Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Penang - Part 1

Been a while since...

Taking an LRT ride from Subang Jaya to KL Sentral
I haven't been cycling much except for commuting to work and a recent tour to the Riau archipelago in Indonesia.
There was much talk about the Penang round-island ride and I thought it was kinda cool to do a bikepacking trip to the North. 
I've taken the ETS service to as far as Taiping in Perak and was rather curious about the Northern line service to Butterworth near Penang.
Checked out the KTMB e-service website and found ample seats for a train to Butterworth and went on booking a return passage.
I also booked a hotel in Georgetown for this purpose.

The mission...

Two things came into mind on the Penang trip. First, was to catch up with my mentor Mr Khor Chau Meng who retired on the island.
Except for keeping in touch via Google Hangouts, I haven't met the man for years. We made arrangements to meet up in Penang and I'd certainly looked forward to catch up with my old friend.
The other agenda on the list was to lead my friend Mr Johnny Ng on an eating spree. I promised him a visit to Hai Boey, a seafood restaurant in Gertak Sanggul near Teluk Kumbar. He was rather upbeat about this and I guess it was my duty to make it happen.

The journey...

My train leaves Kuala Lumpur at 10:30am from KL Sentral. The ETS service is an express line to Butterworth. This means fewer stops along the way.
To get things going, I have to leave home as early as 09:00am via the Kelana Jaya LRT line towards the KL Sentral station.

Parting with the kidz is such a hard thing.. 

Leaving the comfort of home while my other half went for her archery practise

My trusty steed
It takes about 45-minutes to get from my home to the train station. I lugged the bike onto the platform and waited to board the ETS service.
While waiting, I saw a white dude with a touring bike. He seemed to look a bit lost, and as the gate opened, the guy melted away into the crowd.

The touring dude at the train station...
I found my seat at coach E on the ETS. There weren't room to fit in the folded and bagged bike, so, I lashed the bike's carry-on cover strap on a railing next to the coach's toilet. My seat was close to the door and I can keep an eye on my bike.
The journey takes about four hours.

A view of the LRT depot in Kelana Jaya

At platform B, awaiting departure
The North-bound ETS coach was packed to the brim
Seated opposite me was a Punjabi couple. An elderly man, whom I discovered later was a cop and his wife was traveling to Gelogur in Penang.
We carried on with a conversation and seem that the lady who was accompanying the policeman was pretty pleasant.
To overcome boredom, I plugged in into my earphones and listened to some music on my smartphone.

The minimalist set-up
For this trip, I packed as light as possible. One spare change of shirt, my bike tools and recovery gear, a personal first-aid kit topped my packing list.
I packed a couple of food bars for this journey. The food offered by the catering coach sucks big time.
With the hours gone, we finally arrived at the Butterworth train station. There is a link to the ferry terminal bound for Georgetown.
I wished the Punjabi couple safe travels before heading off to the ferry terminal. It was a case of lugging the bike and gear for one kilometer...

The ETS train in Butterworth
Arrived safely at my destination
The packed ferry

Nostalgic: the ferry service connects people from the mainland to the island...

Penang-bound: the mainland seen from the ferry

It takes about 20-minutes to get from Butterworth to Penang.
The gloomy weather really made the journey miserable. But I was rather upbeat about riding in Georgetown.
As soon as the ferry berthed at Weld Quay, I took out my bike and deployed it. My next destination was Carnavon Road where the Armenian Heritage Hotel is located...

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