January 2018 – Winter Cometh jezt? Not really

It is supposed to be cold in January but it is not. At least not for folks in the Northern Hemisphere. Well is it wet? Yes sometimes. Does it rain? Yes but more like a drizzle actually by Malaysian standard of rain. Fortunately except for one almost blizzard like day the rest of the month was mild. That means great outdoors and great hikes. My weeks goes like this in January. Monday and Wednesday morning hikes. Friday morning Coffee Morning with English speaking community. The rest of days attending Networking events with the leadership coaching and learning community in Basel, Zurich, Bern and Geneva. Ok I do some shopping and cooking for the family as well. Thats keeping me busy these days. Thankfully still managed to have some cycling done zipping here and there around Basel city.

January brought me places like Zurich, Geneva, Colmar, Bern and Andlau ( Thank you Kevin).

It’s great to be outside on days like these.
Its neither sunset or sunrise, just cloudy winter’s day. A bit confusing at times.
Winter wonderland. Somedays you get to see this but only for a short while as all will be melted away in awhile as temperature rises in the afternoon.
Blue Skies and very nice
Hiking towards heaven
Quick take a picture before all is gone
OK picture of me. Enjoying and happy being outside
Downhill to the valley
Quaint Colma. Spent the day exploring Colmar, France. I had a un used ticket that I redeemed as not to waste it, I initially had a bus ticket to Zurich for a meeting. The meeting was cancelled and I could not get a refund. I was able to change the location though so I picked Colmar. What a great decision. I picked the right day too. It was raining and the day that all museums were closed. So the town was devoid of Tourist. Yay !
The real Colmar, France not Colmar Bukit Tinggi ya.
Colmar, France hardly anyone around. My gain.
After all the walking, I am hungry
Where is my food ?
The portions are huge here.
Basel Museum Night. One night from 7pm to 2am where all museums are open and with one pass that cost Swiss Francs 24 ( Around RM 95) you can visit all the museums in Basel. All 30 plus of them !
My Day out at Geneva. Will be attending an ICF Chapter Meeting in the evening. So might as well be a tourist first.
Lake Leman, one of the biggest lake in Switzerland. What a beautiful day to be out. So warm for winter. More like spring weather.
The Swans are happy too
I eventually took the jacket off as it was too warm.
Wonderful day out for lunch outside. Some crazy folks were swimming in the lake!
The Giant Geneva Spurt !
Flower power bicycle
You can take ferries across the lake like a bus or tram. No need tickets as I have a free city day pass from the hostel I am staying at. 
Now thats what I call a great view to end the day of city exploring. Need to get back to the hostel to freshen up and get ready for the meeting later in the evening.
Some days its foggy and wet but we still hike
Along the river hiking
Look what I spotted! A Malaysian flag flying proud by the river. Next to an Indonesian flag as well.
Wonderful pathways 
Great views
Ruins. Time for coffee break
Lovely find on our walk
Next time I shall explore the cave.

December 2017 – Winter is here ?

Dear friends, sorry for the silence. I am on the road ( out of Malaysia) but this time not cycling. Well to be accurate not cycle touring. I have been with my family in Basel, Switzerland since end November 2017. The only cycling I am doing is city commuting which is wonderful too. Basel is a great city for cycling. Organised and very bike friendly. It’s bicycle track flows well and works so it is convenient, safe and a joy to commute via a bicycle.

December went by in a flash and January too. Basel winter was surprisingly mild this year. So far I have only seen 2 to 3 days of snow. Temperatures hover mostly above 0C and somedays can be as high as 15C.

Most of my days are spent doing some house chores like shopping, a bit of coaching related project work, attending social meetings and networking and also lots of hiking in the forest nearby.

Nothing incredibly adventurous but I am enjoying it. Here are a collection of photos to share my experience so far. Enjoy.

My first hike after arriving in Basel.
A rare wintery vista on the hike
I make frequent shopping runs to Germany on my commuter bike. Love the scenic forest route.
Christmas is soon
Wonderful sun in the winter across the vineyards around Aesch
This is ready for a stomp
The Monday Hiking group from Basel
The skinny tires are not really suitable for this kind of weather but I just had to try it.
Winter Wunderland. It was a nice day out
Seems like a lot of snow and very cold. If you walk fast enough, it would be OK.
Vitra Museum Cafe. Time for coffee after the hike.
Merry Christmas to all
Winter is not the time to stay indoors. Not especially with walks like this.
Happy New Year from all of us in Basel.

Goodbye Batu Pahat. Thanks for hosting the crazy band of Superheroes over the weekend. 

Batu Pahat remains one of my favourite small town.  It’s charming with its old buildings and small shops, great food and friendly locals. The nutty band of “superheroes” lead by SuperCylcingMan had a wonderful time and we thank you Batu Pahat. Thank you also to Ho Liao Canteen for hosting us and providing us with a wonderful mini town tour and sharing it’s interesting  history. We shall be back to visit again. 

Delicious satay lontong. Only in Batu Pahat.
I am told the first temple in Batu Pahat
A lot of history
My favourite wall at Batu Pahat.
Loved all the charming old building all over the town. I truly hope it will remain for generations.
Famous back alley only the locals will know for commerce of the night. Any guess what sort of commerce ?
Seems abandon but I am told a lot of action inside.
Nice cosy cafes line this one are sprouting out
The famous bakery in Batu Pahat. Their coconut buns are a must try !
Ok like terror. But not. Could not resist to pretend to jam with the locals.
Jerry Tan’s wonderful cafe called Ho Liao Canteen. Come try their fired curry chicken rice. It’s super delicious.

