East West Highway - Day 4 - Banding to Gerik
- Distance 39.6 km
- Max Elevation 600 m
East West Highway - Banding to Gerik Ride Profile
A long day on the East West Highway yesterday coupled with a comfy bed meant that we didn't get up until about 7-30am. As we checked out, Steve realised that he couldn't find his cycling glasses. A look in all the bags, around the room and up the steep drive yielded nothing. Neither had they been handed in at reception. Despite one final look around we had to head off without them.
By now it was 9-00am and the sun was well established with only slight cloud cover, not even a breeze to cool us. Turning out of the hotel driveway onto the East West Highway towards Gerik, we were straight away into a long and slow gradual climb for the next 8km. Thankfully there was some shade provided by the trees at the side of the road. Sadly we still didn't see any elephant.
From the top we had a slow descent of the East West Highway for the next 20km and we couldn't believe it could be so easy following yesterday's long downhill. Throughout this time there was not a single roadside food stall, so we had to eat the emergency biscuits with water.
The East West Highway route through the valley was beautiful and when there were no cars around, it was also very peaceful. We had been riding the East West Highway through the rain forest for approximately 100km and are surprised that Lonely Planet makes no mention of this amazing jungle and the reservoir at its centre.
Finally we came into a more inhabited area and found a shack at the roadside with tea and banana fritters. From here it was only another 10km on the East West Highway to Gerik. We had only travelled 42km along the East West Highway, but to go further would have added another 68km through probably hilly terrain, so we decided to call it a day and stay at Gerik. It was clear that we were back in an area of more Chinese population, which meant beer. We found the Avana hotel, which was recommended to us by the nearby Chinese restaurant owner, snoozed for the afternoon and listened to the afternoon thunderstorm.
Later we strolled through town to find some food. Being Sunday evening, all the Chinese restaurants were closed. There was a small food stall that looked popular. As usual they could only offer 'chicken rice' but it was the best fried chicken so far, served with fried chicken blood (a bit like black pudding).
After the meal we went to the supermarket to replenish our food supplies. There was a big marquee on the market place and a lot of people sitting on chairs in front of the stage. Then a car stopped and unloaded a group of very attractive young local girls in traditional costume. There was obviously some event going on so we hung around to see what transpired. A lady persuaded us to take a seat so we went to the back so that, as the only white people there, we wouldn't be conspicuous. The area began to fill with what seemed to be the whole population of the town.
A man who spoke very good English came up to us and insisted we move to the front. He was the local radio presenter who was the MC for the event. His opening introduction involved telling everyone who we were and what we were doing and everyone applauded. After that we watched the girls doing a traditional dance. Then there was a raffle and the final of the local talent contest 'Gerik Idol'. We managed to escape after this to get to bed, ready for an early start tomorrow.
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