Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A weekend getaway to SE Johor Day 2 - Chilling out in Sedili Kechil

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We took our time to wake up! Instead of 90km to Kluang, we only had 50+km to Sedili Kechil so it was to be another easy day. What was supposed to be a 5am start ended up a much more decent 9am start as we vegetated in bed longer than we should. Still, at 8am, we were the only guests at Mayrest Hotel's huge dining room all beautifully decorated in red and for Chinese New Year.

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As with the usual hotel complimentary breakfast, we weren't expecting much but the simple Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng and freshly made Curry Puffs with Coffee/Tea surprisingly were very good.  However, it was strange being the only 2 in a room with 20 tables and with just the receptionist keeping herself busy on Facebook. KC too kept himself sufficiently entertained.

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I had a very small portion of breakfast as we were setting our sights and stomachs on Kiang Kee Bak Kut Teh, some 14km northwards. This is one of those must eat icons if you are in the vicinity as their pork bone soup is truly second to none and having eaten there a few times, we were excited. The morning ride out of Kota Tinggi town was cool and pleasant.

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With wide shoulders and light traffic, we were spinning very nicely indeed. It was great fun to be cruising with the wind in my face and we arrived at Breakfast #2 spot in exactly 40 mins.

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But horrors of horrors, they were closed! Our hearts sank when we saw the deserted place from afar as this eatery is always buzzing. We parked our bikes and just rested, sipping our water bottle looking disappointingly at the wonderful menu of food photos displayed. 2 dogs came to bark at us, telling us we were not welcome, at least today. I reckoned BKT sellers do very well as yesterday George's BKT was also closed, and now my favourite store - wealthy enough to be able to close for 12 days! Quite a few cars came around with high hopes and we waved them on - as they joined us in the Fellowship of No BKT!

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Not to worry, we pressed on for just another 2km to the turn off at Hway 99 and as KC said, at this junction, there are lots of Malay Cafes. We chose one that was modern and new, and ordered Roti Canai and Teh. It was nothing compared to what we could have had at Kiang Kee but beggars cannot be choosers. Flexibility is the key to enjoying a tour and we made the best of it.  The weather was forcasted to rain at 11am so we set off without wasting too much time.

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This was the first time I have ridden on Hway 99 and it proved a beautiful route with nice rolling hills. KC mentioned that this was a favourite among roadies and it is easy to see why.

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We arrived at Sedili Besar, the main town at just about 11am and we have polished off an easy 40km. This is a rather bustling fishing port and we rested at the jetty overlooking the long bridge spanning the Sedili River.

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We took our time to just have a sticky beak around this small town and ended up in a Malay eatery where we had ice cold drinks and an early lunch. There were many freshly cooked dishes on the table and all we needed to do was to help ourselves to these delicacies. This being a fishing village of sorts, we opted for the fried fish in sambal and it was so good.

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Riding the next 12 km skirting Jason's Bay was easy as it was flat as a pancake. With a full stomach, we could digest the miles effortless and arrived at Sedili Inn Resort at the other end of the bay in no time. Resorts around this region are very sparse and worn out eg Mutiara Motor Inn 500m before has seen better days. So SIR being only 2.5 years young stood out like a beacon of hope and light.

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Modern architecture and the new-ness of the place are what attracted us to change plans to come here.  Despite being a Friday, strangely we were the only ones to check in . My first impression was how bare and empty this whole resort looked. There wasn't even a proper sign or at least I could not remember seeing one stating the name of the resort. Credit to the staff for being warm and friendly and we were given 2 options - Inn room at RM 159 and Chalets at RM 189 with breakfast. Our Inn room, though a tad small was newish and clean. However, we had trouble with the aircon that was not working. It took 2 attempts by the staff to get it sorted  and we were glad. However our room was rather devoid of any character - it was just a room. No TV, no pictures, no kettle and worse of all, no WIFI.

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The resort faced the beach and that was very nice with sea breezes blowing non stop and the place to be was at the dining area where there was Wifi. The lone Fixie there also kept us company. We spent pretty much most of the afternoon at the dining area as the rains came pouring down. It was nice to just chill. We took a short ride out of the resort to have tea at a cafe and truly, Sedili Kechil is a VERY quiet place.

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Dinner was Kampong Fried Rice and a place of BBQ meats and that was quite satisfying. However, the kitchen had a rather limited menu and after half a day here, I felt rather sad for SIR as there is so much more they can do to really give customers a reason to come here and for a return visit. The reception claimed that last week was really a full on one and I was happy to hear that. But for many city folks, being stuck in a place like this with very limited facilities can be rather challenging. That said, I actually think this is a perfect place for a Spiritual Retreat for a time of reflection and quiet conversations!

