Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia - I was in Halong Bay in Vietnam when a smart Malaysian backpacker (a girl) first introduced Kuala Terengganu to my consciousness. That was 2 years ago! Terengganu is a particularly interesting "town" since it is the capital of the oil-producing state of Malaysia. It is also Malaysia's revered eastcoast town, and the bailiwick of the country's opposition movement.
In Terengganu, bored rich housewives go out to lunch. There is money going around this sober city. But I arrived on a very dreary day that drizzled and rained the whole day through. I was struck by how beautiful Sultan Mahmud Airport is. At the first counter by the entrance/exit, there is the prepaid booth for taxis, the "only" viable" transport out of the airport. Most distances cover an average rate of 25 ringgit, so that in itself was daunting. 25 was good but it would be a very expensive endeavor to have to go from one place to the next, paying 25 ringgit everytime. Much later, I learned that taxi commutes within town has a fixed rate of 8 ringgit which wasn't bad. A mini-bus is mentioned by Lonely Planet, but this bus is nowhere found. It's hard enough to wait for a taxi. Most people in this town seem to have cars of their own so taxis are hard to come by.
I worried of my mobility. What to do in a town without accessible public utility vehicle. I walked most of the time. I went to their white washed mosque, the Baywalk, the park nearby, the bus station in the center of town. I saw Princess Hill right by the Central Market, but it wasn't feasible to walk up a 200m hill when rain is falling hard!
The view from the Baywalk wasn't much. You see the South China Sea, but there is a straddling piece of land that blocks majority of the ocean view. If there is one thing that isn't too tourist friendly in this decidedly-rich town, it is the lack of tourist facilities as well as acceptable budget hotels. Traveller's Inn, the one and only budget guesthouse in town, and Lonely Planet's single recommendation for a backpacker accommodation is nowhere near the backpacker rate of my crummy hotel in KL. In fact, my room was a delectable 99 ringgit room - a hundred percent more expensive than my room in the capital - Lonely Planet says they have 39 ringgit rooms - my version should be year 1979?! This is a town with rates higher than the capital and the idea annoys me. It's supposed to be cheaper in small towns than the capital, isn't it? Here's the rub, the people at Traveller's Inn even asked for a deposit of 99 ringgit - which was hilarious. You are asking for the payment already, honey! 99 ringgit can't be a deposit! Some people can be too suspicious or untrusting.
As a result, less than an hour after I checked in, I checked out! I didn't care much for my 99 ringgit. They can have it, and wipe their smelly Bahasan arses with my mint-condition 100 ringgit, for all I care! I refuse to stay in a place that I despise for their silly small-brain practices, and really now, may you all rot in hell!
Here is my advise to tourists who plan to visit Terengganu, steer clear from Traveller's Inn. Opt for the more expensive shitholes. Believe me, you are better off elsewhere. For one, Taxi drivers find it a conundrum to locate this place, and it's situated a bit too far from the town center.
The Crystal Mosque taken from Pulau Duyong, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. This photo only courtesy of flickr's spOt_On.
This is the Eye in the Sky.
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