霞女之旅

Xia's Journey

A Cyclemania Expedition – CONQUERED !

on July 21, 2013

22-CIMG755813 – 14 Jul 2013 (Sat – Sun)

After a failed attempt at cycling from Sungai Renggit to Desaru three months back, my cycling buddy, Darren and I have been itching to give it another shot once again. As per Nike’s slogan, we decided to “Just Do It” over the weekend on 13 to 14 July 2013.

Garnering from our past failed experience, we went “better prepared” this time round.

IMG_0975Preparations

I bought a pair of padded cycling shorts from Novena Square, Sports Elements at SG$39.90. I borrowed a helmet from Candida. I decided to wear a pair of long tights instead of jeans. We brought along sunshades, sunblock, oral sunblock, face masks, isotonic drinks, RedBull, apples and bananas for our cycling expedition.

IMG_0981This time round, we met up at Changi Ferry Terminal at 8am and boarded a 8.35am ferry. The ferry terminal was sparse with commuters. It was a far cry from what we experienced on Good Friday three months back.

After an hour’s boat ride costing SG$11, we arrived in Tanjung Pengelih at about 10am and took a 20 minutes cab ride costing RM20 per cab into Sungai Renggit town.

NJaKzvmPP9O256WZMvSX9GyvEVNzw-S1C7e-emhBoawAs like our previous visit, we rented our bikes from S.H.H. Motor for 2 days at RM15 per bike.

In my previous trip, I got one without any gears and I had a hard time struggling with the up and down slopes. This time round, I rented one that has three-gears, whilst Darren had one with six-gears.

IMG_1036Missing the butter lobsters that we had at Sin Kong, we quickly cycled over to Sin Kong restaurant. Starved as we were, we ordered steam lobsters, a steamed fish and stir-fried Nai Bai in garlic.

The lobsters tasted just as fresh although it was not as tender as we had wished it would be. It felt a tad overcooked. The fish was rather “tough” too. The saving grace was the stir-fried Nai Bai which tasted just as gorgeous as like the first time we had it.

IMG_1028As we burped down the last bits of our lunch, it was time to head out for our 35km cycling from Sungei Renggit to Desaru.

Time Check : 12.15pm.

We had resoluted NOT to make more than 3 photo stops and to make it to Desaru this time round! My biggest priority was to make it to Desaru SAFE and SOUND and in ONE PIECE! The previous both times, I fell. I had to ensure that I WOULD NOT this time round.

IMG_1224We cycled past the Goddess of Mercy temple at the “first segment”, the godowns which we shot at in the previous trip, the stretch of sheltered trees, the mosque in the “second segment” and the blue hoardings on the left side of the road.

By now, the once graceful lalang on the right side of the road had all dried up and withered. It had been pretty wet the couple of days prior and the roads were lined with red streaks of mud and with that, we had lesser dust facials too !

Pheww…  How glad we were… 😉

IMG_1095Time check : 3pm.

We past Punggai Beach and arrived at this same point where we gave up and turned back in our previous trip. In our previous trip, we arrived here at 4.45pm. This time round, we were 1hr 45mins earlier. Yayy… Right on target.

We had a short little break, gobbling down an apple and a slice of bread before we continued on our arduous journey.

Pengerang-Desaru-13_zpsd9e6e0bcAs I was nearing the “Police Post” of Desaru, I caught sight of Darren having a chat with two cyclists by the shelter. I paced up and joined them at the shelter.

It was then that I realized this Phillipino couple, Donald and Joanne were actually one of Darren’s “Explore Life” blog followers. They were very inspired by his previous experience and used his blog as a reference to make their way here ! Wowww…

It jes felt so surreal to meet one of his “followers” here, at such a ‘far-away’ location, and at a location which ignited their cycling spirit. I’m sure the same surrealism overcame this couple as well, to see the author in person at this location once again. They even recognized me from his previous blog entry too… *blushes*…

IMG_1041As we parted our ways, we were off to even more up and down slopes.

We thought the past 3 hours were bad, the worst was yet to come! It was a “killer stretch” of 15km up and down never-ending slopes.

Upslope IMG_1086

My thighs burnt like lighted kerosene with every upslope. It was tough. I went slow but I paddled on. Slowly and surely ~ I will definitely make it. After surmounting an upslope, all my eyes could see was but another slope…

Downslope

For a seasoned cyclist, the downslope was the best part of the journey to gain enough momentum to cover the next upslope.

IMG_1043For an amateur cyclist like myself, with every 100km/hour downslope that I made, the only thoughts flooding my head were, “Control the bike, Control the bike, Control the bike!”

Some of the downslopes were almost 60 degrees in elevation, and being a non-seasoned cyclist, I was not trained and prepared for such steep slopes.

