[d5] pontian kechil-batu pahat

Rising early, I'm on the road well before local work-day traffic. The tide in the Straits is at full ebb, exposing expanses of mudflats to the south and baring roots of mangroves lining the shore. The sky is mottled with clouds, the air cool and still.

Barely a kilometre into the ride, I pass a restaurant serving breakfast so I double back and fill my belly with nasi lemak and tea. Fortified, I begin riding again and settle easily into a comfortable rhythm and pace. The road, loosely following the coast, is flat, in good condition and has wide shoulders. It passes through somnolent kampungs and crosses tidal creeks with fishing boats clustered around makeshift jetties.

Nearing Batu Pahat, the coastal flats give way to low hills. The road turns inland, away from the coast and the cooler air. A stand of native forest clads the flanks of the hills, a welcome change from the otherwise ubiquitous oil palms. It's becoming decidely warm and humid as I arrive in the centre of Batu Pahat and look for accommodation for the night.

I can't find a travel hotel like the one I stayed in at Pontian Kechil and because I'm hot, hungry and want to get off the road, I check in to the four-star Hotel Katerina. There are only a few rooms available, so I settle for an executive suite. The duty manager lets me keep my bike in the room. I shower, do my laundry and go out to explore Batu Pahat on foot and to find some good food.

As the day draws to a close, I find I'm lacking my usual energy and enthusiasm. The past few days I've been running on adrenalin and the excitement of arriving in Singapore, crossing into Malaysia and beginning the tour have taken their toll. I'm looking forward to a good sleep and reclaiming my normal sense of equilibrium.

July 19 | 76.3 kilometres | 3:40 | 20.8 km/h average

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