A six day road trip around Malaysia – 1/6

PREAMBLE

After over six years in Malaysia I still hadn’t seen much of the east coast of peninsular.  I had circled the peninsular by rail and bus, but that didn’t take in the coasts.

A friend was visiting, and so I planned to show him some aspects of Malaysia while including some of the east coast as a new area for me.

I made a plan:

https://tropicalexpat.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/planning-a-quick-road-trip-around-peninsular-malaysia-from-penang/

http://www.virtualtourist.com is one site where you can research what to see in different parts of Malaysia. For example, 70 Things to do in Ipoh

And we more or less followed the plan.  But if you are interested in doing such a trip, apart from the description that follows, here are some of the things I did right, and wrong.

What we did right:

-It was not school holidays
-I had a plan and an idea of what to visit beforehand
-We had a hotel booking for the first night
-I carried a device so I could connect to the Internet for further research, or to book ahead
-I carried my own Internet modem for when WiFi was not available or was a poor connection
-I serviced the car beforehand and checked tyres etc.
-We avoided all night travel
-We were cautious at empty beaches, checked before for currents and jellyfish,  and stayed very close to shore
-We had some great meals – just by looking around and checking the local specialties

What we did wrong:

-We left on the eve of a public holiday, and the roads were much more crowded than I imagined
-We didn’t have a hotel booking for the busy public holiday eve, only just managing to get one the previous evening
-Forgot to update satnav maps – as one can’t get a good road map, satnav is important.
-We needed more time – 10 days rather than six – so we could drive less per day and stay longer where we wanted
-Not our fault, but we had the heaviest rain I can remember in Penang on our departure day
-Needed a bigger towel for when we swam at deserted beaches
-Almost got a parking ticket in Ipoh because there were no signs advising on their parking system.
-We weren’t to know, but the coast from Kuantan to Kuala Terengannu seems mostly urban and constantly jammed with traffic and all red traffic lights, which probably explains why there is a motorway between them. Next time I would simply use the motorway and avoid this stretch of the coast.
-At the end of the motorway north from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu we took Route 3, hoping to soon turn east to the coast – but we couldn’t find any road east for many miles. Better to go into Kuala Terengganu and then take the coast road north. Probably – we didn’t do it, but I am guessing.

THE TRIP

OK, so here is what we did.

Our planned, and driven, route - roughly.  The numbers indicate Night 1, Night 2 etc.

Our planned, and driven, route – roughly. The numbers indicate Night 1, Night 2 etc.

The first day was supposed to be easy. A two-hour drive down to Ipoh, departing after the Penang lunchtime traffic but before evening rush hour.  But it was pouring with rain, and we waited until it eased to depart. Then we immediately got stuck in a traffic jam, so that instead of a 10 minute drive to the Penang Bridge it took about 45 minutes.  But the rain stopped, the traffic eased and by 10KM down the motorway from Butterworth it was easy driving.  Just as we arrived near the motorway off ramp to Ipoh there was another brief downpour, which soon ended, and we got to our Ipoh accommodation in about 2 1/2 hours, which, considering the weather and traffic, was OK.

The weather was still not great, so we delayed our cave visit to the next morning, and instead decided to just relax a bit and then have dinner. Anyway, the caves close at 5PM.

I thought it might be fun for my friend to stay in a colonial club, so we stayed in the Royal Ipoh Club, and had a drink in the bar there too.

The Royal Ipoh Club the next morning

The Royal Ipoh Club the next morning

It was the Friday evening of a long weekend, and almost all restaurants were closed. I enquired where we could get Ipoh duck, a famous local dish, but couldn’t track it down.  Eventually we found a bar cum restaurant where I had a nice chicken chop and vegetables. We should have just eaten in the club probably, but still our meal was good.

IF WE HAD MORE TIME

The bird park in Butterworth, first, and then a stop in Taiping about halfway from Penang to Ipoh to see the zoo.  Had we left in the morning we could have visited them en route.

Day 1 , Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day Six

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