Well, this is my little scribe about my short break before I took up this job ... my journey to the east coast.
As usual, there are tonnes of pics (20+ in this post) and you can click on 'em to see a bigger pic. You have been warned ...
Since some years ago, I've always wanted to take some time and then journey to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia - if nothing else because I've always been fascinated by the laid back atmostphere and the stronger identification with the Malay culture there. For many years, it remained nothing but a fascination - either I had time but the timing was wrong (rainy season), or the time was right, but I was stuck in some faraway land, such as Thailand.
So, this time, sensing my opportunity - good weather, break from work, etc. I resolved myself to travel to the east coast - at all costs !
I could have stayed on in Beijing after completing my project with the previous company, which sounded very appealing, but I was more determined to see the east coast instead - the bookings have been made, the plans somewhat laid out, and Beijing can wait - I'm sure they won't dismantle the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
So, I proceeded with my plans to be in Cherating and then in Pulau Perhentian Besar.
So last week, on Wednesday, I made the long drive up to Kuantan. It felt like I was driving forever - I've driven much further distances - but never alone - I normally have company with me for long haul drives because I always believe 2 is better than 1 in these scenarios - imagine stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tyre and with no company.
After what must be an eternity, I reach my intended destination - Impiana Cherating. The name's a little misleading - it is closer to Chendor than it is to Cherating, but who the heck cares. One plus point about this resort is that every room has a seaview - and the beachfront is long and deserted - I was practically walking the entire beach all afternoon, and at one end, I was all alone - ah - me, sand under my feet, breeze in my face, serenaded by the waves lapping the shore. Perfecto.
It was the perfect start to the holiday. Even the boisterous Chinese tourists can't make me unhappy - those guys didn't seem to appreciate that we're in a beach resort - normally a place to relax, and were going around playing games and having a jolly good time at the expense of some quiet time. =(
Next day, I took the long drive from Cherating up to Kuala Besut. Here's the funny part - I had no idea I was headed there. The tour agency simply told me that once in Terengganu, there are plenty of signboards that will show me the way to Perhentian Island Jetty. Bullshit !!! There's practically none !!!
From Cherating, I went past Kemaman. No sign of Perhentian Island signboards. Ok ... then past Rantau Abang ... still no signboard. Then reached KT ... still no signboard. Woi ... die ... I was closer to Kota Bharu than Kuala Terengganu, I have passed the Merang jetty to Pulau Redang ... where the (^*& is Kuala Besut??
Then finally, after nearly 3 hours on the road, I reached Jerteh ... and the junction to Pulau Perhentian Jetty ... people are right when they say the journey is half the fun !!
I stayed at Reef Chalet, an 11 chalet resort which had basic chalets - bed, bathroom, fan and electricity from 6pm to 8am. And seriously, that was all I needed. I met up with Rashida, one of the owners, who was staying in the next chalet, and she gave me lots of tips about the place.
First things first - I went snorkelling. In fact, most of my 3 days there I spent either relaxing, snorkelling, taking photos or sleeping. It's as close to Moz paradise as one can get, seriously.
My resort was at Turtle Bay, which had fine snorkelling at either ends - from the beach, to the right of the jetty, there are many rocks - swim out and you'd find a good variety of fishes, corals and sea cucumbers. I actually spotted a turtle (probably a Hawksbill) feeding at this part of the beach.
And on the extreme right - just in front of the glass bungalow at the Perhentian Island resort - there's another great snorkel spot - again, you have to swim pretty far out - but the rewards is plenty of corals - staghorns, table, fan, brain corals and especially the soft corals. I saw so many little Nemos (juvenile clownfishes). But there's a downside to all those Nemos - their damn parents - adult clownfishes actually are very teritorial and bit me 7 times in those 3 days. I so protest against anyone making Nemos a mascot for anything - they're so unwelcoming !!!
But there's a downside to all these offshore corals - during low tide, a lot of tourists actually step on them.
Look, assholes, corals are living animals. Show some respect - DON'T FUCKING STEP ON THEM !!! If you are about to drown - wear a bloody life jacket of use a body board to stay afloat. It's bad enough these corals have to take your jumping into the water with your sunblock not dried (a key contributor to coral bleaching), that they also have to contend with global warming (corals are very sensitive to temperature changes) and that all these increased tourism activities do strain the ecology of the reef - you HAD TO FUCKING STEP ON THEM!!! FUCK YOU !!! Go pick someone your own size. If you're drowning, step on your mother-in-law instead. See what your wife might say !!! Have some respect !!!
Ok. Rant over.
Anyways, back to the snorkelling, I did take a trip - RM25 if arranged by The Reef - plus another RM10 for the gear - out to Turtle Beach, Shark's Point - saw around 16 Black Tipped Reef Sharks - largest about 1 meter long, and Turtle Point - didn't see a turtle underwater, but did see it from boat when it surfaced for air for a very short while. Add to that the Moray Eels, stingray, sea slugs, rich coral varieties and plenty of smaller reef fishes, I think it was a trip to remember.
I had a snorkel malfunction at Shark's Point, which freaked me out. All of a sudden, my snorkel just feel apart - I'm left with my mask and a portion of the snorkel, and sucking in sea water instead of air. Thank everything good in life that fellow snorkeller Irene was nearby and helped me back to the boat. If she wasn't there, maybe I'd be shark food. *Thanks, Irene*
All too soon, I had to leave the island - the trip's over. But before leaving, Rashida, who sent me off, told me to take the coastal road down to KT.
I took her word for it, and boy, it was a stunning road. We're not advertising enough about this road, boys. Watch out for the part when the road meets the sea at Penarik - simply stunning. All along the coast, you would find houses, shops and coffee shops just by the sea - the people probably don't realise how lucky they are to have that view !! It's worth a billion bucks !! I so wanna build a seafront home in Penarik.
All too soon, the coastal road ended, I was in KT. Pelf couldn't meet me - she was away in Dungun, so I got lost in KT trying to find some fast food to fill myself before driving on. But I had no luck at all - I just couldn't find that place. So I settled for some good ol' Nasi Dagang - which was excellente.
So on with the journey. 10 hours after leaving Kuala Besut, I reached home. The batteries are truly charged, and I'm all ready to start work on Monday.
What a holiday ...