Kuantan Travel Log–Tiga (3)

When we reached Segamat town around noon, KL pointed out a sight that typifies Southeast Asia. A young man texting while riding a motorbike through town. “At least he’s wearing a helmet,” I remarked. Wearing a helmet is not necessarily typical in this part of the world but texting (sms-ing) while doing just about anything is. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of him.

Segamat was a nice little town but we decided not to stop since the boys were asleep and we’d had quite a heavy breakfast. We stopped for petrol somewhere outside the town and I assembled tuna sandwiches with what I’d packed.

Following the driving directions we got from this couple’s wedding website, we drove through more plantantions en route to Gambang, and even smaller town quite close to Kuantan. It seems this part of the road was rougher than the Yong Peng-Segamat section.

We arrived at our hotel a little road weary but glad to be in such a nice place as the Swiss Garden Resort Hotel. From the lobby, which was a combination of small ponds/fountains and sofas to relax on, we could see the pool and the beach in the distance. We made a decision during check-in not to pay the extra RM80 per night for an extra bed and all pile into the king-sized bed together. I wasn’t sure how restful that would be for the two adults in that scenario, but the boys loved the idea of a family bed for a few nights.

(I have tons of photos from this trip but I’m going to post them later. I have weightier matters on my mind now as I write this, so it seems rather frivolous to spend too much time describing our family holiday. )

To put my thoughts into a proverbial nutshell, Kuantan is my kind of place for a holiday, especially during Ramadan. It’s a small town and the lifestyle there is simple and slow compared to Singapore. It seemed quite safe to us, so we didn’t have to worry about would-be thieves stalking our Singapore car. There aren’t any huge tourist attractions to attract tourists and drive up prices and there is plenty of good food to be had for very reasonable prices. Fortunately, we have a good friend who lives there and brought us out for dinner almost every night (curry fish head, chicken rice, wan tan mee, tom yum noodles).

Many people asked us why in the world we were going there, but to me it was so nice to spend time at the beach (which was virtually empty) after breakfast, hit the pool after that, play games with the boys in our room, take a look at the supermarkets (they were cheap, esp Tunas Manjah), and visit the few tourist attractions. The waterfall at Panching was a really beautiful sight, the turtle sanctuary a little disappointing, but all in all it was restful week and a much needed break from the usual hustle and bustle of Singapore life and homeschooling.

I live in a huge, noisy, busy city–why would I want to go to another one for a holiday? What I want is to slow down, lighten my load, play, write, and take my time doing all of those things.


Kuantan Travel Log, Satu (1)

By the time I finish writing this post it will be just past midnight on the day we leave for a trip to Kuantan, Malaysia. I told myself I wasn’t going to leave all the packing until the last night, then I told myself I wouldn’t go out today until it was done, then I told myself I would get to bed by 11pm since we need to get up early. I guess I wasn’t listening to myself.

As I’ve been packing and washing and cutting carrots and mixing tuna and folding clothes and hanging up the shower curtain and putting away scattered toys, I’ve tried not to ‘should’ on myself too much. Thinking of all the time I spent doing other things the past few days when I could’ve been getting things ready for the trip. Being a highly perfectionistic person, I have a hard time deciding how much is enough–whether it’s packing for a week-long trip to a place where there aren’t a lot of activities for kids or cleaning the house when I know my mother-in-law will probably be in my house at some point while we’re gone. So at 11:55pm, with aching feet and an aching back and very tired eyes, I decided I’d done enough. If the kitchen sink didn’t get packed, well, I think we’ll be ok.

See why I need a vacation?

We’re setting off around 7am tomorrow and will be driving to the East Coast of peninsular Malaysia. Kuantan is the home of a good friend of ours from our days at UT, Knoxville, as well as the nesting ground for leatherback sea turtles. We’ve got plans to spend time with our friends and hopes that we might catch a glimpse of some of the turtles. It’s about a 6-7 hour drive along plantation roads and through small towns. I’m looking forward to the drive there and I’m looking forward to being in a quiet place, near the beach, with just our family. It seems like just the right time for a break from all our usual chores and studies and work–time to think, to write, to read, to dig in the sand, and do everything much much more slowly.