Up, down, up, down… Lets start at the top.
Yesterday, I met a local Taiping’er Kannan and we had a nice long chat in the evening, he even took me for a ride around town. Was nice meeting him. I started the day early hoping to get as far as I could so that I could schedule myself to hit Kuala Perlis and a ferry to Langkawi the day after. I started at 9 and the plan was to get near butterworth (which would leave another 100k+ for the next day. Seemed like a good plan.
The road out of Taiping was heavy with traffic so after a quick b’fast, I took the longer route along the palm plantations and near the coast. This was a good choice as the roads were literally empty and I put my head down and cranked down the distance. The flat roads were nice to ride in and I kept a good speed, even surprising myself!
At the 50 km mark, I stopped for some drink and gulped down sugary syrupy cold drinks. Body thanked me for the sugar shot and I was on my way. The day wasn’t particularly hot and it was an enjoyable ride. Earlier in the morning, I had pumped up my tires at a bike shop and that seemed to have helped a bit. I should remember to keep the tire pressures up regularly.
After the ride on the backroad, it was just about 40 km to Butterworth and I felt I could easily make it. Then it stuck, I heard a loud phut and I looked down my rear tire was going flat. I was cursing Schwalbe a bit, but a thorough examination revealed that both the tube and the tire was intact. The tire looked pristine and I could make out no air leaks on the tube either. That was strange! I pumped up and the air held well in the tire and I rode for another 20 km when it went phut again. Darn it.
Luckily I was next to a car workshop and I really needed a tub of water to look for the leak. The guys at the workshop were super helpful and I discovered the puncture on the inside of the tube (on the rim side! ouch!). I discovered a few filver filings in the tire, must have been from the rim grinding out a bit. Its really strange and I made a mental note to give the bike a thorough examination when I get into town.
Then Butterworth hit me. This is a small town with a crazy jumble of roads and even crazier traffic. I had no idea where I was heading even with the GPS on. EVery road lead into Georgetown and I was keen on avoiding it. It was a stressful ride into town (I know I hate towns, so bear with me) and finally got on to the main street (after going against the traffic at some point).
I heard someone shout and then I saw the two guys, Andreas and Chris, also bike touring! woohoo! First tourists I met on the road. It was nice catching up with them. But they had some bad news to give to me. Incidentally Thailand had made some changes to their visa regulation when entering through the road. They provide only a 15 day visa. That’s not enough for me to do any distance at all. They were planning to stick around Pinang and apply for a visa. I checked for my case, and its the same, damn. This being the weekend, the earliest I can apply is on Monday and it will be Wednesday before I can leave Pinang. I guess with 4 days down here, I’d have to give Langkawi a miss. Pinang is not a great place for 4 days of bumming. And I am not keen on spending on hotels either… Guess I will have to take these things as they come and must be less lax about visas going forward (I thought SE Asia would be smooth sailing, I guess I thought wrong!)
Anyway all for the good. At least I have met these guys and there is a good change we might ride together for a while, now that we are all bottlenecked by visa.
I found a cheap place (At 50 rm, the place is not really cheap) for the night and tomorrow will be a new day and a rest day, and the day after and after and after and after. Guess will take the time to tune up the bike and give it a thorough check up too.
Distance: 115 km
Ascent: 400 ft
Descent: 600 ft
Time in saddle: 8:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 32.04
Comments: Nice ride in the countryside turned crazy towards Butterworth.