80 km, 4h45min, Max temp 40 deg C
We awoke at 5 am to the sound of crying baby, but soon went back to sleep. When the baby started wailing again at 5:30, we gave in and got up to start our day. Our alarm was set for 5:45, so this was only 15 minutes earlier than we had planned. Today we changed our morning routine to do yoga and pack everything up before breakfast. We hoped that eating breakfast out would move us along quicker. In the end, we were on the road 30 minutes earlier than yesterday – but we were also awake 30 minutes earlier than yesterday. Not quite a grand success.
The morning riding was beautiful. We are contemplating how to make an earlier start. We will try eating a light snack in the morning and stopping for breakfast after 1-2 hours of riding. Perhaps that will allow us to get to our destination before noon and the worst of the days heat.
The ride from Mersing to Endau was uneventful. We took highway 3 until the turn off to Mawar and Resang, which allowed us to follow the coast a little closer – it turned out to be about a 10 km detour, but brought us through some small villages which were much more interesting than the shoulder of the highway. At one point we rode by a Muslim school with all the children out playing during their morning break. We could feel the rush of excitement in the children as we passed, with a wave of waves, grins, screaming hellos, and lots of giggles as each group of children noticed us. The responses we get from people here in Malaysia always make us smile.
We stopped for lunch in Endau at a Muslim café. We have found that Malay Chinese restaurants are much more expensive than the Malay Muslim restaurants. We paid 42 RG for dinner without beer at a Chinese food place (albeit we had some seafood) and only 12 RG at the Malay place. This price difference was emphasized at breakfast, where the Malay breakfast runs us about 4-6 RG and the equivalent Chinese breakfast is 12 RG. In the grand scheme of things, both are pretty cheap, but we are counting our pennies, so we’ll stick to Malay when we have the choice, and save the Chinese for special occasions.
When we hit the road right after lunch, the temperature had soared from 35 deg to 40 deg, so rather than riding the 26 km to our evening destination, we decided to seek shelter until the cooling of the late afternoon. Scott saw a sign for the Seri Malaysia Rompin – a hotel chain, and thought they might have air conditioning, a pool and Internet. Becky just hoped for a pool and wanted to look into getting a room for a few hours. Unfortunately, all the rooms were booked, but they did have free Internet, air conditioning in their café, and a pool. Once we received permission from the hotel manager, we found a comfortable spot in the café, drank some great fresh orange juice, and spent a few hours on the Internet.
Before getting back on the bikes, we hopped in the pool for a brief cool down. The water was pretty warm, but it was still nice to start the ride off while we were cool and a little damp from our swim. The thermometer on Becky’s bike read 38 degrees at 3:50 pm, but within 20 minutes, the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees.
We were back on Highway 3, and at Endau we had lost the nice paved shoulder. Fortunately, there was not much traffic, and the little traffic was happy enough to give us plenty of room when passing. It was a quick ride into Kuala Rompin.
We checked out the Hotel Kenkana but found it to be rundown. The room first room Becky was shown only had a fan, and the second room had an air conditioner but it was in very poor condition. Air conditioning and cleanliness are our two main requirements. So, we went down the street to Hotel Sri Rompin. There we got a basic but very clean room on the third floor with good air conditioning for only 40 RG (with a “Shower of Happiness”). The foam on the beds was a little thin, so Becky added her thermarest under the mattress to make it softer. A nice bonus was the hotel had a reception on the ground floor, and a room behind the reception to store our bikes – so we did not need to lug them up the three extra long flights of stairs.
By the end of the ride, Becky’s heat rash had gotten bad again. The rash is on the front of her thighs, below her cycling shorts, and above her knees. We do wonder if the fact that we are riding recumbent contributes to the heat rash – the location of the rash is definitely related to riding ‘bent, as the fronts of our legs get the full force of the sun while riding, and with our legs in front of us, gravity doesn’t help to wick sweat away as well as the vertical position on a diamond frame. This “Prickly Heat” or proper name “Milaria” is a problem for many visitors (not to be confused with Malaria, the mosquito-born illness). We have decided to take a rest day here tomorrow and give her skin a chance to heal.
While on the Internet this afternoon, we learned that our freighter from Shanghai to Seattle is running into complications. The company that manages the ship, NSB, will not take us if we do not have a USA Visa. We have talked to the embassy in Singapore who gave us a letter and our travel agent has gotten letters from Homeland Security specifying that we do not need a visa; however, a few years ago NSB had a ship delayed in Seattle because they had a Canadian on board with a Visa issue, so they are firm in their requirement that we get a USA Visa.
So, with the combination of heat rash and the need for a USA Visa, we plan make our side trip to Kuala Lumpur (KL) a week earlier than originally planned. We have two more days of riding to get to Kuantan. In Kuantan, we will store our bikes and take a bus to KL. While in KL we will try to get ourselves Visas for both USA and China; and the time off the bikes and away from the most strenuous of exercise should allow Becky’s heat rash to clear up completely (we hope).