Apr 13, 2018
Goodbye and Thank You Kuantan
Location: Kuantan (city), Pahang (state), Malaysia
Normally, I would stay in one place for the entire length of my visa, usually 30 days and then move to another country. After my 10-day meditation course in Gambang, I defaulted to Kuantan to see what life I could have in the remaining 17 days I had.
Kuantan doesn't have the popularity of Penang when it comes to food, but locals have their favorite eating places - and they're likely to be good. You just need to identify and look for them given all the myriad of eating places you see all over Kuantan. If I don't feel like going the distance for good eats, I'd default to my staple, the Mamak restos where you can get a freshly cooked roti + curry sauce for MYR1.30.
My 2-hour daily workout at 7am at the esplanade is perhaps the only constant during my stay in Kuantan. With the river and the fitness facility by the playground, I simply had to make the most out of it. After Kuantan, I don't know what my workout landscape will be if ever there is one. I would be joined by friends who would be a part of it for a few days before they drift off. My workout could be rope skipping, calisthenics, yoga, high intensity interval training (HIIT) but Pranayama would always follow the workout and then finished by Meditation. Those 3 in combination (physical workout, pranayama and meditation) are powerful and bring about a speedy transformation in fitness and mental resolve.
Girlly and Sothy
Girlly has been a longtime friend since I met her at the Vipassana meditation course in Cambodia. With her trip to Kuala Lumpur with Sothy, another Vipassana meditator, they both made the 3.5 hour trip to Kuantan to catch up with me and take part in my daily workout. I was with them for the 5 full days they stayed in Kuantan. We visited the Vipassana center, Dhamma Malaya and visited the Mini Zoo and Teluk Cempedak. Consistently though, we would workout on the esplanade by the river from 7 to 9am, followed by Roti breakfast at the nearby Mamak eatery. The workout routine I designed for them included strengthening the mind as well. Very often, people want to be physically strong when what they need is to be mentally strong.
Alex and Lala
While working-out with Girlly and Sothy, a Chinese couple were on the far end emulating what we were doing. I asked them to join us. This started a friendship with Alex and Lala. They would join us for our daily workout, even after Girlly and Sothy have left Kuantan. At one point, the couple even invited us for a sumptuous seafood dinner at the popular Alor Akar Seafood Restaurant. In the conversation, Alex would be Lala's interpreter as Lala only speaks Mandarin.
Mohd Hatta Ismail
Hatta is a man of dimension. The first 5 minutes with him makes that apparent. He hangs out at the Tjantek Art Cafe where he does his architectural design work. That's where we met, which was followed by an engaging conversation covering many things - art, history, architecture, life, etc.
I would have stopped-by more often to chat with him, but the starting coffee price at MYR6 was a little too steep given my dwindling cash. I'm confident he would have waived the charge but that's a little too uncomfortable for me. My loss, absolutely.
Wanting to meet locals over coffee, I tapped into Couchsurfing where I'm a member. Rosnita was good enough to respond and we met for dinner at the popular Chinese dimsum resto, Chan Poh. It was a laid-back conversation about Kuantan, traveling and life. I'm sure we could have hung-out and talk some more if I had more time in Kuantan but it was a little too late when I met her. Nonetheless, I'm grateful we met. Like most promising things, it could pick-up where we left off, if and when our paths cross again.
Also through Couchsurfing, Amal is someone I didn't really meet but had a few online exchanges with. She's from Syria and laments at how the war has ravaged her country. With the saber-rattling going on now with the US about another attack on Syria, she is deeply disturbed...as I am.
When is the US going to stop exporting war to feed its insatiable industrial military complex? Under what pretense or pretext are they going to do it this time? I am reminded of a no-war on Syria article I wrote 5 years ago that to this date continues to plague this country.
Visiting Dhamma Malaya
One last hurrah before Girlly and Sothy's departure from Kuantan, we took the bus ride to serve for a day at Dhamma Malaya, the local Vipassana center. Our unannounced visit was met with a little apprehension because people who wish to serve usually apply online in order for arrangements to be made. We were totally unexpected. They had to secure permission from the teacher. We were not able to serve much though. We came noon time, and they offered us lunch. This was followed by a 1-2pm customary 1-hour sit before anything could be commenced. This was again followed by the 2.30-3:30 group sit. So, by the time we could start serving, it was already 3:30. We had to leave at 5:30 to catch up with Alex's dinner invite. Essentially, we only served for 2 hours. I think we caused for more discomfort by having some staff attend to our presence. Nonetheless, I felt good being at the center and being able to sit again and see people I met from my Satipatthana sit from March.
I was advised by a few friends (Eyla, Ferdie, Girlly, etc.) that I should move my format from pictures to video, upload to Youtube and possibly make money out of all the travels I do. It does make sense. So organized myself to be a Youtuber, consolidating 2 accounts, categorizing my videos into themed playlists and started taking short but essential videos of Kuantan. I don't think I'll ever make money on this, but it's good to be up to date with online trends.
