Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tour of East Coast - Part 3

Stage 2: Kuala Besut - Penarik

Route map of stage 2
We took advantage of the early morning departure from Kuala Besut due to a slightly lower temperature.
After checking-out from the hotel, we took the road to Besut town and made a left-turn towards the coastal road heading to Kuala Terengganu.
Basically, this is uncharted territory. 
Rather than following the conventional Jertih - Setiu route, we took the scenic way which is much more further than expected.

All set to roll from Kuala Besut

Traffic light junction near Besut town
Rolling into daybreak
The big country...

My Garmin EDGE800 GPS led my to the T3 coastal road. There are at least six villages before we hit a roundabout towards the Permaisuri junction.
After clocking-in about 15km, we pulled over at a roadside stall to have our breakfast. The only food we had was half a nutrition bar at the hotel prior to leaving.
Our water supply was enough to last us at least 30km before the next refill.

A hearty breakfast!

The last outing with my touring mitts... 

Michelle adjusting her saddle
Breakfast was cheap and excellent. Two plates of rice with chicken and two cups of tea costs RM7.50.
We observed as the villagers found us amusing. 
So far, the bikes have been working fine.
Except for some brake drag on the front wheel, everything was smooth.
When we reached the coastal route roundabout near Benting Lintang, we took a detour into a fishing village. 

The beach area near Benting Lintang

An estuary near the beach
Animal crossing
From Benting Lintang to Kampung Fikri, there's virtually nothing in-between. Just bare soil, lots of little lizards leaping into their dugout holes on the ground. From a distance, they looked like little dinosaurs. 
There are many of these little reptiles dotted along the way.
As the day became hotter, the 10:00am Sun was scorching over our heads.
Near Fikri, we pulled over a Caltex station to rehydrate.
After a good rest, we rode towards Kg Nyatoh, which is very near to Penarik.
I haven't been to this village since 1997 and much has changed in the area.

Taking a break in Fikri

Cycling along Kampung Mangkuk in Penarik
Expect the unexpected..

This stage of the ride was basically an "open book".
We made no reservations and left it pretty much to fate.
At 11:00am in the morning, the heat became unbearable. We took a break at some stalls and had a drink before riding out to Kg Mangkuk.
There's a chalet facility called "Penarik Inn" and I have stayed there before.
To our dismay, the place was in shambles. The inn operator wanted RM120 for an air-conditioned room, but we can only check-in after 02:00pm.
The other choice left, was Pandan Laut Resort, some 3km away in Kg Bari.

Feasting on fried seafood..

Fried fish

Sizable shrimps
I told Michelle that it was best for us to have lunch before moving on to the motel in Kg Bari.
We pulled over at a "sotong celup tepung" (squid fried in batter) stall along the way and ordered some food. 
A piece of squid costs RM12, while four piece of fried shrimp came at RM5. The cheapest fare, is the ikan kembung (Indian mackerel) at RM6 a piece.
Lunch was decent and also on the high side. The stalls here would charge RM30 for a few fried dishes.
After a good fill, we rode down towards Kg Bari and found the resort.
It's shaded under a treeline and is very well-maintained.
I asked it's owner Wan Najmudin if there were rooms available. He told me I could either get a RM50 A-hut for backpackers or the RM80 chalet with air-conditioning and hot shower.
I took option B and had two European backpackers as our neighbours.
After settling-in, Michelle went to work while I engaged in a conversation with Najmudin, the motel owner.
He said not many Malaysians would cycle as a couple along the route and bunk-in at his motel. 
I told him that it would be a shame for me to even claim I am a Malaysian if I have never seen the country -- especially a beautiful place like Penarik.
Najmudin told me that he started dabbling into the hospitality industry from scratch after getting married and things are certainly picking up for the young man.
He also shared a little bit of the area's history.
"My late grandfather was a pioneer at Kg Bari, he literally opened this area," he said.
The Pandan Laut Resort is commendable. It's clean and a real nice place to be. It's also an important staging point if you decide to ride along the East Coast on a tour.

The chalet

The Road Warriors 
Later in the day, we walked across the road to a stall serving coconut water. While I was ordering, someone in the crowd called out my name.
He was my contact in Kuala Terengganu and is employed with Media Prima. We engaged in a conversation and wished each other well.
When it was closer to the evening, we rode into Penarik to purchase some drinking water.

Cycling on an inner road along Penarik
With Simon and Pak Deny from Indonesia..
Nightfall in Penarik

More surprises! 

After capturing some video footage on my Canon EOS M, we rode across the road towards the Caltex station to get some drinking water. While the bikes were parked, I noticed two old Volkswagen combi vans. 
The outline of its driver looked very familiar. 
As soon as the guy alighted from his van, I yelled out his name.
He's Simon Chua, a freelance graphic designer and Volkswagen combi enthusiast.
"Eh Sam! What the fuck????", he said.
I can see Simon's face, he was surprised. Earlier, when I was paying for the drinking water, he spoke to Michelle.
Simon introduced me to his partner and Pak Deny, a Volkwagen enthusiast from Bandung, Indonesia.
They were fresh out from Thailand after a convoy to Songkhla.
After a decent conversation, we parted ways. 
It was time to get an early dinner and we made our way to a restaurant by the roadside.
We ordered a bowl of soup and a plate of fried rice which we shared.
Later, a group sat beside us and engaged in a conversation. They told us that they were on their way to Pulau Redang.
I can see the two couples feasting on plenty of dishes and since they drove in on a 5-series BMW, I think the shop owner will be doing some brisk business.
After the meal, we excused ourselves and rode back to the motel.
There's some chores to do, the devices needed to be charged and we kept in touch with the world with our mobile phones. The data lines in this part of the country was really bad. But it'll have to do.
Kuala Terengganu is next and we had to hit the sack early to take advantage of the cool air in the morning the following day...
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