Superman in search for superheros buddies

Day 2 ride to Batu Pahat was so much fun. It was long and hard 104km ride but worth it as SuperCyclingMan succeeded to find his superhero buddies. Let the fun begin. The road condition was around 80% tarmac and 20% gravel but it was never a problem for all. After fooling around for almost the whole day, the superheros arrive Batu Pahat at around 6pm. We were graciously welcomed by Jerry our host who runs a fantatsic hip cafe called Ho Liao Canteen. He allowed us to stay at the top level of his cafe. What a perfect ending to a wonderful ride. 

Pasar malam at Jonkers street
Perfect spot to hunt for superheroes.
Beautiful Melaka river by night.
In search for Superheroes
Dinner time
Off we go towards Batu Pahat.
Ultraman wondering where is the rest of the superheroes
Ultraman finds Captain America taking a break or maybe a leak ?
Rest stop waiting for arrival of Ultraman
Beautiful buildings are found all over Batu Pahat
Kopi time
Wow all the superheroes are found and ready to descend upon Batu Pahat. Watch out BP here we come.
Parit Jawa
Special Parit Jawa Assam fish
A scenic view of the fishing boats and the dock.
Nice Kampung roads
We didn’t mind the rough gravel roads at all.
Ninja turtle taking a short break
Even Superheroes need rest at some point
SuperCyclingMan saying hello to Batu Pahat.
Fantastic place for us to stay the night at Batu Pahat. Thank you Jerry from Ho Liao Canteen.
Captain America calls it the day. Sweet dreams all.

In search for Ultraman 

A short 3 day tour southwards to Batu Pahat. Today the plan was to take the KTM to Tampin and ride to Melaka from there. A short but sweet ride. Around 35km only. 

Waiting for the connecting train to Tampin
Tampin KTM station at Pulau Sebang
Cendol first before anything else. The durian cendol was OK but expensive. RM7
The tauhu is cheap though only 1 RM for this
A huge Cock ! Oops I mean Cockerel
No Ultraman here.
Here also don’t have but nice building though
Found it! A bit lame though so I will pass.
Nice kampung house
Strike the pose
Jackpot. Found the perfect Ultraman !
Yesssssss Ultraman !
Yay arrived Melaka with Ultraman
Ultraman needs to wait his turn too.

I finally found Ultraman in Alor Gajah.  From here a short ride to Melaka where we will spend one night before heading out to Batu Pahat tomorrow. 

Post Ride – Hokkaido Tour 2017

I really enjoyed the short tour of Hokkaido and I will definitely come back for another tour at some point. Hokkaido is a great island for cycle touring if you are looking for a more relaxing and easy going type of your.  What I loved about the place ? Mostly the greenery and natural surroundings. Camping is so cheap and convenient and tons of information about the island are available either online or at information centres. As a traveller you are spoilt for choices for accommodation. Camping free or paid are all over the place and so are rider houses ( organised mostly for motor bikers touring) can be for free or paid. Camping if not free cost from 300 Yen to 600 Yen and both free and paid are always with clean toilets and open cleaning kitchens. Rider houses can cost around 1000 Yen per person. Hostels and hotels are expensive. Be prepared to pay around 4000 Yen and above. 

Food and drinks inexpensive if you buy from the supermarkets. For a quick meal you have the options of abundance of convenient store like 711, SeacoMart or Lawson in almost every town. Food package usually starts from 300 to 500 Yen. Premium beer is around 200 To 250 Yen per 500ml can and if you are not choosy the cheapest beer cost around 70 to 80 Yen. Wine is super cheap too. You can actually fine super cheap very drinkable Spanish wine from SeacoMart at around 400 Yen per bottle. 

If you are frugal can actually tour for very cheap in Hokkaido. Here is my spending for your information. 

This is my total expenditure over 23 days touring not including KL to Hokkaido KL airfare and ground transport.
Total cost of accommodation. Mostly for hostel and rider house stay. Would be less if I choose to camp everyday.
Food is inclusive of wine and beer. I had wine and beer almost everyday 🙂
Local SIM card for 15 days and 3 GB of data.
White gas for cooking, laundry
Museum entrance fee, cable car ride and various entrance fees to attractions.
Train ticket from Chitose Airport to Shin Sapporo and back

Day 3 – Shinsapporo 

Today the plan is to set up my bike and also spend some time looking around the area.  Another tourer from Hong Kong is also staying with my host family. Ming is planning to cycle the whole of Japan starting from Sapporo. He is awaiting his friend to join him in around 3 weeks. 

We planned to cycle to a nearby historical town for a look see and later to downtown to have lunch and a bit of shopping for groceries. 

We first visited the historical village of Hokkaido which sits on a 54 hectares of Nopporo Forest Park. There are around 60 structures and old building to see. Entrance fee is 700 Yen which is RM27.  Very interesting to see the different Japanese types of architectures and in different eras. We headed to town after this for lunch at a downtown food courts that was nothing special and yet slightly expensive. We headed back to my host’s home to adjust my bike and final set up for the ride tomorrow. 

Mrs Ikeda our host’s wife cooked us a storm for dinner and it was so delicious. After dinner the whole family played UNO together and after that we chatted for awhile before I call it the night and went to my room to pack my panniers. Tomorrow’s weather is forecasted to be so so. With potential rain around 2pm. Let’s see. 

Kenichi’s home
Sake galore
100th year anniversary Tower
Aiyoh parking full
Yummy dinner by Kasumi
Ming, tourer from Hong Kong