Monday, October 19, 2015

Terengganu's Attractions

Terengganu is located at the north east region of Penisular Malaysia. The main attraction of this state is turtles hatching sites hence the giant leatherback turtle is used in almost all advertising activities by the state government. I was posted to Gong Kedak about two weeks ago, it is a great opportunity for me to tour around Kelantan and Terengganu before taking up my next appointment. Gong Kedak is a massive area spreading across the borderline of Kelantan and Terengganu. Right now I live in Terengganu and work in Kelantan, everyday I get to cross two states. While browsing for interesting places, the Trip Advisor couldn't help much due to the language barrier of the locals. I'm gonna write a little bit of Terengganu's interesting places where I left my footsteps for tourists to follow=)

Terengganu people speaks their own Malay accent, put them in Kuala Lumpur for 10 years still their slang caught in between sentences. It is going to be tough for English speakers. Mind you, they are very proud of the slang and intonation. Malays widely populate this area and the Islamic influence is very strong across both states. The majority of the local people earn a living as fisherman, local products are mainly from sea and handicrafts.

There are a few islands belong to this state, most of them are world class diving spots. Perhentian Island is divided into two which are Perhentian Besar (Large Island) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Island). This island is accessible via about an hour of boat ride from Kuala Besut jetty. A lot of chalets, guest houses and average resorts so not to worry about lodging. Nearby islands like Redang and Lang Tengah Islands are very beautiful too. Another very well known island amongst the endurance athletes is Kapas Island where the International Swimathon was held every year for swimmers to swim 6.5km from Kapas Island to Marang. Plenty of information about islands available online so I'm gonna skip this part. 

Bukit Keluang (Keluang Hill)
Just use the apps Waze and key in Bukit Keluang Beach Resort to help you get there. I hiked the hill with my juniors, distance to the peak was about 800m before descending down to the point we started to conclude the distance of 1.2km. 
Here is the starting point. The trail is very well marked, people hike this hill every single day. 
The cliff is so awesome, be careful and please watch your steps while snapping pictures. 
The beach area is a family place. Kids playing bubbles and kites, variety of stalls selling snacks and drinks. 

Masjid Kristal (Crystal Mosque)
The iconic building of Terengganu located by the river, a place must not be missed. Just a friendly reminder to all tourists, respect the local's religion by wearing long pants (below knees for both male and female) and also shirt with sleeve. To enter the mosque, they provide jubah for visitors without any charges. 

Taman Monumen (Monumen Park)
It was a wonderful experience understanding the glory of islamic civilization in this theme park as we walked around the 22 monuments of Islam. The tour is a guided one if visitors take the tram and buggies. Optionally, bicycles are available for rental. We chose to walk at our own pace. I find this place very nicely architectured, every few monuments we get to rest in air conditioned theater while watching videos. I'd suggest to plan this visit early in the morning. On completion, a river cruise service is provided for a different perspective of the monuments from the river with additional charges. Near the park is the convention center and shops selling handicrafts. 

Monument Park
Adult (13-59) : RM21.20
Senior (60 and above) : RM15.90
Children (7-12) : RM15.90
Child (6 and below) : free 

The entrance. 

The ticket came along with the "passport" listing brief description about all the monumen.

Qubbah As-Sakrhrah. The other 4 sacred mosques are here too, even Taj Mahal is here. 

The interior. Some of the mosque can be entered and some are merely little replica. 

Muzium Negeri Terengganu (Terengganu State Museum)
The state museum of Terengganu has 4 massive blocks interconnected to each other via bridges and stairs. Based on my personal opinion, Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum and Terengganu State Museum has the most artifacts listed in school students' History subject. If I could turn back the clock, I'd have visited this two museums before I sit for my SPM! I find this museum very interesting as I have gained so much knowledge about Batik and was very lucky to visit the ongoing maritime exhibition. 
The back view of the Museum. We parked here for free. =p

Gendang Dongson. Exactly like the one in Secondary School history book!

I'd suggest visitors especially ladies who wish to shop for Batik to understand about the textile in this museum. From zero to hero, my sound knowledge about Batik after this museum visit helped me in bargaining at the Pasar (market)! By understanding the techniques and material, one can judge the price of this textile. 

Keropok Losong (Fish Crackers)
We see keropok everywhere in Malaysia, keropok lekor, keropok ikan parang, keropok ikan tamban and the list goes on and on. Malaysians just love them! However, amongst all the famous keropok that I have tasted, I have to put keropok losong as the champion of all. Along the area Kampung Losong, we saw at least 6 stalls selling keropok losong. Kinda confusing right? Rule of thumb, go for the one with the most customer. Our instinct lead us here : "74E, Lorong Hj Su, 21000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
Fresh from the kitchen.

Some people love the boiled version of keropok losong but I still love it to be fried. The outer skin is crispy while the inner is soft and rich in fish taste! Dip it in the spicy dipping sauce to amplify it's awesome taste. The texture is almost like nugget from Mc Donald's. Kid you not, this is a MUST!

