Monday, 1 May 2017

Lang Tengah - The 'Why's

Before I move on to what we did on Lang Tengah, I will first post on the booking process and why we chose Lang Tengah, just in case you are considering whether or not to travel to this lovely island. (Hint: the answer is the antonym of "no" and rhymes with "dress")
WHY Lang Tengah?
Coming from Penang Island, I myself thought if we should be going to another island and confine ourselves there for three days. Never have we made a better choice! As we were pretty busy the past couple of months, Lang Tengah was perfect for a quick and relaxing getaway to rejuvenate ourselves. Hence, if you tick the following boxes, I would highly recommend you to book a trip to Lang Tengah right now:
1. You are in need of a peaceful trip. A break from the fast-moving world.
2. You love nature and don't mind being around it A LOT.
3. You love the sea and soft white sandy beaches.
4. You aren't looking for wild nightlife with cheap booze and plenty of shopping.
5. You don't need to be connected to Internet 24/7.
Now, our reasons:
one) Personally, I think everyone deserves a break without breaking their banks and that was one of the reasons why we chose Lang Tengah. 
two) We have never ventured into the roads of Malaysia's East Coast. 
three) We wanted somewhere which is a little more peaceful and an island which was lower in occupancy. Compared to Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian, Lang Tengah seemed to be the quieter alternative. As I mentioned in the above, be warned that there is very very very limited Internet connection on the Island. Which turned out pretty good. One afternoon, instead of showing each other videos or laughing at derpy comments on social media, we actually spent time by the beach as a family, talking and playing games. I think it would one of those afternoons I will always remember from then on every time I look out into the sea. 
four) We wanted to go snorkeling. 
There are a total of four hotels in Lang Tengah with three operating hotels, Sari Pacific Resort and Spa (Lang Tengah), Summer Bay Lang Tengah Resort and D'Coconut Lang Tengah; while the remaining one, Lang Sari Pacifica, was under renovation.
 Basically, hotel packages would include boat transfer from Kuala Terengganu (Merang Jetty) to Lang Tengah Island, full board meal plans, snorkeling trips and accommodation.
With three resorts to choose from, we made our decision to go with D'Coconut Lang Tengah after reading reviews online and comparing prices of the packages.
Our package was for 3 days 2 nights for 4 people. And as we were visiting the island during the school holidays, there was a surcharge applicable too. There are two wings at D'Coconut - the east wing and west wing. We stayed at east wing (Superior Room, quad sharing). Comparing both wings, there are significant points to consider if you would like to choose one between the two:
1. Location
Both wings were approximately 7 mins apart by foot. To get from the East Wing to the West Wing, there is a mini forest you will need to pass, which might be a little steep for some.

Most facilities seemed to be place in the East Wing. While both wings had their own restaurants for meals, the main reception was in the East Wing. The point to meet for snorkeling activities as well as the diving school was also located at the East Wing. However, for a killer long stretch of beach and the livelier side of the island, West Wing has easier access. West Wing also has a nicer pool with a great view.
The West Wing restaurant and pool
 View of infinity pool at West Wing
[Insert any caption which indicates how much I want to stay here]
2. Overall Location
Based on the following map, you can get a brief outlook of what's where on Lang Tengah. As you can see, Summer Bay and Sari Pacifica are located around the same area while D'Coconut is (sort of) located on the other side of the island.
The yellow mark indicates a mini stretch of beach called Turtle Bay. It is also where the Lang Tengah Turtle Watch Conservation Centre is located. It is a short hike through a patch of (seemingly steep) woods before you can get to Turtle Bay. We wanted to explore it during our stay but we backed off after seeing two huge monitor lizards lurking nearby the beginning of the woods. On the other hand, the blue cross indicates roughly where the West Wing of D'Coconut is which leads to a long stretch of white beach. Passing by the (breathtaking) stretch of white sandy beach, you can hike through (another) patch of woods to reach Sari Pacifica Resort and Summer Bay Resort. A little bit of an adventure for first timers, considering our first hike there was at night to catch a glimpse of some "blue sand" and the night stars lead by a guide from the hotel. However, when we went to the other side of the island on our own the next day, it was pretty straightforward and easily to get through. 

Hence, this might be one of the factors you will want to consider before choosing your hotel.
3. Price
Comparing the prices of the three places in Lang Tengah, we found the package offered by D'Coconut to suit our wallets a little more. As we were on the island during the Malaysian school holidays season, we were subjected to a RM 30 per person surcharge. In total, our bill did not exceed RM 2,000 for a 3 days 2 nights package with D'Coconut.
4. Snorkelling
As every snorkelling trip would be, ours was pretty tiring. In our hotel package, we were given 2 snorkelling trips to go one. The first trip was during the first afternoon we arrived on Lang Tengah and the second trip was either in the morning or in the afternoon (we were under the impression that we had an option). However, if you prefer a lesser crowd, the morning snorkelling trip might be more to your liking as the afternoon trip would include new visitors who just arrived on the island.
- Service
Kudos to the team who brought us out to sea (including from Kuala Terrenganu to Lang Tengah). They spoke perfect English for starters, were kind and understanding throughout the trip. They also took extra care of those who were'nt good in swimming.
- The view
While there was a variety of fishes and corals to look at, I would not say that it was the best I've seen. (That would probably be Krabi, Thailand) However, it was a good trip and the water was clear. Little fishes swam close enough for us to catch a good look and there were alot of corals embedded in the sea bed.
All in all, we had a good time but did not make it for the snorkelling trip during the second day as we were dead tired! We decided to explore the island instead. 
5. The alternatives
When we were on the island, we managed to take a sneak peek at the other two operating hotels in Lang Tengah. By reading through some blogs on the hotels, I got the impression that Summer Bay catered more to China tourists, and yes, it looks new and very grand looking. Plus the staffs looked like they were mainly made up off Chinese staffs. During our night strolls, Summer Bay resort was considerably the liveliest and we heard (pretty good) live music coming from the hotel's cafe. Limited night life was also present at Sari Pacifica Resort, where we saw a cozy bar and plenty of angmos.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Pantai Pandak > Dinner at Golden Dragon Restaurant

