While waiting for our boat to arrive, again, we played poker. The way back to the land was another choppy ride. Please make sure you sit at the back of the boat if you don’t want all your internal organs to jumble up inside you. It was a bumpy ride all the way back to land!

Yuin took us to his favorite hangout for lunch. It’s this small warung nearby Pantai Boran where only locals would know how to get there. Here, you see makciks dressing up to the nines in their best baju kurungs and branded bags. They spent their free time chatting and gossiping at the warung, while having lunch together.

We had the best keropok ever! It’s slightly brownish in color and the sauce that went with it was delicious! I ordered a plate of nasi goreng kampong – which is slightly spicy and the nasi goreng kerabu was nice too!

After eating, I overheard a pakcik saying, “Ikang! Ikang!” Then, the group of makciks suddenly got up and hurried to a stall by the sea bank. We decided to check out what’s happening and saw the group of elderly people grabbing fishes as if they were for free!

The pakcik told us the fishes are caught fresh from the sea and there is no preservative. I wanted to buy some but we do not have a fridge or ice box and I don’t think the fishes would make it in the 8 hours drive back to KL! The pakciks saw us with cameras, made way for us to snap some pictures. It was very nice of them!

Then, we went to Pasar Payang – where you can get all kinds of things there – from batik to keropoks, durians to Rayban sunglasses. Don’t be fool by this market though! You may have thought the cloth selling here are cheaper – yes, they are cheaper compared to KL but that doesn’t stop them for charging RM300 for a set of cloth to make a set of baju kurung! I wanted to get a cute little flowery pink baju kurung for Ern Ern but it costs RM45 just for one tiny dress! So I decided to forget it!

After a walkabout the pasar, we stopped by for durian kunyit. The flesh was yellowish in color and they are less creamy compared to D24, it costs us Rm20 for two durians. So expensive? I am not sure how much does durians cost, so it’s ok. Haha. We went on our long journey back to KL after dropping off Yuin at his hostel.

I didn’t know there is this thing called Satar, Terengganu version of otak-otak in triangular shapes (for those who don’t know what otak-otak is – it’s BBQ-ed fish mousse in spices). Ms Han, being the makan Queen introduced us to it. I didn’t want to buy too much in case if I didn’t like the taste, so we bought 5 for RM2 to try. The Satar is really good!

We stopped by Kuala Abang to take some photos. I remember this place because we stopped by here before when I attended a wedding in Kuala Terengganu many years ago. I remember how picturesque it was. The beach was still picturesque but sadly, the place is riddled with rubbish thrown by irresponsible people who came for a picnic. Rubbish were strewn everywhere. It made me wanna go there and pick up all the rubbish before I leave but we were running out of time.

As we went along our journey, we kept a look out for satar because we wanted to ta pao some satar to bring them back home for our families to try. So, we went on satar hunting mode. Whenever we saw a billow of smoke, we would go all Spartan-ish and shouted, “SATARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” It was hilarious when the smoke actually comes from burning rubbish! See – we don’t need alcohol to laugh like drunks! Unfortunately, we couldn’t locate any because it was already late evening. Oh well, there is always another time.

We stopped by Kuantan and had a feast at Alor Akar, again, another of Ms Han’s favorite restaurant when she was working there on a project.

All in all, it was a relaxing trip – except for the nearly drowning experience by Yuin and the kena-sebijik-you-tak-dengarbriefing incident. Other than that, it was a perfectly okay trip.

Coral White

We woke up early for breakfast. It was raining the night before, so I guess the sea is going to be even more choppy today. I was right. The moment we got to Marine Park (by the way, you need to pay RM5 each person at the jetty before going into the islands), the wave was strong. It was dangerous to even climb on the jetty! We had to go with the rhythm of the crashing waves!

We waited to be briefed before going into the sea, didn’t want to kena screwed for not listening again! After the short briefing, I looked at the sea and was apprehensive! The waves came crashing to the shore in its entire splendor! Didn’t want to risk it, we went to the other side, in which the waves looked less intimidating.

I was telling them, we saw moray eel here before, under the jetty. I am not sure if the moray eel is still alive, seeing the polluted waters! The water was rather hazy – just like the sky in KL! Everything in the water seemed murky, not sure if it’s due to the crashing waves. I don’t know this place can be a marine park since most corals are dead. It’s like a coral graveyard. Everything is white in color, littered with rubbish especially plastic bags from all the fish bread! I even saw tyres! There are more people than fishes. I doubt the moray eel is still there with the amount of pollution. Probably migrated elsewhere!

