When it comes to ecotourism and even a country’s transport system, cycling is becoming the transport of choice as it reduces pollution, road congestion and unlock many health benefits. It even has untold economic benefits, as argued by a UK bike association.
On a recent trip to Penang, Malaysia, passing by Ipoh on the way, I took along my foldable bicycle otherwise known as foldie. I was planning to cycle in Balik Pulau and George Town in Penang, and Ipoh in Perak.
In Balik Pulau, I was fortunate to stay at a kampong house that also doubled up as a Warmshowers host. Warmshowers is a worldwide community of bicycle tourists who sometimes also provide accommodation to other cyclists from around the world. The Titi Teras village house had bicycles for rent and even equipment to repair your bikes.
The manager, Adrian Chan even gave me a map showing the route to Malindo, the nearest beach. I cycled there, got lost along the way but still found my way to the beach and back to the kampong house. The sea there, though not suitable for swimming, is where the villagers’ fishing boats are moored. Despite not having much to do, the sunset was beautiful and the countryside ambiance was as usual peaceful and reminiscent of days gone by.
The cycling trip to the beach was quite an adventure – passing by kampong houses, villagers on motorbikes and bicycles, vegetable farms, small shops, a stable of ponies, paddy fields, cows, chickens, and a stall selling sugarcane water made from sugarcane planted right next to it in front of the paddy field. The small stall was manned by an elderly Malay husband and wife. It was the best sugarcane juice and the freshest I have ever tasted. It was very cheap too.
Back at the double-storey kampong house, there were non-human occupants too such as a friendly dog, a cat and mosquitoes, and occasionally a monitor lizard, and a snake if it’s your lucky day. Admittedly, it’s not luxurious but it fits the purpose.