Air Terjun Sekayu (Sekayu Waterfall)
Sekayu waterfall is about an hour drive from Kuala Terengganu. We made a stop here in the afternoon to cool ourselves down and refresh the body before travelling further south. There are two waterfalls and an agro park in the vicinity, nature lovers or photographers should consider this place in their check list. Sekayu waterfall is mesmerizing, the flora and fauna surrounding it is unbelievably fascinating. The entrance fee is only RM 2, you can choose to overnight in the wooden double storey guesthouse (RM 120 per night) or the little chalet (RM80 per night i think). 
We were welcomed with a warning siren of gushing water upstream. Everyone escaped the area within minutes, left the 3 of us trekking the steps to see the so called "Death Zone".

The red signboard says "47 people died here".
During  normal days, the water is crystal clear when the upstream water is less aggressive. 

Tips for waterfall lovers: 
1. not to visit waterfalls during rainy season because water accumulated upstream could pour down anytime
2. as the water level increases with leaves or rubbish getting washed down, run to higher ground for safety. 
3.  listen to sirens or sound of falling rocks, stay alert while enjoying the scenery. 
4. ask the locals, read the signage.

Rantau Abang
Our drive along the long and straight coastal road of Terengganu was a pleasant one, no traffic jam at all. October is almost Musim Tengkujuh, the monsoon wind is very strong thus sea activities is greatly reduced. Locals start making Wau (Giant Kite) during this time while world class sailors take this opportunity to flaunt their maneuvering talent in the Monsoon Cup. I spent my midnight patrolling the beach 3 times to look for turtles, sadly I found none. It is end of the landing season anyway. I'll come between March and October next time. 

Rantau Abang is the perfect place to seek for tranquility, no city distraction and no stress.   

Initially, lodging in Rantau Abang was out of the list as we intended to camp by the beach. This air conditioned chalet we found opposite the Petronas petrol station costs only RM 100 for 3 person, it is also located at turtle landing spots so we decided to overnight here and try our luck hoping to see turtle land. Contact: +6019-9942338 (Epy), +60179220714 (Anis), +60139055252 (Kak B)

Pusat Konservasi & Penerangan Penyu (Turtle's Sanctuary)
The turtle sanctuary plays a pivoting role in creating awareness in our society. I wish the locals would stop harvesting turtle eggs. Say no to turtle eggs at the local market.

In the late 60', turtles landing was a common thing. The frequent visitors were the Kemp's Ridley, Flatback, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, and the Hawksbill. Lately the statistics show a tremendous drop in the number of turtle landing.

Bukit Penyu (Turtle Hill)
The stone turtle is located atop Che Hawa in Rantau Abang is believed to have been a female turtle beached along Pantai Kampung. This turtle was searching for the scent of a particular tree and totally forgotten that the sun had broken out. It was then cursed to be a stone. More detailed story is available at the hill.

Check for this sign by the coastal road, somewhere near Petronas.

The legend of a Giant Stone Turtle.

Noor Aufa Craft Complex
The craft complex is located at Chendering Industrial area, approximately 15km's drive from Kuala Terengganu. Instead of heading to the villages to see Batik making process, they have everything nicely exhibited in this area. Batik is a masterpiece, there is no replica of it due to it's hand drawn "canting" (with wax) technique. They start with stretching the textile and then heat up the wax for canting. The wax must not be too hot or it will smear, so the Batik artist has to carefully control the heat before start drawing it. Painting on Batik is based on the wax's stroke before dipping it inside "pemati warna" (dye stopper). To melt down the wax, the piece of batik will be boiled under high temperature. Finally, dry it up and the masterpiece design is ready to for the market. To sum it all, there is no second piece in this world.    
Batik artist carefully sketch the textile. The price is a bit pricey compared to Pasar Payang. 

Weaving Kain Songket. Plenty of focus and patience needed. The exclusive range is selling at RM1000 and over. 

Bukit Puteri
Bukit Puteri is a historical icon of Kuala Terengganu. It has an ancient bell, old lighthouse and cannons surrounding the fortress. 

Hill top view of the town. 

Pasar Payang
Pasar Payang is well known for the unlimited choice of Batik and Kain Songket. I walked up and down the shops just to pick a piece batik for my mum, time taken 2 hours 30 minutes. Since every batik is one and only, no point walking around seeking for same design at cheaper price. The more technique used, the more expensive it is. I bought a piece of Crepe Batik at the price of RM200, half price cheaper than Noor Aufa. The current trend is the light pastel color with flowery motive. Without visiting Terengganu State Museum and Noor Aufa, I wouldn't have known so much about batik. 

Every piece is one and only, absolutely elegant for the loved ones to wear it. 

Nasi Kerabu
This Malay rice dish is made of kerisik sambal ikan (coconut fish flakes), bunga kantan (torch ginger bud), anchovy sauce, and many other herbs (pardon me for failing to identify each of them) =p
I had it with fried chicken instead of fried fish. Come Terengganu, cannot miss this. 

Nasi Dagang
The rice of nasi dagang is steamed together with coconut milk, served with curry fish. Nasi dagang is easily available in Terengganu, just like how easy we could find Nasi Lemak all over the country. 

Sotong Celup Tepung
On our way back to Gong Kedak, we dropped by Penarik to try out Sotong Celup Tepung. This dish is overrated, the seafood I had in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is much nicer.  

Coming to the end of my write up, I did not have the time to visit the other places but all I can say is Terengganu is a place like no other in Malaysia. I will come back again to visit the other tourists attraction to update this blog post. Good luck and have fun in Terengganu. =)

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