If you recall, we had stayed last night in Melaka, and pooped from eighty five kilometers of relentless hill climbing, we had decided to take it easy and spend the day sight-seeing in Melaka. Well, all very well intentioned, but when Partha brought out his gizmo this morning and started to pore over Google maps, we realized that it is longer to Singapore than we’d originally thought. We discovered that if we did not ride today, then we would be cutting things rather fine vis-a-vis my 31st flight out of Singapore, without any spare time built in for emergencies. So, ignoring screaming protestations from our leg muscles, we scratched that plan, and decided we would ride out to Muar, a little over fifty kilometers down the coast. With a small detour into Melaka just to ride around the sites so that we wouldn’t feel guilty about being right there and not seeing it. Well, with that small detour, plus with other things we did, we ended up riding nearly eighty kilometers today. A very enjoyable and almost relaxed ride, especially towards the end. We are now in a seedy hotel in Muar.
Our first two hotels were far from seedy. The first night in Seremban was in a standard 4-star type hotel (where the water wasn’t hot enough to relax our muscles), but I do need to put in a strong plug for the hotel we stayed in last night in Melaka. Hotel is not the right word, perhaps bed and breakfast is better. Partha, who is an avid golfer noticed on his gizmo that there is a golf course in Melaka called the Ayer Keroh Country Club, which has a hotel attached. He was quite keen on staying there, given his golfing inclinations, and we both felt that anything on a golf course has to be pretty decent. It turned out to be a small cozy place, settled right by the edge of a fabulous green. Run by the wife of the golf pro, herself a capable golfer. She turned out to be a very warm and caring person, who went out of the way to make us comfortable. She was Korean, and had just bought the hotel about six months ago, and in fact, had only come to Malaysia about a year and a half ago. Learning that we were vegetarian, she took great pains to make sure that we got food that we could eat, and boy was it good! In the morning, she helped us with our bicycles, and gave us water bottles to take with us. Partha and she had a lot of golf to talk about, here they are, against the backdrop of the course:
The country club was situated about fifteen kilometers from the coast, and the road from there to the coast had a very pleasant surprise for us: there was a bahsikal lorong (or bicycle lane) most of the way! This was the first bicycle lane we had seen so far. While traffic was not bad (this was not KL), we were pleased to be riding on it all the same.
Melaka was a bit of a disappointment, although, to be fair, we didn’t really hit the main drag, Jonker’s walk. But we got a decent flavor of the place. The water is very pretty. We decided to take a turn towards the beach at random, and found ourselves in the Portuguese settlement. There was this very clean looking building at the waters edge that was some sort of college, but which had sea-facing cannons on its property, and my guess is it was built where some sort of a fort stood at one time. Here is a picture:
We rode around a bit more, and then headed south on to Highway 5 towards Muar. The scenery along this route was very different from the past two days’—we were now on essentially flat country, and only a few kilometers from the coast. Dense vegetation once again, but of a different kind. The roadside was lush with mango, rambutan, bananas, coconut, and at one time I spotted some kind of red berry even. Here are some pictures, Partha figures in the first:
A mango tree that suddenly appeared when I wanted shade, we spent a pleasant ten minutes resting under it. I was very grateful to this tree.
Towards the end, during the last ten or so kilometers, we switched to a walking map, just as we had done yesterday, and rode through some really small roads that ran through some very pretty villages. The villages in Malaysia seem very prosperous, certainly in comparison with villages in India. The standards of development here are very high. And the infrastructure, even in tiny villages, is very good. The roads are wonderful, clearly graded, marked with even white edges and clear signage. We rode by many schools, all of which were in excellent physical condition, with sufficient grounds for kids to play in.
And as we rode through small villages, the scenery just got better, with more dense vegetation. At one point we even came across a whole herd of deer, I’m not sure what was up with that. Here are a couple of pictures:
When we entered Johor Province, we rode by this enormous and entirely whimsical statue, which of course pleased us bicyclistas tremendously: clearly, more of these will solve our energy problems worldwide. 🙂
Tomorrow should be to Batu Pahat.