All Aboard For The Night Safari

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Panorama

Flag of Malaysia  , Perak,
Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 7am plan didn't pan out, but we were packed up and breakfasted by 9.30 and ready to go. In cycling shorts and long stripy socks, Tom was extremely pumped up about the trip and both he and Mikey had finally recovered from the 'training’ after effects of Langkawi’s hottest nightspots. An Australian backpacker enviously watched us make the final preparations to the bikes, before wheeling them back onto the street for our first proper day as a cycling trio!

It turned out to be a fantastic day, which began with a ride across Asia’s longest bridge. The guide book claimed it was 13km, but our speedo’s only clocked 10 – still a long way. Fifteen miles to the first drinks stop flew by, and we knew that Tommy was going to be absolutely fine. He wasn’t just getting on with it, he was LOVING it!!! We were on the expressway and the next stop turned out to be 26 miles on – that’s the cycle leg of an Olympic length triathlon. We were ready for lunch by then, but there was none to be found at the stop, just crisps, banana chips and a selection of foul Malaysian delicacies such as salted plums and even worse, pickled green mango. (Tom is brilliant to travel with as he likes to try all of the mad foods which Mikey turns his nose up at. While we were with him he bought an amazing array of bizarre looking foods, and luckily very cheap foods, as most of which were binned!)

15 miles further on, we found a proper lunch stop and fuelled up for the last 15 to Taiping. The day had gone so well, I was thinking that maybe we should just keep going to Ipoh, thereby making our last day to KL shorter. At this stop, it turned out that our crazy new cycling buddy was thinking the same thing! Mikey told us both that it was not on, and we could stop at Taiping, and see the Night Safari and tackle a 100 mile day tomorrow.

It started to chuck it down with rain 7 miles from Taiping and we had to improvise waterproof covering for Tommy’s posh leather non-cycling compatible luggage - his waterproof jacket did the job. The Panorama Hotel was a fine option for the night and happily welcomed 3 wet, muddy cyclists.

Having shown no signs of tiredness all day, Tom got into our bed for a minute to look at the photos and promptly fell asleep for half an hour – very sweet. He woke hungry and we headed out to a food court where we not only managed to find scrumptious food, but a beer each. The night Safari was not until 8, so we had time after supper to persuade a lady in a cushion shop to give us some zip-up plastic bags, perfect to cover Tom’s luggage. The lady in the shop was not keen to hand them over, but Tom was pretty persistent and in the end she got bored of trying to explain in broken English why he couldn’t have them, and handed them over!

The 15 minute walk to the night safari was too much for tired cyclists and so on arrival we immediately opted for the tram option. Despite the fact that the Tram driver was on a bit of a mission and didn’t want to stop too long at the sights, the safari was fantastic. Lions, tigers, elephants, anteaters, zebras, crocodiles and loads of different deer- like species were spot lit in their habitats. Sensibly the driver did spend a long time at the tiger stop, but he also stopped for a very long time to marvel at some swans eating lettuce. The most incredible thing was the fact that we were so close to the animals and they weren’t in cages! I was particularly nervous of the lionesses separated from us only by a trough of water and a very low fence. The most spectacular sight was the 3 black jaguars lying cuddled up with their tails draped over each other on a platform 4ft from the tram. They slowly regarded us with their big yellow eyes as we passed and managed to look terrifying but cuddly at the same time!

A quick taxi ride back to the hotel and we were seriously ready for some sleep before tackling a 100 mile blast to Slim River tomorrow. This time we really mean to get up at 7 and have even set our alarms!
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