Jk and I love the burbs (suburbs). Our ideal travels would likely be dipping in a hot spring in Greenland or photographing the architecture in Bali or cage diving with the Great White Sharks off the waters of Cape Town rather than shopping down the streets of London or café hopping in Korea.
Many people would consider it madness to bring small children on outback trips. We would like to think otherwise. We have, embarked on road trips around Malaysia and possibly to Thailand (if we can get our hands on a Land Rover). Our latest road trip is one to Cherating, up the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Last year, we embarked on our virgin trip to the east coast. We heard about the majestic green sea turtles that land on the vast beaches of Terengganu, from June till August. We wanted to witness the labor of the turtles laying eggs. We were not expecting much, other than the turtles. However, whilst there, we discovered that there was more to Cherating than what trip advisor could tell us.
So this year, armed with our trusted GPS and 3 other cars, we set forth to truly explore the land.
As the east coast is generally less developed than the west coast, one can expect the pace to life to slow to a crawl. Not that we minded. We craved the slowness. No pressure to be on the express lane. No guilt, spending the day without agenda.
The distance from Singapore to Cherating is, by distance, shorter than driving to KL. (Singapore – KL takes about 5.5 hours. 3.5 hours if you formula drive). The east coast’s main road meanders past curvy hilly plantations, through sleepy towns and along views of the ocean. To ace this drive, you need an extra dose of guts and overtaking skills. Not only is this main road single-laned, there is an unusually high volume of lorries using this route too. But, no worries, most lorry drivers are understanding enough to drive closer to the road shoulder to allow novice car drivers to overtake. We had an early head start. We took off from Woodlands checkpoint and cleared custom without any jam. We headed in the direction of Kota Tinggi. Although it started to drizzle, our spirits were high. The built-up anticipation for the holiday fuelling the robust chatter. I suspect, sweets, also added to the euphoria.
Our euphoric kids
We made it to Mersing in 2 hours, one of many fishing villages that dot the coasts of Malaysia. There, we stopped for lunch. This is also the town where divers headed to Tioman, board their ferry. We found the most recommended restaurant by travel advisor, Loke Tien Yuen. (No. 55, Jalan Abu Bakar, Mersing 86800, Malaysia. 07-7991639) It was worth the visit. We ordered rather lavishly. Every dish was satisfying, washed down with a Malta. (Malta is a must try. It tastes likes Guinness without the gas). The sweet and sour pork is worth a special mention.
Life giving Malta.
A gorgeous plate of sweet n sour pork.
Do note that the restaurant closes on Friday. Weekends are almost always fully booked. Do call ahead to make reservations. We were sorely disappointed to learn that on our return trip, the restaurant was scheduled to be on an unofficial off-day. As the culture goes in Malaysia, many traditional shop owners do not adhere to strict opening hours or off day schedule. Again, do call ahead.
After lunch, we drove for another 3 hours to Pekan, just north of Kuantan. As Ramadan had just started, the streets were quiet. We stopped to stretch our legs outside a handsome colonial museum, the Sultan Abu Bakar museum. The lawn and sculptures were beautiful and well maintained. We had a great photography session there.
Tel No : 09-422 1371, 09-422 1459
Fax number : 09-422 1572
Address : Sultan Abu Bakar Museum, d/a Lembaga Muzium Negeri Pahang, Jalan Sultan Ahmad, 26600 Pekan, Pahang.
Open hours :
Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – 9.00 am to 5.00pm ;
Friday – 09:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:00
Monday – Closed
RM 5 for visitors outside of Pahang, RM 4 for locals.
Free entrance for students and children aged 12 and below.
From there, it took us another hour to kuantan. And another 45 minutes to Sungei Lambing. Our first pit stop of our road trip. A whopping 12 hours on the road. With 11 adults and 8 children (mostly under 5 years old), it was commendable. None of the kids had a hissing fit or cluster phobic tantrums, being restricted to their car seats for that long. The key is to have well planned stops and a lot of snacks.
With little help from the almost non-existent street lamps and road signs, we inched down a stony path and came to a halt, just outside several concrete drain structures. One of the few concrete drain turned accommodations around the world, Time Capsules. The owners, Ms Tan, and her husband, Mr Yong, run this little hidden gem. They were extremely hospitable and patient with our multiple questions. They gave us great recommendations for food and activities. Being thoughtful, Ms Tan prepared a hot grill and shao rou for us as supper. Standing around the fire, in the middle of the woods, having BBQ-ed meat and washing it down with sour plum juice. Perfect camp out! If we had arrived earlier, we could have arranged to have a full on BBQ.
Common hall in European building
Group shot of us and the unforgettable Time capsule
Jk and I cozying up inside the Time Capsule
Time Capsule set in lush greenery
We had a mix of European building and Time Capsule rooms. The European building has a common hall with rooms surround it. All with attached bathrooms. If you are as particular about the room and bathroom cleanliness as me, you will be pleased to know that both are surprisingly clean albeit a tad old. The Time Capsules have common toilets which visit this are rather clean. But as they are in the forest, you might need to share the bathroom with a few spiders or insects.
Do note that the Time Capsules are popular so book in advance. They also have exclusive private glass houses that also houses a Jacuzzi. Do check out with them if you are interested.
Owner: Ms Tan
Sungai Lembing. Pahang, Malaysia
+60 13-963 888
Writer : Ruth Ong
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