My Perhentian trip started early on Saturday morning. Since we decide to drive up to Kuala Besut, we had to leave my parents house at Selayang around 6:30 am instead of later that evening by bus as originally planned. With 11 (9 adults and 2 children) of us going, we took 2 cars on the journey which started first with breakfast at the McDonalds near the Gombak Karak Highway exit. Although I’ll be the first to admit that I am partial to the Golden Arches but the thought of having it for breakfast was not really something that I look forward to. Unfortunately, I was quickly outvoted by the others so it was a McChicken Porridge and coffee breakfast for me.
(Breakfast at McDonalds)
Once breakfast was dispensed with, we started the 400 km plus trip via Karak Highway then eastward on the East Coast Highway towards Kuantan, Pahang before veering off northward though the excellent Terengganu roadways. The journey up to Terengganu was quite picturesque but as luck had it, I left the digital camera in the other car. Driving through Terengganu, I am always impressed by the quality of the roads there compared to other places. Given that Terengganu was the heart of Malaysian petroleum industry, it was clear where all of those oil royalties went to. Having such good roads made the journey smoother and more enjoyable.
(Scenes on the way to Dungun)
We decided to stop by the town of Dungun to stretch our legs and have a bit of lunch. By that time we had been driving for about 5 hours straight. We first headed to a local fishing jetty as my father was scouting for some locations in the area for his next production. It turned out that the original location that he wanted was already being developed and was now unsuitable for what he had in mind. After the short break, we proceeded to find somewhere to have lunch and decided to eat at a Nasi Ayam place some where near Dungun town. The food was nothing to rave about but it hit the spot especially when everyone was already hungry by that time.
(Some shot from the Dungun fishing jetty)
After Dungun, we continued our trip northward to Kuala Terengganu where we wanted to stop for a bit of shopping. This shopping trip was the main reason why we had to change our travel plans from the original plan of taking an overnight express bus to Kuala Besut. We reached Kuala Terengganu at about 2:30pm and proceeded straight to Pasar Payang market. To get to the market, we had to drive through Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown quarter. I have to admit that I was totally surprised to see a Chinatown in Kuala Terengganu as I always thought that the Chinese population in the East Coast were more integrated into the local Malay population. It was a pleasant surprise to see pre-war Chinese style buildings that reminded me of the streets of Penang and Jonker St in Melaka. Unfortunately for me, the street was a narrow one way street and there was no where for us to park and take a walk through the area.
Pasar Payang market was a collection of shops selling all sort of local handicraft and knick knacks. The market seemed to be sectioned according to the product being sold. We went through the sections selling T-shirts, silverware, wood carving and much, much more. The main reason I was there was to look for batik and songket cloth which they had a whole section of. Since everyone else in the section is selling the same thing, it was a bit overwhelming to decide which shop to go to. After walking around for about ½ hour, we finally decided on one of the shops. I ended up buying 2 pieces of songket, 2 pieces of kain pelikat, a T-shirt, 2 ladies tudung and a small collection of key chains. With the exception of the songket, I bought everything else as gifts for my friends and co-workers but I really felt it was good value for money. The prices for songket there was at least half of what they sell for in KL so I would highly recommend the place for those looking for it.
After spending almost 2 hours at Pasar Payang market, we moved on our way towards Kuala Besut where we planned to stay overnight in. We had initially thought that we would be able to take a scenic route to Kuala Besut by following the coastal road but we soon discovered that we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at dead end road. After turning ourselves around and finally found the right road to take, we drove on uneventfully until we reached Kuala Besut at 6:30pm. First thing that we had to do there was to check in at the Kuala Besut Connection tour office which was located near the jetty to Pulau Perhentian. Once the remaining balance for the vacation package was paid off at the tour office, we checked in the nearby Samudera Hotel where we already booked 2 rooms to overnight in before leaving for the Perhentians on the following morning.
(Our room at Samudera Hotel)
Once we had time to settle down and wash the travel grime off ourselves, we adjourned to the nearby food stall for dinner. We had fresh grilled fish, deep fried squid, stir-fry vegetables with rice for the 11 of us. While the fish was indeed quite fresh, the meal was not that memorable for the RM 150 that we had to pay at the end of the meal. For that kind of price, I would have expected much more than what we had that night. After dinner, we decided to walk the meal off in the now dark and deserted Kuala Besut town which was the perfect epitome of a one-street town. Having lived in KL all my life, I’ve forgotten that places like this existed where everything shuts down by 9pm and there is nothing else to do other than going to bed early. Since we had an early start the following morning, that was exactly what we decided to do that night.
(The food stall where we had the RM 150 dinner!)
(Scenes from the deserted Kuala Besut town)
(Our hotel in Kuala Besut which was by the jetty to Pulau Perhentian)