The east coast of Malaysia runs through the states of Johor, the innermost Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. There are beautiful beaches of fine white sand, tropical climate and numerous coconut palms. It is a small natural paradise that is bordered to the north by Thailand, by the mountains to the west and to the south by a wide wetland area (crossed by some rivers).
The state of Johor is the cradle of the classical culture in Malaysian and extends south of peninsula, overlooking the Strait of Malacca. Nowadays, the place is a very active, rich in tourist resources and proposals for all tastes (even mine). In Johore Bharu (between June and July), it usually takes place one of the biggest events of the year: the race of the singing bird (like a an Xfactor for birds).The merbok (birds of sweet song from the jungle) are trained for a long time and then placed on poles, which are 9 meters tall. A jury identifies the winner taking account the melody, the tone and the volume of the song that is presented. Right here, in the region of Medini Iskandar in 2012 is expected to open the “Legoland theme park”, which is a real joy for the children! For those who are nature lovers: you cannot miss a visit to the Endau Rompin National Park which stretches between the states of Johor and Pahang. The place is reachable by boat or by a jeep through the jungle, with the exception of a rainy season, which is definitely closed (it is already autumn, hurry up). Here you get to stay in contact with the nature (at least the people that are passionate with the botany, the photographers, the trekkers and with the animals in general).
The species that live in this wonderful habitat are: tigers, gibbons, pheasants, elephants and the Sumatran rhino. However, in the most central zone extends the state of Pahang; one of the largest in Malaysia, a landscape which is characterized by the uniform and the ones that strongly opposed the modern West Coast or the unspoiled area (such as the Eastern Europe).
Taman Negara (the National Park) is one of the largest reserves of nature throughout Malaysia, a trip through the jungle that has a very special charm. You can easily go to Kuala Than. At the park we usually went to the reception (the people are very easy-going), there is an accommodation in the area to stay (hostels, chalets, camping sites …) and then you can arrange various proposed routes. The best time to go is surely the dry season from February to September. It is impossible to visit the park for less than two days and it requires above all a sense of adventure as it is still an experience that goes beyond the classic style of holiday. But if you are adventurous it is worth the money and the time.
There are mountains to come upon, caves to explore, rivers to cross and many animal species to see all over an area of more than 4 thousand square km affecting two more places: Terengganu and Kelantan.
Kelantan and Terengganu are still the symbols of Islam, since they are deeply rooted to traditions and religious ties rather than being obvious and impassable. The capital of Kelantan is Khot Baru, which is located a few kilometres of the Thai borders and can be an excellent destination for trips that include both the knowledge of Thailand and Malaysia in the same time. It is well known for its famous market, one of the largest and wealthiest in Malaysia: the Central Market.
Here you will find everything from craft rooms with wooden objects or silverware, the colourful and exotic fruits, vegetables, fish and savoury spices. Additionally, in the evening you can see a series of colourful stalls selling food (Malaysian and Thai).Padang Merdeka (the Freedom Square) is the state mosque, which was architecturally composed of various styles. While according to Sultan Mohammed the II, Istana Balai Besar is one of the oldest buildings built in 1884.The city is also a famous centre of art. Gelanggang Seni (The Art Court) is usually the place for some exhibitions or festivals celebrations. It is not uncommon to attend performing arts, sports or games on the road through the streets of the city. Finally, about 13 km from Khot Baru stretches one of the most beautiful beaches that are worth visiting: Dasari Pantai Sabak (which is lapped by the Chinese Sea making it one of the most fascinating and beautiful coasts).
By Elsi H
Malaysia photos: Les Butcher, lim theam hoe, Melvin Tong, Hafiz Ismail.