Pantai Pandak
This beach right here deserves its own post. It was breathtaking.
Photos could not reflect the beauty of it.
Pantai Pandak was a 20-25 minute drive from Pasar Payang.
We departed at about 6pm so that we could catch the sunset at about 6.30pm.
The beach was a pretty long stretch (with enough space for everyone to "soak in the moment").
"The waves came crashing, wave after wave;
Not too much, not too rushed, taking its own pace each time it rushed on shore.
Every grain of sand my toes sink into each time, with every wave which washes ashore,
I feel alive, I feel peace, I feel like I can be one with the sea.
Now then, will I be able to travel the world if I were to become one as the sea?"
Next up was dinner! Being in Terengganu, we wanted to get a good seafood dinner.
We found a restaurant, Golden Dragon Restaurant, which was recommended on Tripadvisor (No. 2 in Terengganu) and decided to give it a shot. 
This was probably one of the best decision throughout our entire trip.
Food: 4.5/5
We ordered jumbo prawns (x 4; no pictures because it was the first dish and was wolfed down); fried oyster omelette; steamed fish and stir fry beans (no pictures because its just beans, lol). Anyways, the jumbo prawns were huge, and probably was about an average palm size. Taste was good and not too salty, yet flavorful. 
Price: 4/5
The whole meal only cost us RM 130, and this included drinks for the the four of us.
Located in Chinatown, there are plenty of parking lots around. As dinnertime was past 6pm, there was no parking fee. Chinatown is pretty busy but we found a parking space once we turned into Chinatown so I would say that parking shouldn't be too big a problem.
Toilet: 3/5
Basic but kind of dangerous for kids as you will have to pass through a very hot kitchen (toilet is just beside the kitchen and there are no barriers what so ever on the way). Not very clean but bearable.
Must get: "Pau"/Buns from the shop next to Golden Dragon Restaurant. The shop mainly sells "bak kut teh"(a Chinese pork rib dish served in Chinese herbs broth), but they sell pau right out front.
We got some for breakfast and they tasted really good. Plus, they were pretty reasonably priced, at RM 12 for 8 "pau"s.
Next up: the long awaited Lang Tengah!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Kuala Terengganu (town) > Pasar Payang + shopping list

Penang > Titiwangsa R&R > Kuala Terengganu (town)
Lang Tengah Penang
After a satisfying lunch, we headed off to Pasar Payang (a local market) for some shopping.
Now there are four things I think everyone should get in Terengganu:
1. This fish keropok which comes with sauce
 2. A spicy and sweet version of fish crackers
Not too spicy though. I could take a whole packet and I'm pretty bad when it comes to spicy stuff.
WARNING: very addictive, one packet can be finished in one sitting.
3. Serunding - Chicken (Ayam) or Beef (Lembu/Daging)
These babies are delish! We bought about 6 packets and the guy who sold it told us it could easily be finished in one sitting. Boy, was he right. It tastes like "Bak Hu" or chicken floss.
Tastes good with just plain rice or bread and butter.
4. Batik (Terengganu and Indonesian)
These are a must get.
The Indonesian batik was only selling for RM 10 and the colours were just too pretty to not get them.
Terengganu batik was on the higher side and was priced at RM 16-20 per piece.
 A closeup of the Terengganu batik.
Pasar Payang is made up of two floors, the floor below generally sells keropok (local crackers or chips), dodol (local sweet confection) and many other food stuffs. Apart from local goods, there are a number of Thai products for sale too as the Thailand border is pretty nearby. There is also a wide array of Terengganu batik as well as Indonesian batik at the market.
Apart from that, there is a wet market selling fresh produce.
Do note that opposite Pasar Payang, there are proper brick walled shops in what looks like a complex. The batik found there are seemingly of better quality and patterns may differ from what is found in the market. For example, we got this batik at RM23. Still a pretty good steal if you asked me.
As you can see, the pattern is more on the contemporary side rather than the traditional Terengganu batik. You might want to check some shops out along the way if you have time.
Keropok lekor is a must when in Terengganu. It is basically a traditional Malay fish cracker snack orginating from Terengganu. While the ones I've tried in Penang were crunchier, I found a liking in the Terengganu version as I found it soft but more packed with fish paste.
 We took this photo opposite Pasar Payang. I really love Terengganu architecture which is intricate. This is also reflected in Terengganu batik which looks more detailed as compared to other batik which has bigger and elaborate prints.
Next up, we headed over to Pantai Pandak to catch a beautiful glimpse of the vast South China Sea.