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In the morning Aswad met us at the hotel to give us a tour around this 'Royal City'. Kuala Kangsar is where royalty have some of their 'other' homes and the town is really beautiful. There is also a famous mosque here that is very important not just to Malaysian muslims but to all of SE Asia. We cycled a loop around a grand palace and the mosque along tree lined ultra clean roads. Aswad escorted us out of town for many miles. I was impressed by his patience. Aswad is a terrific guy and I really enjoyed his company. It's possible we will be meeting his cycling buddy Khalib later and we picked a town for the day that had a hotel close to his home hoping it will work out.
Aswad left us after about 15 miles of very flat riding. We had one really good climb where the grade got up to 10%. The way down was winding and the road was rough. Still I managed to get over 30 mph. Highway 1 runs parallel to the major highway E1. At one point they came so close together I thought the roads would merge. We came across an accident on this stretch not long after it happened. A huge semi truck was lying on its side across the center divider. This was a scary sight.
We continued on into the big city of Taiping. Highway 1 skirts this city and so we didn't really see much of it. From here there were more hot and dusty miles to our destination. There is only one hotel option in the small town of Bagan Serai and we were hoping for the best. The hotel owner is a Chinese guy who spoke English very well. He was super excited that we were staying in his hotel. He told us about a German couple who stayed 2 years ago riding a tandem with an upright and recumbent seat. I think I met this couple when I was touring Cambodia. There was a back room to keep the trikes and he had one room with 2 beds. This room didn't have a window and the ac barely worked. The bathroom was a shower with a toilet - no sink. This 'bathroom' was so small you practically had to sit on the toilet while using the shower. The room also came with an overpowering smell of mothballs that was nauseating. Certainly not our best hotel experience. Since we didn't have a choice we got checked in for $20 which was ridiculously overpriced. Not long after getting our stuff in the room Kathryn realized she had left a pair of shorts in Kuala Kangsar. Since she only has one pair of shorts getting them back was somewhat critical.
The good news was that Khalib got a hold of us and was eager to meet up. He arrived with his family an hour later and took us into Taiping to show us around. We went to a beautiful park and walked around. Then he took us out for yummy Indian food. He had been in touch with Aswad about Kathryn's shorts. If Aswad could verify that the hotel had the shorts Khalib would drive us there. It got to be 8 pm and Aswad hadn't been able to go over so Khalib decided to just drive there and hope for the best. This was an 80 mile round trip for him. Luckily, when we arrived at the hotel the shorts were there and so was Aswad. It was great to see him again even though we saw him just this morning. We all went out for juice and talked touring again. These guys had ridden around the world in 389 days completing the tour only last July. What fun conversation.
Khalib drove us back to our skanky hotel and then offered to meet us on the road in the morning to escort us to his house. We really had quite a day today.
Me and Kathryn in front of the palace gates
Aswad taking Myrtle for a spin.
Trikes in the hotel lobby locked in front of the Buddhist shrine.