Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Journey to Land's End II - Part 1

What about the 'other' end???

I had a couple of days off and the desire to explore Southeastern Johor.
The destination: Pengerang district which is on the Eastern side of the Tebrau straits.
This is practically about 100km away from Johor Baru and is accessible via the new Senai - Desaru Highway.
But my journey starts from another town.

Creating the route

Initially, I wanted to cycle from Kulai which is located along the train route towards Kota Tinggi.
In the past, I've traveled to the area to cover Court and Crime cases when I was based as a reporter in Johor Baru.
So, the plan was simple, set out to Kulai, get off the train and ride towards Kota Tinggi and stage the ride from there to Sungai Rengit in the Pengerang district.
I've been to these towns once when I was covering a baby-smuggling syndicate in Pengerang.
But, after much thought, I don't have the luxury of time.
So, it has to be cut short and by using the best possible way to stage the ride.
I ended up driving to Kota Tinggi where I booked a night's stay at a local hotel.
The plan was cut short to a day trip to Sungai Rengit and see what happens.

Rounding up the Usual Suspects

Since we were heading into the unknown, I stayed away from inviting joyriders to avoid doing baby-sitting work.
Co-incidentally, there was a weekend ride organised by a teacher from Rawang to Serendah.
Most of the joyriders were involved in it, so, that gave me plenty of room to pick and choose the "right stuff".
So, I emailed my regular kakis Roger Teoh and Patric Yee including newcomer Mohd Radzi Mohd Noor.
Both Roger and Patric are seasoned touring and bikepacking riders.
I have issues with them as they have earned my trust over a few long rides.
Unfortunately, both had to decline the ride due to personal commitments.
I ended up doing the ride with Radzi, who is untested on extended stay and rides.
The only time I hooked up with him on an overnight trip was to Raub last year.
Radzi, it seems, is a strong rider who owns a basic folding bike: the Dahon ECO7.
That is just enough to cover the 90km-plus distance that we were about to try out from Kota Tinggi to Pengerang...

Mohd Radzi in Parit Jawa, near Muar, Johor
Keeping it original...

I never try to replicate what other people do.
And I think its utterly shameful to rip off a fellow cyclist's planned route.
That's why I am never interested in the glamour and publicity one seeks to make a name for himself.
I stay away from the bright lights and limelight.
I won't be surprised if some wise guy will use my route in Hulu Geroh to turn it into a "Rafflesia Ride".
This ride to Pengerang is as good as it gets on a folding bike which places us on the lead when it comes to long-rides with a folding bike.
People have done Tanjung Piai which is officially the Land's End of the Asian continent.
I think Sungai Rengit is worth a try.
And so it begins.. 
We drove to Kota Tinggi and checked-in at a hotel called Rest-Inn.
The weekend rates were rather high, but we had no choice.
We needed the rest go get a head start early in the morning.

The route to Kota Tinggi's waterfalls...
The night market in town
A street scene
The town's bridge
How time flies..

We went around town to pick up some supplies after checking into our room.
Radzi and I had agreed to share the cost which covers fuel, food and lodging.
After a short break we had dinner at a famous Chinese-muslim restaurant called Hassan Ong.
The quality of the dishes served at this place is just average and for a small town's standards, its pretty pricey.
We had steamed fish, shrimp omelette and kung-po squid..

Radzi the shutterbug
After a good fill, we walked to a wholesale market which is roughly about a kilometre away and bought some bananas.
This will be our fuel for the next morning.
We went back to the hotel and discussed about our ride options.
The plan was to either do a round-trip on the bike, or terminate the ride in Sungai Rengit.
I used the time I had at night to pack up my Ortlieb trunk bag.
The idea I had was to carry all my essentials including a First Aid Kit, rain jacket, recovery kit and my personal belongings like ID card, money and credit card.
This was not an issue since the trunk bag is able to accommodate the important cargo..
As for the ride, much lies ahead in the day to come..
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