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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Road Trip to Kuantan, Pahang

Map showing the Karak highway(red line) from KL(left) to Kuantan (right).

It all started when RW told us of this place called Bukit Panorama (Panorama Hill) in Sungai Lembing, Kuantan. She emailed us the info on this hill end of December 08 and asked a few of us if we were interested to go during the Thaipusam festival holiday weekend (Feb 8, 09). I told her that it will clash with our Ledang climb which was scheduled to take place on the 9th of February. We left it as that then.

Early March, RW planned for Vietnam trip, asking me to go with her. I told her that it's better to go with the others, Minch and my sister, Rach. RW said that it's difficult because everyone was busy. We left it as that then.

7th March 2009 - Minch, Matt, toddler Wayne and I went to the Malacca Zoo. During our ride back to Seremban, we discussed about going to Kuantan. Rach had to waste 4 days of leave by the end of March and I was pretty sure RW had a lot of leave to spare. Minch and I decided to go during the last weekend of the month. We thought it was a good idea because everyone could clear their workload by then.

We further discussed it on the 9th of March when we (Rach, Minch and I) went for a shopping spree at Mid Valley. We saw Steve and asked if he would like to join us. He was keen, but needed to check his work schedule before committing anything.

The next day Minch emailed the few of us - RW, Rach, Steve and I, to roughly outline the plans and ask for our confirmation of participation in this trip. Steve asked a few questions but in the end he checked his schedule and said that he couldn't take leave on that day. RW asked a few questions but was undecided at that time. Later she told us she had work commitments and asked us to enjoy ourselves.

That left 3 of us. Not wanting to waste the 4th seat, I asked Mctc. He was also undecided but later ... much later... a few days later said he would follow us.

Kuantan - 27-28 March 2009

5.00am - The alarm bell rang.
5.15am - 2nd alam bell rang.
6.54am - left house.
6.10am - arrived at Rach's house.
6.30am - arrived at Minch's house and hit the highway.

7.18am - Got caught in the KL jam. Fortunately we didn't have to enter city centre.

8.02am-8.30am - Had breakfast in the Genting-Sempah (I think) McDonald's. Mctc had his first cup of coffee here. He asked Minch to take over the driving from this point onwards.

It got very misty along the road to Bentong. Minch jokingly said that we did not have to go to Kuantan to witness the sea of clouds at Bukit Panorama. We have our own sea of clouds here.

After more than 1 1/2 hours of sitting in the car, we saw a sign board- Tasik Chini (Chini Lake) -750m turn left. Minch was so tempted to swing the car towards the left, but we told her to get to our original destination first.

10.30am - We reached the Kuantan toll gate (finally) and got Rach to navigate. We wanted to meet up with Minch's friend's mom who was having the keys to the house we rented for this trip.

11.11am - We reached Minch's friend's mom's shop - number 56. Rach was a good navigator who led us straight to the shop without any wrong turnings. Our check in time was 2pm. We had time to kill and so we went to the famous Teluk Cempedak. (Cempedak Bay. Cempedak... not sure what is it called in English but it is a kind a fruit, very close to jackfruit).

We went to a craft shop where Minch got a gift for her friend and later had noodles in a nearby shop.

I had loh shee fun (made out of rice flour and looked like worms from this picture) and the rest had laksa (spicy soup noodles).

After lunch, we wanted to check out a few places of interest, one of which is the Balai Karyaneka (we assumed it was some kind of handicraft shop as it was listed as a place of interest in the Kuantan Map Rachel bought the day before for RM18.50). It was stated that this place is very near Teluk Cempedak and the King's Palace. After looking for it a few times, going past the same roads over and over again, we concluded that there was no such place or probably the map Rachel bought was outdated.

Mctc took over the driving and went to look for the gym nearby. He had been to this part of Malaysia many times when he was working with his old company. He remembered that there was a very good gym around Teluk Cempedak.

1.03pm - We arrived back at the Teluk Cempedak beach where we had our lunch and check where we wanted to go next.

We drove around aimlessly and landed on this beautiful park called Taman Gelora. The pine trees were simply beautifully huge. With the beach nearby and the pine trees providing shade for our fair skin, hmmm...what a nice place to have picnics. More on this, please click here.

