Day Five: Back to Some Serious Cycling. Batu Pahat to Pontian Kechil

Yesterday had been routine, today was anything but.  The day started with ominous clouds overhead:Image

Sure enough, a few minutes after we had started cycling, it began to rain. We each had rain jackets strapped to the back of our seats, so we stopped and put them on.  The rain stopped immediately, providing more evidence for the belief that it never rains when you have protection.  But now we were cycling in our rain jackets, and it was unbearably hot inside. So we took them off, an in five minutes, the heavens opened up with a fury.  We rushed into a neighboring tea shop for shelter.

I called my mother from the tea shop, to see how my nearly hundred year old grandmother was doing.  She had been admitted to the ICU two days ago with severe breathing problems..  I learned that she had passed away during the night.  Not that this was unexpected, but my grandmother and I had bonded from when I was a baby (she had played mother to me when my own mother and father had to travel out of the country, and had continued to do so for the rest of her life), and this was a serious downer. But there was nothing I could do, the funeral was today itself, and I certainly couldn’t get to Chennai by the evening.  I was glad we had over seventy miles to cycle: there is nothing like serious exercise to blunt life’s hammers.

The beginning part of the ride today had some serious hills.  But it stabilized soon, and the road, while not exactly flat, was only gently undulating. The scenery went back to being breathtaking. Particularly near the hills that appeared at the beginning.  Is there a rule that nature appears at its prettiest precisely where it is hardest to traverse?

It continued to rain throughout the day, but the rain was not as heavy as it was in the morning, and we simply rode in the rain. Riding in the rain is actually very enjoyable, since the rain bring the temperature down to a balmy level, and the humidity is mitigated  by the fact that you generate a wind by simply riding through the air.  But especially because I do not have fenders (mud-guards) on my bike, much of my effects, like my fanny pack, the panniers, the bike itself, beams quite dirty.

Along the way, we met this lovely young couple from Korea, who were touring the world on their bicycles.  They are engineers, one with Samsung and the other with Hyundai, who had decided to chuck their jobs, sell their house, and go riding.  They had bicycled through Australia, from Melbourne to Cairns, and then flown to Singapore a couple of days ago, from where they were cycling through Malaysia,Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and China.  They hope to ride through every continent before they put away their bikes.  Here they are, with Partha:

Image

Pontiang Kechil, our destination, was supposed to be slightly over seventy kilometers from where we started in Batu Pahat, but by the time we checked into our hotel, we had covered eighty kilometers.  Pontiang Kechil, at least by the ocean, where we are staying, is a very pretty town. It has a lovely promenade by the ocean, with some fine government buildings along it.

Much of the day for me, while not riding, was spent connecting with people regarding my grandmother’s passing away: my brother, my wife, my aunt who traveled with me to Singapore, her hosts in Singapore, and others.

We leave tomorrow for Johor Bahru, which is just across the strait from Singapore.  We have a sixty kilometer run.  I am worried about the noise from Partha’s bottom bracket (where the pedals pass through). If the crank freezes, we are in big trouble.  But if we make it to Johor Bahru, we are safe.

I leave you with some pictures from the day’s ride:

ImageThis mountain accompanied us during the first quarter of the trip.

Image

One of the many rivers, or Sungais as they are known in Malay, that we crossed, especially as we got closer to Pontian Kechil.

(Network problems, am forced to stop here. Had three more pictures that I’d wanted to upload.)

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