Categories: Tour diaries, Folding bicycles, Day trips, World
Locale: Asia, Malaysia, Negeri Johor, Pengerang
Keywords: Folding bicycles, seafood, bumboat, taxis, coffee shops
Copyright © 2007-2014 By
Last update: Tuesday August 7, 2007 02:31 (US/Pacific) (edited Tue 7 Aug 2007 02:38 (US/Pacific))
5,093 hits since July 25, 2007 (hitcounts updated nightly)
An adventure on 3 aluminium tubes, 2 small wheels and 1 fixed gear
Saturday May 19, 2007, 36 km (22 miles) - Total so far: 36 km (22 miles)
Maine, USA is the lobster capital of the world. To visit Maine and not sample this seafood delight is the greatest sin for any food lovers. The melt in your mouth, pure white, succulent flesh is indeed heaven on earth. A one-course lunch will set you back at US$50 and if you were to add the US$1300 airfare (economy class) from Singapore, it can be quite daunting.
Fortunately for us living in Singapore, there is a quiet town on the southern tip of Peninsula Malaysia offering lobsters albeit a smaller version. In the idyllic coastal town of Sungei Rengit, a 6-course lunch with fresh, steamed lobster could be had for a princely sum of about US$8 per person. It is easily accessible by bumboat from Changi and an hour's ride by bicycle.
The Strida riders got together one Saturday morning for the most important mission of sampling the famous Sungei Rengit lobsters.
Of course this was the perfect occasion to catch some wind in the face, soak in Vitamin D and get an enjoyable workout on our beloved triangles on wheels. 11 Stridians and 3 friends (yes, we are an accommodating bunch) started bright and early in perfect sunny weather.
With so many interesting and friendly people from all walks of life to chat with, the Malaysian coastline appeared in no time. Clearing customs at Pengerang Jetty was a breeze. We soon were gliding along at 17kmh on the quiet coastal road, passing some historical WW2 machine gun bunkers covered in thick undergrowth.
They were built by the British to defend against the rag-tag Japanese Imperial Army who came down north on bicycles 60 plus years ago.
Our scenic ride hugged the coast and we gave up counting the hundreds of ships scattered in the horizon. Singapore is reputed to be the world's busiest port and this was played out before our eyes.
The 14 of us whizzing by in one neat line got the village children excited and we exchanged friendly 'hellos' and smiles. A tall white concrete building with noisy chirping birds inside stopped us on our tracks. This turned out to be a bird's nest manufacturing center where Swallows would build their nests only to have it taken away and sold for a handsome profit. This Chinese delicacy of bird secretions is supposed to offer health benefits.
We soon reached Kampong Jawa Laut. Our gang of triangle bicycles arriving in the 'one horse/cow' town was probably the highlight of the day. The coffee shop we chose was thrilled at our patronage and the owner, Ah Jiang, took the Strida for a test ride and gave it a thumb's up. He was intrigued by its belt drive and had never seen a Strida before. He was delighted to make our acquaintance and we learnt that his father 'Ah Chiew' handed over his shop to him, hence its name, 'Kedai Kopi Ah Chiew' out of respect for the founder.
The easy country road was beautiful with wild grass taller than us on both sides. It was a magical experience to slice quietly though the cool wind in the morning on a clear blue sky with not a care in the world.
Our tranquility was abruptly punctured when one of our bikes suffered a flat front wheel. Fortunately, the Strida with its one-fork design made replacing the tube a 'ride in the park'.
We came across a deserted wooden jetty that was fodder for the shutterbugs. First it was the ladies turn to pose, then Strida boss and all sorts of creative angles were exploited. More shots were taken at a very colorful Chinese temple with a sign prohibiting bicycles on its grounds. This was respectfully ignored.
As it was approaching noon, we picked up the pace towards the reason for our mission. Hunger is a powerful motivator and our triangles could sit on 20kmh quite easily. As with all hot-blooded males, there soon developed a race between Oldy, Minkhunk, Steven and Richard. The one speed wonder going at spin cycles like that of an angry washing machine could reach a respectable 28kmh! The testosterone charged team soon pulled away from the pack like the final sprint of an exciting Tour de France finish.
The well-earned lunch at Good Luck Restaurant did not disappoint. Fried rice, mee goreng, special braised tofu, lemon chicken, sambal kangkong, and of course, 3 kg of lobster fried with butter and garlic - more than satisfied us.
Washed down with fresh coconut juice and plenty of cold drinks, everyone seemed pleased as punch. A closer inspection of the bill revealed that the cost of the lobsters was nearly 2/3rds of the total bill but the taste was worth every dollar. The price of our extravagant indulgence was a mere US$10 with drinks!
The more energetic ones cycled the 17km back to the jetty while the 'smarter' ones hired taxis. Initially, the 2 taxi drivers were skeptical about taking 7 bicycles but the folded Stridas fitted snugly into the 1980 Toyota Crown's boot much to the amazement of the taxi uncles. Needless to say, those who rode ended up burnt, looking as red as lobsters but feeling very accomplished indeed!
While our Stridas cannot bring us to Maine for lobsters, it can certainly take us to Sungei Rengit comfortably and with so much fun. Lobsters on triangles again, anyone?
Carry Me to Sungei Rengit ...
Saturday August 4, 2007, 40 km (25 miles) - Total so far: 76 km (47 miles)
The Strida Bike club did another ride for lobsters, again.
But this time, I downsized from a 16" wheeled bike to an 8" one called the Carry Me. Its an eccentric commuter bike that folds really compact but rides surprisingly well.
What is nice about the CM is that it has a rear and front rack. My Topeak MTX trunk bag fitted beautifully.
The Carry Me cruises easily at 20kmh and could sprint up to an impressive 31kmh on the flat, zero-traffic road!
We stayed at a brand new hotel for US$28 per night. My room had a sea view, aircon, TV, ensuite and three beds. What a deal!
After checking in, we wasted no time exploring the small town. Some of the ladies had their hair washed and blow dried plus scalp massaged for US$2.50!
Heaps of small stalls selling all sorts of great food and snacks. Obviously lobsters are the main attraction here - as evidenced by this huge lobster monument put up recently.
Back to the Carry Me, its quirky tiny wheels attacted a lot of curious stares as it resembles a kid's bike.
But don't under-estimate it, the Carry Me is more than capable of a quick getaway weekend ride, luggage in tow!
I have a feeling we will be back to Sungei Rengit more sooner than later.
|"Lobsters on Triangles - a ride to Sungei Rengit, Malaysia" Copyright © 2007-2014 By
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