Day 1 – Singapore to Kuantan
Our younger daughter came back from UK for her summer break. She was so deprived of sunny beaches over there so we arranged a very short weekend break in Kuantan, on the east coast of Malaysia. We don’t usually stay just one night in Kuantan but because of our tight schedules, we just had to rough it out for the 6 hours drive each way from Singapore just for her.
Most of the time, we would stay at least 2 nights in Kuantan and then also include another night or two to do some shopping in Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere in order to make the 6 hours drive worth while. So for this trip except our elder daughter who was busy, all of us were going during this June school holiday.
The hotel we booked was our favourite Swiss Garden Resort & Spa just slightly more than half an hour away from Kuantan City. The cost for two rooms inclusive of breakfast was 165 USD which was quite a good rate. The reason we chose this hotel was because of its service, hotel facilities and nice clean beaches as well as its proximity to the city for meals and shopping. Since this was just an overnight trip, packing was relatively simple.
The day came and we left home and reached Singapore custom and immigration just after 6 am where traffic was still light. Within ten minutes we were through and on our way to the Malaysian side of custom and immigration across the Causeway. Since we left early because June was a school holiday here, clearing immigration at the Malaysia side didn’t take very long as well. After clearance, we kept left and exited the immigration complex and took the highway on the Eastern Disperser Link.
By 6.45 am, we were already driving on the Eastern Disperser Link connecting to the North South Highway. We have to be careful driving during this stretch of the road as the speed limit is not the usual 110 km/h but 90 km/h. Getting stopped by the police so early in the morning would spoil our holiday. After getting through toll booths and paying with our Touch & Go card, we hit the North South Highway and started to pick up speed cruising at 110 km/h.
The sky gradually lit up and slowly the sun made its entrance where I could see from my rear mirror. Everyone was sleeping happily after clearing immigration on both sides of the Causeway so I was the one with the privilege to enjoy this sunrise moment. It was dark when we left home and now the sky was displaying its morning glory with a superb sunrise. After a while I had to put a sunshade over my glasses to prevent myself from getting a migraine under the bright light of the sun.
So it was a very good day as I drove along the North South Highway up and down hill with plantations on both sides. After driving over an hour, we exited at Yong Peng to take a quick toilet break. Soon we were on our way again heading north on federal road 1 in Yong Peng. Following the signage towards Kuantan we soon took federal road 12 heading north east. We had to travel for quite a while on this stretch as driving at 110 km/h may not always be possible due to heavy vehicles and heavy traffic at certain junctions.
Soon everyone had awaken from their slumber and we had some easy breakfast in our car. Stuffing our mouths with buns and sandwiches was not too difficult with the some time bumpy roads which was not very well maintained at some stretches. Coffee we brought along was great. It was still quite hot from the flask so I had to sip slowly while driving. With a few other distractions chatting with one another and munching tidbits soon brought us nearer to our next turn.
Upon reaching nearer to Gambang, we made a right turn on federal road 2 and travelled towards Kuantan. The GPS in our car was functioning very well and soon we were getting nearer towards Kuantan City. With the aid of the GPS we soon arrived at East Coast Mall barely 11 am where the shops in the mall were just opening.
We prefer this newer mall over the much older Berjaya Megamall nearby. The anchor tenants are Parkson Departmental Store and Carrefour Hypermart. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food restaurants as well. Brands Outlet and Padini Concept Store are there as well. This mall has a much nicer and cleaner ambience that provides a much more pleasant shopping experience.
The first thing we did was to head for the toilets. Next we went around to choose a restaurant for lunch. We had lunch at a Hong Kong style restaurant and had a great meal after the long drive. It was still a bit early to check into the hotel so we did some shopping and stocked up on water and food as well before heading to Swiss Garden Beach Resort Hotel. Slightly after 1 pm, we made our move and drove to Swiss Garden Beach Resort Hotel.
The GPS was a great gadget to prevent us from getting lost on the busy roads in Kuantan City. Before 2 pm we arrived and parked our car at the car park of Swiss Garden Beach Resort Hotel and approached the hotel lobby with our bags. The hotel was a little busy and while a front desk staff was attending to us, another woman barged in to demand some information from this staff in a rude manner. She was treating the staff as though she was one of her domestic helpers. I could see the staff was a little irritated but she kept her composure. I felt really embarrassed for the staff and hoped this impatient woman wasn’t one of my fellow countrymen.
Soon our check in procedure was over and we were told one of our rooms were upgraded to a corner unit which was much bigger. We were glad and excitedly made our way to our rooms to see what kind of room it was. This corner unit came with a rattan sofa set on top of the nice and comfortable king bed. The toilet had a nice bathtub as well. Though our rooms were not facing the sea, we were still very pleased indeed.
