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Penang to Sitiawan or The Revenge of Jim


Jim and me on the boat to Satun Thailand
Jim and me on the boat to Satun Thailand

Yesterday I cycled with Jim from Penang to Sitiawan. Some of my friends start smiling when I tell them of Jim. Name your bicycle seems something for children. If so, let me be a child. I have no objection. Jim is as you already know my Koga Miyata Worldtraveler bicycle. I have already told you about Jim. In case you missed the story, click here to read his past.

You like or not but Jim is not "just" a bicycle. Jim has it's own consciousness. Oh, you want me to proof it? Again? Didn't you read his story? Ah well, here's another one.

The chat with my friends

It's not always wise to ride long distances and in general I do not like to cycle this kind of distances in one day. After all, 190 km a day is a long way and if you get a problem, you may get some serious problems.

But lets start at the beginning. I was visiting some friends in Penang. We came on the subject what a bicycle is for a cyclist.

I knew I shouldn't have said what I did but I did it anyway. I told my friends (while Jim could hear it!) that a bicycle is in principle a way to move from A to B, a vehicle, no more and no less. To me cycling, even after yesterday, is still a way of transport. A fantastic piece of transport, but still just one of the many ways.

I also said that in principle a bicycle is no more then pieces of metal which can be replaced. I should not have said that.

My old friend Jim, Koga Myata

Jim in 2010

The Ride from Penang to Sitiawan via Taiping

The day after I went back to Sitiawan. As I was anxious to go back, I had lots of work to do, I decided to cycle the 190 km in one day. I know, technically it's only 170 or so, but that is measured with the motorway which we cyclist never use.

So I left Penang by ferry. In Butterworth I got flat. I have always a spare tube with me so the problem was quick fixed. A few weeks earlier I had found me a much nicer way out of Butterworth then the nasty motorway I used to take. This path followed almost to Bukit Mertajam and passed a few kampongs.

A hole in the tire
A hole in the tire, as I didn't have my camera with me this particular day, I am using a photo I made in Laos with the exact same problem

It proved to be a nice day, I thought. Road number 1 was not very busy and I progressed quickly. I calculated I could be home around 4pm if I would be able to continue in this speed with the wind in the back.

I had a stop near Taiping, passed the city and went to Trong. The hills were no problem, but Jim was biding his time. I know him long enough.

In Trong I had another short stop.

Trong to Beruas

After Trong I got another flat one. This time it turned out to be not just the tube but I also had a small hole in the tire, Jim had his revenge. He knew I would have now problems to repair that. The first try was at a motorbike shop where the guy patched my tire. A few km's later I was again flat. And the hole seems to be even bigger.

No way I could cycle. It would be a serious problem now to cycle Penang to Sitiawan in a day before the sun would go down because it was already 2.30 pm. Thus I tried to hitch but Jim was confident to let me suffer. No one stopped so I decided to start walking to the next village and hope for the best.

Close to Trong
The road to Bruas

The next village was about 10km further, 2 hours walk in the tropical sun, not something to look forward for. After about an hour walking when no one was willing to stop (not even the busses!) a guy on a motorbike passed me and asked if he could help. I explained the problem and he said in the next village there would be help.

Plenty of traditional houses around Trong
Plenty of traditional houses in the whole area of Taiping, here in Trong

I set on the back of his motorbike and Jim in my right hand. Not comfortable but for a few kilometers that would do.

The tire was not to be saved. Even a patch would not guarantees me I would reach home. Fortunately the shop had a new 2.1 inch tire.

But still Jim adamant to give in. He struggled and tried to prevent the new tire to be attached. Finally at 4.30pm the job was done. We had now changed the front tire to the back and the new one in front.

Around Bruas
Around Bruas

I went back on the road after paying RM 16, about $4 for tire and work. The guys were very helpful friendly and I may visit them next time when I pass there.

Jim however was less happy, His struggle proved to have failed. So he tried a different tactic. I had troubles to use the pedals. It was of course my body that was tired.

Before Beruas I had to stop and rest for about 10 minutes. The last few kilometers to Beruas in the slow hills were hard.

Traditional houses around Trong
Traditional houses around Trong

Beruas to Sitiawan

By now it was almost 6.30 pm and I had another hour daylight to expect for the last 37 km. Not enough to arrive in the daylight. But I had no choice, I left Beruas for the next 19 km to the junction with the road to Ipoh. After 10 km I had again to rest.

At the junction, 9 km later I rested again. Now there were 18 kilometers left. And darkness was coming quick now. I went on a surprisingly quiet road to Ayer Tawar, about 7 km further.

By now it was totally dark and the road has limited light. Another problem now was the new road construction. With little light and road construction going on it would be hard to reach Sitiawan. But what could I do?

Chinese temple in Bruas
Chinese temple in Bruas

By now Jim was more willing to help me out, maybe understanding it was in his profit too to help me safe back home. These last 12 kilometers went easy and fast despite the troubles with car headlights blinding me every once in a while.

To make it safer I didn't go directly in Sitiawan town, as these 4 kilometers would be in almost total darkness and I would be in the forest. So I continued to the other side of town, direction Lumut. It's not much extra but it could be enough after a day like this. Almost in Sitiawan I almost had to throw up. But I was able to keep safe.

I went into a shop to buy some supplies and the last 3 kilometers went as if i had not done 190 kilometers that day. Jim had his revenge. And he proved once again I should not say things like what I said the day before. Whatever people think, my Jim has a consciousness, believe it or not. Jim doesn't care if you believe it, he knows he has.

When we came home, I had a long shower. It was however difficult to sleep. The body was too tired to get rested. After hours rolling around I finally slept. Jim was in his room though I can't say if he slept.

An alternative road from Penang to Sitiawan via Taping

If you don't want to cycle the trunk road, there's good news. You can cycle on a beautiful almost empty road from Kulim to Taiping. Here is the full description

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Johan on the steep bridge near Lumut
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Map of Perak