|The beach near Marang|
After our long drive north our first full day at Terrapuri was spent mostly lounging around. With few guests overnight breakfast was leisurely, served underneath one of the central buildings. It was raining but every villa has a jar of umbrellas on the verandah so we arrived dry. The trays of food were delivered by two staff, one to hold the umbrella! Nasi Goreng accompanied by smoked chicken sausages, bread fritters and scrambled egg could be followed by toast and marmalade. Or if you wanted there was a selection of cereals.
Later after an inexpensive if not exactly healthy lunch of squid in batter, a skewer of large prawns also battered and a single steamed fish dumpling between two of us at a local beach cafe Kevin and I explored the coast down as far as Marang by car. Here the various resort ferries depart to the resort islands off the coast - Redang, Kecil and Besar. From a seawall near to the university outward bound centre we watched some smaller boats attempt the local river entrance at low water. It was shallow in the heavy surf breaking across the bar as one ran aground though it was quickly re floated by a crew member who jumped out and pushed it back into the channel!
|One of numerous beach eateries along the coast here|
Another beach cafe provided a tasty tomyam, yet more nasi goreng and lovely stir fried veg served in a yummy ginger and lemongrass sauce for supper. Again inexpensive at 33 ringets (£8) for the three of us, though as everything was freshly prepared, it was quite a wait as they were busy.
Day 2 - Friday
After breakfast Kevin and I decided to hire one of the resorts kayaks for an hour or so's exploration of the wetlands around Terrapuri. These were hefty GRP double man boats but the hotel staff willing carried ours down to the water. There wasn't a buoyancy aid big enough to fit Kevin, his shoulders being much broader than the average Malayan. Similarly the kayak was built for the local market and the seats a cosy fit. Kevin couldn't get in the rear one at all and only just fitted the slightly broader and longer front space so I ended up paddling with my knees bent up. We were told "don't go out into the big river" which was like a red rag to both of us so guess where we headed! The inlet through wetlands was shallow with the tide ebbing gently so for a bit we found ourselves almost punting. The mud was an evil smelling black ooze like Langstone Harbour or Newton Creek in the Solent so we felt at home.
|The skipper is just at home in a kayak!|
|Amazing views across Lake Kenyir|
|If you are going that fast at this point it is too late!|
|Motorway style signs on the lake|
Was that a road sign on that distant island? It seems that with so many islands and inlets huge motorway style signage was required, complete with brown tourist destinations and blue places! The herbal garden was interesting with almost every tree and plant labelled but unfortunately they were mostly in Malay with smattering of Latin or European names I half recognised. Our captain brewed up two revolting and one tasteless "tea" for us all to try using water kept hot in two blackened pots over a wood fire. Medicine is not supposed to taste good but these really were bad and we couldn't really understand what health benefits these local brews were supposed to impart despite our fellow passengers interpreting for us. The massage path was fun to try but proved painful to our soles after just a few metres.
A short distance across the head of the lake we reached the little inlet formed by the river Saok tumbling down a lengthy waterfall. the inlet was crowded with two big houseboats moored and their dozens of occupants swimming or lounging around in the pavilions overlooking the water. Leaving Rhona aboard, the rest of us climbed the path alongside the river to the falls. Quite a few adults and children were having fun bathing in the pools or sliding down the rocks with the water but none of us had brought our swimming gear so we took it in turns to pose for pictures on the rocks instead. Then it was back to the jetty and farewell to our new friends.
|Rhona enjoying a sit down|
|Not impressed with the herbal tea|
|A massage path|
|The high water level in the lake meant improvised access|
|Fun in the waterfall|
|The upper falls|
Day 3 - Saturday
Terrapuri's owner also runs a local travel agent Anchorage Tours so various day trips from Terrapuri are on offer. There are two nearby state capitals Kota Bahru to the north in the next state and Kuala Terengganu (KT) an hour or so south. We decided to visit KT. It was good to have someone else driving along the coastal road and our guide offered a bit of a choice on actual activities though having discovered early on that we liked boats our first stop had to be on the way into the city. The island of Duyong is mostly driven over by anyone entering KT from the north as it off-centrally supports the 3km long bridge across the estuary. Its a fairly large island with a resort and a couple of kampungs or fishing villages. Hidden away are three traditional boat yards making wooden fishing boats, though one also claimed to make yachts and its neighbour had a fine example of an almost flat bottomed two masted sailing yacht. From the traditional red canvas sails stored in the shed it looked as if it was junk rigged but what ever the rigging and home comforts it had Kevin and I decided that we wouldn't want to be caught out in a storm on it or attempt making a windward passage as it appeared not to have any form of deep keel or centre board.