The pounding waves made it rather difficult to swim, so I decided to “drift” ashore. I didn’t see any of my friends anymore – it’s difficult to remain together because we were all bobbing in the sea according to the rhythm of the waves. It proved to be a mistake because I was washed ashore mercilessly by the waves. I was laughing when I landed on the shore – not because it was fun! I saw a Chinese girl also being washed ashore and she tumbled like a ragged doll. Luckily her bikini didn’t fall off! For once, I thanked God that I am heavy! I suffered some scratches on my left leg as I crashed into the dead corals sand.

I quickly got up and saw Ms Han and Yuin were already at the beach. They too, find it impossible to snorkel in the waves. We couldn’t locate Ms KNS (kanasai – lol!) and was shocked to see her already sitting at the floating platform far away in the sea. She gained admiration for doing just that from the group of screaming girls who don’t know how to swim – the ones that came with us to the island in the same boat earlier. Haha!

We got back to the resort to have our meals because we were super hungry, fighting off the waves. Then we waited again for the next snorkeling session, spent one hour playing poker. More like teaching poker to Ms KNS.

The second spot to snorkel for the day was not too bad. The water was clear and I could see corals from the boat itself, so I didn’t go into the sea. There were two non-swimmer girls who didn’t buckle their life jackets properly. One jumped into the sea first, only to have the jacket moved up and covered her face. She was frantic and Mr Moody (one of the fellas who ticked us off at the snorkeling gears counter) helped her and soothed her. She was choking in sea water and kept spitting. I think she cried from the grimace of her face. Before her friend joined her in the water, I quickly helped her to buckle her life jacket properly to save her from the same experience.

Speaking of life jacket – you guys really have to take it seriously when the instructor tells you to wear your life jacket all the time. Our friend – Yuin had the scare of his life when he swam past the perimeter near our resort to the open sea. The sea was too choppy and he had to cling onto the buoy to stay afloat. Worse, he realized the buoy would eventually lead him to the bottom of the sea. He had no choice but to swim against the current to get back to the shore. We were all worried for him and kept looking at the sea for his silhouette. He went missing for awhile till he suddenly showed up at the shore behind us instead of from the sea!

We got back from Pulau Lima and decided to swim in the clear blue sea before tea time. It was enjoyable. I think it would be even more fun to have spent the whole morning nearby our resort, rather than going to the marine park – which is a serious waste of time! Ah…. I wish I am still soaking in the clear, blue waters, staring up in the blue skies and think of nothing.

We spent the entire evening, basking in the sun and swim, but for me – I went back earlier to take a bath and then joined them to take photos.

During dinner, we were supposed to pay RM30 for bringing our own wine so we decided to keep it low key. Mana tau, when the sparkling wine was popped, it was so loud that the entire crowd stared at us. I said, if they ask us to pay, I will tell them it’s just fruit juice and down the bottle on the spot. Luckily they didn’t push it and asked us to pay. We quickly got out from the dining area before the pub starts operating! Speaking of being kiasu! Haha!

It started raining like cats and dogs when we got back to our room and again, I thanked God we didn’t took a stroll at the beach, otherwise, we would be all soaked in the rain! We wanted to play some cards or perhaps, chit chat and drink the last bottle of vodka, but again, the day ended unceremoniously as we went comatose in bed after plastering masks on our faces and snored the night away.

A Trip to Redang Island

This trip marked my third time to Redang Islands. I think I went once back in 2001? 2002? (don’t remember!), followed by company trip back in 2007. I am glad I enjoyed all three trips. This trip was an impromptu trip, all started with Ms Han missing the islands in Sabah and wanted another trip to the beach, so, we just arranged one the very last minute.

The four of us decided to drive up to Merang via the East Coast Highway. The journey was rather entertaining till one after another of us fell asleep, except the driver lah of course. Haha. It was way past my bed time, I couldn’t keep my eye lids opened. We were all awaken when passing by Paka Powerplant in Dungun and were all excited to see the magnificent bright lights and fires coming out from the power plant. It wasn’t as bright as it used to be, maybe the power plant was not at its optimum level or something like that. Well, I am no engineer so.. I won’t know.

We reached Merang a tad early because of the non-stop drive from KL, except stopping twice for petrol and toilet breaks. We parked the car in the parking lot and slept for an hour. Woke up, then scouted for breakfast. I was asleep most of the time because I was still groggy and moody. We chanced upon a shop selling nasi kerabu somewhere near Bukit Rakit and the BBQ chicken that accompanied it were awesome! The shop is called, Nasi Kerabu Jumi.

We waited for our boat ride to Redang Reef Resort. It took about 30 minutes to reach the islands from land. The ride wasn’t a smooth one because of the choppy seas and also, screaming girls in the motorboat. The boatman actually slowed down for them to snap pictures! Must be first timers. I tried hard not to roll my eyes.

