM 3.6 for one Pao and one Kopi ....

Char Siew Pao at Kampung Raja 

Traveled on : Sep 2018

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Riding Up to Mossy Forest with a 125cc Malaysian Bike – Cameron Highlands

The road to Mossy Forest. Roads were potty, lots of unwanted groves that’s just large enough to suck in a motorbike tires and force you off roads in weird angles, some curve were super steep, loads of debris, sand and stones and one heck of a gradient ... I nearly almost did not make it up. 
Road to Mossy Forest - Cameron Highlands 

I could feel Bluey crying by the ti
me I reached the peak. At the beginning it was not too bad then suddenly at a fork where no one was around I asked a passerby worker which way to the top and he pointed the direction for me, the smaller road and the steeper one. He was walking up that way too so I asked if he wanted a lift up. 

The joy in his eyes for a free ride uphill was priceless but the moment he climb onto Bluey, I could feel the protest from Bluey as if I had betrayed him by letting someone else mount on. Bluey would not move from that spot. Engine died, first gear barely move 2 inch before stopping. Heck this was one hell of a steep slope. Sorry I told the worker over and over again ... and the moment he got off I could now speed away feeling guilty that I put his hopes up and then kill it instantly. 

View of Tea Plantation on the Way up to Mossy Forest 

Me Resting Bluey Every Chance I get 

I was riding mostly on 1st gear now with the engine screaming just to get me moving up slowly. No faster than 10km/hr could I move and no way to kick up a gear either. Alas I manage to reach Mossy Forest at 2000m above sea level this was the highest point reachable by vehicle in Malaysia. Ok Bluey ... I guess you will suffice for this long road trip. Not the most powerful but reliable enough to get the job done. 

Mossy Forest Carpark - Cameron Highlands 

Mossy Forest - Cameron Highlands 
Mossy Forest was just another walk on gangplanks to see the Forest Reserved which is covered in lichen. Mossy Forest or Cloud Forest for it was almost always covered in clouds gives it a very moist nature for different types of Flora and Fauna to trive. 

Mossy Forest is situated between two States of Perak & Pahang of Malaysia 

Lichen filled forest .... moist and soft  

2000m above sea level - Mossy Forest Cameron Highlands 
I cant tell which was more interesting, the ride up or the Mossy Forest itself.

Ride back down I was more worried that I would loose control but alas it was easier to go down just by making sure I keep Bluey at a very slow pace instead of running wild downhill.

Traveled on : Sep 2018

Monday, 8 October 2018

Riding Around Cameron Highlands

Today was the first time I seriously appreciated having a motorbike while traveling. Seeing the long weekend holiday and the way the whole of Cameron Highlands road was jammed up by traffic I was zipping through everywhere with the bike witha breeze. 

Riding Around Cameron Highlands 
I started off with no plans other than to just ride around exploring but before I knew it I visited most of the touristic place without much thought. 

First stop was the temple ... pay my respects and a little ride in and out of the local housing estates where not a soul peep out the window. 

Chinese Temple at Tanah Rata - Cameron Highlands 
Cactus Valley

Riding up towards Brinchang, there was such a massive traffic jam that I saw an empty road to the left and immediately veered off to explore only to end up at Cactus Valley. 

Cactus Valley - Cameron Highlands 

It looked similar and the more I explored it the more I remember back many many years ago when I was still a kid and visited Cameron Highlands with family and friends, this was the place where the mom’s went crazy buying seed, potted plants and loads of cactus.

It was lovely place seeing all the plants with flowers bloom and all the hydroponic farm for all the fresh vegetables produce. 

Old Brinchang Town

It was exactly how I remembered it .... even the hotels and the mamak stall was still the same without a change after so many years. In a way it was nostalgic but I could understand now, that the small town of Brinchang or rather the center of it was really unappealing and it was just where we went as a kid as the adults needed to stop there for the 4D lottery shops .... but since i am an adult now, I participated in the 4D punting :) 

Brinchang - Cameron Highlands 
Water Cress Valley

This stop was purely coincidental since i was actually looking for lunch and saw a signboard saying Water Cress Valley Restaurant and Farm ... so i decided to pick one and this was the one ... lunch .... they served traditional charcoal steamboat ... bummer ... 

Water Cress Valley Restaurant & the Traditional Charcoal Steamboat

Menu - Traditional Charcoal Steamboat - Cameron Highlands 

So I was stuck eating some kinds stir fried noodle since there was no chance I could get a traditional charcoal steamboat on my own. The very few times I felt the downside of traveling alone is when you need a group of friends to attact that local delicacy dish. Still it was a nice place to chill for lunch and watch the water crest farm. 

Stir Fried Noodle ... no steamboat for una solo 

View from the Water Cress Valley Restaurant - Cameron Highlands 

Sweet Like Honey

After lunch I somehow ended up Honey hunting .... saw a bee farm so I stopped to check it out and with a few message to mom and back I was not hunting for some good honey at a cheap price. Once I bought the Honey it was a headache thinking how I was going to continue traveling without cracking the glass bottle honey. 
 Bee Farm - Cameron Highlands 
The Small Colorful Boxes are the Bee Hives 

Honey ... - Cameron Highlands 
Rose Farm

I also stumbled upon the rose farm ... for I was looking for the pokemon gym ... Yep, when we travel long term sometimes its not just about the sightseeing but also the mundane pleasure of playing games. Rose farm was nice ... but seeing all the couple couple smooching around at every hidden corner told me it was time to go after conquering that pokemon gym. 

Rose Farm - Cameron Highlands 

Many Interesting Sculpture in the Rose Farm 
Roses are Red ..... Roses are white .... 

Bunga Raya 

Best part about riding around Cameron Highlands .... everything above was free ... just rock up and walk around ... most tourist go on a shopping spree but for me it was nice to do things without having to spend a single cent.

Time Tunnel Museum of Cameron Highlands 

Surprisingly the most memorable time was spent at the Time Tunnel Museum of Cameron Highlands. I stopped nearby to look at a honey shop, and before I knew it, it started raining and I was stuck so I paid the RM6 entrance fee to kill time and see the museum. 

Initially it felt mundane but i knew I had to kill time so I read everything I could, and slowly exzamine the little stuff there was there along the 1st level ... mostly WW2 stuff so kinda bland but as I headed down to the lowest level it was really a time tunnel having all old pictures of Cameron Highlands and the items from old times such as tools and things that was used during grandparents generations. 

Photo of Singapore Prime Minister When Young at Cameron Highlands 
Trinkets from the old days 
More local tourist started appearing as well and most was lost on what all these item was. I couldn't help by smile when there was this little girl going around pointing and examining every item she saw asking her grandma loads of questions

Little Girl: Whats this ?

Grandma: Its an oven

Little Girl: And this

Grandmy: Thats a school table ... last time tables at school were like this, and the basket on the table are our school bags.

Little Girl: Whats this ?

Grandma: Weighing Scale

Little Girl: Whats this ?

Grandma: ... errr ( it was actually an old well pump ) 

Curious Little Girl at the Time Tunnel Museum 

I find it entertaining observing the older and younger generation of the local tourist in the time tunnel museum ... I lingered quite a while seeing many groups with the same kind of atmosphere all trying to dechipher each antique item that was on display. Kinda feel antique myself since I knew most of the item that was there ...

I saw a old school money tin where shop keeper use to keep their money when customer paid which had a pully system and a weight on the other side ...

I pulled it down to see if there was money inside and sure enaugh a few coins were there ... the younger kids looked at me and started guessing what it was. Money tin I told them, ... crap i feel ancient already ...

Traveled on : Sep 2018