Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tour of East Coast - Part 4

Stage 3 - Penarik - Kuala Terengganu

Route map of the ride
We managed to get a good night's sleep.
And we beat the alarm by waking up ahead of time. There's some packing to do and our laundry's all dry.
The devices are fully-charged and we were ready to roll out.
From Kg Bari, we headed towards Merang. This is the port town for tourists heading to Pulau Redang.
We enjoyed the early morning breeze and the cool air actually helped us to cover more ground. 
By 06:45am, we already reached the outskirts of Merang.
I spotted a stall and told Michelle to stop there. 
The place was serving nasi minyak and nasi lemak. 
Since it was our first meal of the day, we had a hearty one.

Our first halt at Merang

A very decent meal

Merang was part of the T1 coastal route. We rode towards Batu Rakit and noticed that traffic was getting heavier by the hour. So far, we have progressed well without any issues. 
The Merang stretch was pretty long. 
We reached Batu Rakit and took refuge at a Petronas station.
There, we had a breather before continuing with the journey to Wakaf Tengah. Rather than taking the usual route with heavy traffic towards Kuala Terengganu, we detoured inland, headed to the University Malaysia Terengganu and cycled towards the end of the Sultan Mahmud Airport's runway.

Riding along Merang

Reaching Batu Rakit
Going around the Sultan Mahmud Airport in Kuala Terengganu
An interesting place.. 
Entering Kuala Terengganu town area
After doing more than 55km, we entered the outskirts of Kuala Terengganu.
We rode across the first bridge across the Terengganu river and while waiting at a traffic light, a friendly motorcyclist struck a conversation.
He asked where we were from.
I told him that we came from Kuala Lumpur and his immediate facial expression was a raised eyebrow.
"Wah! Jauh betul!" (Wow, that's far!), he said.
Then, I explained to him how we got from Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu.
The man said he had never seen a bike by Tern before in his life. So, I told him that there's always a first time for everything.
We crossed a second bridge and enjoyed the safety of cycling along a motorcycle and bicycle lane on it.
A familiar hill greeted us with three communication towers on it. It's a sign that we have just reached the administrative capital of the state.
I have booked a room at the Felda Residence Inn and as we made our way along the riverside to the hotel, the day was getting hotter.
On the road, we have been doing six hours of solid cycling. 
I left the bike with Michelle to check-in at the reception and was assigned a room. Since we were leaving early the next day, I settled the room payment in full.

Rolling the bikes into our hotel room

A high-angle view of Kuala Terengganu

The downtown area
Guan restaurant in Chinatown

Deep-friend Spanish Mackerel with dark soya sauce
A hot shower was what I needed to wash off the sweat and dirt off my body. And like clockwork, Michelle went to work on the laundry.
Our choice of accommodation was strategic as we were able to walk around the downtown area.
Practically-speaking, there's really nothing much in Kuala Terengganu. I prefer Kota Bharu anytime.
After we have freshened up, we took a walk to Chinatown where we had lunch at Guan restaurant.
This place is famous for their deep-fried ikan Tenggiri (Spanish Mackerel) in dark soya sauce. I had a taste of this more than 15-years ago and it's still as good.

Kuala Terengganu walkabout photo gallery

Lunch was excellent and we walked it off by taking a walking tour of Kuala Terengganu. I remembered this place as a riverine town. But much of it's old charms were gone.
The state reclaimed the river and called it a "waterfront".
In the past, the Chinese houses that are dotted along the river were just a few feet away from the water.
Today, you can walk as far as 500 meters out to where the riverbank was located. There's an ugly LED sign in the middle that reads: "I love KT".
I found this rather cheesy. 
The state tourism department had tried to emulate Penang and Malacca by restoring much of its architectural facade. But the Chinatown stretch was shorter than what you will find in Banda Hilir in Malacca and Georgetown in Penang. Nice try, but no cigar!
We walked towards the edge of town and found ourselves in a new shopping centre. Which is empty. The aircon was strong, so, we didn't complain.
From there, we walked towards a supermarket to buy some drinks and snacks.
Later, we found a coffeeshop and had a few beers there. First in days!

Empty bottles! 

The cooling tonic water

Having a chilled one on a hot day.. 
During the beers, Michelle had decided that it was best to end the ride in Dungun. We have about 78km to cover in order to reach this town.
We continued to enjoy our hard-earned brew and headed back to the hotel. For my wife, her day hasn't ended. She was working throughout the day. I enjoyed two more cans of beers before crashing on the bed.

Sunset in Kuala Terengganu
A night hawker centre
A simple porridge dinner
Night in Chinatown

Selfie at the cheesy sign at the waterfront
Before I knew it, it was already late in the evening. 
We walked down to the riverfront to get some shots of Sunset.
There were some boys rigging up their fishing gear, hoping to strike something from the water.
We made our way to a night hawker center near The Store.
There, I noticed piles of beer bottles. 
It didn't took too long for me to realize that some of the stalls were serving beers with hostess entertaining their "thirsty" customers.
We found a stall selling porridge and settled for this as our dinner. It was cheap and decent. After the meal, we walked along the rows of pre-war Chinese houses and ended up having coffee at a joint called "Trappers".
Now, the funny thing was this: the local staff were being trained by foreign workers. The food outlet is a hit among its local customers. But it didn't impress me at all. Authentic Hainanese coffeeshop dishes are far and few in between these days. 
When we were done, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest for our final stage to Dungun..

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