Our next stop was the State Museum - a fantastic concrete building created in the style of the regions traditional wooden homes - an impressive edifice that dwarfed our little village homes at Terrapuri. Inside is maze of old fashioned displays - mostly reading but we gathered a little background knowledge of several of the traditional crafts like batik, songket weaving, brass work and boat building. Outside were a collection of old vehicles one used by the city council - a sort of brief history of 20th century transport. Time did not permit us to explore the extensive gardens or find the state collection of Malay houses, it was on to the seriously underwhelming and so called Crystal Mosque.
|A gentleman's yacht - tradewind sailing only|
|Terengganu State Museum|
|The Crystal Mosque|
I am not certain what I expected of this building but it looked like a bad bit of 1970's architecture - all bronze reflective glass and white walls though apparently it was built only six or seven years ago. The photo opportunities were predictable - blue skies and fluffy clouds as reflected in the curving surfaces of the domes and minaret towers. The river traffic was more interesting. Terengganu is a strongly Muslim state and our guide I think was a bit put out that we didn't want to stay longer but after the Grand Mosques of Bahrain, Istanbul and Abu Dhabi this one smacked of a blatant attempt at commercialism with its souvenir stalls and its location in a so called Islamic Culture Park. Nonetheless it is Trip Advisor's top attraction in KT!
Lunch was included in our tour fees and was chicken rice at a beach side hawker centre - I'd guess our guide was used to taking Europeans who have a preference for less spicy food. If he had but asked us there were several stalls serving Malay dishes that we'd have liked to have tried. Onward to the best bit of the day for Rhona and I - the craft centre. Another blatantly commercial venue designed to prize money from tourists however we did get to see a little glass blowing, an elderly lady making woven baskets, hats and smaller items from dyed palm fronds and a young lady sketching out a design on a length of white silk prior to dying it. There were other batiks both cotton and silk drying in the craft area. Up a few more steps was a huge hall full of batik for sale - cotton, hand printed, factory printed as well as gorgeous songket fabrics. Songket is a local tradition brought over form India many centuries ago - the cotton or silk fabric is woven with gold or silver threads. It can be heavily ornate like brocade or a lighter design.
|Iron batik stamps|
|Traditional palm weaving|
|Drawing the design on silk|
Chinese New Year being a public holiday even in this predominantly Muslim state the traffic was terrible so our progress around the city from venue to venue was extremely slow. Eventually we made it to the brass workshop but there was little to see apart from one young lad polishing a huge vase one last time with that very British invention Brasso. The owner explained to Kevin that they had been forced to move from their historic site across the road by redevelopment so some temporary buildings currently house their shop and machines. Not ideal with little parking but he hopes to move to a purpose built place "soon". From there we drove very slowly through the Central Market area and Chinatown due to the shear volume of traffic. Deciding we'd done and seen enough for one day it was time to head back to the peace and quiet of Terrapuri and the pool.
|Tall palms on a sandy spit|
|Trying desperately to remain standing for this selfie!|
That is Kevin's head in the distance
So in summary:
Be prepared to slow down, nothing in this state happens fast and when eating out in Terengganu you need to love fish, spicy foods and not be too bothered about eating healthily!
Things to See:
- Lake Kenyir is well sign posted as Tasik Kenyir from most places
- Kuala Terengganu - but go on a week day and not on the Saturday of Chinese New Year
- Batik Making - we visited the Noor Arfa craft centre
- The National Museum - I'd guess you could probably spend a whole morning here
- The beaches - white sand and tall swaying palms but be careful about swimming off them
- Traditional Malay Houses - what better place to experience these than Terrapuri!
- Learn a few words of Malay (Bahasa Meyalu) especially food words as there are few menus only pinned up lists - see below
Our Essential Guide to Bahasa Melayu menus:
- Nasi - rice
- Nasi Lemak - coconut rice
- Mee - noodles
- Goreng - fried
- Ikan - fish (Ikan Bilis are anchovies and often seem to appear on menus)
- Sotong - squid
- Ayam - chicken
- Air - water but also may be juice eg Air Limau is lime juice a common refreshing drink
- Keropok Lekor - a Terengganu fish sausage, roadside stalls selling this always have huge queues
We'll certainly be back as a couple of nights on a houseboat seem like fun and there are still the resorts of Khota Bahru further north to explore as well as the island of Redang.