September 30, 2015

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

We had to leave the resort by 10am the day of departure from Lang Tengah but our flight isn’t until evening so we signed up for a city tour of Kuala Terengganu.  Our first stop was the Chinatown where seven back lanes have been given a makeover and each has its own unique theme.

 Main arch leading into the Chinatown

We started our walk at the Tauke Wee Seng Hee Cultural Lane.  This lane is named after a wealthy Chinese trader from the 1900s, and it’s filled with a collection of vintage items that includes an old, colonial-era telephone booth and an old well.  The wall behind the well displays several Han Dynasty-era poems, while the opposite wall displays a collection of old signs from shops in Chinatown.

Next is the Seven Wonders Alley, which pays tribute to the seven wonders of the world – Great Wall of China, Petra (Jordan), Christ the Redeemer (Brazil), Machu Picchu (Peru), Chichen Itza (Mexico), Colosseum (Italy) and Taj Mahal (India).  The walls are adorned with steel plaques that describe each of the seven wonders.  The highlight is a lamp post which has been converted into a direction post, which tells you how many kilometres away you are from these seven wonders.

Eco Lane is a tribute to Terengganu batik as one of the business owners there has decided to decorate it with pieces of batik.  Here, various pieces of batik are stitched into a canopy of rectangle blocks that hang above the lane.

Lorong Haji Awang Besar serves as a reminder of the small Malay population that also settled in Kampung Cina.  Decorated with Malay-style wooden architecture, this lane is named after a rich Malay businessman whose former village house was located near the lane.  Looking up certainly pays when visiting these laneways and on this lane, it’s the traditional wau bulan that takes centre stage.

A tribute of a different kind takes place at Payang Memory Lane, where seven prolific personalities from the local Chinese communities are immortalised in bronze cast plaques.  A cluster of colourful umbrellas hang above, and is meant to symbolise unity in diversity.

We walked around looking for the famous Turtle Alley with no success.  Along the way, we captured these random shots.

We stopped to ask for directions from an elderly Chinese gentleman, and he graciously offered to show us the way.  And he showed us much more of what the Chinatown has to offer, which we would have missed had we not met him :-)

 Apek taking us for a ride on a trishaw.  Can you tell that the scene at the back is just a large canvas?

We finally reached Turtle Alley, the narrowest of all the alleys.  This lane has been adopted by the local turtle conservation society and features turtle-themed artwork on its wall, turtle-themed mosaics on the floor, along with trivia boards to inform tourists of the highly endangered turtles.

Life-sized replica of a leatherback turtle

I realized after reading up more about the rejuvenation of Chinatown Kuala Terengganu that there’s another lane, Green Lane, which was the lane to have kickstarted the makeover project but we missed it.

After a quick late lunch, the van picked us up and since we still have some time to kill, we headed to the Crystal Mosque.  A rather impressive structure made of steel, glass and crystal, the mosque was opened in 2008.

We headed to the airport after that, glad that we had a chance to discover this pretty piece of Kuala Terengganu.

September 28, 2015

Mid-year holiday in Lang Tengah

My first trip to Lang Tengah was 14-15 years ago and I remember having such a fantastic time there.  Lang Tengah was not as well known as the more famous Redang or Perhentian Islands and I was totally smitten by its white, powdery beach and pristine underwater world.  Back then, the four of us had three guides all to ourselves for the few snorkelling trips and we got to see soooo much – including turtles and baby sharks.  I also remember the awesome view from atop the hill on our hike.  But I simply can’t recall the name of chalet we stayed and looking through the photos on the internet of accommodation options in Lang Tengah proved futile.  It could also be that the place we stayed no longer exists.

OK, enough of reminiscing.  So we took a family holiday to Lang Tengah during the mid-year holidays.  We booked the full board package from Summer Bay Resort.  Overall, it was a nice trip, but Lang Tengah is no longer the virgin island it was 15 years back, and we longer had the luxury of having individual guides for snorkeling.

In the speed boat on the way to the island

First family shot right after disembarking from the boat

Summer Bay Resort


Girls showing how fine the sand was

On the day of arrival, after lunch and a short rest, we joined the rest of the holiday makers for snorkeling around Redang Island.

The girls with their papa and a staff from the resort who helped Yan Yan with snorkelling so we could snorkel on our own with peace of mind

We then made a stop at the beach where Summer Holiday (夏日的麼麼茶), the film that popularized Redang amongst Chinese speaking visitors from PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong, was shot.  A replica of the tea house from the movie serves as a gift and convenience shop now.

 Yan Yan was so tired that she fell asleep on the boat on the way back from Redang

On the second day, it was free and easy in the morning.  So while hubby watched over the girls at the pool, I took a walk around the island.

An abandoned jetty and resort

In the afternoon, it was another snorkeling trip, this time around Lang Tengah.

All ready for more snorkelling

Yiu Yiu took to snorkelling like a duck to water

We were back in the resort quite early so we spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling at the resort’s reserve area, and I was thrilled to spot many clown fishes J

After dinner, we were brought to a beach nearby to watch Blue Sands.  The blue sand is actually a bio-luminescent, shrimp-like organism the size of plankton, sometimes known as seed shrimp.  These ostracods are called "blue sand" or "blue tears" and glow blue in the dark at night.  Most use the light as predation defense, while some use the light for mating.  The guide went into the water and fetched a huge rock and as he swept his hands across the wet rock, it litted up with flickering blue lights that look like little dancing fairies before slowly fading away.

We had to check out early the next morning, as we couldn’t extend our check-out time despite our flight being in the late afternoon.  It was a blessing in disguise, as we used the time to explore Kuala Terengganu, which unbeknown to me, has a vibrant China town with loads of things to see.  More about Kuala Terengganu town in the next post.