Saturday, August 3, 2013

Road to Old Terengganu


Take a road trip through ‘the land of the bright rainbow’, the decidedly old-world, north eastern Malaysian state of Terengganu and discover its multiple charms. The pace of life in Terengganu, compared to elsewhere in Malaysia is still tranquil and serene, as this oceanfront state remains largely agrarian in character and fishing, tourism and boatbuilding count as its major industries.

The discovery of oil and natural gas off the coast of Terengganu, not too long ago brought the oil and natural gas refining industry to Terengganu and today the state’s main industrial belt is located between the towns of Paka and Kertah.  One of Malaysia’s main highways, the 739 km long, flat, straight, two-lane Federal Route 3 traverses through Terengganu and links the state of Johor in the South with Kelantan in the North traveling through the states of Pahang and Terengganu.
The British built this expansive roadway in the early 20th century as a supply route but unfortunately, this well laid out roadway aided the Japanese, during the Second World War for they used it as a swift attack route during the Battle of Malaya.

Driving through Terengganu and making stops along this scenic route bordering stunning beachfronts and lush mangroves, gives you a chance to uncover the state’s many charming sites.  

You can use many starting points to get to Terengganu, the driving distance from Kuala Lumpur extends over 455 km and passes through the famed Terengganu town, Chukai in   Kemaman. While the distance from Penang is slightly longer at 460 km via a combination of Federal routes 4 and 3 and the distance from Johor Bahru is naturally more at approximately 560 km. You can also choose to fly into the capital of Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu and then hire a car and begin your travels. Most Malaysian carriers like Malaysian airlines, Air Asia and Firefly offer air links to Kuala Terengganu from various points around the country.

Attractions and experiences on offer

Sample delicious local fare

Terengganu is renowned for its delicious fare, sample popular local dishes like Nasi Dagang, rice steamed in coconut milk and served with a fish curry and topped with coconut shavings, satar(fish cakes grilled in banana leaves),sotong celup tepung(deep fried squid) and Terengganu’s famed fish crackers, keropok lekor  at the many kopitiams(Chinese Malay coffee shops) and small restaurants that line the route.

Encounter giant turtles in Kerteh

Giant leatherback turtles used to come to nest at the beautiful Rantau Abang beach in Dungun during the 1970’s, but they have now seemed to changed their location for they come ashore near the Terengganu oil refinery town, Kerteh. Local fishery departments can help to arrange turtle-watching tours for you if you wish to see the turtles.

Explore stunning beachfronts

Terengganu’s long 244km coastline is studded with gorgeous beachfronts like Paka beach, Batu Buruk, Tanjung Jara, Merang, Rantau Abang, Kemasik and so forth. Stop and savor these white sand delights, but be mindful of strong undercurrents if you plan to take a dip in the ocean.

Discover the delights of Kuala Terengganu

Kuala Terengganu is the capital of Terengganu state and is a big, busy city compared the state’s many serene towns like Chukai, Kemaman, Dungun and Marang.  Pasar Payang is Kuala Terengganu’s main market, which offers ample opportunities for shopping, for aside from fresh produce and poultry the market also offers souvenirs, locally produced batik and Terengganu brocade textiles, fashion apparel and various other knick-knacks. You could also pencil in a cruise down the Terengganu River to acquaint yourself with the history of the area or then you could head to Pulau Duyong to explore Kota Lama Duyong, a historic Terengganu dwelling, which dates back to the 1920’s.

Uncover the heritage homes in Penarik

More history awaits you at the scenic, Casurina pine and coconut grove encircled fishing village, Penarik located north of Kuala Terengganu by the Seitu River. Located here is the charming Terrapuri Heritage Village, a labor of love in the form of a conservation effort started by local entrepreneur Alex Lee, to preserve and restore historic Terengganu homes. Visit these remarkable dwellings to learn their enchanting histories.

The road to old Terengganu transports you to another era when life was much simpler and all was well in the world. So if you wish to experience some magic do make sure you take the road much travelled to old Terengganu someday.

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