Penang-Gunung Jerai, Kedah

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Mountain Bike Touring North West Malaysia 2014
Tags: , , , ,

14th May 2014, 90 kms

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Early May signals the start of the south west monsoon with winds that originate in the Indian Ocean carrying moisture and sometimes mayhem across all of Sumatra, over the Straits of Malacca and finally west Malaysia. It is prudent to get an early start when cycling lest the mid day downpours drench every bit of those outdoors. Above is a massive buildup at 0715 hrs. C’mon that’s much too early. Let us get breakfast, take a ferry to the mainland before we get soaked.

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I am entertained by two creatures beside an old rickshaw just outside our hotel.

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Penang has still a number of dim sum breakfast places. Watering holes for the pre work crowd and the oldies who hang around all day till closing time. Don’t expect Hong Kong style dim sum. These are vastly different in style and quality, but for the hungry cyclist, good enough.

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More huge cumulonimbus cloud buildup as we ferry across to the mainland to Butterworth. Childhood memories of past school vacations when the whole family drove up the 800 kms from Singapore.

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It is going to pour with thunder and lightning big time in an hour or two. These clouds can measure 10,000m from base to top.

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Once out of Butterworth, we take the roads as close to the coast as possible. Lesser traffic makes for better touring. We even ventured into the padi fields of Kedah, where possible till the paths ran out near Kota Kuala Muda. I’ve taken the odd ferry across two huge rivers here, the Muda and Merbok, but today we find a riverside road till it reaches a new bridge and cross that to connect to Sungei Petani and lunch.

Relevant roads are E17, P1, P107 and 1, the old trunk road 1 all the way to Gurun at the mountain’s base.

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The clouds have caught up with us along Kedah’s coast, and across the Muda River, but luckily they just hover with nary a drop.

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Lunch was easy and quick in the outskirts of Sungei Petani. We have to go a few kms near Guar Chempedak behind the base of Gunong Jerai where a small 13 km hill climb awaits.

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More photos were taken going down the next day, so for now we’re here at almost 1000m and the air is decidedly cool and very pleasant! The mountain is also visible from Penang, a guiding beacon for eons, for sailors that they’ve entered the northern end of the Straits of Malacca.

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As usual we mess up our room at the Regency Jerai Resort, supposedly a 4 star place but take that with a huge dose of salt. An extravagant expense at RM $190. Just for cooler air.

At reception  I thought that we were going to get hit for the $220++ rack rates, but online booking suggests that $190 minus the 10-15% that that whichever site takes, was going to be my choice. Told reception that here’s a chance to make all the full $190 instead of 15% less. No CC either, cold hard cash always works. After a 5 min. meeting and seeing that no one else was breaking the doors to stay at the resort, they agreed. Breakfast thrown in too.

There were some nice touches with the fittings here and there and especially the balcony. As with most resorts in remote locations with minimal staff eager to please, things fall apart and only so much can be done. The trick is to be there within 6 months to a year before deterioration sets in. We arrived just outside that time frame I think.

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I must add though that the location made up for any shortcomings. At least we didn’t have the neighbours from hell last night. We did have neighbours. They were quiet and turned early, soothed by the cool air no doubt. So we waited for sunset across the Malacca Straits before attempting dinner.

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Everything was fine till they started the squeezing, I think.

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19 deg C

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