A summary of the road trip: We hired car and drove for six hours from Johore Bahru in the southern tip of Peninsula Malaysia along the AH18 coastal road to Kuantan where we spent a night at the lovely Swiss Garden Hotel for a night. The next day we set off for Kuala Trengganu 230 km northwards driving at a leisurely place and taking about five hours in all. We stayed two nights at a beachfront hotel before making the return trip to Kuantan stopping by at different beaches along the way. In Kuantan we checked into a hotel in the city as it was late by the time we arrived and the next morning left early to make the six-hour trip back to Johor Bahru.
On the taxi back home in Singapore, the taxi driver asked us where we had been. I told him we went to the East Coast to Kuantan. He asked what there was to see there and why would we go there. He said we were very brave, two women going to Kuantan to just laze around the beaches. I decided that we should withhold the truth about us having hired a car and driving on our own along almost the entire east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. He would not have understood and I was too tired to talk about my trip with someone I do not know.
Here are the things I did not tell him about the East Coast of Malaysia.
The beautiful beaches at the hotels where we stayed and along the coast where we had stopped for breaks from the long car journeys.
Beach in front of the Swiss Garden Hotel in Kuantan.
The wide and long stretch of beach in front of the Hotel Primula in Kuala Trengganu.
The golden sand beach at Rantau Abang.
The surprising good roads and lovely towns and kampongs that are charming and yet not backward at all as most people would imagine. In fact near the bigger towns, there were schools and lovely local mosques and plentiful of petrol kiosks. Generally the impression was that the east coast of Malaysia is neat and safe and people were happy with what they do there. In Trengganu, oil sustains the economy. In Johor, it is oil palm plantations and unfortunately the mining of red earth that left an ugly blemish on this land that otherwise would have been forested.
In Mersing where we stopped over for lunch on the way to Kuantan, the town was clean and pleasant. We had reasonably priced fresh sea-food
In the town of Kuala trengganu, we had lots to do actually because this year is Visit Trengganu Year 2017. The town has instituted a trolley bus for tourists to drop by at the places of interests there - the main market, the Chinatown, various mosques, the national museum and most of all the Crystal Mosque that is said to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the world especially at night when it is all lighted up.
The Crystal Mosque in the day. Glass covered and promising a spectacular appearance at night when it is lighted up.
Kuantan - a lovely town.
The delicious food at the hotel, at the coffee-shops...