Saturday, January 29, 2022

A Week Cycling in Tucson

Prickly Arizona landscape

Dave and Edna had been to Mexico in the morning and managed to get all their dental work completed early enough that we could get hitched up and head on down the road. After camping together for 10 days in Yuma, we continued traveling together to Tucson.  By car, this is about a 4 hour drive. Towing the trailers we would go much slower than the speed limit and the trip would probably be closer to 6 hours. We decided to make it a 2 day trip stopping at the Painted Rocks Petroglyph campground. This campground is on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) public lands and is located about 20 miles west of Gila Bend. The campground doesn't take reservations and sites are occupied 1st come 1st serve. There are about 60 sites each with a picnic table and fire pit. There are also a couple of vault toilets but, otherwise, there are no services. You need to come prepared with water, food and power. We didn't really know what to expect but the petroglyphs peaked our interest. There is also a dam on the map that looked to be an easy trike ride's distance.

Map from Yuma to Painted Rock Petroglyphs Campground

Camp set up

The campground is 11 miles from I-8. Painted Rocks Road is paved all the way to the campground where it turns to dirt.  We found a very nice double site where we could camp together.  We arrived early enough that we got our trikes out to go for a ride to find the dam and reservoir that's shown on the map. This was a very nice 12 miles on a paved road with undulating hills and next to no traffic. We got out to the dam where there is an Army Corp of Engineers office but the road to the reservoir is closed with no public entry. We turned around and I put the drone in the air to have it follow us back to the campground. Strangely, both directions felt downhill. That's a nice ride!

Casting shadows

Riding next to Painted Rocks Ranch

Three Amigos

Desert riding back from the dam

We got back to the campground in the late afternoon with just enough light to walk around the Petroglyphs. These are left from the Hohokam peoples who lived and farmed the area in AD 900 - AD 1400. There are many other petroglyphs in the area but this campground has the largest display with about 800 painted rocks. The rocks are roped off and you can easily walk around the mound in 15 minutes. There are a number of interpretive signs describing what the rocks mean and the history. 

Petroglyphs from AD 900

Petroglyphs from the campground site with 800 rocks

The sunset was fantastic and the night sky was bright with stars. The campground is surrounded by desert with only the sound of coyotes howling and barking. For me, this campground is a real find and I expect to return. With a senior national parks pass, the fee is $4 per person. We chatted with the camp hosts for quite awhile. They were very interested in our trikes. The hosts also told us the dam and reservoir have been dry for many years and would only be used in a 100 year flood event.

Sunset reflected on the trailer

Desert Sunset

The next morning we hitched up and headed to Tucson where Dave and Edna have a site reserved for the winter at Prince of Tucson RV park. The gem show, which is the biggest in the world, is also going on in Tucson. I had called a number of RV parks and all were filled through February. Dave, somehow, got me a site where they are camped and I checked in for a week. One the features of the Prince of Tucson RV Park is it has direct access to the Tucson Cycling Loop.

Desert Sunrise

Sunrise with the moon still high in the sky

Tucson is well known for cycling. The Tucson Loop is more than 130 miles of cycling paths and there are many more cycling opportunities as well. I sent word to the Tucson Recumbent Cycling group that I wanted to meet up and they announced 2 rides. The 1st group ride started just outside the RV park. I got to meet people that I've known online for years. Bonnie and John, Kelly, Mo, Ad and Chuck along with Dave and Edna met for a ride out to Marana. It was a gorgeous day and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The trail goes along the flood control washes but at the very end the topography turned quite dramatic where we were riding right next to a deep red jagged rock mountain. I got out the drone to have it follow us to a trailhead where there were a couple of tables and we stopped to have a snack. Bonnie and John came prepared with place settings and cutlery.

Tucson Recumbent Cycling Group Ride

Bonnie and John show us how it's done

The next day, Dave, Chuck and I met again at the RV park and rode up Sentinel Peak. We had ridden passed the mountain the day before and Dave said he wanted to ride up. I was all for it and Chuck knew how to get there. In the morning and early afternoon the road is closed to car traffic. There is a gate across the road. We took the flags off our trikes and they rolled right under the gate. The view from the top was fantastic. You could see all of Tucson and the surrounding mountains. Here too, I got the drone out and had it follow us on the way down. I would love to do that ride again.

