24th July: Kerteh to Pekan

The photo:

He’s a frisky one is Rudy

The ride: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/203159397 136km; total – 8258km

The chat:

Finding better than expected coffee at lunch was perhaps the highlight of today’s ride, which gives you some small insight into the tedium we experienced as we pressed on south into a bloc headwind, down the East Coast highway for the third consecutive day.

The ride today: boring and dangerous. Like Sarah Palin

Starting early in Kerteh, where even the 24hour McDonalds was closed in deference to Ramadam, we re-joined the steady stream of traffic on the highway. Passing through Chukai, we enjoyed brief respite from the dull riding at a café in Cherating, a village of low key beachside bungalows on a pretty beach. We um-ed and aah-ed for an unnecessarily long time about whether to call it a day and chill out here (pros: nice beach, nice beach hut at a good price, firefly boat ride in the evening; cons: we’d ridden a paltry 50km, we’d have to forego a day in Singapore or Tioman, the headwind might be even stronger tomorrow). Yeah I know, the bike tourist faces some tough decisions…

As posterity now knows, Cherating lost out, and we pressed on down a seemingly endless railroad-straight road for almost another 100km. A fantastic lunch (and did I mention the Vietnam-worthy coffee?) at Kuantan broke the ride up, and we rolled into peaceful Pekan before 6pm.

The fantastically characterful and cheap Chief’s Resthouse found us a room, and after a quick turnaround we saddled up once more for a gentle trundle past the palace and the out of place but rather splendid polo stadium. Dotted all around the town are vintage wooden single storey houses set in well maintained gardens, a taste of what more of Malaysia might have been like 50 years ago.

After eating curry and roti as voraciously as our fellow fast-breaking diners, we hurried off before Emma got entangled into one of those pesky arranged marriages with an Indian waiter.

Chief’s Rest House, Pekan. Everything other budget hotels in small-town Malaysia isn’t, but should be

Our fave Malaysian invention – the street-side water filter. They’ve saved us quite literally a few Ringit

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