We embarked on our first ever group cycling trip overseas and it is to Tangkak town which is situated in Johor State of Malaysia.
Tangkak is well known for two things. Their durians and nearby Mount Ophir in Segamat, which is the most climbed mountain in the whole of Peninsular Malaysia. This also means our trip will not be complete without these two!
Durian season came late this year due to many wet weathers, which means the quality of durians produced will not be as good as that of previous years. Nonetheless, we were happy to hear from the durian plantation owners that their trees have finally flowered, which means durians will be ready by the time we reach there in August!
Our journey started off from Star Vista which is our designated meeting point. From there, we were given our bicycles which became our baby in custody for the next 2 days. This trip is designed in a way where there is no need to take any additional leave if you are working based on 5 days’ work week.
As it was Friday night, the customs were busier than usual and we took this time to catch up on some sleep. Upon arriving at the hotel, the room keys were quickly distributed and everyone went to rest. Those full of energy went for supper before calling it a night.
We started the next day by cycling to a local eatery just around the corner from our hotel and had a hearty breakfast of local handmade noodles.
After we are all fuelled up, it is time to burn it off! Our cycling lead brought us to the first highlight of our day. The quaint countryside of Tangkak where we saw how the local villages are like and the various farm animals like chickens, cows and buffalos. It is not a sight that we get to see often or at all in Singapore. Even the last Kampong of Singapore seems more polished than this area that we visited. But that is the allure of travelling on alternative modes of transport like a bicycle. We get to visit places off-the-beaten tracks that is difficult to explore in a motorised vehicle.
There were plenty of stops made in between for us to take pictures and regroup. Not long after, it was time for lunch. Our timing was perfect as it started to rain just as we enter our lunch venue. Lunch was a simple affair of local dishes like noodles and rice which is up to us to decide. It is not advisable to have a heavy lunch and we learned about it the ‘hard’ way. All the carbo we consumed during lunch started making us feel very lethargic as we continue on our journey, and many of us were lamenting that it is taking us more energy to get our body engine moving, hahaha!
Our next stop was Mount Ohpir also known as Gunung Ledang and we were glad the weather cleared up for us, making it a cool ride all the way to the base of the mountain. We took a short hike up the mountain to the second highlight of the day, a dip in the waterfalls! The pressure of the water coming down from the mountains gave us a good massage, easing away all the soreness from the morning’s workout.
It was on to our third highlight after the dip. A visit to the durian farm! It was a muddy ride into the durian farm because of the rain, but everyone embraced everything that came our way! Nothing is more important than the durians. We were brought around the farm by the durian plantation owner who shared with us how durians are being grafted, and how many different species there are on his farm. It was a very insightful session and a first for many of us to see an actual durian tree. We were lucky to spot some durians still hanging on the trees during our visit. We ate fresh durians that dropped from the tree that day during our visit and celebrated one of our member’s birthday with an actual durian ‘cake’.
Some of us ended the night with a massage to soothe our tired legs.
The next morning, we started off with a local breakfast of coffee, toast and fresh farm eggs! The place is packed full of locals when we arrived at 8.00AM, which is a testament of how good their food is. There are many other options available if you want to try out more varieties.
After breakfast, we went cycling around the quiet neighbourhoods of Tangkak with a local who shared interesting stories about his hometown. Then we had a second round of durian tasting (own expense) and you can purchase the durians if you wish to. We ended the cycle at a local pastry shop that specialises in green bean paste pastries known to the locals as "tau sar piah". Tangkak is very well known for their green bean paste pastries and we get to go behind the scenes to see how they are being made and baked.
Sadly time flew past quickly as we shopped and we had to head back to the hotel to shower and check out.
Before heading back to Singapore, we made one last stop at a local noodle shop to try out their well-known beef noodle soup. It was the perfect ending as the soup broth is very fragrant and delicious.
It was a very fulfilling weekend packed with lots of good food, good scenery, good activities and importantly, good company with like-minded people.
Can't wait for the next durian season to come by again.