Malaysia's East Coast, 7th September, 2010

Trip Start May 14, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Sanctuary Resort, Kuantan, Malaysia

Flag of Malaysia  , Pahang,
Friday, September 10, 2010

Malaysia's East Coast, 7th September, 2010

A four to five hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, depending on traffic, the east Coast is very Malaysian, and a little third world compared with KL in many ways. (Christine says no gin and ATM’s within 30 miles is third world!) The few white faces you see are mainly tourists like us. The huge advantage, of course is that it’s a very laid back lifestyle, the beaches are almost unused, and everything is very cheap, even compared with Thailand, which is saying something!

The resort here is very tired, and in the middle of refurbishment, and long list of things in our two bedroom apartment to put right. However, it’s on the beach next to a quaint fishing village, and has a nice pool.

The first five photos are of the resort, and beach, and as you can see it’s beside a quaint fishing village on the Snake river, which is in the next three photos. Look closely at the photo of a leaf- it’s actually a nest of giant ants, in the resort grounds right beside our car park. It took a while to dawn on us why Christine always had these huge biting ants on her after getting in the car, and then we realised she had been brushing the nest with her arm as she got in! No lasting harm done.

This coast is famed for the huge numbers of leatherback turtles which come ashore to lag eggs in nests they dig in the sand, and then leave to fate. To increase the chances of getting to a size they can survive in the sea, the Cherating Turtle sanctuary digs up the nests and reburies them on their property until they hatch, safe from predators, and then they rear them until they can be released to the sea.

After the picture of Cherating beach and Christine laying into a garlic and ginger prawn lunch, there are nine photos of a trip to the little island 1km offshore from the Resort. It’s like a picture postcard and if you compare this photo of Christine on the beach with the one on Climping beach last week, can you guess where she would rather be?

In one of the photos you can see the resort in the background. As you can see, a resident monkey is poised to attack. A sea Eagle lives on two-tree island nearby, and there are photos of his island and of him, hunting fish.

To complete the menagerie over on the island, there is a bat cave (one of the bats is the thing in the photo) and a rock which you are supposed to see as a frog if you strain your imagination somewhat. We have taken to eating at a popular roadside restaurant nearby, as the (local) food is delicious, and the first time we thought they had made a mistake charging us 19 ringgits (ie NZ$8, €4.80, 4) for three big plates, including around 20 prawns – Tom Yum soup, Garlic Prawns and Thai fried rice, plus two iced Milo drinks.

And then, two nights later, Milo, Hong Kong fried rice, Tom Yum soup and prawn noodles cost us just 13 ringgits!

The food is amazing, and the seafood so fresh and cheap- a big plate of chili crab in our resort restaurant is their most expensive dish at 19 ringgits!

We are in Ramadan right now, which means that the Malay people cannot eat until sunset, which makes buying lunch a bit difficult with most restaurants (and a lot of shops and businesses) closed. Sunset (eating) time is reported in the paper each day, and we know that tonight everyone will be eating at 7.11pm. And we mean 7.11pm- after fasting all day, you don’t want to eat at 8pm, 7.30 or even 7.15!

It does give rise to great people watching, as the local restaurants will be full of hungry looking families by 7pm, not touching the food in front of them until precisely the right minute, at which time there is on the surface an unconcerned and polite picking up of implements, but you can almost feel the frantic frenzy lying just below the surface as talking ceases and eating begins. So would I be frantic after not eating all day, and the self discipline involved must be really good for the soul.

Many people order in advance a table groaning with food for the appointed hour, and the restaurant has the unenviable task of deciding how long in advance they dare cook, as everyone wants to eat at once. The result is that we have seen people sit down to eat food that’s been getting cold on their plates for 15 minutes, but they don’t seem to mind.

Final three photos- firstly Kuantan fishing pier- isn’t it just like Eastbourne or Devonport pier? NOT.

Then the Kuantan mosque. Kuantan 25km away is the biggest city in the area and is the nearest place to buy essential non Muslim supplies like wine, gin, whiskey, tonic, fresh milk, and bacon. You don’t buy much wine, at NZ$45 a bottle in the supermarket!

Finally, a sunrise from our apartment window, which is what we hope to see in the morning just before leaving at dawn.

Unplanned by us, we are currently at the beginning of the Hari Raya holidays, when everyone must return to their Balik Kampung (home village) for family celebrations, and the traffic is building up, and they are all driving rather dangerously as they head home. We are heading back to KL one night early, to give us a full day to cover the 350km without risking missing our plane on Saturday.

So that’s the end of this years Amerys Travels for all our and our other friends… hope you found time to read some and enjoyed what you read? Always happy to have feedback from you, even if it’s just to say please take me off your mailing list!

We hope to be back again in print next (NZ) winter with plans which include a villa in France, a cottage in Cornwall, a houseboat in Holland, and a cruise in the eastern Mediterranean.

Bye for now!

Richard and Christine
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