Sunday, April 16, 2006
Island in the sun
To Pulau Tinggi, Johore, Malaysia, 272 km. The weather has been unpredicatable. Will it rain or will the sun shine? The answer: both. With over 20 riders, I cycle in the rain to an island in the sun near Pulau Tioman. I have an unwelcome reminder of how tough the route is, compare bikers with divers, and get bitten in bed.
Day 1: Fri 14 Apr, Singapore - Pulau Tinggi (Johore), 136 km. I come across five groups of cyclists today, including my group of over 20 bikers. One group has body armour and full face helmets; they load their heavy downhill bikes up a bus. Another group comprises Bikerboey and another long lost friend.
With my fat semi-slick tyres and loaded (for the first time with my Mountain Dax bag), I'd forgotten how interminable the road to Mersing is. At least, my wet lube is working fine despite the rain; it keeps at bay the hydro-activated hyperactive squeaking hamsters in my drivetrain. And all long journeys come to an end. We board a boat for an hour-long ride to Pulau Tinggi. I think the resort is nice, because of the Cussons soap, until I flip the bedspread over and see lizard shit over the bed sheet. And fungus on the pillow case. And lizard egg shells too. All complimentary, as the rack rate is S$50.
Doing a python
Day 2: Sat 15 Apr, Pulau Tinggi, non-cycling day. One of the pleasures of life is being able to wake up when I want, without a shrieking alarm clock to interrupt my slumber. After a long lazy breakfast, I walk along the beach. It's pretty despite the litter - which includes a light bulb (which dim wit threw it there?) and a broken fluourescent tube. I walk till I run out of beach (no, only one man could walk on water), then join a walk to a marine conservation museum (with English explanations!) and a waterfall. In the jungle, clouds of mosquitoes rise up as if they were bloodsucking men, following the girls.
Having seen the waterfall (which is what I set out to do), I return to a lazy lunch then do a python (eat and sleep) while the rest remain behind to frolic in the water. The power trips, so I sit on the verandah of my hut, where it's cooler outside than inside. Besides us bikers on the island, there are divers too. I notice some similarities between the two. Both groups wear skintight outfits where our build (or lack thereof) shows. Both indulge in expensive, energy- and oxygen intensive physical activity. Both of us cut through fluids (yes, air, like water, is a fluid). And if we run out of air (in tyres or tanks), it's game over. But I think it incongruous that some diving suit clad girls scurried to get out of the drizzle.
Many bugs and one crack
Day 3: Sun 16 Apr, Pulau Tinggi - Singapore, 136 km. I wake up itching and bleeding from the scratching. I guess it finally has to happen: after being in accommodation in every West Malaysian state, I finally sleep in a bed that has bed bugs. Or ticks. Or are they biting lizards? I speed away after breakfast. In fact, we split into various groups. One group goes by van. Others ride home at their own pace; some in groups and three (including me) singly. Along the way, one of my water bottles cracks. Which is a pity, as it's one of a matching pair. And a veteran of three over 1,000 km epic rides. But at least I get home before the rain pours.