This is also in Taman Gelora - Lotus leaves and flowers.

1.45pm - While we were in the park, Minch suggested that we might as well do something worthwhile.. like going for the river cruise. Earlier on she sent us an online brochure of the Kuantan River Cruise. All of us forgot what was the schedule like. So Rachel checked her email online and informed us that the next ride would be at 3pm.

We drove back to the town centre and booked the tickets. The cost of ticket per person was RM15 and we needed a minimum of 5 people for that cost. Otherwise we would have to pay extra each person. Fortunately, there were 2 other people who wanted to take the 3pm cruise.

It was a really good experience. This is not my first time sitting on a ferry-like cruise but I really enjoyed this 1 hour and 30 minutes ride. Check out following blog for the details. :)

We arrived at our rented place at about.. err.. 5.20pm I think. This place is big enough for 14 (minimum) people. There is 4 rooms and 3 bigger than usual bathrooms, a big hall and a big kitchen and mattresses that can accommodate 14 people. Cost is RM180. We didn't know that the owner allowed us to rent just the rooms only. The cost would be lower if we told the owner that we only wanted to rent 2 rooms only.

Slightly after 6pm, we did a short recce to Sg Lembing. We wanted to be prepared for the climb the next day and needed to know the logistics.

Minch took the wheels. We had to look at the map while we were still in Kuantan town (we got caught in the jam for a while) and as soon as we were on the road to Sg Lembing, we stopped looking at the map and concentrate on the roads and mile(km) stones.

By the time we reached Sg Lembing town, the sun had already gone down and the cresent-shaped moon took its rightful place. It was about 7.47pm.

And the Sungai Lembing town looked dead (Top, 1st picture). No sign of life. All was still... quiet, silence was the only sound. It was eerie. Top 2nd picture is the Sg Lembing museum. Looked like a chief minister's house or something.
Mctc took over the wheel while Minch was chatting on the phone with someone who knew this area well. Her friend told us to look out for the Hainan Soceity Building and asked us to park our car there the next day. The hill was somewhere nearby and asked us not to worry because this hill was quite popular and many people would be there to climb and we just had to follow them.

Happily, we left the place to look for a decent meal. We heard that Ikan Bakar (Barbequed fish) was quite popular and checked Minch's friend's map for directions.

We got lost, but was on the right track again after a phone call o Minch's friend.

8.52pm. We had our dinner here. Quite crowded, about 75-80% of tables full. Rach and Minch went to place the seafood order and when we were all seated, a waiter came to asked what drinks and other dishes we wanted.

We had lala (not sure what is it called in English), Sotong (squid), stingray fish, mixed veg, a small bowl of tom yam(taste sourish), 2 plates of fried rice, 2 plates of plain rice, 2 normal glasses and 1 mega glass of orange juice. The bill, surprisingly was quite cheap - RM55. I thought it would at least cost RM70-RM80.
What I think of the food? So-so only. We were so hungry and we ate everything. Later when we asked one another how was the food, everyone said that it was cheap but only the lala and mixed veg were good. Rach said that Seremban's Ikan Bakar in Templer is better than this but I thought this was also alright. It has been a long time since I ate Ikan Bakar...

We left the place at 9.43pm, too late and we were too tired to go and see the fireflies.

The next day we got up at 3.15am, to reach Sg Lembing at 5am, to hike up Bukit Panorama at 5.30am, to reach the peak by 6.30am to witness this :

The famed sea of clouds at Bukit Panorama. It was a sight to behold. Anyway, more of this on my later posts. :) (Just updated my blog on Bukit Panorama)

We had breakfast at a nearby food court, then we went to the Museum.

It's free of charge (online says it RM1 per person above 12 years of age) and they maintained it so well. It seems this house was formerly the residence of a British official. We were in this museum for about an hour.

Later we wanted to go to the crystal house, but it was closed. The road to the Crystal house was narrow, and we had to move the car to one side of the road to let the on coming cars pass us. We spotted this hanging bridge and saw some of the climbers on this bridge holding some goodies. We asked them what was over the other side of the bridge. They said they bought some honey and dried noodles.

So we parked the car and went to check it out ourselves. Mctc bought a bottle of honey. Minch... did she buy anything? I cannot remember.

