Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Langkawi - Part 1

A year in planning...

Michelle had always wanted to cycle around Langkawi island.
We sat down and planned it last year, but never got around doing it.
So, this year, we've decided to ditch the Campaign For a Lane ride series 06 in Penang for a shot at Langkawi.
She has a friend on the island who runs a cosy little homestay business.
That in mind, she made a booking and could only score two nights on the island.
We had a long drive from Subang Jaya to Alor Setar in Kedah.
Initially, we had wanted to take the train there, but due to time constraint and Michelle's work commitment, we've decided to shorten the travel time by driving.
So, this became a bikepacking adventure.
Our new 24" Terns had under 500km in terms of mileage, so, it's pretty much a maiden voyage for the bikes.

Our pooch wasn't happy with his Momma and Poppa going away

The X-Gear rigged up for the road trip
Preparing for the long-haul..

I had a couple of days off from work. 
It gave me ample time to service my car and get it ready for the 450km journey to Alor Setar.
I had to get the car ready and roadworthy for the long haul and everything was in place.
Since we had a roof rack on the Nissan Livina X-Gear, mounting a roof box was a good option for storing the luggage.
In this case, our small Ortlieb panniers.
Having a car meant freedom. The luxury of doing what we felt like doing along the way and this gave us a lot of flexibility.
I had to make sure that the car has enough fuel to take us all the way and also top up the Touch N Go prepaid card for access to the tolled road.
The night before our departure, I had the bikes bagged up and loaded onto the boot and backseat. 
It doesn't take much to pack the rest of my gear although I did forget something along the way.
This is always the case.
On my Tern Eclipse S18, I had rigged it to accept an Ortlieb Trunk Bag. This is very useful for daytrips and rides without a hip pack.

Pekan Rabu in Alor Setar

We were very near the Thai border
Nasi Kandar

A famous makan place in Alor Setar
Hitting the road...

We woke up around 05:30am, packed up our stuff and loaded it into the car.
Then, we took on the road and headed towards SS19 in Subang Jaya for an early breakfast.
With the long journey in mind, the only thing that was on my head is keeping safe and the early night's rest actually helped.
Up North, it was raining all the way.
We reached Butterworth and refueled our car and continued towards Alor Setar.
The target time was to reach there before late afternoon.
By 12:30pm, we were in Alor Setar town.
There, we found a place to have our lunch and actually had a little bit of time to walk around.


Michelle and the bikes
Boarding the ferry
At our seats on the ferry
Kuala Kedah: Don't feed the touts...

From Alor Setar, the Langkawi ferry terminal in Kuala Kedah is about 10km away.
On a car, its just a short drive.
We found our way to the ferry terminal and prior to this, I've done some intel work on how to get the bikes onboard the ferry.
Seems that there has been some issues on bringing a normal bike as the Maritime Department had barred them and a surcharge of RM15 is levied on passengers who want to bring bicycles onto the vessel.
The only exception are folding bikes.

So, we had them bagged and this complies with the Department's policy.
At the ferry terminal, some touts on their motorcycles had tried to solicit business by leading our car onto their parking lots.
PLEASE do not entertain them.
I told one of them that I was only there to check the tickets if its available.
There is a council-owned parking lot and a day's parking fee costs RM15.
You can leave your vehicle in front of the terminal as it's gated and guarded.
A single-journey ticket from Kuala Kedah to Langkawi costs RM23. The journey takes about an hour and a half and departures are one and a half-hours apart.
We missed the 01:00 ferry, so, the next available ride was at 03:00pm.
There was plenty of time to kill, but my priority was to load the bikes at the terminal, park the car, get a receipt for the parking fees and make sure that the tickets are paid for.
We chilled out at the waiting area and before we knew it, the ferry folks had called for boarding.
Michelle rolled out a trolley with her bike to the vessel, and just as we were to load it onto the cabin, a security guard asked for RM1. 
This is for using the trolley. We've completely ignored him as we were trying to get the bikes onto the gangway.

Our bikes in the luggage hold area

Crossing the choppy seas...
Rough seas and vomit..

We were in the cabin, there was some slight pitching and rolling.
To me, it's pretty normal when plying through the sea on rough weather.
While we were at it, a young boy had threw up in front of us.
He puked on his father and the seat and the smell made Michelle really nausea.
I could see land on the horizon and told her to hang on.
While the young boy's father was struggling to clean up, I took out a packet of wet wipes and gave it to him.
The man and his family were on their way to the island as he is employed there.
With the jetty in the horizon, the next thing is to get off the boat, deploy the bikes and ride.. 
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