Tucson from Sentinel Peak

View on the way down from Sentinel Peak

Great tacos at the Mercado

Trikes resting after a tough climb up the mountain

On Thursday, the group met again for a ride to Saguaro National Park East. I rode with Kelly, Ad, Dave and Edna out of Pantano River Park. Ad led us down the loop and then we took Old Spanish Trail road into the National Park where we met Mo and Doug to ride the 8 mile loop. This was sensational. The road in the park was super smooth and the views were incredible. The saguaro cactus only grow in the high desert in Arizona and south into the Sonoran desert of Mexico. This park was set up to protect them. The day had bright blue skies with light winds. The ride started out in the upper 50's but warmed up to the mid 60's. The brilliant blue sky contrasted the cactus beautifully. There's a good amount of climbing which is where the best views were. I loved this ride.

Saguaro Panorama

Dave and Edna on a dirt road detour

Kelly and a Saguaro

Javalina Rocks

West Side View

Dave and Edna also took me to the west part of the Saguaro National Park. The winds were blowing fierce on Friday and we felt so lucky to have had calm winds for our group ride. This National Park is in 2 separate parts of the city. In fact, the city of Tucson is right between the 2 parks. I loved the drive and really want to return to camp out there and do more riding.   Riding up Gates Pass and being able to see Old Tucson would be very fun. 

Cholla in the sunshine

This was an action packed week where I also got my hair cut and colored, had 2 chiropractic visits for routine maintenance adjustments and did some necessary shopping at Costco.  Dave and Edna had their grill going almost every night and I enjoyed hanging out with them. The next time I see them will probably be back in Portland.

I, of course, will have videos coming for all the rides. From here, I'm heading west to meet triking friends in San Juan Capistrano, California to do more riding. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

10 days in Yuma, Arizona


Walking across the border into Mexico with Dave and Edna

Yuma, Arizona is not a place I ever expected to be returning to and especially not returning to year after year. Why do I keep going back?!? I keep going back to take care of yearly routine medical appointments just across the border in Los Algodones, Mexico. This small Mexican town is almost exclusively medical and caters to Americans and Canadians who need, primarily, lower cost dental work. Most people don't have dental insurance and this town has found a profitable niche. There are over 500 dentists in Los Algodones which has the nickname of 'Molar City'. There are also every other type of doctor and medical office.

This year, my good friends Dave and Edna, who I know from Portland, met me so I could show them how getting medical in Mexico works. They spend winters in Tucson at an RV park and drove the 4 hours with their trailer so we could all stay together in Yuma. We got settled at the Riverfront RV park. There are hundreds of RV parks in Yuma and most of them are less than desirable. Aside from a couple of fancier RV resorts that are on the outskirts of Yuma, the Riverfront RV park is probably the nicest. The park is right on the Colorado River and butts up against a wildlife area in an undeveloped part of the West Wetlands city park. Dave and Edna got a site looking out at the wetlands and I was just in the next row. This RV park has a one week minimum stay with a cost of $175 plus electricity. 

Riverfront RV site

Yuma sunset

Edna had a crown she wanted replaced. I always get my teeth cleaned at the same dental office, Simply Dental, and we made early morning appointments so we could go together. We set these appointments up online. The dental office responded within an hour to confirm our appointments and they also called the night before. Everyone speaks English well which is very helpful and they were also very clear that the appointments were on Arizona (Mountain) time and not California (Pacific) time even though the border crossing is actually in California.

