Trippin’ Down the East Coast.

Every year, for Chinese New Year, my family and relatives would go back to my dad’s hometown in Kuala Lipis, Pahang for the first day and reunion dinner on the first night, followed by a short trip to Fraser’s Hill (also in Pahang). The latter was more of a recent addition to our CNY vacation for my grandmother. As she gets older, it is harder for her to cook for more than 10 people in the family. So Fraser’s Hill became her CNY holiday.

The highlight of the post today has nothing to do with my CNY trip. It is about my second anniversary vacation with my husband. We planned a vacation of 4 days and 3 nights to one of the hotels along the East Coast despite the fair warnings of the monsoon season online, because it was easier to drive from my dad’s hometown than to go back to Kuala Lumpur and drive back out to some other place.

We have been to Cherating before we were married. I love the place, especially for the beaches. The beaches along the East Coast (including the Redang and Perhentian Islands) are cleaner, and also less tourists and holidaymakers frequent this place probably because it is more dangerous during the monsoon season than the West Coast. We stayed at the Suria Cherating Beach Resort, which was only 20 minutes away from Terengganu.

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Our resort had a pair of lovely, turquoise-coloured, kidney-shaped swimming pools that were unfortunately overly-crowded by the children of the other resort guests. There was no way we were going to enjoy a swim or paddle in a pool full of screaming kids! Otherwise, the view of the swimming pool taken from the resort lobby does make one feel like jumping in right now!

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On our second day, we took a drive to Teluk Chempedak, another popular beach location for holidaymakers. The last time we were here, there were less people and the waves were smaller. This time, because we went during the monsoon period, the waves were bigger and stronger, yet somehow, the crowds were bigger too. Families were having picnics, children splashed around at the edge of the sea while others built sandcastles, and young couples took selfies on higher ground. At least I managed to nick a shot of the beach before we left. The weather was oh-so-fine on that day!

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Being 20 minutes away from Terengganu had its perks, and we were easily able to find food there. And so we did. We paid a visit to a popular coffeehouse known as Kedai Kopi Hai Peng (or Hai Peng Kopitiam) in Chukai, Terengganu. The coffeehouse is located at a corner of a row of shophouses. We found the place via several food bloggers online who wasted no time gushing about the food and drinks here. So we thought, why not?

We ordered an iced coffee each, followed by a bowl of spaghetti laksa, nasi lemak ayam and a set of roti bakar kahwin. Now, let me explain what each order meant.

The laksa is normally a bowl of noodles, usually rice vermicelli, swimming in hot and spicy soup with other ingredients such as fish, onions, cucumbers and an egg. Some people add extra chilli, a lime and some sambal. I didn’t. This place uses spaghetti noodles instead of rice vermicelli which I thought was rather unique. Thankfully, the taste remained the same and it was as fragrant as if rice vermicelli was used.

Nasi lemak ayam is an offshoot of the regular nasi lemak, or literally translated to English as ‘fat rice’. There is nothing ‘fat’ about it, except that the rice is cooked in coconut milk, so I suppose an overdose of coconut milk is enough to make your cholesterol hit the roof. Here, the rice is eaten with a generous portion of a chicken drumstick along with the other condiments like ikan bilis (fried anchovies), kacang (groundnuts), an egg and sambal.

The roti bakar kahwin is actually a pair of freshly toasted bread with kaya and butter or margarine. That’s all there is to it but because the bread was homemade, there was a soft, light and fluffy texture to it. It was good. And the iced coffee just topped everything off! If anyone is planning on visiting Malaysia, I would definitely recommend this place. Sadly, you would have to get yourselves to Terengganu for it. There is another branch of the same name in Kuantan but many people vouch for the one in Chukai, Terengganu.

Kedai Kopi Hai Peng (or Hai Peng Kopitiam): K-3753, Jalan Sulaimani, Chukai, 24000 Kemaman, Terengganu.

Reminder: The place is opened from 9:00am to 6:00pm or 6:30pm daily, except Fridays.

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On our third day, we decided to drive a little further out and found ourselves at the green and peaceful entrance of a small fishing village in Beserah, Kuantan. It looked more like entering a village that had nothing to do with fishing whatsoever. But hey, looks can be deceiving, right? So we drove on in deeper, farther and farther into the place… We even got lost, but thanks to Waze, we found what we were looking for.

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Voila! The neat little fishing village buried deep within the town of Beserah. Here, a row of fishing boats were docked for the day after the fishermen returned with their catch in the morning. Sekinchan in Selangor was another fishing village that we traipsed into some time last year, and compared to Beserah, I still prefer Sekinchan. There were more of that ‘fishing village’ aura that Sekinchan had. Perhaps we didn’t venture in far enough here but a fishing village is just a fishing village. Unless there was talk among the locals that the fishes here start dancing at night…

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That same evening, we had just about enough energy left to have a splashing good time at the private beach of our resort.

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The seawater was cold but not to the point of being chilly. The frothy waves were ferocious and strong, its undercurrent often threatened to pull us back out into the deep and dark unknown. But we stood firm. We dug our heels into the damp sand and held on for what all that’s worth. Because we were too busy taking photos with our smartphones to be careless. One slip is all it takes to ruin the phones. I’ll say, it’s a first world problem that many can relate to, and it is probably more important than our own safety!

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Just before we left our little fantasy holiday to return to reality, we made one more trip to the Hai Peng Kopitiam for lunch. This time, we turned our attention to other items on the menu. The beef brisket meehoon soup was the best dish I have ever had! The beef was tender and tasty, chewy but not too tough. We also had the original nasi lemak, the one that comes with nothing else but a hard boiled egg, a couple of cucumber slices, sambal, fried anchovies and groundnuts. Even that was a pleasant meal in itself. Our two iced coffees never left our side. As they always say, “But first, coffee.”

I had so much fun that I found it hard to leave. Why do good things always come to an end?

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