Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thailand to Singapore, via East Coast of Malaysia, Ride: Day 7

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
         (Norman Cousins)

Journal entry

'Surprisingly, the noise from the street didn't bother me as much. Slept well and my left knee felt much better in the morning. There were some residual stiffness and soreness; I took 500 mg more of paracetamol and applied more Voltaren Emulgel for good measure.

There's breakfast! One of the perks of having Chinese in town, I suppose. Lor mai kai, char siew pao, and something I normally never eat due to its obscene fat content — siew mai. 'Set off at 12:20 PM. As I left, the receptionist at the River Garden Hotel commented that I looked so happy when I'm about to leave. I guess I'll always be a nomad.

Barely 27 minutes later, I decided to stop for lunch, just to fuel up in case there's no food later in the day. Chicken and char siew rice + a glass of ice-cold barley = RM5.10 (It proved to be a good call, but more about that later.)

Crossing from the state of Terengganu to Pahang.

The deterioration of road surface conditions after crossing over to Pahang is obvious.

"You are here."

Entrance to Club Med, Cherating Resort.

One of the perks of riding alone is that you don't have listen to vacuous, imbicilic morons yammering about how they can set their latest mobiles / cell phones to "vibrate" mode and use them as butt plugs.

Many of the long haul truckers recognize me by now and often give me a honk of encouragement as they pass.

Oil pipelines on the right.

Looking east, industrial railway leading to Kuantan port.

Looking west, oil pipeline snaking over railway line.

More waste natural gas being burnt off.

I know it's 98° F (36.7° C), but I'll pass.

37 km (23 miles) to Kuantan. The heavy breakfast and lunch provided fuel for the most climbing I've done in a day on this trip: 530 ft (161.6 m). 'Planned to take Highway 2, but a detour shunted me onto Highway 3. After a while, I found myself climbing and climbing.

A rare moment: wheeeee!

After more than an hour southbound, following my intuition — and compass — I ditched the main highway and took a country road eastwards.

The side road held a few hills as well. As I charged up a particular hill, this chubby Indian kid darted out, and ran beside me, yelling, "Ride! Ride! Ride!" patting me on my back until he ran out of breath. Did the Tour de Langkawi pass this way? Hmm...

It turned out (thankfully) to be the right call, I was 7 km (4.4 miles) from the city of Kuantan.

Upon hitting Kuantan, I wondered if I should push on and get out of town, or visit Teluk Cempedak, 3 km (1.9 miles) further east. Deciding that it would be worth a visit since my last visit was in 1993, on a ride with Ebnu and Francis, I went ahead.

'Checked in at TC Beach Hotel at 5 PM.

15 minutes later, a heavy tropical downpour, the first precipitation since 15th September 2008, soaked the place. Someone up there is looking out for me  :-D

Room rate RM128, but the nice receptionist let me have it for RM108  :-D


Shower time! Nothing like a nice showe... WTF? Hello Kitty???

'Went for a walk thereafter.

Yes, the McDonald's here sells porridge too.

So much has changed. The old market square still sits there, but there are now two large restaurants beside it, and preceding these, a 24-hour McDonald's and a 24-hour Kentucky Fried Chicken. And before all these, a large parking lot with automated gantries. It is amazing how many times one has to cross vast parking lots before taking in nature's wonders — and how people just seem to accept it.

If there's any holding on to the past (and tradition), I guess this is it. Locals might be jaded toward this, but I find intriguing.

Back to my room.

My knees and Achilles tendons are holding up. The same cannot be said of my butt, however. Prior to this, the longest ride I've ever taken the Sella Italia Turbo Lite saddle on my Bridgestone MB-3 was the 418 km (261.3 miles) Singapore-to-Kuantan ride in 1993. I recalled that my butt fared pretty well then. On this ride, however, after 429 km (268 miles), my butt gave up. Whilst showering, I discovered a nickel-sized (5-cent) hole on my right butt cheek, specifically where the ischium is located. I guess I don't have a titanium butt after all. Mine's made of steel. I.e. it rusts after 429 km. Long hours in the saddle, coupled with low body fat — I lost 4 kg (8.8 lb) in the first 4 days of this trip due to Ramadan and am now 60 kg (132 lb) — caused the skin between the ischium and the saddle to disintegrate. Hmm... Not much I can do about it apart from cleaning it with alcohol wipes, applying Neosporin™ antiseptic ointment, and hoping it doesn't get infected.

Since the city of Kuantan is roughly the halfway point, I wonder if the saddle will tear a hole in my other butt cheek when by the time I reach Singapore.


Nose and tips of ears getting terribly sunburnt. 'Wonder if there is stronger sunblock than SPF 30+ that is sweat / wipe / waterproof and yet lets the skin breathe.

'Had a surprise when I removed the lid of the airpot (electric kettle). A previous occupant apparently boiled coffee inside. Bleah! I guess it's true then. Some guests actually use the airpot to boil coffee, tea, or even cook instant noodles. Unbelievable.
-10:32 PM.


Cateye AT-100
Elevation climbed  530 feet (161.6 m)
3 hours 0 minute 13 seconds
Average speed  12.5 mph (20 km/h)
Maximum speed  23.6 mph (37.8 km/h)
Distance  37.6 miles (60.2 km)
Temperature  99° F (36.7° C)

Cateye Velo 5
Distance  60.62 km (37.89 miles)
Maximum speed  37.9 km/h
Cumulative distance  429 km (268.1 miles)

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