I held onto the brakes on “half-clutch” throughout the entire downslopes, trying hard to keep in control of the bike. I had to concentrate hard and focused on the front – no looking left nor right, up or down. Every swerve or missing a beat would likely land me in crutches. As I had vouched to return in one single piece this time round – I had better make sure I do…!

By the end of the many downslopes, my arm muscles were as huge as Arnold’s!

It was really daunting to see slopes after slopes. We wondered when if ever would these slopes end.

Pengerang-Desaru-15_zps0e7323e5We finally saw rays of salvation when we came to a signboard indicating that Desaru was just after the round-about.

Ohhh gosh…!! We’re f-i-n-a-l-l-y  here…

We were on full gear after seeing this signage. We almost burst our lungs yelling for joy. We did the round-about and in less than 10 minutes, we were in Desaru!

20130713_162249Time check : 4.15pm. Yeah! We did it in 4 hours!

We first passed by Lotus Desaru Beach Resort, followed by Pulai Desaru Beach Resort and Spa and lastly Desaru Damai Beach Resort. We chose the last accommodation as it was the cheapest and they were the only one that had rooms available.

We had very much wanted to put up at Pulai Desaru but it was fully booked for the weekend. We found out later that the City Harvest church was holding their church camp there and hence had took up a huge number of their rooms.

IMG_1106The Accommodation

We got to Desaru Damai and enquired for a room. The attendant handed us our room key and got us to check out our room first before confirming.

We found it rather queer, but nevertheless, we cycled to our room. Yes, you’ve read it right – we CYCLED to our room at the end of the second level corridor.

IMG_1099Firstly, it was quite a distance to walk since our room was almost at the end of the corridor.

Secondly, the hotel does not have any bicycle bays to park our bikes outside the hotel and the reception attendant actually suggested that we bring the bikes into our room!

Thirdly, the walkway was so wide that we could actually cycle to the rooms.

It was the first time I cycle a bike right into a hotel room and to park the bike in the hotel room itself.

IMG_1103The hotel room was old and run-down. The shower’s ceiling was stained and leaking. The tap was dripping. One of the powerpoints in the room came loose. The balcony was filthy with cigarette butts.

Well, we only need to stick it out for one night and hence, we decided to just put up with its many deficiencies.

We showered, changed out and had a little rest before proceeding to check out the beach and the hotel amenities.

We wanted to go for a dip in the sea but there was a red flag warning to it. Hence, we did what we did best on the beach… Camwhore…!!

20130713_183613IMG_1134

Hunger pains striked and we decided to get back to our room, grab some change and head out for dinner at the neighbouring Pulai Desaru since there was nothing much going on at our hotel. Everything seemed so run down that we had doubts about the restaurant’s standards even if they served dinner.

IMG_1165The Dinner

We cycled over to Pulai Desaru and headed for the restaurant at the lobby. The buffet dinner costs RM48++ and we decided to go for it since we were starved to the max.

The buffet had a good variety of cuisines ranging from staples like rice and noodles to steamboat, laksa, prata, barbequed meats, seafood, salads, desserts, drinks etc.

For the quality and variety, it was definitely worth the RM48++.

IMG_1164

Halfway through our dinner, they even had a live band entertaining us with Mandarin, English and Cantonese medleys.

At that juncture, we were full of regrets. We should have opted to stay here instead although it was more expensive than our accommodation.

IMG_1182The Next Day ~ 14 July 2013, Sunday

Getting to Desaru was half the battle won. Getting back was another! We were in denial just thinking on how we were going to get back. By the time we dragged ourselves out of bed, shower, had breakfast and “nua”, half the morning was gone.

Time check : 9.45am. Off we go, back to Sg Renggit.

Target : To reach back before 2pm. Have 1 hour of seafood lunch and take a 3pm cab to Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal.

IMG_1191 R1Less than 10 minutes into our cycling, the first slope hit us hard as we struggled up the round-about. After the roundabout, the “killer stretch” was just right before our eyes. At the back of our heads, we knew… we need to get past this killer stretch and all will be well after that! Come’ On… We can do it. We have come this far!

For the next one hour, we struggled up and down the slopes. But this time round, with some little experiences from the previous day, I was happily trying to gain momentum from the downslopes.

Pengerang-Desaru-29_zpsbaeb5466When we got to this signage “Batu Layar”, (upon heading the advice from co-cylists that we met at the resort), we decided to turn left into a little path that brings us to the fringe of the coastline.

We had a good rest stop here; using the washroom, topping up our isotonic drinks and refueling with a banana.

IMG_1205Down the same stretch, we saw this gorgeous rock formations popping up from the sea and swarm of camwhorers. How in the world would we miss anything for this?

We jumped off our bikes and headed for it. Be it wedding photography or 写真集, this was just the perfect backdrop for it.

Time Check : 11.45am. Its time we ran along.

IMG_1215Along the route, we passed by a fishing village where we stopped to capture some shots. Alas, if we had the luxury of time, I’m sure we would have ventured down into the fishing village for more shots.

