Distance: 181kms (113 miles)
Weather: very hot and very humid
Our finish line is approaching. However much we try not to think about it for fear of losing focus over these next few days, when we look at the map it is clear – we are nearly there.
Despite this, we are feeling it. Last night we spent the night in what can only be described as a shithole.
Cherating, we were told, was much like what Byron Bay, the well-known Aussie hangout, used to be like: slow paced, hippyish and full of cheap accommodation. Unfortunately, the accommodation, much like the place in general, was grubby and generally smelt like feet, or maybe that was just us?
Either way, we finally fell asleep around midnight only to be awoken by loud thumping on the rickety door. Morgan went to check it out as he’s obviously more of a man than I, and there stood the owner demanding we pay and “register”. It was like being awoken by the KGB but with less uniform and more cigarettes.
Every morning we pay before leaving. It’s just what we’ve done. Why this irritating little man had to both wake us up and scare the living crap out of us is beyond us. It made a bad night’s sleep even worse and we woke feeling like death.
I kind of get the feeling that I’ve banged on about the necessity for a few things to make this cycling lark bearable but riding 100 miles + in the searing heat and humidity on a lack of sleep and no breakfast is, I expect, much like torture. You can imagine Japanese internment camp officials racking their brains as to how far they could push their inmates. They should have got them on bikes.
Anyway, due to this the first twenty miles were spent choking on the exhaust fumes of rush hour traffic heading into Kuantan, the next big city along the coast. At this point we noticed the roads becoming increasingly narrow, with no hard shoulder. We’d also moved, it would seem, into quarry territory. This meant a duality of crapness in the form of massive lorries spilling gravel and no space. It was a little scary to say the least.
Another 15 miles after that we stopped for our regular breakfast in these parts of roti canai and thick tea sweetened with condensed milk – something the latke Indian population brought with them.
Once back on the road we didn’t stop for another 60 miles. It was a long, gruelling and mind-dumbing ride through rubber plantations, Coast and miles upon miles of jungle-clad interior.
The long roads and near-Equatorial sun can play hideous tricks on the brain. It has the habit of giving you an outer body experience or, worse still, give you delusional songs and artists who pop into your head like a shit jukebox.
Today it was the turn of Chris Rea.
Now, when Chris Rea pops into your head you have one of two options; you can either go with it see it out until he mentally clears off or you can find a heavy shoe, preferably clogs or steel toe-capped boots and repeatedly hit yourself across the head. Fortunately, no clogs or boots could be found, so I went for the former.
And so, after a long, hot and ultimately mind-bending day we made it to Kuala Rompin (a name that sounds like it’s been made up by a tabloid) and went straight to the best hotel in town.
We aren’t finished yet but after last night our bodies (and minds) needed replenishing with sleep and the deep sensation of calm. Not some nutter off his head on petrol changing on our door.
We live in hope.
One and a half days remain.
Miss you all dearly, Tommo and Morgan. Xx