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to Kijal (Southern Terengganu)
rainy ride! But no one is complaining because the rain clouds hide the burning
sun and anyway pedaling in the warm rain here is quite fun. Riding a bike makes
me feel like a kid again, and especially on a day like today. The Malaysian
children were out riding their bikes in the downpour, soaked to the skin like we
were, and having a great time.
had another special welcome which occurred at about 40 km. out, at 10:00 a.m.
Many officials were there to welcome us to their state, the state of Terengganu,
and to encourage us to come back some day when we can stay longer. The rain came
down in buckets during the program, but luckily tent shelters had been set up
and there was a loudspeaker system which someone adjusted so that we could hear
over the rain. The Terenggau officials and Tim of TK&A sat under one tent
and we sat under another across the street and facing them. In between were the
rain and many photographers who scurried about under big umbrellas. We were
offered fresh orange juice, sambousas and other savory snacks. I think the only
other country to have given us such a warm welcome was South Africa.
ride was along the beach and past coconut tree farms. The trees are loaded with
coconuts of varying sizes which makes me wonder if they produce all year. There
are many things here that I donít know a thing about! Coconut palms, making
charcoal, and turning rubber tree sap into mats to be sold are only a few of my
questions but I have no one to ask.
one stretch of beach today there were a series of shops all selling the same
fishy things like dried squid and shrimp. Other shops sold baskets or batiks.
Joan and I cycled past every one of them, but not Shopper Bill! He couldnít
resist the baskets. Now he needs a post office.
was at 100 km. and there we could get into a bus if we wanted. It was thought
that because of the delay caused by the welcoming program many of us would not
be able to complete the more than 100 mile ride before dark. The bus ride was
offered as a way to encourage some of us to tarry and attend the program. It
worked. Enough of us were there to make a good showing. Most of the serious
riders though gave the ceremony a miss. The only EFI rider I saw there was Bill
Bliss. Joan and I might be slow but weíre not stupid, of course we got into
the bus! The busís AC was too cold for us in our soaking wet state, but I
distracted myself with lunch and then took a nap once the bus was underway.
awoke to discover that we had been delivered to paradise, the Awana Kijal Beach
Hotel. Wow! It has a gorgeous setting on the beach and among other amenities, 18
holes of golf. I donít play but I sure liked the view of the golf course,
palms, beach and China Sea from my room! It has an enormous swimming pool which
includes a waterfall and just one minute away is the beautiful sandy beach
complete with palm trees, the perfect place to collapse for a couple of days
while someone brings food and drink. In fact it is so perfect that some
riders chose to do that.
have been warmly received in Malaysia and treated like celebrities. Each dayís
ride is a long parade. There have been welcoming speeches, dancers and musical
performances. On the way to dinner we were again feted. We had to walk up a
grand staircase to get to the ballroom for dinner. At the bottom of the stairs
drummers beat out a rhythm. Beautiful ladies standing on the stairs sprinkled us
with a mixture of special herbs and flowers. This is the life!
Kijal to Kuantan
it rains, it pours! This is the monsoon season which means rain, lots of rain.
Malaysia enjoys a perpetual summer, the only variations being the wet and dry
seasons. The annual rainfall is 200 cm., half of which has fallen during our
visit I suspect. There was a storm at bedtime, thunder, lightning and rain and
the rain continued all night. We had our windows open again so that we could
hear the waves and enjoy the fresh air. Of course we also heard the rain. At
7:00 a.m. when it was time to go it was still raining very hard, so Joan and I
decided to wait awhile to see if the storm would ease, as did many others. We
had only 100 km. to ride and we couldnít check-in until 3:00 anyway so we
thought it would be better to do the waiting at the beginning of the day while
we were still dry. To pass the time, we watched TV, I fell asleep and Joan went
shopping. At 10:00 the rain has lessened so we started our ride.
scenery was basically rural, coconut palm trees were apparently the major crop,
but from the fruit stands alongside the road, it was obvious that there are
other fruit trees and fruits under cultivation as well. We saw not only
coconuts, but small watermelons, bananas, rambutans, star fruits, lychees, and
durians which we could smell before we could see them, for sale. Rambutans and
lychees are related and look somewhat alike once peeled, and taste similar too.
The hairy rambutan though is bright red with long whiskers growing out all over
it, described by Tim of TK&A as a Ďhairy strawberryí. The lychee is a
nondescript dull brown before peeling. The durian is a peculiar fruit in that it
has a strong odor that borders on the offensive, it is so obnoxious that there
were signs at the hotelís elevators stating that no durians could be brought
into the hotel. Apparently though, they taste better than they smell, for they
are the most expensive of Asian fruits. It is said that the durian is delicious
when fixed with sticky rice and coconut milk.
oil refineries could be seen from the road and some other industrial complexes
as well. Although many people here speak English the signs identifying buildings
and such are rarely also in English. They are sometimes in Arabic though as well
is an Islamic country which would help explain why some signs are also in
Arabic. An official or two has greeted us in Arabic which was then translated
into English by an interpreter. We have seen a dozen or more large mosques, but
they are not nearly as frequent as they were in Saudi Arabia where the intention
was to have so many that no one would ever be out of the range of the prayer
call. It appears that the Muslim women fare better here, they can work, drive
motorcycles and automobiles, and wear colorful scarves and clothing rather than
the all black worn by the women of Saudi Arabia. Other religions are tolerated
here which may help to explain how it is that the peoples of three diverse
cultures; Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian can live together harmoniously.