The drive from the RV park in Yuma to the border is about 15 minutes. We paid $6 to park in the border lot and walked across into Mexico. There are no requirements, proof of Covid vaccine or id necessary to enter Mexico. Once you cross the border you are in the town of Los Algodones walking passed nothing but building after building of dental and medical offices or pharmacies. Simply Dental, where we had our appointments, is only a 2 block walk from the border. The sidewalks are littered with stalls selling tchotchkies, trinkets and clothes. There are also lots of guys offering to help you find a dentist or medical office.
Edna got called in first and while Dave and I were waiting in the lobby, a couple of certifiably crazy Q-Anon Americans tried to engage us in a political confrontation when we responded to their simple question of where we are from. They proceeded to insist that the entire city of Portland is a smoldering ash pit after being burnt to the ground while simultaneously being taken over by communists and anarchists. We both told them it isn't remotely true and that we didn't want to talk about politics. The Q-Anon husband proceeded to tell us he pays $3 million per year in taxes to the IRS and he is outraged that his taxes are going up to $16 million/year. I quietly asked him why he is Mexico for dental work if his income is high enough to owe $3 million in taxes. He quickly changed the subject to tell us that Biden, Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton along with Governor Gavin Newsom have all had tribunals at Guantanamo and have been executed. They and most other Democratic leaders are all dead. What we are seeing on tv and in the news are clones. Even though I kept saying I didn't want to engage with them they kept on talking. I've never been so happy to hear my name called for a dental procedure to escape from these creeps. 

Video from last year's Mexico visit

When I finished getting my $35 teeth cleaning, Edna was still in her appointment and I decided to go get my yearly lab work done. The lab is just 2 blocks away. I ordered complete lab work done including thyroid panel, vitamin d, a1c and cholesterol work up. I gave a urine sample and then the phlebotomist filled 4 vials of blood. This all cost $160 and took 10 minutes to complete. On my way out, I made an appointment for the next day with a very popular dermatologist whose office is in the same building. I returned to the dental office just as Edna was finished with her appointment.  She learned that her tooth that needs a new crown has an infection which needs to be cleared up before moving forward with any procedure. Off to the Purple pharmacy we went to get some antibiotics. 
Crossing back over the border is simple as long as you have your passport. Border patrol takes your picture and runs your passport through a computer scanner. They ask what you bought and let you walk back into the US. We left Yuma at about 7:15 and returned by 11:30.  My lab work results arrived by email 2 hours later - all 5 pages.

Old truck at the RV park

Ft. Yuma Mission church

The next day, I returned to Mexico to see the dermatologist. Dr Roberto Flores is a very cheerful man who speaks clear English. I showed him a few spots on my face and he quickly pointed out one that was pre-cancerous and the others are just small growths. He froze them all off in a matter of minutes. I brought my lab work results and asked if he could write a prescription for my thyroid medication. The results were the same as the last time I had them done and asked for a prescription of the same dosage. He said I don't need a prescription for thyroid medication. In Mexico, it is an over-the-counter medicine. I also asked if he could write me a prescription for a generic version of Ambien (Stillnox) to keep on hand when I have difficulty sleeping. No problem. I was in and out of his office in probably 20 minutes walking to the pharmacy to get my needed medications.  It turns out that Stillnox also doesn't need a prescription. But, because it is a controlled substance, even with a prescription you can't bring it back over the border. Some people will remove the pills from the packaging, put the pills in a baggy carrying them across the border in a pocket.

Yuma may not be the most interesting city to spend time but getting my routine medical appointments done hassle-free in Mexico and far cheaper than what I would pay in the US makes it all worthwhile. I had everything done that I came for  taken care of in 2 days. I decided to hang out with Dave and Edna until Edna got her dental stuff completed. We ended up spending 10 days in Yuma. Most days we would get our trikes out and go for rides. There are some nice paved paths that go through the West Wetlands and along many irrigation canals.

Photo taken from the Mexico side of the border wall

One of our 1st rides, I decided to take a road south out of the RV park that looked to be very quiet. Dave and I followed it for many miles along agricultural fields. Even though there wasn't a bike lane there was also next to no traffic. The fields were rows of bright green plants but we couldn't tell what was growing. After a few miles the road turned to gravel but it was smooth enough that we kept on riding. Eventually we were riding right along the border with Mexico and the famous wall. We were shocked to see big gaps in the wall where anyone could walk on through. These gaps were 100s of feet long. There was an irrigation canal on the Mexico side but we also saw bridges across the canal right where there were gaps in the wall. No one had to swim to get into the US. These gaps we passed were no more than 1/4 mile from the official border crossing we had used to go to our medical appointments in Los Algodones. 

Big thorn flat

Sponsored section of the bike path

Dave in historic downtown Yuma

Dave asked aloud how funny it would be for us to ride across one of these short canal bridges in Mexico. We both looked at each other, turned our trikes around and rode the very short distance through the border wall down to the bridge turning around on the other side of the canal. I, of course, used my 360 camera to capture and document this crossing. We had been to Mexico twice in one day. Once legally and once illegally.