Be still and know that I am God - Ps 46:10

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After dinner, we spend time catching the last of the sunlight at the beach which was very pleasant. Today must have been one of the easiest ride I have ever done and sometimes, it is good to have days like these - just relax, don't ride so far and just chill at Sedili Kechil.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

A weekend getaway to S E Johor Day 1 - To the Falls.

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Pineapple Colon anyone?

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The itch to ride sometimes needs to be scratched! Even for just a weekend and this is what we did recently. The plan was to head to Kota Tinggi, then head north towards Kluang and then maybe Mersing. But we were just happy to play it by ear, and see what happens.

3 of us, George, KC and I met up at Kranji MRT on Thursday 730am and made our way to Kota Tinggi - an easy 45km or so from the Causeway. This would be George's first overseas ride after his head injury in Oct and it would be ideal for him to gain back his confidence and fitness. George has rode around Peninsula Malaysia before!

Crossing through the Causeway took 10 minutes and we found ourselves cycling in the thick of JB traffic. Getting out of the busy city was not as painful as expected thanks to wider roads but crossing the many overhead bridges/passes took a bit of caution as cars were flying by quickly.

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Our first stop was at Tebrau City where George usually stops for breakfast. His fav BKT shop unfortunately was not open due to CNY and we settled for Mamak. There, an elderly man from Taiwan came excitedly to us and started chatting, sharing his own touring stories. I took the opportunity there too to replace a leaking front tube of my BF Pocket.

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Passing by Ulu Tiram, George stopped at his friend's Jetski shop which was not opened. The traffic had by now significantly thinned and we had wide shoulders making the ride most enjoyable. We started encountering rolling hills but this kept things interesting as we had to work a bit harder.

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However after the MHS Loop, all other hills are rather flat. We pulled left into the minor road (Hway 3 out of Ah 18) that lead to Kota Tinggi at just after 11am. Was very glad that George could make it all the way safely and we marked this with a nice pic.

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Crossing the famous Kota Tinggi Bridge evoked memories of my first ride here on my Honda Cub C70 some 38 years ago. It is good that the bridge and surroundings now have new developments that resemble some old fort, giving it some historical significance of the old Johor Empire.

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Many Chinese eateries were still closed for CNY and a quick chat with a local Senior Citizen pointed us to Public Restaurant some 200m before the bridge.

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We enjoyed lunch there immensely as this was clearly one that was good enough to hold wedding dinners with the much appreciated aircon and tastefully decorated interior. We ordered just 3 dishes - Sweet and Sour Pork which was the best I have taken for a long time, Kiam Chye Soup with Tofu and crunchy Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish.  That with drinks were a reasonable S$21 for the 3 of us.

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Looking for a hotel, we had aimed for Rest Inn but came across Mayrest Hotel. Interesting that the word "Rest" seems to be the key focus among hotels here and that was what we were after. Mayrest Hotel is the tallest one in KT with 12 storeys and at about RM$100 per night, we happily checked in there. They were bike friendly and rooms spacious and clean with great views!

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The number one attraction of KT is her waterfalls and I remembered when our posse of 5-6 motorcycles arrived there some 30 plus years ago at an unearthly 6am only to be greeted by a policeman with a shotgun!

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Things have changed now and it cost 15rm to go in. For that, there are some facilities like cafes and changing rooms but the waterfalls still look beautiful and nice, though there are still too much litter around.  We found a shady spot and had fun!

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The Grab Taxi charged us RM20 one way and it was worth every dollar as cycling 17km in the blazing 2pm sun was not exactly bliss. At 3pm, the same taxi came to get us 10 mins late back to Mayrest where Bro George then rode it all the way to JB for a reasonable RM45.

KC and I had afternoon tea at Cheese U where we had the thickest Tuna Sandwich ever! The powerful aircon really was so appreciated. We did an evening ride around the beautiful river side and took some gorgeous sunset photos.

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We had a simple dinner at KC's fav eatery of 2 noodles dishes and then to the riverside for some juicy and crispy satays that were most amazing! Of course, we had the very necessary Teh Tarik for the perfect finish to a lovely meal.

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It was  indeed a wonderful day of easy riding but the most difficult question before us was - where is our next destination? Although going to Kluang was the original intent, the lure of a relatively new resort in Sedili that I just came across on the net won us over. Cycling along the balmy coast beats the heat of riding along the busy inland Hway 91 through oil palm plantations and a quick exit out via ferry was most appealing.

We slept feeling very smug with our last minute change of plan.

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