98km, 6h30min, max temp: 44 deg C
We awoke to a nice clear day, with only the wetness of the ground and our clothes to remind us of all the rain of yesterday. We both got up with the alarm at 6 am, since we knew we had a long day ahead. Unfortunately, it took time to cook breakfast, pack up our still-wet clothing and do yoga, so we didn’t start riding until after 8.
We stopped for ice coffees (Kopi Ais) after 15 km in Sedili Besar, and saw several places to eat along the route until Sedili Besar, but weren’t hungry after our big breakfast of scrambled eggs and oatmeal.
One big advantage to the rain is that it keeps the temperature down. For most of our ride yesterday the temperature was in the mid to high 20s. With the sun shining full force today, we saw temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s all day.
The ride today was mostly through palm plantations. There were times when all we could see were hills covered in palm trees. Once we passed Sedili Besar, we saw nothing but plantations for 23 km, until we reached the turnoff to Tanjung Leban. After that, more services appeared, but the roads continued to be really quiet until we intersected with highway 3. From other reports, we were afraid that it might be a horrible experience riding on the 3, but it turned out to be rather pleasant. For the most part there was a large paved shoulder, so the traffic was not bothered by us or us by it.
We are still working on the idea of an afternoon siesta. We stopped at 1:30 pm for 45 minutes in a covered bus shelter and took a short nap. With a little breeze, it was a nice break; however, we really should have stopped for longer. We now know that the hottest part of the day is 1 pm – 3:30 pm.
We are really enjoying all the cheers and waves from the people as we ride by. Often a car or truck passes us and a hand or head appeares – smiles, waves or a “thumbs-up” are common. When we pass houses in small villages, the women and sometimes the children wave and shout “hello”.
Becky continues to be surprised at how outgoing the women are here. It is a dramatic change from the Middle East where we found women were quiet, reserved and often invisible. Here, we regularly see Muslim women running restaurants and driving scooters to and fro. Both of us find the Malaysian attitudes and friendliness very refreshing.
We arrived in Mersing at 6 pm, exhausted, hot, and with heat rash and sunburn. Fortunately, the first hotel we checked had a large room on the first floor (one story up) for 65 Ringgit (about $20 CAD). We were too tired to bargain, but since Mersing is a tourist town, we likely wouldn’t have gotten very far anyway.
We have decided that tomorrow will be a rest day, as we could use a day to recuperate and catch up on things. Mersing is the first “city” we have been in since leaving Singapore. Until now, we have ridden through small villages and resort areas, but nothing big enough to have a pharmacy, mobile phone store, or Internet café. So we will spend tomorrow catching up on various errands and letting our bodies recover from too much heat. When we get back on the bikes, we plan to start earlier to avoid long days and riding between 1 and 3:30 pm.