Riding on unpaved area of the Wetlands

Snowy egret at the pond

Ghost bike for Charles

Turtle getting some sun on the rim of the pond

Yuma is big enough to have everything you need but small enough to get around easily. I appreciate the relaxed atmosphere. Getting medical stuff done in Mexico is so easy I expect to return next year again.  During our 10 day stay, I took Dave on many rides that included gravel and unpaved paths. Sometimes these unpaved paths were smoother than the paved ones. 

Pretty soon, Edna's infection cleared and she was able to complete her dental work. Once everything was finished we were ready to get hitched up and head out of Yuma. I decided to follow Dave and Edna to the RV park where they are staying for the winter in Tucson to do more riding. The Tucson loop has more than 130 miles of paved cycling paths and I was looking forward to seeing more of the cycling infrastructure as well as lots of other friends. 

Seems there is always more riding to do.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Singapore Through Malaysia 2012


Singapore to Thailand 2012

Setting up my trike in front of the hostel in Singapore after flight from Los Angeles

Having a Singapore Sling at Raffles, Singapore

A Rough Plan to Tour from Singapore to Beijing, China

Arriving in Singapore

Singapore to Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Taman Nusa Perintis II, Malaysia

Pontian, Malaysia

Batu Pahat, Malaysia

Muar, Malaysia

Melaka, Malaysia

Eagle Ranch Resort

Bagan Lalang, Malaysia

Bangar Baru Bangi, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Rawang, Malaysia

Kuala Kubu Bharu, Malaysia

Ipoh, Malaysia

Bidor, Malaysia

Kuala Kangsar, Malaysia

Bagan Serai, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

Georgetown to Langkawi, Malaysia

Singapore to Johor Bahru, Malaysia

November 4th, 2012 

Garmin Stats

Kathryn and I have been having a wonderful time in Singapore. We've especially enjoyed the area where we are staying. Little India is charming and eclectic. Yesterday, we met up with a friend of a friend from the Oregon coast. Ching was intent on making sure we had what we needed for our trip. She is fantastic and graciously met us at the hotel and, right away, talked us through our route out of Singapore into Malaysia. Then she took us for some terrific local foods. We had crispy Chinese rojak, spring rolls with shredded turnip and crab. One roll was mild and the other spicy. We had a noodle dish of Char Kwai Teow and chicken rice. Everything was delicious. We talked about many things in Singapore. Ching told us how driving a car is truly a luxury. The certificate, not a license, to drive a car for 10 years is $50,000. The cars are also extremely expensive. A Mini Cooper costs $190,000 including the certificate. The cost doesn't seem to be deterring anyone from driving as every street is congested with traffic. This city/country seems to have enormous wealth.

Ching highly recommended doing the night safari at the zoo but we read the animals tend to hibernate when it's raining. The rain felt good in the humid air but, at $26 a ticket, we really didn't want to wander in the rain and not see any animals so, unfortunately, headed back to the hotel. We got off the train a few stops early to walk down Orchard Street with block after block after block of ultra high-end shopping centers. I'm not sure I've ever seen as much shopping as there is in Singapore. I found the idea that people are buying all this stuff overwhelming. As much fun as we have had, seeing this level of commercialism and concrete sent me over the top and I was ready to get going.

In the morning, Sunday, we packed up our stuff and loaded up the trikes. I had a bit of a problem when one of my pannier clips that connects to the rear rack wouldn't open. It took awhile to figure it out and somehow using a small flathead screwdriver wedged under the latch worked. We loved staying at the Perak Hotel and some of the staff saw us off taking pictures. It was super hot and humid as we found our way through the busy streets of Singapore and within minutes I was dripping with sweat. After just 4.5 miles we pulled over to take a break. We noticed a small organic grocery and decided to spend the last of our Singapore dollars there. A few miles later I pulled into a bike shop hoping for help getting my SE Asia map loaded on the Garmin GPS. Whenever I brought up the map feature the Garmin showed us in the ocean off the coast of Singapore. Not very helpful. Unfortunately, the bike shop people had no idea how to help and we returned to the trikes. At mile 9 we pulled over again to take a break under the shade of the large tree snacking on some nuts and dried mangos. That seemed to give us a burst of energy that helped us ride the last 10 miles through Singapore crossing into Malaysia. We met a young Japanese tourer but he didn't speak English and all we could do is smile at each other. The border crossing was uneventful and our passports got stamped quickly. Just as we came into Johor Bahru the skies became dark and menacing. We decided to call it a day and found a wonderful hotel that was just opening. The price was right and we checked into a very nice room for $35. We barely got the trikes secured when the skies let loose with a torrential downpour and powerful winds. The oppressive heat throughout the day took a lot out of us. I wanted to explore the area but decided to put if off until tomorrow. What I really needed was a shower and a good nights' sleep.

