East Coast Part 2 – The Summerland Retreat, Pantai Telaga Papan, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, Setiu Wetlands

July 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jan 3rd Tuesday♥

After googling for a place to visit around Setiu, which is the district The Summerland Retreat is located, we decided to visit Setiu Wetlands; not knowing the place is so illusive.

We only knew we were supposed to head North, and then try to locate signage. There was actually no signage, so we had to ask around, finally locating the narrow village road that led us to Setiu Wetlands. We knew we were there when we saw some boats docked with mangrove forests nearby.

We asked around if anyone would bring us around, but the folks there were more interested in their game of checkers. Only a Pak Din was willing to show us around in his boat for RM150.

Pak Din mentioned that the place is not well posted with signage because they were afraid that big tourist crowd may actually cause harm to the environment, how true that is, we don’t know. Usually only university students come to the wetlands for research purposes, and they normally hire him to bring them around so he’s quite familiar with the area.

In his small boat, he showed us around.

One of the main income in the wetland area is generated through oyster farming. We passed by many of them, with floating platforms.

Pak Din docked at a mangrove forest, and got us to explore a bit. He expertly watched over the shallow pool of water (for bubbles rising from sand), and dug out a couple of big clams. I’d never eaten clams this big, but they seem to be quite popular in the East Coast. He asked if we wanted to bring home to cook, and when we didn’t want, he happily pocketed them.

Pak Din pointed out some strange stack horn like parasitic plants which could only be found here, according to him. They look like a big sweet potatos attached to the tree, with a few thin stalks with leaves sticking out at the ends.

He took his boat out to the open sea as well, just to show us how the Peninsular looked like from the sea. He also docked at a sandy beach near the Laguna Agro Resort, pointed to us where Pulau Perhentian Besar, Pulau Perhentian Kecil and Pulau Lang Tengah are. His boat stalled when we wanted to leave, and took a while to restart. That got us worried, so we headed back soon after that as none of us wanted to get stranded in the middle of the sea.

If you are visiting Setiu Wetland, do contact Pak Din to show you around in his boat. His number 0139030119.

After our lunch at Pak Din’s little shop (run by his wife), it started raining. Nothing much we could do, so we headed back to our vacation home. On our drive back, we caught these. A heard of goats squeezing together to shelter themselves from the rain.

Another peck of animals sharing a shelter together.

While this duck was enjoying itself in the rain.

At Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, we decided to try the famous Ikan Goreng Tepung (fried fish with batter). Not only fish, they have prawns, squids, and keropok lekor (fish sticks) and some other processed stuff like crab sticks, sausages and nuggets. We picked a few items for tea, and they were good as long as you don’t see how they were fried! I guess you can’t go wrong with fresh seafood.

The long wide stretch of beach at Pantai Rhu Sepuluh was nice to explore after the rain. It was so difficult to get the girls to leave.

Back at The Summerland Retreat, we went for a swim at the sea. The water is clean and shallow, and the waves so gentle and calm, it was the first time the girls actually enjoying themselves swimming in the sea.

At night, we asked if Oya and Ena could cook us a simple dinner since we were too lazy to go out again, we didn’t mind anything, even just a plain omelette. Instead we got fried black pomfret, omelette, chicken rendang, and stir fried celery ♥♥.

While having dinner, Oya shared her story of how both of them started the place together. Their story of 2 city girls giving up the city and choosing to live a simple life running a small place like this is so inspiring. Have I mentioned that one of the dreams I have was to run a small B&B in the mountains or at a beach? They are living my dream.

♥Jan 4th Wednesday♥

When in East Coast, we should all try to catch the sunrise. Well, not me, the hubs did. This was at Pantai Telaga Papan.

For the last 3 days we stayed at The Summerland Retreat, we’d been having breakfast at this eatery recommended by Oya. Located just across the Merang Mosque, this small eatery, which is hard to miss because there’ll be lots of cars parked next to it, serves one of the best nasi kerabu we’d ever tasted. Owners were friendly, and besides nasi kerabu, they have nasi dagang, nasi lemak, and nasi minyak (translate to oil rice) as well.

The hubs who tried the nasi dagang claimed it was nice, so when he had nasi kerabu, he added the fish from nasi dagang as well; the girls had nasi lemak for 3 days with fried chicken and they like it too.

I love the nasi kerabu so much, I didn’t try any of the other rice, and had the same thing 3 days straight. The plate of nasi kerabu which is RM5 comes with rice, fish cracker, a slice of salted egg, 2 pieces of freshly barbecued chicken, ulam (Malay salad), serunding ikan (spiced fish floss) a pickled onion and the secret sauce. So yummy I tell you.

It was then time to leave The Summerland Retreat and move to our next destination, Kota Bharu.

We used the coastal road. Nice kampung houses were seen all along the coastal road, although most of them now have Astro Satelite dish attached to them.

This small quaint barber was empty when we passed it.

We had lunch at Kuala Besut, the main jetty to get to Pualau Perhentian, and also had some sata, a Terengganu fish satay grilled on a gentle fire fueled by coconut husks.

Then we reached Kelantan state. We drove passed Tok Bali, a small fishing port, before we headed inland towards Kota Bharu.