After the scenic detour along the coastline, we got back to the main road to realize we had gone past the “killer stretch” and now on the second segment of sheltered trees.

yJlecNrsd2OD0UU-mrzXT5BVv5-ZXoJLx1o-g_WgPpwAs we cycled on, there was very much lesser traffic on the road as compared to our previous trip. Throughout the entire return journey, we did not meet a third cyclist on the roads. We wondered why. Our take was that most seasoned cyclists would have done it within a day and got back by then.

Since traffic was sparse and we were the only cyclists on the roads, we did more camwhoring on our “grandfather’s road” before it started to drizzle.

Pengerang-Desaru-28_zpsfe7cc9b2We were kind of thankful for the drizzle which cooled us down and make our cycling expedition a little more manageable. In our previous trip, it was bright and sunny and we were totally drained out from the heat and exhaustion. I remembered I even commented that it would be quite an experience if we were to cycle such a long journey in the rain – and here I was ~ cycling in the drizzle! Be careful of what you wish for – for it might just come true someday… Haahaa… 🙂

We paddled on and on, doubling up so that we could make it back to the town in time and hopefully for a seafood lunch before we head back to Singapore.

We had our last pit stop at the Goddess of Mercy temple where I needed to use the bathroom. By now, we were a mere 10 minutes away from the town.

20130714_133513 R1The Triumph

We “touched down” and returned our bikes at S.H.H. Motor.

Time check : 1.45pm. Good job. Right on time! We did it in 4 hours.

We conquered 70km from Sunggai Renggit to Desaru and back (35km each way).

WE MADE IT – in one piece and in good time! We were so proud of ourselves for this little accomplishment that we did. Many times up and down the slopes, we didn’t think we could make it, but we did.

We endured the butt pains, the burning thighs, the drizzle, the hunger pangs and all to make it this far. It was no doubt a pat on the back for both of us. I’m so glad we conquered this quest together, and guess what…

When we arrived at Desaru on the previous day, both our mobiles S3 & S4 were playing 至少还有你 at the same time despite that we had tons of other songs in our playlist. It was indeed a magical moment for me. No matter how slowly I went, my cycling khaki was always waiting ahead for me. No matter how many cyclists had overtaken me, he was always there for me. He could have gone faster and further but he didn’t. To me, thankfully, there was always him where I could count and rely on. When both our mobiles played on this song, it just hit me right in my head. From the bottom of my heart, a big THANK YOU to my cycling, photography, travel, karaoke buddy for always being there.

IMG_1225Time to Celebrate

We got to Sin Kong restaurant once again and ordered our “celebratory feast”. We had buttered lobsters, cereal prawns (my all-time favorite!) and a sambal kai lan. We were starving…

There was a huge crowd in the air-conditioned segment and we took up a little corner by the back door. When the butter lobsters came, we felt that they were not as tasty as when we first tried it three months back. Perhaps there were too many orders awaiting, the butter did not seem to penetrate the lobsters well enough to bring out the buttery sensation. The cereal prawns and sambal kai lan were good but they did not lift us to ecstasy though.

20130714_152203 R1Time Check : 2.55pm. Off we went to the ferry terminal.

Arrives the ferry terminal at 3.15pm and boarded the 3.45pm boat back to Singapore.

Prior to the trip, we were prepared to be totally thrashed out. But this time round, we were better prepared and the weather was very much in our favour, we did not suffer as tremendously painful as we thought we would have.

Some tips for a less painful and more comfy ride :

–      Cycling Pants / Shorts for extra cushioning for the bottom

         Helmet for safety and to keep off the heat. Bring your own or borrow one from home.

       S.H.H. Motor does not rent out helmets.

         Masks to keep out the dust.

         Shades

         Sunscreen

         Lots of Water / Isotonic Drinks. Buy them from the town or slightly after the town. Thereafter, there are no other stores ahead to grab stuffs.

         Apples, Bananas, Granola Bars for a quick snack on the go.

         Rent a bike with gears so that you could maximize each oscillation.

         Minimize your backpack and carry as minimal stuffs that you would need.

Most importantly, have fun and keep safe… 🙂


2 responses to “A Cyclemania Expedition – CONQUERED !

  1. Steven Abdipranoto says:

    What a fantastic story! Thank you for sharing. My friend and I had a similar experience of failing to reach Desaru…..and it was a disappointment indeed. Our problem is we weren’t prepared for staying overnight and we were afraid of missing our ferry back to Singapore from Tanjung Pengelih. We decided to go back when we saw the long stretch of road with no trees.

    Hopefully, we will concur Tanjung Pengelih – Desaru route one day and stay overnight at Desaru.

    Again, thank you for sharing your experience and I enjoyed reading the story.

    God bless.

    • xia says:

      Thank you, Steven. I am sure with a weekend stay, you will be able to conquer Desaru! Good luck and cycle safe : )

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