Day Four The Longest Day. Tuk Tuk to Tanjung Balai

Our wonderful short tour is coming to an end. What a lovely place Samosir Island. Although an island in a lake it has really a great island vibe to it and would be a great place to spend a couple of weeks to explore it. Well maybe next time we do a round island trip. I really enjoyed the laid back and village feel of the place.

Today our plan was to ride 141KM to Tanjung Balai starting from a ferry ride from Tuk Tuk back to the mainland. Looking at the profile and the distance the night before with the ride leaders, it became clear to us that it would be a crazy plan. The first 20 plus KM would be a uphill ride on a very busy road. Thankfully we decided in the end to hire a lorry and some MPV to bus us to the point where we turn off to a village road. That would save us from the heavy traffic and the climb as well. No matter the ride would be still almost 120KM.

The ride back to Tanjung Balai itself was rather unimpressive and at times boring. Road conditions was bad at some parts and heavy traffic also was common. As you imagine we took very little photos as we where focused on getting to Tanjung Balai.

The weather was the hottest of the trip too. We finally arrived Tanjung Balai around 6pm and was let by our host to our abode passing through some really incredible traffic full of motorbikes and rickshaws. Finally we arrived at 630pm and got our rooms and settled in. Tonight everybody was bonked and decided to order in and did not even bother to go for beers. That was really a first for this group.

Early start for a long multi mode journey today. 
Bikes loaded and we are off.
All system go ! 
Managed to catch this shot of a boat man against the morning sun
One of the many rest stops to hid from the heat.
Ahhh Another Warong stop 
Its Sunday, so everyone is dressed to their best including children,
A Pentecostal Church. Looks like out of a Western movie minus the coconut tree of course.
Another water stop
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Narrow roads most of the way !
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 We have arrived at the Pesthouse at Tangjung Balai
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Dinner time. All too hungry to look at the camera.

Day Three Pangururan to Tuk Tuk

There was really not much to do at Pengururan except for their thermal baths nearby. We visited it yesterday and had a nice hot dip to relax our sore muscles. A combination of Durians before sleeping and a room without air condition and fan with noisy road side makes sleep a bit of challenge. I did get in a few winks. Today’s ride would be a massive climb up to 1650m or so. A net climb of around 800m. Tough if may be, I am hopeful that the scenery would make up for it. And it did. The ride was spectacular. We passed by many small villages and as many churches. Minangkabau influence houses with bull horn shaped roofs where everywhere. I am really very intrigued with the Batak culture and way of life there. There must be some interesting history in this region.

As we were riding along, there where also a lot of school children going to school and was fun to see them being so happy and cheerful upon seeing us passing them. What a joy.

The first part of the road was rather rough but eventually it got better and we had a nice downhill run back to Tuk Tuk and also back to the original resort we was at last. Nice. Tomorrow we will have our longest ride of the trip. A thumping 141km ! Oh well let’s enjoy the evening first. And boy did we have a great time partying with the hotel manager before calling it the night.

Spa Village near Pangururan
Time to soak our tired bodies with wonderful view of the hills
Downtown Pangururan
And we are off to the hills !
Time to chill and enjoy the view after a hard climb
The kids here are full of joy and not sure about posing for photos!
Another beautiful example of a Batak traditional house
Another Batak building
One of the many family tombs around the island
Coffee Time!

I am on top of the hill!
Bumped into an Artist while blasting downhill. Had to stop to admire his beautiful work!
A beauty. The waterfall I mean.
Fantastic Cafe at the peak !
Our first class seating.
Hello KC!
Time for a coffee and Indo Mee Sup
Back to Tuk Tuk

Day Two : Tuk Tuk to Pangururan

Finally some Saddle time. We took off for our first ride of the tour. We left after a quick breakfast. Weather was perfect with some cloud. It will be an easy 40KM ride to Pangururan. Along the way it was interesting to note that there are lots of churches and huge elaborate tombs. We also passed by very impressive house with very high sails like roof and really tiny doors. I wondered if these are the Minangkabau style houses. A really great day out riding and seeing the locality and appreciating the culture and the way of life here. It seems so familiar and yet so different. I am beginning to love this place.

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An early start passing through quaint villages
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Smooth roads and minimal traffic.
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Great views of the mountains and the mighty crater Lake Toba.
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Cloudy but cool weather makes riding enjoyable

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The mighty Lake Toba
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We passed by many of such houses. Very impressive and different.
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Another fine example of a Batak house

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Say hello to my gang
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The Batak people love their meat. B1 is dog meat ! B2 is pork.
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More Batak houses.
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The huge Lake has many nice picnic beaches to chill.
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Just chilling and taking a break from riding
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Batak women folk selling mini mangoes.

Day One Medan to Samosir Island, Lake Toba

Great to be back on the road with my mates and my trusty bike. This time it’s a five day trip around Medan, Lake Toba and surroundings. Today we took an early flight to Kuala Namu, Medan and later bus and ferry to our resort in Samosir Island. The island seems like a nice little place much like a smaller version of Bali but without the Hindu influence. After arriving the resort we went for a quick lunch before unboxing and fixing up our bike. The rest of the day we sat around chit chatting and eating and drinking. This is what cycle touring is about. Tomorrow we will push off for a short 40KM ride.

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All packed and ready for Medan.
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Baggage arrived safely and we are waiting to head off to Samosir Island. Waiting for the prearranged transport company.
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What a wonderful welcome by our logistic provider. Horas!
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Orderly loading of our bike boxes.
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Our Ferry to Samosir Island
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The colourful ferry cockpit
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All very relaxed and looking forward to the ride the next day.
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Pool side view into the lake.
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My wonderful balcony with great views of the lake.
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Resort view from the balcony.
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Drink first ride later.

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
Castles
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.