akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Friday 10 July 2015

Touring: Labis to Seremban - Day 1 (Part 2: Labis to Pagoh)

20.05.2015, Wednesday.
Labis to Pagoh via Bukit Kepong

the train left for its journey,
and we were to continue ours on our bikes
Latfy and I reached Labis train station at about noon. It is a small station without platform (the station doesn't even have proper perimeter fencing). So we had to disembark using the coach steps. It was not a big hassle to get our things down from the train, although requiring quite an effort for Latfy to hold the coach door ajar. I went down to the ground and Latfy passed our items from the train.

Latfy prepping the bikes and things
The first thing we looked for was the toilet. The station has one, and it is quite clean. While Latfy was in the toilet, I put on the wheels on the bike and set the panniers at the same time looking after our belongings. We exchanged after he went out of the toilet. In 15 minutes We were ready to go.

A local chap approached us, perhaps because we were quite inordinary guys this part of town (and at that time of the day). We chat briefly and took a photo together before he showed us the way out to Muar and bid us farewell.

ready to go!

waiting for the traffic light to turn green for us
We got out to the intersection of Jalan Labis-Muar. It was quite busy and the traffic light didn't favour us. We crossed the road by going with the flow further to the left and waited for a good gap in the traffic for us to pass through to the other side.

It was lunch time, and we were supposed to have a meal. Perhaps because of the nasi goreng that we had, and largely because of the butterflies in the stomach getting excited for the long journey to Muar, we planned to defer until we get to Bukit Kepong. We did stop by a sundry shop to stock us up with some water and snacks just in case.

our destinations for the day
Latfy announced "12.20" when we finally rolled out properly riding up the mild elevation of Jalan Labis-Muar. Short of a topo map, a couple of weeks prior to the journey I tried to gauge the elevation of the route by going through Google Street View. Of course, it is not feasible. But at least I did familiarise a bit up to maybe some 20 km. A teeny bit. Well, the road and its surrounding is much better on bike, I can vouch. Passing along rubber plantation on either sides of the road, we felt cool breeze from the trees and I especially enjoyed the shade of the canopy along certain sections of the road.

We started on a high note, and were full of enthusiasm. I feel the freedom, joy, happy, and many more indescribable feelings happening inside all at once. Perhaps only those who do tourings such as this would truly understand (yes, you have to experience it yourself!).

The mini goal of the journey now is to reach Bukit Kepong for lunch and a little sightseeing. The pit stop is about 30 km from where we started. About two hours if we follow our planned 15 km/h average speed. Well, I tried not to go more than 20 km/h on flat road, but many times it was in vain. At one point Latfy shouted "33 woit!". I'm not sure whether I sped up because of being hungry or being anxious for there are still many, many more kilometers after Bukit Kepong to reach Muar. However, at that point I promised him not to speed, and just roll with a leisurely pace.

the (splendid) road was ours
The road to Bukit Kepong is with rolling hills; we climbed one, go down and enjoyed the speed and meet up with another. The journey was quite monotonous, as J32 Jalan Muar-Labis is lined with mostly palm oil trees. Once in a while we came up to housing estates and then again the palm oil trees. Alas, it was not too bad as the sky was overcast and we were spared the hot sun during that time of the day.

the police boat outside the police station, at the riverbank
At 1:55 pm, We eventually arrived at Bukit Kepong greeted by a hill and damp ground. We went straight to the famed police station, but unfortunately the building and its vicinity was under renovation with construction of additional building and features. We went to the nearby jetty and had a look at Sungai Muar. My mind took me back to a scene in the movie Bukit Kepong featuring the police boat going upstream to the jetty. Sort of.

After spending some time taking pictures, we went to a nearby food joint. We ordered nasi goreng cina (chinese fried rice) and milo. It seems to be a standard meal for us henceforth. By the time we took off and continue our journey, it began to drizzle. Out come the raincovers for their duty wrapped around the panniers and top bag.

One milestone achieved, but we need to find a masjid or musollah for our solah. We looked for one that would accommodate our circumstances. Damp boys and their bikes with things hanging on them. We need ample space to park our bikes, take off the panniers and wash up our bodies as well as change our clothes. For security, I brought along my looped bike lock just in case. Perhaps we would find such place in Lenga, on our way to Pagoh.

Masjid Jamek Lenga, our stop for solah
happy grown up boys
The route from Bukit Kepong towards Lenga was nice. It was overcast, and the road is rather flat with not many vehicles running along it. Selfies and carefree riding, as we practically owned the road and I truly enjoyed my ride; grinning all the way. At 3:00 pm, we found a nice masjid at Lenga and we stopped for our solah. We washed up a bit and freshen up for our solah, with dry clothes. I actually felt a bit reluctant to change back to the damp clothes to continue our ride, but I didn't bring many so I spared the t-shirt that I wore for solah back into the pannier.

a brief stop near a junction
towards Pagoh
Now that the essentials were taken cared of, the journey continued and the next milestone was Pagoh some 20 km away from the masjid. The ride was enjoyable. Many, many rolling hills along villages and the road itself lined with big trees. The weather was excellent, alhamdulillah, for the sun was covered by the greyish cloud. Albeit, it was not raining but only cool breeze accompanying our ride.

pisang goreng with sambal kicap 
(hot soy sauce), Johor's special
We reached Pagoh at about 5:00 pm. The road was damp from the rain earlier, and with such weather it would be great if we could have some hot snacks. Not far from the small town center, we passed by a goreng pisang (banana fritters) shack. I stopped and suggested to Latfy for a snack break. He obliged, happily, and we cycled back a short distance to the shack and ordered drinks with goreng pisang. I had a glass of cold drink, and Latfy took in a double helping. Little I knew that it was a much needed break. It was a good one. Perfect goreng pisang and drinks. Little things like these are appreciated more when you're on such a journey, I learnt.

Pekan Pagoh in jawi (arabic letters)


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