Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Leisure Ride to Kota Tinggi

                                                          Group photo at the resort

This capped another fun-filled weekend cycling event with a group of gregarious outdoor seekers on 9 Nov, Saturday- all 13 of us. We were to meet at Outram MRT station for our coach and prior to that, everyone had been informed to arrive by 0630 hrs.  Only Elaine will meet the rest of us at Woodlands Immigration.  I managed to arrange with my operator, Prima Sierra Holidays to rent bikes for some of us, thus saving the hassle of bringing their own bikes over from Singapore and in the end, only seven brought their own bikes.  We left for Woodlands at little over 0700 hrs.

The familiar faces in the group were Kevin, Jai, Elaine, Richard, Fenny and Karyn.  It was my first time meeting up with Jen who brought her friend, Cara, Sebestian, Vee Lee, Ashish and Liz but very quickly, everyone warmed up to each other.

                                                                  Rented bikes ready

It was still early when we arrived at Woodlands check-point and the causeway was not that packed but it was building up slowly though.  Immigration and customs clearance at both sides were swift and soon we were on the way to Kulai town where we were to commence our ride.  The ride to Kulai was about 45 mins and it was about 0900 hrs when we arrived.  We had our breakfast at a local eatery.

At about 1000 hrs, we stopped at a less busy road to begin our ride.  The rented bikes were transported by the support vehicle.  The bikes are mountain bike type and are completely new.  Five brought their sleek foldies.  As usual, Kevin brought his ever trusted 'Birdy'.  Jai who now sports a fitter and leaner body has his 'Dahon' which he brought online.  I did not bring my bike, preferring to use the rented bike for convenience sake.

                                                           Briefing before rolling off

Before setting off, I made a briefing to the group.  The distance from Kulai to Kota Rainforest Resort in Kota Tinggi where we will be accommodated is about 40 km.  I did tell the group that the route is mostly flat but admittedly, it is not that flat.  It is fairly rolling but definitely not like Bintan or Batam.  It is a two lane straight road on either side and traffic on that Saturday morning was a tad heavier than I would have expected.  I can't stop reiterating to the group to keep to left at all times.  After checking our bikes and we were ready to roll off.  

The weather has been unpredictable of late and I had a hunch that it would rain.  I was wrong.  The sun was looming above us and it was hot.  I was covering the rear while Henry who was in control of the Hi-Lux support vehicle will lead the front.  Sometimes, he would drive back to check on some of us at the rear.

Fenny had some difficulty controlling the bike.  She has the tendency to sway left and right.  Soon, she was lagging far behind from the rest.  I was passing instructions to her when she could not engage her gears properly especially cycling up the slope.  By my reckoning, she cycled for about 20 km before calling it quit.  She then joined Henry on the support vehicle throughout the journey.

                                                                       Along the way

Liz was with me at the rear.  Kevin slowed down to join us too while the rest was ahead.  I spotted a lizard monitor on the side of the road and when I cycled nearer, it did not look to be dead but simply not moving.  The position seemed to suggest this lizard was making a cross to the other side.  Cars would have made a 'pancake' out of this lizard if it did not move out sooner.  I avoided the lizard and moved on.

The weather was getting hot and Liz did not carry water with her.  Her rented bike does not have the holder and so too for me.  I was also thirsty.  I tried to call Henry to drive back so that we can have the cold water but he did not answer his phone.  Fortunately for us, we found a small food stall at a short distance away.  Kevin and Liz happily ordered a bowl of 'kampung-style' ice kachang but knowing too well that I have weak stomach, I chose to drink from the can.  We were not far from Kota Rainforest Resort.  We resumed our ride and arrived at the resort past 1300 hrs.  Liz heaved a big relief as she had wanted to hop on the support vehicle at some point but she preserved on - good for her.

Lunch was ready for us at the resort and after that, we checked-in to our rooms.  Kota Rainforest Resort has a big compound and the setting is very eco-friendly amidst the greenery.  There are some outdoor activities like rock climbing, paint ball and flying fox, among others.  We were the only group but I was told that a corporate group had just checked out before our arrival.  It is an ideal place for team building, given its varied activities within its compound.

                                                                     At the waterfall

I gave three options to the group.  First option was that we will cycle to Kota Tinggi waterfall which is about 3 km away and cycle back.  But it is quite steep and likely to pose a challenge to some not that strong cyclists.  Second option was to take a coach to the waterfall and bike back.  Reason being on the way back it is down slope all the way to our resort but there are some risks if some are not able to handle the bikes well.  Finally, we decided to take the coach and return with the coach.  We had a leisure afternoon at the waterfall.  For Ashish, Sebastien, Karyn and Vee Lee, they continued to swim at the pool at the resort after our return from the waterfall.  There is a man-made waterfall at the resort pool...still a waterfall.

Balancing Act

BBQ dinner was arranged for us and it was good.  It was during dinner Jai mentioned about cycling over a monitor lizard.  He said he was distracted by Richard who was talking to him and before he could react, he realised he had cycled over that poor monitor lizard.  It remained stationary.  Those who were cycling behind Jai saw that lizard and now we learnt Jai was the main culprit.  From that moment on, monitor lizard became the hot topic.  I even teased Jai that the monitor lizard will appear before him in his dream.  It will be his nemesis.

After our dinner, we went to Kota Tinggi town for firefly tour.  This was my third or fourth firefly trip but for many in the group, it was to be their first time.  Coincidentally, the boatman not only showed us the fireflies that lit up like Christmas, he shone his torch on some trees where monitor lizards and monkeys rest.  Yes, the monitor lizard saga continued at the firefly tour and we took jibes at Jai.  This was my first time that this particular boatman showed us the monitor lizards and I thought it was quite funny.  The boat ride last about an hour.  After that, we were combing part of the town and settled for deserts at an eatery before heading back.

                                                       Dinner at Orang Asli Restaurant                                                              
The second day ride was short, just over 10 km to the town from our resort.  Some were doing rock climbing while others explored around the vast compound.  We checked-out at 1100 hrs and ready to roll off to town for lunch at a local restaurant.  After lunch, we loaded up our bikes and proceeded to the shopping mall at Bukit Indah.  Some went for a soothing massage while some went for hair cut, it was our own leisure at the mall.  I chose to hang around.  Before heading home, we had early dinner at Orang Asli Restaurant in Perlin.  There was no heavy jam at the causeway on either side and we soon arrived at Outram MRT station.  It was a fun-filled leisure weekend outing with good company which I truly enjoyed.

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