Americaís influence can be seen here in the fast food industry. I have seen Seven-Eleven, A & W and Kentucky Fried Chicken. We stopped for a treat at an A & W. I had a large double float and an order of onion rings. Yes!
only other significant stop was at the Cherating Pahang Turtle Sanctuary. The
sanctuary works to educate the public on the need to protect the turtles and to
carry out a hatching program. They have a protected beach area from which they
collect all the eggs laid by the female turtles, incubate them, and then return
the hatchlings to the sea. They have released about 200,000 turtles since the
Sanctuary was established. We enjoyed the opportunity to see several live
turtles kept in pools there and watched them eat cut-up small fish. We learned
that there are seven species of marine turtles in the world, and of those, four
species land and lay their eggs on Malaysian beaches. The turtles kept for show
at the sanctuary were the Green Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle and the Painted
Terrapin. The Painted Terrapin is usually found living in river mouths. It is
one of the species on the verge of extinction.
nearly escaped serious rain but in the last 5 km. the skies opened and another
downpour began. We were soaked in a minute. But the hotel was near and the rooms
were ready. At dinner there were music and dancers and speeches. Karen Ann stood
in for Tim and accepted a gift and made a speech. Each of us was given a
baseball cap with Malaysia and Pahong, the name of this state embroidered on it.
have only 3 days remaining before many leave in Singapore. People are busy
exchanging addresses and promising to get together to do another ride some day.
One rider said he didnít want to quit but now that he is used to the idea he
canít wait to leave and get home. Hopefully all those who leave us in
Singapore will find it as easy to accept and do.
Kuantan to Kuala Rompin
but true, it was not raining when we left the Vistana Hotel. We were able to
enjoy the early morning hour and watch the sun come up and try to shine through
the clouds. It didnít succeed but it did make the clouds and the South China
Sea look shiny and beautiful. We cycled past a group of contented cows who were
lounging on the beach enjoying the early morning light as well.
was an easy ride, coconut palms all the way. If it wasnít for the monsoon
rains, Malaysia would be the best cycling weíve had, or at least the easiest.
The roads for the most part are smooth, there is usually a shoulder, there is
very little honking, and the drivers allow space for us.
finally realized that this month is Ramadan which explains why the children arenít
in school. Since Malaysia is an Islamic country the schools are closed for the
entire month. No separation of church and state here, there is even the symbol
of Islam, the sliver of a moon, on the flag.
had a surprise at the end of the day. A Checkpoint sign stood on the highway
some kilometers earlier than it should have and police were positioned there to
flag us down if we should not see the sign and miss the turn. What was this, we
asked each other. We found ourselves at a grand new hotel, Somerset Resort,
which hadnít opened yet but was pressed into service for us. But not all of
us. I was one of the ones who had to put my luggage back on the truck and then
cycle the 11 or 12 km. to the original destination, the Landjut Golden Beach
Resort. I thought I might get there before the luggage did so I took from my
suitcase the things I would need for a shower. I did beat the luggage truck of
course, by an hour at least but there were no towels available. I waited an hour
and a half and then used a pillowcase for a towel. It made a very poor one. When
the towels did arrive they were brand new, and would not absorb a drop of water.
I waited and waited for the shuttle bus to dinner back at the Somerset Resort
Hotel. After dinner there was the inevitable wait for a return shuttle. Some
people were being eaten alive by mosquitoes but I wasnít bitten. Actually,
contrary to what most of us expected, there have been very few insect problems
this year. I donít remember having any. Some people had ants eat holes through
the floor of their tents and some have been bitten by mosquitoes. One person at
least had to have a tick removed but she didnít suffer any ill effects. Then
of course there was the killer bee attack.
of our fast riders, the ones who always come in early, had ridden to the Lanjut
Golden Beach Resort as directed on the DRG and waited for TK&A to arrive and
make room assignments. Jim Higbee was one, Trueheart of course, and Walty and
Ann among others. Eventually they began to wonder why no other riders had
arrived. I guess they rode back the way they had come, looking for other riders
and found the Checkpoint sign. They had ridden past that point before the sign
was in place and had no idea that there had been a last minute change of plan.
The lucky ones were assigned rooms in the Somerset Hotel, but Walty and Ann for
two, had to ride their bikes back to the Lanjut Golden Beach Resort which meant
they had ridden an additional 36 km. that day. They are strong riders and could
do the extra miles easily, but when you think you have finished and are
anticipating a shower and dry clothes it is annoying to have extra miles to
ride, even if they are easy.
Odyssey Riders and Staff
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