FOR a million years the forests of Pos Betau were peaceful but for its natural songs.
But today, the sharp howl of the Arrow exhaust on this Triumph RS cuts rudely through the dense forests, reverberating off the valleys.
It is near Iftar, the sun is still golden bright and the shadows are long but I am still three dozen kilometres from the little farming town of Ringlet.
The engine burbles, crackles and pops like a hot kettle on a stove as the bike cuts through a long corner, and then switches to a guttural snarl as the Triumph meets another open stretch.
The Street Triple RS lurches forward, propelled by the hundred and twenty horses contained in its compact frame. The three-cylinder layout, which gives the bike its name, is a masterpiece of engineering from Hinckley. But it’s not just the engine which imparts a brilliance to the bike which is beyond the ordinary. The RS possesses an unusual balance. Featherweight, it shifts from left to right with the merest inkling of a suggestion. Once leaned over, it sticks to its line as if on railway tracks. Pull the brake levers and the Brembos dissipate momentum in the fraction of a moment, all the while remaining poised and stable. It is a ballerina running on Pirelli Supercorsas.
Perhaps I am talking too much about the bike here, because this ingenious creation from Triumph is but a part of the sheer ecstasy of my weekend experience.
Federal Route 102, which the entirety of Malaysia has largely forgotten, is the ‘ying’ to the Triumph's ‘yang’.
The highway, built a handful of years ago, meanders through the heart of Pahang. It is fed in the foothills by Federal Route 235, its tributary before the route reaches the highlands. The route proper starts at Sungai Koyan. At its highest point, its elevation is 3,723 feet.
Imagine if you could unravel all the corners on the Sepang track and lay them out over and over again for 100km from the heart of Pahang, to the highlands. The thing is, you don't have to imagine, because that is exactly what this route is.
The serpentine tarmac and their race lines may engage your mind like an intriguing puzzle that you solve, kilometre by kilometre. But the reason I am drawn here is because this place engages my soul.
Out here, the blue of the sky and the green of the jungle meld on the horizon. There is no one in sight, except for the occasional members of an indigenous tribe who come out to stare at the curious spectacle of a Malay tearing across the tarmac.
A tank of gas ago, I was in a city of a million souls. Now, as it nears dusk, I can barely see another person.
There is a sense of solitude. A rare glimpse of serenity. A reminder of divinity.
But it doesn’t last. I crouch into a ball as the engine howls. The speedometer climbs as the Triple snarls, but is briefly interrupted for a fraction of a millisecond by the quickshifter as the Triumph is kicked into higher gear. Over and over again, six times, until the little monster wails in its final ratio. The leftmost digit flickers briefly at deux before it is time to cut down the speed. I glide the bike to stop on a stretch overlooking a valley.
All the violence and intensity dissipates in the blink of an eye, replaced by the calm serenity of the forest.
The sky is a mix of colors I don't even know how to describe.
I pull the sleeve of my jacket to look at my watch. It's already 7.28pm. I rustle through my pouch bag to bring out a box of sugar cane and break my fast.
The holy month is often a time of contemplation. Stripped of the diversions of feeding one's self every few hours, you seem to focus more on what you are doing. Every task seems just a little bit more involving. That's why Muslims are able to focus better on our prayers and remembrance of God in this month of revelation.
It's also a good time to contemplate about life. Every now and then, we need to give prayers and be thankful. There isn't much that a man needs to be happy. A good bike, a hypnotically engaging ribbon of asphalt, a box of sug
ar cane, and family waiting for you at the end of the road.
Maybe that's all you need to be truly content.