Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thailand to Singapore, via East Coast of Malaysia, Ride: Day 9

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

         (Louis Armstrong)

Journal entry

'Woke up to 2 sore knees this morning. Silently cursed myself for further abusing them by squatting down last night. 'Really wanted to sleep in for today instead of riding under the hot sun. 'Decided that today would be a rest day. After 514 km, I deserve it. 'Took 500 mg of enteric-coated aspirin, 1000 mg of paracetamol, and applied Voltaren Emulgel.

I then went through the morning luxuriating under the comforter, making breakfast, and even managing to fix the balcony lock. Dang, I should ask for a rebate. At 11 AM, my knees started feeling much better. The decision to ride or not ride, went up for reconsideration. I checked out the map: no hills, and Nenasi seemed like a reasonable ride. I re-evaluated the condition of my body and decided to go for it.

Thumbs up.

Having set off at 12:16 PM, my knees felt better as the day progressed; I was careful not to over-spin or mash the pedals. It was a curious balancing act between my Achilles tendons — I sometimes point my toes — and the calf muscles. Generally, I cruised along between 20 to 22 km/h (12.5 mph to 13.75 mph). Occasionally hitting extended spurts of 24 km/h to 26 km/h (15 mph to 16.25 mph) upon consuming a 100 Plus, Milo, or pack of chocolate milk from the many ubiquitous Malay village sundry stores which line the highway.

A museum in Pekan.

For Mini-mes?

Junk food.

Though I already had lunch — mee goreng bungkus (take-out) from last night — I knew it was impossible for me to over-eat while touring. Then, I smelled Indian curry. I thought I was dreaming. South of Pekan has an Indian community. I rode into the Indian town of Taman Nathan and got myself a large (4 bowls) heap of rice, curry mutton, chicken curry, and vegetables.

276 km (172.5 miles) to Johor Bahru.

Temperature  38.9° C

'Fueled and ready to go, with a planned easy day ahead, I slowly chugged along at 21 km/h (13 mph) while digesting food. This part of Highway 3 is nice because it runs so close to the sea. but that also means stiff headwinds if one is heading the wrong way. And I was heading the wrong way.

Discovered a delicious irony: during the first few days of the tour, I had the engine to run / perform but fuel (food) was sorely lacking or insufficient. For the last 2 days, the situation reversed: I have all the food I want / need but the engine seems to be breaking down. Isn't touring fun?

'Battled headwinds for 2 hours. Although the constant wind cools one down, it can also get rather discouraging when one is pedaling with the effort to reach 26 km/h (16.25 mph) — with a 45 kg (99 lb) bike loaded with panniers, and the aerodynamic efficiency of a brick — but the speedometer only registers 16 km/h (10 mph).

Tutti Frutti Summer Love

Looking north.

Looking south.

No more sunburn, but sun blisters.

Just before Nenasi, I found a flattened and cracked spoon on the road.

Ever since Eddy Woogy dubbed me a fellow stirrer (i.e. individuals who love to stir sh*t up), I have been quietly searching for my personal spoon. I believe I've found it.

'Rode into Nenasi. The village is now a town. There is even a Chinese community here now. 'Spotted a sign, "Nenasi Chalet," and followed it. Unlike Nenasi Motel, which lies beside Highway 3, on the river bank, beside the bridge, it is situated away from town — and 25 yards from the beach. At RM70, it can't get better than that.

A big room all to myself, and attached bathroom and air-conditioning. The lights in the room don't work. The manager and I spent some time swapping florescent tubes and starters but it didn't help. I speculated it could be the ballast then.

Another traveler, Robert, who rented the chalet next door, opined that it could very well be due to the dodgy electricity supply — it sometimes dips to 190 volts.

Robert is a fishing enthusiast and managed to combine a business trip with a fishing expedition this time round. With accommodation sorted out — the bathroom light works, the main room lights don;t, but hey, why did I lug around torch lights and headlights for? — and time to burn, I accepted Robert's invitation to ride with him and the chalet manager. The latter was going to show him the good fishing spots for Haruan (Channa striata), a type of freshwater fish (Toman), around the area.

When he headed up north and then back, at 100+ km/h, it was as if I was reliving the last few hours' ride in fast forward. Surreal.

One spot was of particular note: it is impassable in all but the driest seasons, as the river inundates the clayey mud. This time though, we walked on hard red clay and dust. A pair of wild boars fled at our approach. 'Didn't get any pictures as the camera was too slow. Then, a herd of water buffaloes swam up the river, and sloshed through the mud.

After that, Robert kindly dropped me off at the sundry shop back in town. A photo and video opportunity presented itself at Nenasi beach; followed by dinner in the Chinese quarter, and then a quiet walk under under the stars back to the chalet.

This has been a good day. It would have been such a shame to have missed out on today's experiences and encounters had I persisted with my decision to stay in bed at Indrapura Resort for another day.

11:45 PM. Time to turn in.


Cateye AT-100
Elevation climbed  60 feet (18.3 m)
2 hours 47 minutes 7 seconds
Average speed  11.7 mph (18.7 km/h)
Maximum speed  16 mph (25.6 km/h)
Distance  32.6 miles (52.2 km)
Temperature  94° - 102° F (34.4° - 38.9° C)

Cateye Velo 5
Distance  52.58 km (32.86 miles)
Maximum speed  25.8 km/h
Cumulative distance  567 km (354.4 miles)

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