Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Its a joy to have my buddy Chris and his missus here with me on their holidays. Needless to say, they are ardent cyclists and it was a natural thing to do for all 4 of us to cycle to church yesterday. The only person who didn't seem too happy was my son Jem as he cycles to school everyday, and had to cycle again, on Sunday. Well, certainly not a case of "like father like son" here.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
It has become a bad habit for me to bring along a foldie when I travel and the destination this time is Putrajaya, the government city of Malaysia 40km south of KL. The missus' purpose was a World Health Organisation meeting while mine was equally important - exploring the marvel of modern Islamic architecture and its surroundings. My foldie of choice was the stick Carry Me, which rode snugly in my hatchback for the 320km drive up from Singapore.
The luxurious Marriott Putrajaya was our base for 2 nights and it turned out that the hotel was flooded with police and security personnel due to the presence of many Health Ministers from all over the world staying there as well. Outside the hotel, around 30-40 motorcycle outriders were parked neatly ready to escort the VIPs for their meetings.
It must have been a strange sight for them to see me, this "Minister" of folding bikes there unfurling my CM in the posh lobby ready to do my morning ride. Unfortunately, the area where I was isn't exactly bike friendly as it was surrounded by superhighways so it was to be a very brief morning ride, disappointingly, around the hotel. This was confirmed earlier by the concierge who said, "Here, very hard to ride la. All highways!"
Nevertheless, I took a 30min courtesy shuttle bus to KLCC, where the famous Petronas Twin Towers is. This used to be the tallest structure in the world a few years ago and still commands an impressive sight. It was great to catch up on my shopping and to show my Japanese friends T & R around.
Lunch was at Little Penang Cafe, which never fails to draw a long queue at noon. But the wait was worth it. We had signature Penang dishes - Hokkien Prawn Mee, Lobak, Kuey Pie Tee and finished off with Chendol. Delicious!
Training back to Putrajaya was a 2 step process on the very efficient metro. KLCC to KL Sentral, 5 stops away, for a fare of US50 cents and the KLIA Express Train to Putrajaya at US$3 only. Amazing! I was especially impressed with the latter train as it was fast, spacious (can take regular bikes easy), clean and supremely comfortable. Highly recommended indeed in light of the massive traffic jams everywhere.
What blew me away however was the courtesy night tour of Putrajaya where the Marriott arranged for us. Putrajaya is the Canberra equivalent of Australia. Where it differs are the many glitzy and huge buildings of Islamic-Mogul architecture,
strategically located around various parts of the man-made Putrajaya Lake all connected together by wide boulevards and 5 distinctly designed bridges.
It was really a sight to behold as we marvel at the impressiveness of this metropolis. Just the Prime Minister's Office Building, Perdana Putra, would be more than adequate for any King and anyone who has the privilege to be invited there would be left gaping at its opulence.
I suppose cycling around Putrajaya itself would be possible and quite fun if you can get yourself there by getting dropped off somehow but the lack of trees and shade would make it most unsuitable and uncomfortable in the scorching heat of the mid-day sun.
Perhaps if I come by here again, it would be a great night ride destination that deserves a more detailed exploration, preferably on a foldie.
Monday, October 4, 2010
The heat and humidity in Singapore are absolutely 2 unbearable liabilities in this beautiful country. It limits cycling to early mornings or late evenings. But what happens when you have to cycle mid-day? I had to go to the Polyclinic today to X-Ray my fractured finger and it was going to be a long drawn day with endless patient queues I'm told. I was mentally prepared for that and armed myself with a LP guidebook on Lao and my trusty MP3. What remained was how to cycle there without breaking a sweat.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Nothing to do with male body fluids
but a brand of cement named, "3 circles or rings"
There are so many places in the world to explore and so little time to see them all. Therefore, it is rare for me to re-visit a place unless it is exceptional.
Bintan qualifies. The roads are quiet enough but are sufficiently challenging with "nice" hills, breath-taking rides along Trikora Beach sleepy fishing villages, abundance of value for money resorts and of course, great seafood. No wonder Jan Boonstra considers Bintan one of his favourite Riau island to explore on a bike.
6 of us went this time for a 2 night 3 day sojourn. Mike, Kevin and I the old birds with TW, Steven and Joshua - newbies who bravely joined us. I was told the video on our last trip had some influence. It was a classic case of never believing everything you see on the internet as they found out later. Struggling through some of the tough climbs, they wondered what they got themselves into but we were delighted they came along to share the joys and pain! Bintan is certainly not your usual Park Connector excursion.
Our ride to Ocean Bay Resort started normally until 1 hour into the journey, a thunderstorm came without warning and soaked us thoroughly.
Getting cooled that way after being baked by the sun was a blessing and we strangely enjoyed it. Our support vehicle told us of a brand new short cut which we foolishly agreed to try only to discover the punishing hills that laid in ambush for us. Yes, it was shorter distance wise but it winded us and by the time we reached the coastal road of Trikora, our tongues were hanging and legs soft like tofu, in addition to getting drenched by the monsoon.
The kelong itself is quite big and riding around the long and narrow corridors instead of walking was thrilling and a tad scary.
We enjoyed sitting around talking (mainly about foldies, what else?) and watching the sun set and the stars appearing one by one. Kevin took out his i-Pad and we had fun identifying each star.
Being out in the sea on stilts and enjoying the cool evening breezes with new found friends, while admiring our foldies, must truly be one life's greatest pleasures.
On the second day, we headed out to Tanjong Pinang, the capital city of Bintan for some good Nasi Padang and spa. It was a 70km round trip but worth it as we ate the most delicious local fare (17 course lunch), saw the impressive morning catch of the returning fishing fleet
and felt the kneading of skilled and healing hands on our tired legs. It was also exhilarating to cycle back pitch dark in the night.
The return ride proved to be enjoyable in the morning but most torturing when noon came. It must have hit 35c and we were glad we took the long way back, avoiding those cruel hills of the new shortcut. Still, it was tough work and at one stage, I was so overheated I had to pour cold water on my helmet. No wonder the Tour de Bintan attracts so many racers each year for its challenging route! On the flats, we drafted each other and this is easier with foldies as our smaller wheels enabled us to stay closer. 28-32km/h was achieved without too much effort.
It was a real joy to cover the 200km distance on my Bike Friday Tikit save for one stage while I was flying at 40km/h downhill and the road disintegrated into loose gravel.
That caught me by surprise and the small 16" front wheel went into a deadly weave! I turned pale white and mustered whatever little skill I had to stabilise the bike. Call it sheer good luck or I believe is divine intervention, I lived to tell the tale unscathed! Moments like these remind me clearly of God's graciousness, protection and amazing love for all of us*.
*He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they'll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. Psalm 91:11,12