Friday, June 12, 2009

The East Coast Chronicles -- Summing up

I'm back from my road trip to the East Coast. Mie Pak Lah and I travelled 13 days, through four states, and visited numerous little towns, secluded beaches, quiet villages.

Our journey started on 12 May and ended on 24 May 2009. From Petaling Jaya, we used the East Coast highway that brought us to our first destination, Kuantan, where we stayed for three nights.

Using Kuantan as a base, we explored the surrounding areas of Tanjung Api, Teluk Cempedak, and Pantai Gelora.

We left Kuantan town on 15 May and headed for Cherating, making a stop at Kemaman. In Cherating, we put up the night there and pushed off for Kuala Terengganu the following day.

Between Cherating and Kuala Terengganu, we passed by Kampung Rusila, Rhu 10, Kampung Cik Wan, Kijal and Kemaman.

We stayed in Kuala Terengganu for two nights, and visited the boat-making facility at Pulau Duyong. It was simply excellent.

We pushed off for Kuala Besut on 18 May, taking the scenic coastal road. Along the way, we stopped at Merang and made beautiful discoveries in Batu Rakit, Penarik and Mangkuk.

Our stay at Kuala Besut was hosted by a good friend, Lan Pulau. He made arrangements for us to go onwards to Pulau Perhentian Kecil, where we stayed at his place in Mira Beach.

We spent two nights on the island before we headed back to the mainland and onwards, with Lan Pulau, making us a threesome, to Golok, Thailand.

After putting a night at Golok, we left for Kuala Besut the next day, then Kuantan again, spending one night in each town.

By the 26 May, I was already on my way home.

I could easily say that the trip was about me and Mie Pak Lah. But, honestly, it wasn't just about us. My trusty station wagon, with its own character, also played an important part.

It was also the people we met along the way. Strangers would just come up and sit with us for hours as we painted. The fishermen, tired from days of work at sea, would beckon for us to share their fresh catch and lunch.

It was the food we had at simple stalls. The little roads we took by chance, which eventually led us to special and secret places so beautiful, we never imagined it could have been there. It was the atmosphere of the east.

We went without map or compass. Just with the serendipitous hope that we would be lucky.

We had gone with the intention of painting en plein air and we came back with the loot to show for it -- lots of watercolour paintings, studies and sketches in pastels, charcoal, watercolour and ink. We also took loads of photographs of the places we visited, and these will be our reference for our future works.

The next few postings will be on some of the places we visited and the experience of mixing with the locals.

One thing that struck me as weird, though, was when during one of my conversations with my wife, she asked me if I ever felt like a tourist when I was traveling to the east coast. And in answering her, I was surprised that yes, strangely, I did feel that way!

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