We got off the boat and ushered ourselves at the canteen for briefing. There was still some time before the first snorkeling session, so we went to our room to unload our bags and things. I packed heck a lot of snacks, worrying we might not have enough to eat but silly me.. we ended having to carry the whole bag of goodies back because we were simply too full to eat anything else!

Ah.. white sandy beach!

When we went to collect our snorkeling gear, we were a little cheesed off by the staff because they didn’t even bother to look at us when we wanted 4 sets of gear. We waited around 10 minutes, then only the two fellas manning the booth sarcastically said to us – well, you didn’t listen to briefing? You can only collect your gears at 1 pm. So – is it a big problem to just tell us that, rather than letting us wait like bloody idiots. Why did you guys open the bloody counter if you are not opened for renting? This is really uncalled for! Nobody told us to get coupons from the reception area before getting our gears either. Bad service!

We went back to the beach in front of our chalet for a quick swim to cool off the steam. It wasn’t a good swim because the whole area was infested with jelly fishes and sharp rocks! We were lucky nobody got hurt.

Rocky beach during low tide

The first area we went to snorkel was Pulau Paku. I remember coming here. I remember the big, colorful parrot fishes, nemos, large clams which clamp shut whenever you swam past them and giant reefs. They were no where to be seen. Fishes were smaller this time and the entire sea bed was greenish in color. At first, I thought they were all dead and coated in moss but, was told that, they were actually alive and would change colors if you touch them! If corals are dead, they would be all white. I guess I learned something that day.

After the short snorkeling session, we went about taking photos and took a walk surrounding the area. The old hut used to film the movie, Summer Holiday back in 2000 is still well kept. It used to be dilapidated when I first visited it back in 2001? Or was it 2002? I can’t remember!

Blue, blue sea

The day ended unceremoniously because we were all too tired from the long drive and were sleep deprived. We wanted to play some games or maybe, have a booze session but we don’t want to be waking up in a massive hang over for tomorrow’s event, so, we simply collapsed in bed after a few glasses of red wine and coffee. LOL.

50 Favorite Shots VIII

….Every picture tells a story. Here, I present to you my favorite 50 shots taken around Malaysia….

It’s hard to be in festive mood after what had just happened but, I hate to stop when I’ve already started on a project (wish I have this mentality when it concerns losing some weight)….. so here goes…

#36 Shadow Play. I love this picture. Taken in Pulau Redang, Terengganu last year. A company trip where I brought along some friends.

#37 Netted Sun. The deserted volley ball court in Pulau Redang, Terengganu.

#38 Clear Waters. You don’t get water this clear in the west coast of Malaysia. Taken Taken in Pulau Redang, Terengganu.

#39 Bliss! I would take time out anytime to come here to bask in the sun and read a good book or simply sleep the afternoon away. Avillion, Port Dickson.

#40 Cycles of Life. One of my many shots of lotuses. This one you could see bees pollinating the lotuses while scouting for honey. Avillion, Port Dickson.

Soul Searching

The ride towards Kuala Terengganu was an uncomfortable one.

“It’s like riding on a galloping fridge!” I told a friend. It was freezing cold that even with my layers of fat, I couldn’t insulate myself. The driver kept on jamming the brakes when taking corners and the suspension were not that “springy”. Hence, we ended up riding on a “horse”.

I was alarmed when I was told the bus we were riding on – its permit would expire in 3 months time. I prayed hard we would reach safely.

Somehow, I managed to snap out from my restless sleep when the bus went over a bump and it was right on when we were passing by Paka Power Plant. It was beautiful. I will never forget the breath taking view of fires and lights illuminating the dark night. On my trips to Kuala Terengganu all these years, I always look forward to this scenic view.

Reaching the jetty, the unfriendly weather greeted us with heavy down pour. Already groggy from lack of sleep, my face was as gloomy as the sky. What is this man? It’s raining in July in the East Coast? The weather is getting crazy these days.

As soon as we gotten ourselves to Lang Tengah Island, we were hurdled into the reception area for a short briefing by the owner of Redang Lang Resort. I couldn’t remember his name, but he was in his early 40s. He looked somewhat unapproachable. Maybe he’s sad over his balding head. He’s probably a scuba diver based on the tanned torso and muscular build. I didn’t really like the briefing as everything was mentioned in ringgit and sen.

Snorkles and life jacket – RM20 for 3 days
Open diving introduction – RM100
Marine Park pass – RM5.00
Internet – RM7.00 hourly
Massage – RM50 per hour
Pool – RM3 per game, etc.

