So This Is The Malaysia You Want To See

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Malaysia, as a whole, is made up of thirteen states and three federal territories, with Kuala Lumpur and the more visited locations lying in the west. But, on the eastern coast of Malaysia lies Terengganu, a state where ethnic Malays make up a majority of the population, and travelers are a distinct minority, most choosing to stay in the more well-known western states. Too bad, as the NZ Herald notes, they’re missing out on a lot. Islands, unique food, and wildlife abound here, and that’s just scratching the surface.

The state of Terengganu has an enviable share of the eastern coastline, augmented by half a dozen islands lined with coral reefs and white sandy beaches. Here, you can explore crystal waters and endless coral gardens in which you might find yourself snorkelling alongside turtles and baby sharks.

And you can bet that with all that isolation, plenty of authentic culture will abound.

Local traditions remain strong here. Kite-flying, batik-weaving and even traditional boat-building can all be found where the Terengganu river meets the sea. A road stretches the length of the coast, lined with stalls selling keropok lekor (the chewy, deep-fried fish sausage which is an eastern specialty) and punctuated by jetties offering ferries to the islands.

A cruise around the state’s “Fun Map” (yes, that’s what they named it), shows the existence of both a turtle and a firefly sanctuary (separate — luckily) in the south, as well as a pheasant park further up. Okay, this is kind of a fun game. If you could only do one, which one would it be? Which one could you lie about seeing and still probably get away with once you got home? I’m thinking you’d see the fireflies, lie about seeing the turtles (you just tell everyone, “Yeah, they were slow and green”), and then you save the pheasants for the next trip. Or you do all three, as I know you I-have-4-week-vacation-Europeans will probably just end up doing. So jealous.

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