There were lots of clam stall at the road side selling the big clams we saw in Setiu Wetlands.

It was meant to be a 2hr journey from Merang to Kota Bharu, but it took us 4hrs using the coastal road and making numerous stops. When we finally arrived at Hotel Perdana, our hotel Kota Bharu, the girls were so glad; more so we got upgraded to a Deluxe Premier room, a big and modern room.

After many days of having Malay food, we were craving for Chinese, so we went to Four Seasons Restaurant, a halal Chinese restaurant; it was ok food.

East Coast Part 1 – Chukai, Kuala Terengganu, Summerland Retreat, Pantai Telaga Papan, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, Kampung Mangkuk

June 24, 2014 at 7:52 pm

During the June holiday, we decided to take a road trip to the East Coast of Malaysia. It’s a long long drive, covering coastal area of Terengganu and then all the way to the Thai Border in Kelantan, but this part of Malaysia is beautiful, especially the beaches.

♥Jun 1st Sunday♥

We started the journey noon time, lunching on sandwiches in the car.

Back in 2009 when we visited Cherating, we had tea at the famous Hai Peng Kopitiam in Chukai, we recalled it was really good, so we drove into Chukai town thinking of taking a tea break there on our way to Terengganu.

Arriving at Hai Peng Kopitiam, we found that the shop has closed and relocated, and it has also been renamed, due to some ‘family ownership’ dispute. It’s now called Sukiyang Kopitiam (located at : PT11283 Jalan Belatuk, Taman Chukai Utama, Fasa 3, Terengganu).

We went searching for it, and arrived to find the Kopitiam almost full house.

What is the verdict? Service was lousy, had to wait so long for our toasts and drinks (coffee, tea and milo), and everything was just so-so. I bought a pack of ground coffee back, and it’s RM17.90 for a 200g pack, very expensive for local coffee. The worst is, this is not the same ‘kopi’ as what they served in the kopitiam, it was darker and not so aromatic. I . felt . being . conned.

Pressing on, we arrived at Kuala Terengganu at dusk. Not knowing where to eat, we used Tripadvisor to look for a restaurant and decided to try Adeq Sue Ikan Bakar (located at : Batu Buruk, 20400 Kuala Terengganu). We followed the Tripadvisor map, but it was WRONG! Googled more, and finally found the place using this map.

Worth it? YES YES YES!!

The 2 grilled fish with sambal petai was so spicy and so yummy; the girls loved their ayam goreng kunyit (fried chicken with turmeric) and fried kangkung; and the best dish was the Tomyam Poktek. A creamy tomyam filled to the brim with a variety of seafood (clams, crabs, fish, prawns), it was so full of flavour.

The place wasn’t easy to find, but it was worth the effort.

Another hour drive after dinner, and we arrived at our accommodation, Summerland Retreat which is located at Pantai Telaga Papan. So tired after all the driving, we went to bed after a shower.

♥Jun 2nd Monday♥

Summerland Retreat is just a 2 rooms vacation home set in a big piece of land. The friendly owners of the place, Oya and Ena, live about 50 meters away in another building.

We only took one room at the vacation home, the other one occupied by an Australian and Irish couple.

Room is clean and modern.

The charm of the place actually lies in the surrounding. The garden is beautiful, and there were the occasional Iguanas and birds that can be spotted.

A quiet beach, Pantai Telaga Papan, accessed/used mainly by the occasional locals, is only 100m away.

Sand is clean, soft and fine.

And the sea, clean, clear and calm.

We spent the morning there strolling at the quiet beach.

We then took a drive up a little North along the coastal road. Stopping at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh, a small fishing village with a beautiful beach.

Fishing boats used were pretty traditional, some were beautifully decorated.

We came across a Budu maker at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh.

Lots of anchovy like fish were being dried.

Budu is a kind of fermented fish sauce used as seasoning and eaten with rice or fish. The fermentation takes place in cement urns like these.
As it was not season to make Budu, according to the worker there, the urns were empty, but still leaving a strong fishy smell.

Driving further North, we wanted to have lunch at the famous Terrapuri at Kampung Mangkuk. Terrapuri is a resort with old Terengganu Malay Classic houses turned into villas.

Alas, they didn’t even allow us to enter the resort compound, claiming there were busy preparing for a big group of visitors arriving, and did not have enough staff to serve us.

We just explored the surrounding beach filled with tall coconut trees, with cows grazing peacefully among them.

As the hubs wanted to go back to Kuala Terengganu to photograph the Crystal Mosque at sunset, we took the 1hr drive back to the capital city.

We wanted to check out China town in Kuala Terengganu, as there were a couple of eateries listed on tripadvisor. Unknowingly we parked near the Turtle Alley (located at : Jalan Kampung China, Kuala Terengganu), and had a chance to check it out.

Just a small alleyway sandwiched between 2 prewar shop houses, it’s decorated turtle mosaics art, teaching the public about turtle conservation.

And at about 5pm, China town is almost dead. Most of the coffee shops are already closed, no opportunity for us to try out Madam Bee’s Kitchen.

We took one last stop near Crystal Mosque, just to view this beautiful mosque from afar, and then headed back to Merang area for dinner.

Continues here.

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