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Balik Pulau Countryside Bike Ride
Literally meaning ‘back of the island’, Balik Pulau is a quiet seaside town that inhabits about 50,000 residents. The huge expanse of land holds mangrove forests, paddy fields, fruit and vegetable plantations, and pristine beaches.
Audi MTB Club Guest House
We started our adventure at the 1. Audi MTB Club Guest House which is situated in a large and airy country-style house, overlooking paddy fields. Owned and operated by Sam Lim, it is a bicycle touring business that also offers accommodation for its guests at reasonable rates. In addition to small single rooms to family rooms, the guest house also offer dorm-style rooms which can hold 16 people. There is an open living area on the upper floor where everyone can mingle and talk during the evenings. Meals are provided to guests like porridge, ikan bakar (charcoal-grilled fish) and seafood BBQs. Healthy and active living is encouraged, and outdoor games like volleyball and kite-flying are also provided for the kids.
The core of the business, though, is the cycling tour. There are 100 mountain bikes for people of all ages to use. Tours are arranged through the countryside, ranging from 2km to 10km, depending on the guests’ preferences. If someone would rather explore the town on their own, bicycle rental is available too.
After having some breakfast at the guest house, which was some yummy Roti Bakar (bread toasted on a pan and then spread with coconut jam) and fresh soft-boiled eggs, we were excited to set out and enjoy the countryside. We first cycled through acres of 2. Paddy Fields, along a sandy and gravelly road, feeling in one with nature. It was quiet and peaceful, with only the occasional chirp from the birds above to be heard. We breathed the fresh air and pedalled our way slowly, while taking in the gorgeous sceneries of green and lush plantations and hills in the distance. However, it was also already very hot at 10am, so wearing sunblock, sunglasses, comfortable clothing and bringing sufficient water are advised.
Lady Finger Plantation
Long Bean Plantation
We stopped to gaze at the 3. Lady Finger and 4. Long Bean plantations, both popular vegetables in Malaysia. The various shades of tall green plants provided a sense of peace as we took in our surroundings. We also passed by 5. Durian plantations. Although durians were not in season at this time, and we could only see little buds blooming on the tree, Balik Pulau is famous for their ‘angheh’ (red prawns) and ‘holo’ (gourd like) varieties of durians. During the start of its season in June, the delicious thorny local fruit has people from all over the country, and even from countries like China and South Korea, flocking to Balik Pulau to taste them.
We passed quaint village wooden houses with large gardens alongside a small river, 6. Sungai Nipah. The river is common for fishing. Every time we encountered another cyclist or motorist along the dirt country road, they smiled or waved hello. There was a friendly and community vibe that is commonly found in small towns like this one. The road was mostly flat and we weren’t using all our energy to pedal, but we soon felt a bit tired from the heat beating down on us. Close to noon, we stopped at a small food court overlooking 7. Malindo Beach for some rest and 100plus energy drinks and iced teas.
The beach started with a long stretch of sand connecting to the river where fishermen would come in during the early morning hours with large amounts of fish, crabs and prawns. If you make it there early enough, you can buy some of the fresh seafood to take home. This beach, besides being clean and beautiful, is also a popular spot for sunset watching in the evening.
The scenery was indeed picturesque as we looked upon the waves and clear blue skies and chatted with the friendly locals over our refreshments. Feeling a bit sad to leave the tranquil atmosphere, we hopped back on our bikes to make our return to the Audi MTB Club Guest House.
On our way back, we passed by 8. Mangrove Forests. Mangrove swamps are very important to the environment, especially by the coastline, as their dense roots prevent flooding, and also keep trash and other sediments trapped in them to prevent erosion. They are special trees which look like they are on stilts that are typically used as a natural barrier between rainforests and oceans.
We continued on a back road that brought us through large 9. Banana Plantations. The path wasn’t too difficult to cycle on but more challenging than the main road due to its uneven and gravelly nature. Banana is an incredibly popular fruit among Malaysians, hence the demand for it. Naturally, where bananas are, monkeys follow. As we cycled through the plantations we could see scores of monkeys up ahead, blocking the path. However, once we got nearer, they all scurried away and disappeared into the thick plantation.
We arrived back at the Audi MTB Club Guest House to freshen up before lunch. Our bike ride took 2.21hr and covered a total of 10km. We felt rejuvenated by our excursion through the fresh and beautiful countryside. This is why many choose to spend their holidays here, away from the hectic city life. It is also good for kids and families to spend some time here and appreciate how relaxing the simple village lifestyle can be.
With so much to do and see in Penang, we felt lucky to experience some of what it has to offer. Its allure draws tourists from faraway countries in and also keeps them coming back for its delicious food varieties, friendly locals, striking sceneries and rich culture all year round.
Cycling Route - Balik Pulau Countryside Bike Ride
This cycling tour package is provided by: Audi MTB Club Guest House
Lot 609 (Dekat 88) PulauBetong MKM 1, 11020 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang. Tel: +60 (4) 866-2569