Because of Oil money anything can happen. Twenty years ago it was just a small little town with its capital called Kuala Terengganu means river mouth of Terengganu with a population just over 600 thousand but today is over 1 million. Once it was the Gem of the East Coast state with scenic, sandy beaches picturesque offshore island and craftsmanship, quite small fishing village but now most of the fishing are almost gone and the coming of new development.One of the local delicacy "Keropok Lekor-a fish meat mesh made into thick chewy cracker snack deep fried eaten with special chili dip, very famous locally, Otak-otak,-slice of mackerels or prawns marinated in a coconut and spices paste. The new attraction in the state are the Floating Mosque (Tenku Tengah Zaharah Mosque) and the Crystal Mosque (Islamic Civilization Park) consists of 22 historical Islamic monuments.e.g. Al-Hambra Citadel in Spain, Masjidil Haram in Saudi Arabia, Dome of the rock of Palestine, Taj Mahal of India, etc..etc. The Inscribed Memorial Stone found in Kuala Berang's river by villages. It has a proclamation of Islamic laws decreed by King Mandalika Seri Paduka Tuan in 1303 AD with Arabic Jawi Text. Terengganu has two famous cave - BEWAH & TAAT Caves, it has more than 10,000 years of history of Neolithic people of the Hoabinhian era. The ONE single thing if you ask Malaysias about Terengganu most will answer you "TURTLE" Terengganu live up to its name for the world's hatchery sites.
Located in the interior of Terengganu, Tasik Kenyir is the largest man-made lake in South East Asia. With about 340 island which were once hilltops and highlands, more than 14 waterfalls, numerous rapids and rivers, Tasik Kenyir is also home to numerous species of freshwater fish and exotic wildlife.
Its picturesque landscape of natural grandeur and tranquil serenity transforms Tasik Kenyir into a perfect gateway for city dwellers. A paradise where nature is at its very best...
Before the creation of Tasik Kenyir, Taat had three caves and the lowest, the Tok Bidan Cave, is now submerged under water. This is the site where archaeologists and historians have uncovered artifacts such as kitchen utensils, axes and tools dating back to the Neolithic era.
Outside Kuala Terengganu town at Chendering is the beautiful floating white Kuala Ibai Mosque. In Malay, floating mosque is called "Masjid Terapung".
It is builit over water of Sungai Ibai (Ibai River) and on the water reflection, hence it is often refered to as the Floating Mosque of Terengganu.
Be dressed conservatively when visiting the Mosque and avoid Friday afternoon which will be crowded by Muslim men for prayers.
This is a very popular beach which located between Kijal and Kertih - north of Kemaman, just after crossing from Pahang State into Terengganu.
There is a rugged rock formation on the beach which on high tide appear like a pair of twin rocks jutting out of the sea.
There is a nearby estuary of Kemasek river with the Kemasik fishing village - making it very picturesque.
There are regular boat services from the mainland town of Kampung Kuala Besut to both Pulau Perhentian Kecil and Pulau Perhentian Besar.
In Malay, Pulau=island, Perhentian=A stop, Kecil =small, Besar=big
You will find a fishing village on Perhentian Besar.
As for accomodation, they are available on different sides of both islands. The range from simple A huts to pricey rooms.
There are excellent beaches, places for snorkelling and scuba diving sites. During the major public and school holidays, the islands may be crowded. If you go on weekdays, it is more tranquil. In Terengganu, remember Friday is an off day and Sunday is a working day.
At Perhentian Kecil, this was the first place I saw a pair of octopus swimming near the beach. Where I attempted my first solo night diving. Was scary with the sound passing village boats.
Overall, nice place for beach and island relaxation as well as exciting underwater scuba and snorkelling.
We stayed in Kijal which is the main housing town of oil and gas companies operating off the coast of Terengganu in the South China Sea. The bungalows were well organized in grid roads and rather comfortable as there are many local as well expatriate families staying here.
Were lucky as it was season for the famous Kijal durians - a thorny fruit with aromatic fleshy seeds which the locals love but many foreigners cannot partake.
At night, if you drive north to Kertih which has major refineries. Thhe whole place is lighted up like Disneyland and is surreal. As you sit on the quiet long beach with the waves lapping and the stars above but in the distance you can see the oil refining complext like a landed alien space complex with non-stop operating oil storage tanks, pumps and pipes.
During lunch, we were taken by locals south to the town of Chukai (Kemaman) for the famous stuffed crabmeat in crab shells. Cholestrol must be high but we hungrily consumed this delicious crab dish. Also a great place to buy packets of dried crackers of fish, prawn and cuttle fish to bring back home to oil deep fry.
