This tour took place in back in 2002. But since I’d only just started this blog to chronicle my future bike tours, I thought I might as well relate some old stories here. As well, I couldn’t decide on Blogger or WordPress, so this retelling of past tales helped me get a hang of managing a blog.
Obviously, WordPress won.
It was my first tour and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had gotten wind of my friend Thomas Fong’s plan to do this ride and he was quite happy for the company. So, straightaway, I went out and contributed to the bicycle accessories industry by buying a pair of panniers.
The plan was simple – ride from KK to Sandakan, about 400km or so, via the old trunk road. It’s a longer route and half of it would be less busy than the popular route; which meant less cars, and less chances of meeting San Tai Wongs — those 10-wheeler, timber-carrying behemoths that could easily make road-kills of unsuspecting cycle-tourers.
It took us only 4 days to reach Sandakan, and we stopped at 3 places — Gunung Mas, Ranau and Telupid. Gunung Mas is nothing more than the peak of the non-stop climb from KK (where we slept in a treehouse – no kidding), Ranau is a small town, and Telupid, a kampong that pretended to be a glamourous truck-stop.
The end of this day’s ride was the peak of Gunung Mas. The accommodation was pretty lofty; not in price but it’s location. It was a treehouse cabin on a hill slope! Very cool – literally – because it was like 16 degrees in the morning!
I love the remote countryside. The air is always good. And the people have no airs. Like the folks below. When you’re up close and personal with these locals, and when you give them a hungry, exhausted I-just-cycled-500km look, they’ll want to take you home with them.
The 2nd day’s ride to Ranau was not an easy one. The unpolluted, clear blue sky also meant the sun was merciless with its heat. Hot, thirsty and hungry, we were beginning to worry about lunch as there didn’t seem to be any warongs along the way.
When the sun was directly overhead, we took a break at a little sundry shop manned by a mother and her 3 kids. The lady boss was kind enough to cook us some Maggi mee, with an extra egg on top, for lunch. You know how some meals taste like heaven? This was one of them.
Our last stop before Sandakan was an insignificant little dot on the map called Telupid. I called it Stupid Telupid. Thomas and me remember this place very well. How could we forget when the only accommodation available was the rooms behind a restaurant; or that the room smelled of truck drivers who drove the Trans-Borneo route without stopping for a bath; or that the toilet was so dirty I had to resort to bathing with rainwater?