(Snaking highway! Image source: Google Earth)
It must have been like 15 years since I last stepped in East Coast of Malaysia.
So a relative’s function in Kuantan last week was just the excuse I needed for a 520 kilometres drive to and fro East Coast. For the record, I never driven past Karak Highway – it is either a journey in a bus, driven by a half asleep driver with a baseball bat safely tucked away under the seat or a journey in a car, driven by experienced but a speed demon friends. And in a way, time was on my side for the new East Coast Highway was ready by the time I wanted to drive on my own to East Coast. The old road was not only tiring and dangerous but also time consuming (I missed the counts of truck / bus – car accidents in the old road).
We left “KL” at about 10 am – because my dad who is also going to be my “navigator” only finished work at about 8 am. In the car was myself, my wife, my kid, my dad and my mom. KL was usual with its heavy traffic jam but as we are nearing Genting Highland, the traffic was almost sparse and the heavy trucks were almost non existence. My 1.3 engine powered Iswara with full occupants was struggling at 4th gear but at the 3rd gear, it managed well to climb the hills and even overtake slower “automatic geared” cars.
It was not long before we reached the start of the new “East Coast Highway” and what a bumpy highway it was! Overall, it was smooth but just when one is driving at 110 km/h, the part of the highway turns into a bumpy stretch. The highway constructor must have taken the blue prints from Kesas Highway!
We reached Kuantan town just after 1 pm and originally the plan was to go to the relative’s house for lunch and then to the beach and then hunt for hotel to stay for the night. We did not make any reservations (my mistake) so after thinking about it, we changed the plan (thank God, we did) – hunt for hotel first, then go to the beach and then finally to the relative’s house.
We must have gone to 5 hotels but all was fully booked – there was one where as I was getting down from the car, the security guard told me that the hotel is fully booked. 5 hotels before we found one that was affordable and available and at the right time too – we managed to register in time before a bus load of people came and begging for rooms. The hotel upgraded our rooms without any additional cost because we had to wait for the rooms to be ready (good customer service). Whilst waiting for the rooms, we had our lunch and in process got a parking ticket (damn, didn’t the authorities know that people work half day on Saturdays?).
We came back at 3.45 pm and only then the rooms were available. We quickly dropped off our bags and drove to the beach – my son was in his “gears” for a dip in the water but in the end, was overwhelmed by the “huge” waves. One hour at the seaside and we were back in our hotel rooms for shower and a short nap. The function at the relative’s house went smoothly – even managed to chit chat with some “long forgotten” relatives.
We left the next morning after a short trip to the market for fresh, cheap seafood. And we used the same bumpy highway to KL. One thing I noticed about the Karak Highway near Genting, the cornering is very testing – speed at 60 km/h test driving skills to the maximum but there still idiots in small Kancils speeding at these corners.
I had a small problem with the camera, so I missed taking plenty of photos in Kuantan. Need to rectify this the next time. Tiring…