Kuala Terengganu has some impressive new government and corporate buildings since oil and gas has been discovered offshore. There is well preserved Chinatown with prewar architecture along the main riverside of this coastal town with many fruit stalls set up in the evening market.
There is the annual monsoon raining season in November to January but now there is an international sailing competition called Monsoon Cup being held to attract tourism. As the weather gets rough, the tough gets sailing.
Great place to buy Terengganu souvenir like kites, batik sarongs, weaved matts and baskets. There is an airport which many use as the getway to the diving islands off Terengganu.
Located at Kuala Berang, Sekayu Recreational Forest. A no-no during festive season. Flooded with the locals...in fact just too many of them! But i believe if you go probably during the weekdays i sure bet you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of the fall there.
As far as i know, it's quite famous for those who wants to purchase songket and hand painted silk garments. As the name stated 'market' it is busy as you would know. The market too sells food stuff. Another thing to look out for are the keropok and beef serunding. This is usually eat together with lemang (glutinous rice w/ coconut milk cooked in bamboo over the hot flame). Very tasty!. You can also locate stalls for souvenirs for friends back at home.
Pulau Kapas is one of many beautiful island off Terengganu. You can see the island from the mainland (from Marang town). After a mere 15-mins speed boat ride, you can reach a spotless white powdery beach.
Pulau Kapas from the word Kapas (mean cotton) fitted its name nicely. You can do various things in this island (such as snorkelling, camp fire, trekkin) with several chalets available from a basic fan room to luxurious suite at nearby Gems Island.
Another major island tourist destination with major recent construction of tourism projects affecting the previously prestine rich corals around Redang.
There are still plenty of coral fishes and if you are lucky you can dive with the turtles.
Different sites of the islands have hard and soft corals. Still a cool place to scuba dive or just snorkel and swim and soak up the sun.
From Redang, you can hop to the other islands of Perhentian, Lang or an island which was turned into a major refugee camp for Vietnamese boat people. Have met some Cambodians and Vietnamese who used to live on this island before migrating to US or finally returning home.
Redang is a wonderful island vacation. Just a bit far away to get to buit worth at least once or twice.
This town is unique with all its uniqueness. Some activities you can do here:
1) Learn Batik painting
2) See people made wet (kropok lekor) and dry cracker from fish and sago
3) Learn boat making at Pulau Duyung
4) Taste some new dishes (nasi dagang - fragrant rice, with chili sauce served with macerel fish) and (nasi kerabu - rice serve with herbs)
5) Soak yrself at the beach.. numerous good beach at Merang, Rantau Abang, Kemasik, Besut etc.
Welcome to Pasar Payang...if u want to know more about Terengganu
The upper level of Pasar Payang, you can find lots of cloths & apparel for all walk of life. Here is the heaven for shopper who want to find some affordable but quality 'batik' (painted cloth) or 'songket' (silk weaved cloth). You are enrouraged to bargain to get your desire price. Most of the shopper went home happily with their bargain.
Sometime people said that to know the locals, go to their market. Here in Kuala Terengganu, I went to their market (Pasar Payang). It is still early in the morning; I could found that there is a steady flow of people from all walks of life came here.
This market is such unique that most of people from all over Kuala Terengganu some how rather will have their experience shopping here.
It has been planned by the town council that this market has all the town needs. At lower level of the market, one part dedicated to all wet items such as vegetables, fishes, poultry and meat. Another part was meant for semi-wet items such as onions, spices & herbs. Some other part, where you can find all the specialty of Terengganu such as ready-to-eat tamarind (asam), dry crackers (keropok keping), and all those snacks that you could buy as your souvenir from this town. One shop that amused me is this one where the owner sells the turtle eggs for consumption.
At upper level, it is a shopper galore with all clothing and trinkets you can find here. All clothing (famous with its Batik – hand printed cloth) including the suave silk thread-weaved cloth can be found here at very reasonable price and are bargain able too. There at one corner, you will also have the chance to sample some food – Terengganu foods such as Nasi Dagang (rice with some coconut ingredient eat with Mackerel gravy), Nasi Ulam (Herbs Rice), Akok (Local cake), Roti Paung (home-made soft margarine bread) and lots more.
You gotta try this whenever you're visiting beach site. There will be a lot of coconut sellers along east coast express way.
Some of these sellers also sell fermented coconut drink that called Air Nila taste quite sweet. I believe there is some alcohol in the drink after the fermentation process.
This picture is taken within 1km from our next destination, Kampung Rantau Abang, where we pitch tents for the 1st time in our road trip. We had big coconut to break our monotone drive and also prepare for excitable turtle watching that night. The coconut meat turn up very filling and we thought we not gonna have dinner that night.
For more Rantau Abang/Sea Turtle story, pls click here.
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