Redang Lang Resort looks fine on the outside. Well maintained. Your typical budget resort. I heard this place is the cheapest you can find on this island (No wonder they charge everything). Sun-tanning lazy chairs with umbrellas, a small volley ball court, scuba centre, canoes for hire, etc.

However, the moment we entered our room, a smell of decay excites our sensory buds. “Gawd!! Something must have died in the toilet!!” my third aunt kept insisting.

It took about 5 flushes before the smell go away. Whenever we were not using the toilet, we would still flush as the smell would penetrate the room when the air conditioner was turned off. I heard other rooms were not as bad as the one I was staying in. Shucks.

Since I didn’t get enough sleep in the “galloping fridge”, I made up for loss of sleep in the something-must-have-died-in-the-toilet room while the rest went to the Marine Park. It’s the same every year – the fish, the Murray eel, the barracudas, the big colorful clams, etc. I am getting a bit squeamish to deal with fishes and mollusks these days. I enjoy eating them so I can’t be friends with them. That is why I never bother to take up scuba diving. Actually, the main reason is, the sharks might mistake me as a walrus if I don on a wet suit. Geez.. I can’t shake the image being gobbled up by sharks off my mind whenever I imagine myself going for a diving trip.

I was lucky to drag my ass up to take a walk on the beach approaching dinner time as it would be the only chance to watch sunset. Other days – it was raining and raining and raining. Even on our way back to the jetty – it drizzled all morning.

On second day, when others went for jungle trekking, I looked at the weather, it was good for a swim. I had to baby sit my two aunts as both of them don’t know how to swim. I taught them a few strokes. But my fourth aunt preferred to just soak in the salty water. Another colleague joined us. I told her, she shouldn’t use a life jacket if she wanted to learn how to swim. Since we have nothing much in our agenda, I built a sand castle – I decided to make Angkor Watt but it looked somewhat distorted. Yes – I was THAT bored.

The sea was very beautiful. Like Redang Islands and Perhentian islands, the different shades of turquoise simply take my breath away. The sand was not white and “sandy” though. It was littered with dead corals washed off from the sea and rubbish can be seen everywhere. It is sad that such nice and deserted place, perfect for a quiet getaway to rest and relax is not well maintained.

A short walk from our resort towards the rocky area were good as we get to see some beautiful rocks formation and animals from the islands. The seabed was filled with sea cucumbers! My aunts were very excited and they almost wanted to harvest all the sea cucumbers to bring them back home to cook a scrumptious meal. I stopped them from even thinking about it.

About 10 minutes walk from our place, there were two other resorts. The Lang Sari Resort is situated overlooking a sea filled with corals. You can even see corals right from the beach front itself. It was that rich! I could see the place is deserted. There were not many people on the beach front. It looked somewhat haunted though. However, the canoes are for free. And nobody actually use the canoes apart from two little local girls.

The other resort is more up scaled to cater for foreigners who wanted comfort and have plenty of cash to burn. I think it’s called D’Coconut Lagoon. It has its own private swimming pool overlooking the calm sea.

Lang Tengah has only four resorts and half of them looking really dead and some even look haunted. It gave me the creeps when I walked past the resort next to ours – the Blue Coral. I think it’s closed for renovation.

Since it rained later part in the afternoon and evening, we were somewhat stranded in the resort. We didn’t fret though. We amused ourselves with karaoke, playing mahjong and pool. This time I learned how to play gin rummy using mahjong tablets. I am glad I picked up a game and hook on it ever since! So anyone game for a gin rummy, let’s hook up!

Even though our room was uncomfortable, we snored till morning. The food was surprisingly good. Good as in the taste and also, nobody got diarrhea after eating.

Nobody give a shit about what you do – we could just walk about everywhere without the slightest care. A friend of ours came across the spot where a turtle came up to lay eggs at night. The people here did conservation of turtles. As soon as the eggs are laid, they would be dug up and sent to conversation centers.

Despite the uncomfortable ride, the smelly toilet in our room and it rained almost every damn day when we were there, I was glad I get to spend time with all my three aunts (Mom didn’t want to go because she has to take care of the three monsters at home).

We spoke of our family matters, the people that passed on, how we wish our mother/ grandmother is still alive, etc. I think no matter how harsh our parents can be to us, we have to respect the way they treated us. They actually care for us. I don’t know. I seem to have this mental paradigm; thinking that my mother expects too much from me and it sometimes drive me to the wall. I think I ought to learn how to communicate better with the person that brought me to this life.

I am fortunate enough to be reminded that I should show appreciation and gratitude to my family when they are still well and alive than only to regret not having done so when they are gone.

I didn’t know this year’s company’s trip would end up a soul searching trip.

Deep stuffs. I would leave this thought to another post.

For more pictures, click here.