Since it was a hot day, it was a great time to hit the beach followed by a dip in the nice swimming pool. It was really fun spending time with the children on the beach. Having had enough fun with the sun, the sand and the sea, we went back to the hotel to immerse ourselves with more fun at the swimming pool. That was the very purpose of taking such a long journey here.
This was only part of the family fun and we had other plans after that. Meanwhile floating, dipping and kicking in the sparkling blue water under the afternoon sun was a joy to capture at that moment in time. When we finally had had enough of water games and family bonding in the pool, we went back to our rooms to shower and rested for a while.
Having rested our tired bodies from the beach activities and swimming under the hot sun, we were ready for dinner. We were heading back to town to locate the highly recommended Chinese restaurant just before the malls downtown. The name of this restaurant is Alor Akar Restaurant located at Jalan Kubang Buaya just off the main road Jalan Beserah before reaching town.
I had this location saved on my GPS so finding the restaurant wasn’t much of a trouble. The trouble was finding parking space. That was why we left a bit early for dinner around 5 pm and even then I had to make two rounds and finally managed to find a lot on the road behind the restaurant. If you come later, be prepared to spend more time looking for parking lots as well as longer wait for a table to be available.
So when we reached the restaurant, it was already three quarter full. We found a table for the five of us along the road and ordered some of our favorite dishes minus seafood which we were not keen. The restaurant staff were Cantonese speaking so it was quite easy for us to place our order.
When the food came, we were surprised the portion was quite sizeable. We were more amazed we could order fried pork ribs in yam ring which traditionally came with chicken cubes. We had a very good time and ordered extra plates of rice. Cost for the dinner was very affordable as the dishes were very reasonably priced. No wonder they pull in the crowds. The dinner was very delicious and enjoyable but we did have to fend away some nasty houseflies buzzing around while we had dinner.
With our belly filled and satisfied, we made our way back to Swiss Garden Beach Resort to have more family bonding over some activities instead of heading further downtown to some malls for more shopping. We had reserved shopping for the next day before going back to Singapore so enjoying our resort facilities was our topmost priority. In 15 minutes we were back to our resort and headed back to our room to use the toilet and rest a while for our stomach to work out on our sumptuous dinner intake earlier before more physical activities later. So the TV was a great companion for the time being.
Evening came and while everyone was busy either having dinner outside the resort or having their dinner at the hotel restaurant, we went to the games room where the crowd was absent. We had a few games on the dart board and we also borrowed table tennis bats and balls from the staff and had a wonderful time smashing each other with most of the time the ball not landing on the table.
Our children seldom played table tennis and so were hopelessly incompetent. I used to play table tennis quite a bit during childhood so I could teach my kids a few tricks on this game. But come to video games, they have the last laugh. So we were laughing at how lousy we were as though the game was based on who missed hitting the ball or hitting the ball off target most. We laughed so much till our stomach hurt but it was great fun for us.
Next we had a go at the pool table. Again, I had the upper hand on this table. It was a great opportunity to teach them a little on physics, concentration and hand and strength control. This was another great game where the whole family could get involved taking turns trying to hit some balls into the holes. This game was not as strenuous as table tennis and the sweat we worked out on our body earlier began to cool off.
After a few games of Snooker, we had a few games of Carrom at the inner games room. This is another concentration and strength control game. Instead of hitting balls with a cue, we used our fingers to strike at a disk to hit some disk shaped seeds into the four corner holes of the board. This time the children were not that bad but being more experience I still came up top. As we continued playing, more guests with their children were coming back and the place was becoming noisy and at times rowdy with kids running around. So we decided to leave and let them take over the games room.
A stroll around the hotel at night was also quite pleasant and the ambience of this hotel, especially at the lobby was quite nice. It was windy and the hotel ground was romantically lit up. So we went to the lobby lounge and had some refreshments and snacks to enjoy the night with the view of the swimming pool and the sea below offering a very serene and comforting feel. As we while away the time chatting and enjoying our evening at the lounge, some of us started to yawn and so it was time to return to our rooms to call it a day and a night as well.
So we trod our way back to our rooms and enjoyed watching TV and also made use of the free wifi from the hotel to connect with friends and surf the internet on the latest happenings. Our children occupied themselves with their gadgets and the TV while we did some packing to get ready for departure the next day.
It was a great and wonderful day having fun with the children especially with our younger daughter back from UK whom we missed quite a lot. As I had driven six hours during the day and with another six more hours of driving the next day, I put on sleep mode while my wife spent a little more time on the TV and so that ended our first full day.
Continue to Day 2 …