Sunday, January 29, 2012

Journey to Land's End - Part 4

This is it!
The alarm rang at 05:00am. 
We got up, and the first thing that came to mind, was the last 38km push.
Michelle and I had done at least 135km from Muar to Pontian and there's little left to our imagination.
The only thing left to do, is the road down Land's End.
Breakfast was included in the hotel's room charge, so, we wasted no time in filling up.
After the meal, we headed straight for the road to Kukup, some 20km away from Pontian Kechil.
Traffic was light and the sky was rather gloomy.


The smooth ride.. 
Bananas, Bikes, Rock & Roll
We packed some light food for this ride and riding without the panniers actually helped.
The night before, we re-packed our stuff and left some of the non-essential stuff at the hotel room.
Earlier, I asked the front desk guy about a late check-out and was told that an extra charge of RM12.60 an hour will be imposed.
Michelle was rather pissed off with that, so, we let it be.
I didn't sleep well the night before and had been carrying a flu bug since we left for Muar from Subang Jaya.
Sleeping underneath the air-cond duct didn't help either.
Before the ride, I downed some medication and it held up as I swept the ride.
The road to Tanjung Piai is actually hazardous to small vehicles. Especially bicycles.
Even the locals here are afraid to use the road.
This was one of Michelle's primary fear - getting whacked by a trailer.
The heavy vehicles don't really care. They zoomed past with barely inches missing our bikes.
With the lighter load, we've made good progress.
It took us about one and a-half hours to reach Kukup.
This town has changed tremendously since my last visit in 1997. 
I did make a follow-up visit with Michelle in early 2002, the development here has been amazing!
Spare the seafood restaurants, there's really nothing much to see in this town.


The slow road to Kukup


Land's End in sight..
The terrain in Kukup is pretty much flat.
Our destination is Serkat, which is about 5km away from this town.
We rode backwards and headed to a right turn towards Tg Piai.
Our destination was the state park in this area and plenty of surprises lurks ahead.
After cycling for nearly 45-minutes, we reached Serkat.
There are a couple of homestay facilities here that are catered to tourists.
We had no plans to stay in Tg Piai and its purely a hit-and-run visit.
And as usual, we took a shot at the signboard in town before heading down to the Southernmost tip of Asia.


The Samos in Serkat

Tg Piai at last!
What a rip-off!
We cycled towards a fisherman's village at the end of the cape.
Found a resort on stilts and asked a lady about the 'globe' monument that made this place famous.
She told me that its one kilometre down the road and its situated at the state park.
After snapping a couple of shots, we made our way towards the directions given.
On a Thursday, this place is dead.
I can see a few local tourists, possibly lost and don't have a clue where they were.
Since the roads here are pretty well-maintained, we cycled towards the Tg Piai state park.
An entrance fee of RM3 is charged for adult visitors.
We cycled towards a signboard that says: "Dataran Tg Piai" but was stumped to see a dead-end.
There is a huge sculpture at the park entrance with a map of Southeast Asia.
We snapped some pictures there and called it a day.
A man came out of the visitor's centre and asked how many cyclists were in my group.
I told him that there only two of us and we were well on our way.
He wanted to collect RM3, but I told him that we weren't even in the park at all.
All I saw, was a crappy place that was falling apart.
We rode off towards pekan Permas where we had an early lunch before riding back to Pontian.


The monument..
And now, 'plan B'...
We had set our target to reach Pontian by 12noon.
A couple of stops meant that the timing had went off by half an hour.
By the time we reached the hotel in Pontian, we were well into mid-day.
So, I discussed with Michelle and told her that rather than wasting another day on the road to Batu Pahat, risking a night ride climbing Bukit Kelichap, we toss everything into a chartered car and head straight back to Muar.
Initially, I planned to get dropped at Parit Jawa and continue to ride for at least 20km towards Sungai Abong. 
But with the flu bug creeping in, I decided to scrap it.
We loaded our bikes and gear onto the chartered car at 02:00pm and shot straight for Muar which is roughly about two hours drive from Pontian.
Our ride was terminated in this town and we are happy to report that we made it all the way from Muar.
A return trip of 382km meant spending more time on the road and an increase in expenses. 
We decided to spend more time in Muar having some good food before heading back to KL.
One of the beauty of conducting a self-supported trip is that we don't have to decide for others and manage them.
Its our call and we made a damn good judgement on this.


Summary
The ride would have been more fun if we had broken it into shorter distances (60 - 70km intervals).
But, seeing as it is, there are no proper accommodation in towns like Senggarang and Benut.
So, if we are to head back down this road, we would have to pack our tarp, sleeping pad and bags.
Heavy vehicle traffic: Maniac express bus drivers, renegade trailers and mad passenger cars made it a challenge to get from point to point.
And if you are thinking of cycling a folding bike to Tg Piai, be prepared to average at speeds of  15km/h. You can't go any faster than that without straining yourself.
As a pre-departure precaution: be sure that your bike is in top condition where moving parts are concerned.
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