These are the shops found in Sg Lembing, very kampung (village) like and most of the residence here are Chinese.

Lots of oil palm trees along th road as we headed back to Kuantan. We caught sight of a gua (cave) and made our way there.

More oil palm trees and after driving 4 km off the main road we reached the cave. We didn't go in, mainly because we weren't that interested and thought it was ridiculous to pay RM2 for parking. There wasn't any car park or car lot. You can just park anywhere and pay the fees.

We left the cave and head towards Kuantan town again.

We passes by a Kamdar building. I can't believe they have a building all to themselves. It's famous for selling cloths and clothes.

By the time we reach the town area, it started raining. When we reached back to the house, the rain changed to drizzle. We showered and packed our stuff, then went back to town to look for food. It seems there was this famous chicken rice shop in tow and once again we search for it in the map Minch's friend printed for us.

I guess he must have forgotten where it was because we couldn't locate it. Finally, we decided, maybe we just park somewhere nearby and ask one of the locals.

We walked about 5 minutes from where we parked. The man who told us where it was offered to drive us there, but we declined. "Never accept a lift from strangers" were in our heads drilled many times by our parents.

So, here' s the famous chicken rice shop called " New Capitol". How was it? It seems that he chicken was good. I had the wild boar curry and "char siew (pork meat). Mctc asked for a 2nd bowl of rice when the food came. Minch asked for a 2nd bowl of rice only after she had eaten her first but was told that there wasn't anymore chicken rice. By the time we finished eating, they started closing a portion of the shop.

Later, we made our way to Sin Kee Hung. Thanks to Mctc who remembered the name of the shop and my celcom mobile internet, we managed to find this place. It was about km from Kuantan town. This place is famous for salted fish and other preserved food. When we came out from the shop, we could smell the "ham yee" (salted fish) smell on our clothes.

Finally, we left Kuantan... but we did not forget about Tasik Chini. While we were on the highway, we kept a lookout of the turning to this place.

As soon as we turned off the highway, it started raining. It was about 23km to Tasik Chini and Mctc asked if we wanted to waste an hour (to and fro and looking for the place making it more than 46km) looking for this place. We said we want to check it out. By then it was raining cats and dogs.

The road was narrow and sometimes we had to go slowly because of the road conditions. As soon as we almost reach our destination, the rain stopped.

See, no rain here. We stopped by a stall to ask for directions. Minch bought some anchovies and peanut crackers and Rach asked Minch to ask the shopkeeper if he had any pisang goreng (fried banana) to sell. He said no, but he had some which were not fried. His friend gave it to him and now he was giving it to us. We thanked him and headed to the direction he pointed out.

At first we weren't sure if we were on the right path and asked for directions again from another person. We were on the right track we circled the place again till we came to the lake.

We saw some boys bullying 2 cats. They wanted to make the cats climb up the tree. Poor cats.

So, this is Tasik Chini. It cost RM80 per boat and each boat can take only 5 passengers. The boat ride is about 2 1/2 hours. I say, that's pretty cheap. Since it was already 5.45pm,we told the "boat man" that we were on the way back to Seremban and probably the next time, we would include this in our plans.

Spotted an oil palm tree near Tasik Chini and while the rest were conversing with the "boat man" I took this opportunity to snap a few pictures of the tree.

We left Tasik Chini and headed back for the Kesas Highway. Ate at the shops along the highway and reached home at 9.45pm.

It was an interesting trip. I would say, Kuantan has a lot of attractions. We missed the fireflies and the 8-storey high waterfalls.


KK said...

I'm one of the climbers that you and your buddies met at the hanging bridge... LOL


euniceta said...

Yup, can't believe we didn't get to know you when we met there, but thanks to the internet, we managed to keep in touch and made plans to include you in our Chiling Waterfalls trip and the coming Ledang climb. :)

Anonymous said...

Can you provide me the contact for the accomodation? leety1[a]hotmail.com. TQ.

forexdude said...

there is some typos in your post. here is one below (missing KM) :

managed to find this place. It was about km from Kuantan town. This place is famous for salted fish

Anonymous said...

Did you know that there is a Sleeping Buddha inside Gua Charas? At 11.30a.m, the sunlight shines directly on the Sleeping Buddha. Magnificent sight.