A Rough Plan to Tour from Singapore to Beijing, China


The plan is, essentially, to start riding in Singapore and end in Beijing, China. This route will take me through Malaysia and the length of Thailand. The distance is approximately 4,500 miles and, at my turtle pace, should take around 6 months. I'll start in November at the end of the Monsoon season in SE Asia and, hopefully, get to Beijing in May before the suffocating smog and heat make it impossible to enjoy this great city. Everything in-between is, somewhat, up in the air.

Over the summer, I put out a call for companions and a few people expressed interest. Kathryn, aka the Baglady, bought an airline ticket. She also rides a recumbent trike and we should be quite the sight on the roads of Asia. We are both experienced travelers having each done many solo trike trips. Kathryn is also an avid hiker and has, impressively, completed the Appalachian trail. Although traveling solo is very rewarding, I feel like having company will quiet some of the anxiety of traveling. During the rough patches we'll have someone to turn to as well as someone to share the beauty with. Even though I've never had any trouble traveling solo, I know my friends and family are very relieved that Kathryn is joining me. We have been conversing through Facebook and phone over the last couple of months. It feels like we have similar travel styles and enjoy taking it slow. We'll assess each day as it comes without any concern for the number of miles ridden. I expect that 2 trikes will attract even more attention than one. We will be meeting a lot of people on this trip. 2 older women riding trikes through Asia - just the idea makes me smile.

I have spent the last 2 weeks in Los Angeles visiting with family and making last minute preparations for the trip. Flying to Asia from Los Angeles is easy and usually means there is only one connection. I'll be flying Eva Air with a stop in Taipei. As with all my international flights, I won't be putting Myrtle in a box. Since my new trike folds, I'll take the seat off, fold the trike and put bubble-wrap where ever I foresee any chances for damage.

Even though I've never had any problems or damage to the trike from air travel I'm always super nervous and looking for any advantage. It occurred to me that if the airlines were dealing with a mobility device they might take extra care. After considerable conversation on the BROL (bentrideronline) trike message boards, I've added 2 disabled placards. I was advised by a disabled rider who regularly flies with a trike to take my extensive injuries seriously to make traveling just a bit easier. Essentially, she gave me permission to use the disabled placards relieving me of any guilty feelings that I might be committing a serious faux pas. The airlines are not allowed to asked about a disability - all you have to do is claim it. This triker also suggested I refer to the trike as a racing wheelchair. This will make more sense to non-riders than calling it a recumbent tricycle. I'll be getting to the airport an hour earlier than required to give the baggage people more time to deal with the trike. On all my flights this extra time has been greatly appreciated.

I am especially eager to try out my new trike and leaner body. I've taken 60 lbs off my body reaching all the weight loss goals I set to achieve before starting this tour. Since we won't be camping, my gear kit will also be lighter. Moto-Myrtle on my last tour weighed about 160 lbs with the motor, batteries, Cargo Monster, gear and water. My new Myrtle weighs about 75 lbs loaded with gear and water. That is a difference of 145 lbs that I'm leaving behind for this tour which should make everything remarkably easier.

Woohoo - Singapore, here we come!

