Last Friday, 26 Feb. 2010, five intrepid members of Laksamana Cycle Club decided to test their endurance and took up the challenge to ride to Betong. The distance was roughly 200km to and fro. The ride started at 6.30am. Went via the Butterworth-Kulim Highway. After the Inokom assembly plant, the road was narrow and the traffic was fast. Quite a dangerous stretch. Have to keep your concentration.
After the 40th km, some riders were starting to feel the effects of the ride.Stopped at Baling for lunch around 12.30pm. After Baling, the "real" challenge started. It was uphill all the way - for about 18km - 9km of tortuous climb to Kroh or Pengkalan Hulu now and another 9km of slow ascent to the border.
By now, it was about 2.30pm. The sun was blazingly hot and the climb was sheer torture. You can feel the heat bouncing off the road and hitting you in the face while the sun fried you from above.
Worse, there were no trees to escape to for some shade. So, we had to move on or become fried sausages with a side order of fried eggs as well!!
It was a relief when we saw the immigration checkpoint. We cleared immigration in a breeze..everyone was supportive and very accomodating. Must have pitied us when we told them that we cycled from Butterworth! Or was it respect?
The immigration checkpoint was situated a few hundred metres above sea level. Even higher than Baling Hill itself.
At last, the Land of Smiles beckoned. Betong town was another 7km from the border and thankfully was a downhill ride all the way. We rode around the town for a tour to identify landmarks and get our bearings and also to check out the hotels.
Finally settled for the Butterfly Princess Hotel which was slightly away from the town centre. Rate
Betong is one hilly town - you can be riding along a perfectly flat road to meet a steep rise after you turn a corner, with an equally steep dip after the rise. Almost like riding a rollercoaster - but twice the fun!!
By the time we checked in and had our bath, it was dinner time. Took a tuk tuk to Da Ren restaurant for rice with stir fried dishes and "Too Khar". The pork leg was the biggest I ever saw and the five of us struggled to do proper justice to it. Wished you were there Doc.
After dinner, we took a walk around the town and back to the hotel to work off some of the "Too Khar". The night life was happenning. The bars, discos and restaurants were packed...however, we were all too pooped to sample any of the very tempting offers we had...
The next morning, we rode out to the town for breakfst of "wan than" noodles and roast pork.
The roast pork was perfectly roasted and delicious for a meat lover like me.
Next stop was the Piyamit Tunnel - the base for the now disbanded Communist Party of Malaya. Toured the tunnel complex and small musuem. The ex-communists are now very able and friendly business people. Most of them are at their twilight years but still very strong and healthy. We wish them all the best in their new role as civillians and not as the feared guerillas anymore. The Piyamit Tunnel is about 20km from Betong and situated atop a steep hill.
We had a late lunch at Da Ren again. On the way back to the immigration checkpoint, Mike had a nasty fall when his front wheel got stuck in the drain covers right in front of the immigration counter. His handle was badly bent and he had a bad knock on his bum. The "cavalry" consisting of Doc and Lam met up with the casualties at Baling and they were ferried home. The rest of us continued our journey home and it was dark by the time we reached Butterworth. All in all, it was a useful "recce" foray into the LOS.