Taman Esplanade (riverside park)
The riverside esplanade has been my staple. Kuantan isn't exactly a charming city, but the riverside is perhaps its most charming feature. I'm there daily to do my workout. On some afternoons, it's also good to chill and watch children at play or adults line up the railings to catch fish.
After 17 days in Kuantan staying at the Kuantan Backpackers, satiating my belly with Mamak food and teh tarik, promenading along the Esplanade, visiting its art museum, the mosque, beach and zoo, it was time again to pack-up and leave for a new destination. 17 days gave me a glimpse of Kuantan's people, its culture, cafes, eating places and a few of its tourist attractions. The helpful staff of the lodge became familiar housemates. Eyla was particularly helpful. I think the challenge for a traveler is to find the hidden gems in a place where it's not too apparent. It needs more than just a couple of days to make that happen. I think I leave Kuantan having discovered a few.
Reader Comments:Rosnita Abdul Karim
(Apr 15, 2018) Did you have any luck finding the telur separuh masak for breakfast on your last day in Kuantan?
(Apr 15, 2018) Yes, I went to a Kopitiam and showed the waiter the paper you wrote on and he gave me a 2 soft-boiled eggs and a toast. It's good, but the toast didn't come with butter...he-he.
Next stop: The 18-Hour Trip from Kuantan, Malaysia to Kathmandu, Nepal
Kuantan (city), Pahang (state), Malaysia
Travel Tips for Kuantan
How to get to Kuantan from Kuala Lumpur
- Hentian Bandar station is the main local bus hub of Kuantan with buses taking you to essential destinations in Kuantan, MR 2.00
How to get to KLIA2 Airport from Kuantan
Travel Info for Malaysia
- Malaysia is a Muslim country so try to be sensitive about their customs and traditions
- People drive on the right hand side of the road
- Main city roads are wide with about 4 lanes - very difficult for a pedestrian to walk across, if there is no overhead pedestrian crossing or a pedestrian stop light
- nearly all Malaysian males smoke in public places even in non air-conditioned restaurants
- Malaysian Ringit (MYR) is about 4x a US Dollar ($). MYR 4 = US$1
Malaysia Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Cool Climate of Cameron Highlands June 19-23, 2016
- Overnight in Kluang, Malaysia Aug 13-14, 2016
- Funky Flow Yoga with Lora Lorenzo at YogaOneThatIWant Studios July 27, 2016
- Deja Vu Kuala Lumpur with Karine July 21-26, 2016
- Layover in Kuala Lumpur June 22, 2016
- The Kuala Lumpur Experience Jan 21 - Feb 20, 2015
- Police Harassment in Kuala Lumpur Feb 17, 2015
- Visiting Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur Feb 18, 2015
- Walking Tour of China Town Feb 5, 2015
- Breaking New Ground in Kuala Lumpur Jan 21, 2015
- Goodbye and Thank You Kuantan Apr 13, 2018
- Visiting the Masjid Sultan Ahmad Shah Mosque Apr 10, 2018
- Visiting the Pahang Art Museum Apr 3, 2018
- Beach Fun at Teluk Cempedak with Girlly and Shoty April 1, 2018
- Visiting the Kuantan Mini Zoo with Girlly and Shoty April 1, 2018
- High Intensity Interval Training with Girlly and Shoty Apr 1, 2018
- Fitness in Kuantan Mar 29, 2018
- Exploring Kuantan, Malaysia Mar 25-, 2018
- Hanging-Out in Kuantan with the Guangzhou 5 Mar 25-26, 2018
- Satipatthana Sutta Vipassana Mar 16-25, 2018
- The 24-Hr Trip from Loboc (Philippines) to Gambang (Malaysia) Mar 15-16, 2018
- A First-Timer in Malacca July 28-Aug 8, 2016
- Art Scene of Malacca August 6, 2016
- The River Charm of Malacca August 5, 2016
- About Malacca July 28, 2016
- Penang (Malaysia) Immersion May 27-Jun 19, 2016
- Exploring the Emergent Cafe Culture of Penang Jun 18, 2016
- Encounters with the Guru-Types of Penang Jun 17, 2016
- Overnight Camping at Turtle Beach Jun 10, 2016
- Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in Penang Jun 10, 2016
- Daytrip to Batu Ferringhi Jun 9, 2016
- Savouring the Food of Penang May 27 - Jun 6, 2016
- Surreal Glow-in-the-Dark 3D World at Dark Mansion June 3, 2016
- The Animated Street Art of Penang Jun 3, 2016
- Exploring the Lush Greenery of Botanic Gardens May 29, 2016
- Up up and Away to Penang Hill May 28, 2016
- About Penang May 27, 2016
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