Arriving in Singapore


I am always super nervous about flying and especially when I'm flying with my trike. I rolled Myrtle up to the counter and, as usual with international flights, I didn't have any problems. Myrtle was folded with lots of bubble wrap but wasn't in a box. The check-in agent asked a few questions and then took the trike with no extra fees. My flight to Singapore took-off on time at 1 am from Los Angeles. This flight had 2 legs. The first was 14 hours to Taipei which was very turbulent. My seat was in the last row which probably made the turbulence worse. I actually got sick twice but had taken enough Ambien that I didn't care. I was able to sleep which was a relief. The lay-over in Taipei was short and after another 4 hours I landed in Singapore. Myrtle arrived in baggage claim without a scratch. The heat and humidity hit me forcefully as I walked outside dragging my panniers and my trike. I found a van to my hotel in Little India.  My tour buddy, Kathryn, was waiting excitedly at the entrance. It was good to see her and arrive. Kathryn's journey to Singapore was far more eventful. She got the last flight before super storm Sandy ravaged the east coast and closed down air travel for a week.

We got all my stuff situated in the room and then I crashed. From 6 pm until 4 am. Kathryn was awake too and we headed out walking all around the area eventually finding something to eat. Even at this hour it was very warm.

The next few days were spent exploring. We mostly walked but did take the MRT train out to Sentosa Island. Kathryn did the iFly attraction that simulates flying/skydiving in a wind tunnel. I took video as an instructor guided her in the air. It was cool to watch. Later that evening we went to the historic Raffles Hotel for their very famous Singapore Sling cocktails. At $30 a piece we indulged in only one drink feeling like it was just something that had to be done in Singapore. The hotel is in a lovely setting with beautiful courtyards but I couldn't recommend the drink.

Yesterday we took care of the trikes. Blaze, Kathryn's trike, was ready to go but Myrtle needed the bubble wrap removed. We took to the streets for a short test ride and it felt good to be riding. Another recommended not-to-be-missed attraction was the Marina Bay Sands hotel and Casino. It is actually 3 buildings with a gigantic boat on top. The hotel is very impressive architecturally with lots of ultra-exclusive shopping. This is how the .1% lives. We went to the top floor Sky Bar and took in the impressive views. It was a very hot day and we were dripping with sweat constantly looking for shade. Next to the hotel is the Gardens By the Bay and this is truly spectacular. We bought tickets for the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. These are huge greenhouse conservatories. The Flower Dome is cool and dry while the Cloud Forest is a giant rain forest that includes the worlds largest indoor waterfall. Kathryn, unexpectedly, ran into a family she met on her flight over which was terrific fun. After, we rode through the super tree grove with the enormous tree sculptures. So much about this city is unexpected. Even though Singapore is cutting edge modern and super clean and also very quiet. There are lots of rules and it is probably against the law to honk a car horn. The sun had set and it was starting to get dark as we rode back to the hotel. This was a very exciting ride where we, somehow, managed to get on an expressway for a very short distance. I don't recommend riding a trike on an expressway in the dark.

I have been both excited and nervous about this trip. This is my first tour traveling with someone. I'm not used to spending so much time with anyone but, so far, we seem to be a really good team. This feels amazing since we only met once, over a year ago, for a couple of hours in Portland. It seems like having a travel companion will make the trip easier and lighter emotionally.

Sunday, we are going to start our tour crossing into Malaysia. Now we just need to decide on a route.

Pontian, Malaysia

November 6, 2012

Garmin Stats

It was really nice having another elevator to get our stuff down to the lobby. I slept well and felt much better after a good nights' rest, What a difference a day makes. We took off and headed back out to the highway. The weather was steamy hot but not as steamy hot as yesterday. Somehow, this was a relief.

Today we took a different highway that was newer with a good sized shoulder and not nearly as much traffic. We were loving it. Motorcycle riders and people in cars constantly honked and gave us the thumbs up. In our true turtle fashion we found reasons to stop about every 3-5 miles for something. First, Kathryn had a cleat screw fall out. I rummaged through my bike repair stuff and found a spare. Then we pulled over for a delightful visit with a fruit vendor. He gave us some pulusan and offered samples of durian and jack fruit. Kathryn and I had tried just a sip of durian juice while in Singapore and that was enough to turn us away from the fruit forever. He laughed at our disgusted faces and then offered us some jack fruit which was quite nice. A couple of other people showed up and he offered them samples as well. We really had fun with everyone there. Next we stopped in Pekan Nanes for a terrific veggie lunch. They had wifi and I think we hung out for a good 1 1/2 hours. As we continued there were lots of oddities that required our attention. including a vendor selling live fish in baggies hanging from all over a tent canopy.

