Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Kuantan and Terengganu, 2015

Hey, how's everyone? I am exhilarated to share with you one of the most exciting trips I had this month and this time, it's Kuantan! It's not a long trip because it's quite close to home, about eight hours drive or so, which makes it eligible to be labeled as road trip. Especially because we drove along the east coast of West Malaysia, skipping the highway altogether.


It was a roller coaster ride up and down the hill! If you love road trips like myself, the east coast route is the way to go because there are so many places you can stop by to eat and rest along the way, without having to drive another kilometer to the nearest pit stop.

Kuantan, Kuantan, the name sounds foreign. Where is it exactly?


Kuantan, the state capital of Pahang, is located on the east side of West Malaysia, approximately 400km from Johor. Apart from being famous for its pretty beaches, it is also famous for their handicrafts and fried fish crackers. You have not visited Kuantan if you leave that place not knowing what Keropok Lekor is. Kuantan is very, very famous for that.


The state is an epitome of what's left from the 60's and earlier, with hopes of progress through its major development projects. So, expect to be wooed by modern facilities there in say, five to ten years time. Don't be disheartened by what's there now because if you are there today, you can still be pampered in integrated hotels like Zenith Hotel that hovers over the smaller buildings in town and The East Coast mall across owned by conglomerate CapitaLand.


We just roamed the streets of Kuantan because we reached late afternoon and we wanted to rest and freshen up. By then it was already evening so we had dinner and explored the town by foot. I've got to say they have friendly drivers who would give way to pedestrians, contrary to what I usually see in urban Kuala Lumpur where they would not stop to let you pass. Salute to that!


On the second day we drove up to Terengganu which was quite funny because I decided to wear shorts and then I was reminded that Terengganu is a pretty conservative Islamic state. I decided to bring along a pair of jeans, just in case. I don't think you'd go to jail for wearing shorts but I wouldn't want to be looked at out of the corner of one's eye either. Turns out, no issues on wearing shorts for men! However, wearing conservatively is still advised to blend in because you will not feel sexy wearing sexy there. Go against my word, and tell me how it goes!


From Kuantan to Terengganu is about two hours drive. The weather was torridle! Yeap, a combination of torrid and horrible. Really, it burns. It was so hot and dry I almost drank Tasik Chini (Chini Lake). It seems like the locals are used to it because you can find cooling drinks like grass jelly and coconut drink stalls dotted along the way.


Here's the wonderful thing about driving through the rural areas because the North-South Highway is just full of palm plantations, you don't really get to see much along the road but the same old same view. Here, you get to see where one of Malaysia's assets - oil, is rigged and processed. It's unbelievable to know that Terengganu was actually one of the poorest states in Malaysia until oil was discovered in the 80's.


Till this point, some of you may be like, you're there just for that?

Of course not! I don't follow on a road trip, to be seated for more than 10 hours for this journey in a car exposed to the unforgiving heat just to see how oil is rigged! No way in hell I would do that. I'd better off watching Discovery Channel if I wanted to see that. I was there for Pasar Payang - a famous wet market by Sungai Terengganu (Terengganu River)!


Pasar Payang is the local central market, offering a variety of traditional handicrafts such as batik, silk, songket, brocade and brassware, as well as fresh produce.

For those who loves durian, you will be in for a treat because they have durians of different types and grades. I just can't tell the difference, because I loathe this fruit. It's so ironic that when I was a kid, I love this fruit because it tasted milky and sweet. So much so I would lick the residue off my mum's fingers but now, I can't even tolerate the smell.

Laugh all you want but to me it's the least sexy fruit to eat, let alone the smell!


I settled for something varied instead. I went for street food! All these fried stuff I bought to eat on the way back to Kuantan but ended up finishing them even before the trip back started. As much as I love food like these, I'll tell you what I was looking for exactly...


I like exotic food like shark's fin soup, rabbit's meat, horse meat or whatever game food there is, I can be sure, there can never be any more exotic delicacy than turtle's egg in Terengganu! They're worth a king's ransom for several reasons. For one, it's reported that the cholesterol level for turtle eggs is ten times more than chicken eggs; cost relativity perhaps? Second, most of the eggs actually go to conservation efforts to produce more turtles leaving the supply for consumption low - which I hope is all darn true because we need more turtles to produce more turtle eggs.


Science is so inconclusive about its cholesterol level I couldn't care less!


Word also has it that it's a natural aphrodisiac giving excessive masculinity. Sounds promising, no? Definitely was feeling #YOLO when I sucked on those eggs. The last time I consumed turtle eggs was like eight years ago? Foreseeing the same story would happen, we bought like two packs of them, a mixture of half boiled and full boiled to be eaten with rice.

The eggs were cold when it was sold so we brought it back to our hotel room and reheat it using the boiler. It taste so good! Its yolk consistency is a little bit like custard. All gone by the end of the trip, now I really need to burn those cholesterol away.

Moving on to the last day of our road trip, we headed back through the same route stopping by Mersing, about 100km off Johor Bahru. We wanted to buy fresh uncooked fish crackers to eat at home and there was this famous store nearby. These fish crackers tastes good and the crunchy ones are best eaten with famous Malay fried rice - Nasi Goreng Kampung. The store has dried fish and other dried seafood products, probably haven for those who spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking because they know what dried fishes are used for.


Then came drama...

I was in the car waiting for things to be loaded into the boot and then heard about an accident that happened like a few seconds then. Suddenly everyone's attention was on the scene. My dad as usual, went to over to see what's going on, asked me to take out his first aid kit and went over to help. The guy was half conscious and bleeding, luckily not profusely. Even so, his head was injured so it was quite nail biting while the ambulance was on its way.


Incidents like this does not require act of valour but out of humanity. It is only right that we help as much within our means. On another note, these kind of circumstances can tell us a lot about the environment we are in.

Yeah, my dad is probably a real life superhero - Marvel should just turn him into one of their characters! It was vivid in my head he saved a child's hand that was stuck in a gashapon (I find it hilarious because the mum was crying hysterically how her child might lost his hand while the public stopped eating to look at the scene - it was intensely quiet), and a few years ago he put out a car fire at the immigration checkpoint (and someone just had to Stomp it), and then this week he attended to this accident.

Looks like his free time has more action than his job. Haha!

Once the ambulance carried the casualty away we headed for dinner and my vintage Marc Jacobs X Pan Am bag just had to give way! Urgh! Nevermind, it's about time anyway but it's rare and hard to find! I don't know if I should find a way to salvage it because what gave way are the metal D-rings and its adjustable buckle.


It's vintage and serves as a great utility bag for trips like this so I'm really torn about salvaging this bag! Any help?


Hope you are entertained reading about my road trip! Till then!

No comments:

Post a Comment