We had long year end holidays but we didn’t book any trips this time. Oversea tours booked at the last minute would be extremely expensive during this time, so on a whim we decided to drive around our own country, i.e. Malaysia. We didn’t have any any itinerary on where to go exactly, all I did was to do a very minimal research on Malaysia map at night, brought a Garmin GPS, booked first night of accommodation online and off we went! We didn’t know how many days we were going to go off and decided to just let things happen. We were really in full control of the trip rather than the trip controlled us if we had booked all the hotels in advance. We just lived in the moments and booked our next-day-accommodation only at the last minute before the next day. 

We started our journey from Penang the next morning, had breakfast and set to explore Malaysia. After traveling for so many years, this was the first time I was exploring 7 states in my own country by road. The drive from West to the East coast via East-West highway was very pleasant, it had the most breathtaking scenic views compared to all other highways in Malaysia. Best of all, there is no toll!!! We were so pleasantly surprised. We saw so much green, palm oil plantations and even came across Mount Fuji of Malaysia along the way from Baling to Gerik :-) 

Mount Fuji of Malaysia

Mount Fuji of Malaysia

Here is how we traveled to 7 states and the summary of our stops in 4 days. 

Day 1 

Penang – via Baling (Kedah) to Gerik Highway – Tasik Temenggor/Banding Island in Gerik, Lunch at Belum Forest Resort (formerly known as Banding Island Resort in Perak), overnight at Kota Bahru (Kelantan). 

After breakfast in Penang, we departed and went through Baling to go to Tasik Temenggor which took us about 3 hours to get there. We originally wanted to go to Belum Forest Reserve to check out the largest flower in the world, Rafflesia but found out that we needed permit to go there which one needs to apply 2 weeks in advance, so we couldn’t go in the last minute. Maybe next trip then. So we just stopped by to have lunch at Belum Forest Resort and continued our journey to Kota Bahru. On the way, we passed by Banding Island Bridge at Tasik Temenggor and saw the breathtaking view at Titiwangsa Lookout Point. 

Belum Rainforest Resort in Gerik, Perak (formerly known as Banding Island Resort)

Belum Rainforest Resort in Gerik, Perak (formerly known as Banding Island Resort)

Banding Island Bridge on Tasik Temenggor (Temenggor Lake)

Banding Island Bridge on Tasik Temenggor (Temenggor Lake)

Breathtaking view at Titiwangsa Lookout Point

Breathtaking view at Titiwangsa Lookout Point

After another 3 hours drive, we finally arrived in Kota Bahru and checked in our hotel. We’ve heard so much about Kelantanese food being the best Malay food, so we decided to have a feast in Kelantan. We went to Yati Ayam Percik for dinner, it was excellent, we tried different local delicacies like Laksam, Smoke Fish in banana leaves and some local desserts. It was yummy. Pasar malam (night market) at Pintu Pong and Wakaf Che Yeh were a bit of disappointment. From our observations, there seemed to be more sellers than buyers in all the markets in Kota Bahru. The markets were unusually quiet and not much going on. We weren’t sure why? 

One of the best Yati Ayam Percik in Kota Bahru

One of the best Yati Ayam Percik in Kota Bahru

Local Kelantanese Food and Delicacies at Yati Ayam Percik in Kota Bahru

Local Kelantanese Food and Delicacies at Yati Ayam Percik in Kota Bahru

Day 2 

Breakfast at our hotel – Pasar Siti Khadijah (Kota Bharu Central Market) – Pantai Cahaya Bulan (Moonlight Beach) – Kuala Trengganu (Trengganu)-  Famous Lekor as snack at Kak Yah Keropok Losong – Taman Tamadun Islam – Pantai Batu Buruk – Lunch at Uncle Chua – overnight at Tasik Kenyir (Kenyir Lake) 

On the second day, after breakfast at the hotel, we checked out Pasar Siti Khadijah (Kota Bharu Central Market) , again there were more sellers than buyers and unusually quiet, inside the market was pretty smelly so we only dropped by the market for a short while and left almost immediately and headed to Pantai Cahaya Bulan. 

Fruit sellers outside of Kota Bahru Central Market (Pasar Siti Khadijah)

Fruit sellers outside of Kota Bahru Central Market (Pasar Siti Khadijah)

Fresh produce at Kota Bahru Central Market (Pasar Siti Khadijah)

Fresh produce at Kota Bahru Central Market (Pasar Siti Khadijah)

The waves were pretty rough at PCB and there were traces of flooding at the beach as well. While we were there, there was a car stuck in the sand and couldn’t get out, so the men in our car did a good deed to help push the car out of the sand. 

Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB, a.k.a. Moonlight Beach) in Kota Bahru, Kelantan

Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB, a.k.a. Moonlight Beach) in Kota Bahru, Kelantan

Traces of flooding at Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB, a.k.a. Moonlight Beach) in Kota Bahru due to the monsoon season.

Traces of flooding at Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB, a.k.a. Moonlight Beach) in Kota Bahru due to the monsoon season.

After the car got out of the sand, we decided to stop by Kuala Trengganu before going to Tasik Kenyir (Kenyir Lake) in Trengganu. About another 3 hours from Kota Bahru, we arrived in Kuala Trengganu as a result of a bad traffic jam due to some accident that day. We first stopped by at the famous Kak Yah Keropok Lesong to try out their steam and fried Lekor which our friend recommended. Lekor is made from fresh fish meat, sago and some salt, rolled into sausage shaped. This is a must-try snack when you are in Trengganu. We can find lekor in Penang but the ones in Trengganu taste much better, I think because it has more fish meat than other ingredients. 

Freshly fried keropok lekor at Kak Yah Keropok Lesong in Kuala Trengganu

Freshly fried keropok lekor at Kak Yah Keropok Lesong in Kuala Trengganu

Steamed lekor that's soft compared to the fried lekor that's crispy.

Steamed lekor that's soft compared to the fried lekor that's crispy.

We oder 5 plates of fried and steamed lekor, quite yummy with the chilly sauce.

We odered 5 plates of fried and steamed lekor, taste yummy with the chilly sauce.

After the lekor feast, we decided to check out the Crystal Mosque at Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilization Park) before we ate a proper lunch. There are many mosques in the park but only the Crystal Mosque is the most outstanding one. 

Crystal mosque at Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilization Park) in Kuala Trengganu

Beautiful Crystal mosque at Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilization Park) in Kuala Trengganu

Monument at Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilization Park) in Kuala Trengganu

Monument at Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilization Park) in Kuala Trengganu

We felt not so hungry yet after the lekor and decided to check out the local beach called Pantai Batu Buruk in Kuala Trengganu. The beach is not special like PCB in Kota Bahru with strong waves. The only difference was that there were some kite sellers on the beach, my friend went down to buy her teenaged son an eagle kite made of canvas of which flies more easily compared to regular kites according to her. 

Pantai Batu Buruk in Kuala Trengganu

Pantai Batu Buruk in Kuala Trengganu

Subsequently, we headed to Uncle Chua for our lunch. Food is pretty good there if you are not used to the local food in Trengganu. We ordered their nasi lemak and chicken rice, both were very yummy. Hokkien prawn mee cannot be compared with the one in Penang but quite decent. Then, we made our way to Lake Kenyir which was another few hours drive. 

Popular Uncle Chua Restaurant in Kuala Trengganu

Popular Uncle Chua Restaurant in Kuala Trengganu

Delicious Nasi Lemak at Uncle Chua Restaurant in Kuala Trengganu

Delicious Nasi Lemak at Uncle Chua Restaurant in Kuala Trengganu

Their chicken rice was quite good also.

Their chicken rice was quite good also.

When we arrived at Lake Kenyir Resort, there were some deers eating grass near the slope at the car park. We had to call the hotel lobby to send a buggy to pick us up from the car park to head to the lobby for check-in. 

A deer eating grass near Lake Kenyir Resort & Spa car park upon our arrival.

A deer eating grass near Lake Kenyir Resort & Spa car park upon our arrival.

Buggy to pick guests from carpark to Lake Kenyir Resort & Spa reception for check-in.

Buggy to pick guests from carpark to Lake Kenyir Resort & Spa reception for check-in.

We got the lakeview rooms, so the views were awesome but the hotel was pretty poorly maintained overall despite its award winning status in 2007 being the Best Lake View Resort in Malaysia. I have written to the hotel to express our dissatisfaction but yet to hear back. 

Breathtaking view from our chalet balcony at Lake Kenyir Resort Trengganu

Breathtaking view from our chalet balcony at Lake Kenyir Resort Trengganu

Beautiful Kenyir lake view from our room at dawn.

Beautiful Kenyir lake view from our room at dawn.

After checking-in, there is not much really going out, it’s more of a rest and relax kind of place. So we just stayed in and had our dinner at the hotel. Food was quite OK though not fantastic, no complaints. 

Awesome Kenyir lake view from the hotel lobby.

Awesome Kenyir lake view from the hotel lobby.

Initially we wanted to take a boat ride the following day around the lake but it was raining, so we decided to leave and head for our next stops on Day 3 and 4. This will be featured in my next post, part 2. So stay tuned, I’ll see you all soon 😉