As we approached Pontian the honks and thumbs up became more frequent. We were constantly waving back at people. Once in town I by-passed the first hotel thinking we should try another first. We went to many hotels in this beach community that were concentrated within 3 blocks. Most didn't have a room with 2 beds and some were just too skanky. My favorite was a bright pink hotel that had a feather covered chandelier in the lobby. Eventually we made it back to the first hotel we had passed and got checked-in for $46 which included breakfast.

With the US election happening tomorrow we will probably stay another day to watch it unfold. This is a very exciting day and we are hoping to find CNN to follow the coverage.

Taman Nusa Perintis II

November 5, 2012

Garmin Stats

The Aman Sari hotel was a real find. The room was comfortable and we were able to use the elevator to get all our gear to the 4th floor. Interestingly, there is no 4th floor because it is superstitious for the Chinese. We had to hit the 5th floor button to get the 4th floor. The hotel had a nice buffet for breakfast although I wasn't really feeling so well. I had some tea the night before that had milk in it and then took some magnesium to relieve my tired muscles. Kathryn had also found some maca at the organic store yesterday and I think the combination left me with a serious case of the runs. Even though I wasn't feeling the best, I decided to brave it hoping that riding would make me feel better.

After looking at today's route on the map, we had an inkling that the ride was going to be rough. There didn't seem to be an easy way out of Johor Bahru without getting on an expressway. And we weren't sure bikes are allowed on the expressway.

We loaded up the trikes to find that the hotel staff had covered our trike seats with big plastic bags to keep them dry. They had been out in the driveway all night under the watchful eyes of a 24 hour security guard. The morning was cloudy and the roads were still wet from the nights' rain but the skies looked to be clearing as we took off.

The riding was alright for the first 5 miles getting out of Johor Bahru but then we had to get on an expressway. Johor Bahru is a big city that is deceptive because everyone talks about it as a suburb of Singapore. It's like Portland's Vancouver but on a huge scale. We tried many times to find another way but we always had to get back on the expressway. This was a long, stinky, smoggy, hot and difficult ride. Especially crossing the on and off ramps. At one point we missed an interchange and then it was miles until we could make a u-turn. Uuuggghh!

I think this was the longest 20 miles I have ever ridden. O my goodness it was hot. We had orginally planned on getting to Pekan Nanes but settled for Taman Nusa Perintis. We were both completely spent and tired of riding in the auto exhaust. This town had a lot of very large factories all around and so we figured there must be a hotel. It was a bit tricky but we eventually found the center of town where there was a decent hotel that let us keep the trikes in the lobby. There was a large area around the corner that had many wonderful food choices which was very welcome. I am truly loving the fresh melon juices.

It sure felt good to somewhere safe for the night. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Batu Pahat

November 8, 2012

Garmin Map and Stats

We had a very nice stay in Pontian. The hotel staff were terrific letting us keep our trikes in a huge, locked banquet room. We couldn't find any TV in town that had English language stations so we watched the election results on my laptop. Must say that I am very happy with the results. I was particularly pleased with the added Senate seats. I was never worried that Obama would be re-elected mostly because Romney was a really terrible candidate. It's hard to say what the Republicans will do to turn this result around. I'm sure the mid-terms are already in the works. It sure is nice to have this election over.

Feeling well rested, Kathryn and I got an early start the next day. We were packed and on the road by 8:30 which is probably a record. Today would be our longest ride because the first town with a hotel is 46 miles away. As usual, it was already toasty when we started on Highway 5 north through little towns. Everyday is a parade for us because we are constantly waving and saying hello to people in cars, on motorcycles, kids in school and vendors of all kinds. What cracks me up is when people clap as we ride by.

The route went from one small seaside town to the next. The smell of ocean was always in the air. The roadside plantings of boganvilla and azelias were really beautiful. There is a strong mix of Chinese and Malay Muslim in this part of Malaysia. All the signs are in Chinese, Malay and English. I'll have to find out how the Chinese have come to play such a prominent role in this Muslim country.We stopped for lunch at a road side restaurant and got a plate of veggies with rice for $1.15 a piece - with iced tea. Every five miles we stopped for juice looking for shade. As the day wore on it got hotter and hotter. I reapplied sunscreen many times but my legs still felt like they were getting fried. Maybe tomorrow I'll try wearing capris for more protection. Kathryn was really suffering and seemed to be totally overheated. She talked about feeling like she was going to vomit but managed to keep going. I'm worried that the heat of SE Asia may be too much for her.

As we approached our destination we had some hills for the first time. It was a nice change from the very flat roads we have been on for the last few days although it would have been nice to get in doors quicker and out of the sun. Sure enough, almost as soon as we arrived the skies let loose with a big downpour. I wanted to go out and stand in the rain but decided a real shower would be better.

Hopefully, tomorrow we will be heading to Muar which is a shorter distance.

Muar, Malaysia

November 9, 2012

Garmin Stats

Kathryn had really been suffering from the heat when we pulled into town and we checked into the first hotel we could find. They were nice enough to give us a locked room for the trikes. Other than that, the Nova Park was a strange experience. The room had a bathroom that was a shower with a toilet and a sink. Everything got wet when you took a shower. The toilet water had been turned off from the wall and there was a big plastic container full of water under the sink. I didn't know what to do so, first, I tried turning the toilet water on. The water from the wall turned on and we now had a working toilet. The bathroom floor was wet and there wasn't a towel for the floor. The room came with only 2 towels. Kathryn used one of the towels for the floor while I called down to reception to get another. No problem. A few minutes later, the phone rang and reception said they couldn't give me another towel. Really? We talked for a while about the towel and finally she said someone would come up with a towel. 20 minutes later I walked down to reception to get the towel myself. They refused to give me another towel. 2 towels per room is the limit. They offered me a very small light green towel but I explained that I hadn't taken a shower yet and that towel was too small. Reception had to consult with housekeeping and after lots of back and forth conversation I was given a full size bath towel. This felt like a huge accomplishment and I was very happy that I could now take a shower. 10 minutes later there was a knock at the door. 2 front desk people were there saying I couldn't have 3 three towels. What?!? I, very seriously, asked them if they needed a towel back. Yes, they did. I showed them how wet the bathroom floor was and insisted that I needed the extra towel. One front desk person left for a few minutes and returned with the the small light green towel for me to use on the bathroom floor. Okie dokie! I picked up the wet bath towel from the floor and handed it over. Everyone was happy now.

Even though it had a been a very hot day, I felt refreshed after my shower - with my long fought over towel. Kathryn slept for hours. I did yoga, worked on my blog, cleaned all my clothes and caught got up on all the post election news. Eventually, I was getting hungry and decided to go down and see if the hotel offered food. No, they only served breakfast. A huge storm was passing over and it had been pouring with lightning and thunder for hours. I wasn't going out there. Luckily, we had crackers, nutella, dried fruit and nuts. Nothing like eating simply.

The next morning Kathryn seemed to have recovered. I was really worried that she wasn't going to be able to handle the heat but she wanted to cycle. We started out under much cooler conditions on a route that was very flat. It seemed that we stopped about every 5 miles for some delightful food or drink. Sugar cane, guava, lemon water and every time the people were lovely. Our lunch was a plate of delicious veggie stir fry with rice and cost $2.30 for both of us with iced tea. After lunch, we had a local guy ride with us for probably a good 15 miles. Leman was on a beautifully painted fixed gear and seemed very happy following along and making all our stops. He was probably around 30, didn't speak any English and only had a couple of teeth. He shook our hands at a stop when he wanted to turn around. We continued on a very enjoyable ride. As the day went on, the temperature rose and we were ready to stop after 35 miles.

After a hot ride, staying in a decent, comfortable hotel can make a big difference. Boy did we hit the jackpot for finding a wonderful hotel. The Classic hotel was a bit spendier than we had been paying but it was truly upscale. This hotel would be a good $200 a night in the US. We were living the high life for $47.35. The lobby was huge with marble and beautiful woodwork. Reception let us store the trikes inside the lobby as if they were on display. The doorman loaded up the baggage cart and helped us get our gear to the room. This was our most comfortable room yet. We even had a view of the ocean. The Classic Hotel will more than make up for last nights strange experience.