Good day to you, ladies and gents. I would like to take some of your time to tell you a story of four green adventurers who traveled to Terengganu and Pahang recently on a very strict budget without any plan overhead.
Our journey started from KL but I would like to start the story from where the adventure actually begin.
We started in Marang where we attended a wedding of one of our coursemate. Getting there was an adventure in itself but we eventually did after false coordinates and unmapped routes in the GPS. None of us could give a decisive suggestion on where to go next since none of us are from around here. I started the engine anyway and proceeded to the main street and highway while we discuss our next destination. Having several experiences travelling Terengganu and Pahang with my family way back when, I suggested some place (mostly food/eateries) that we might be able to visit.
I have only one main goal every time I visit the East Coast which is SATAR.
Satar is a fish-based specialty snacks from Terengganu. It is made from minced fish flesh, chilies, and ginger. All this ingredients are wrapped inside a banana leaf into the shape of a cone or a pyramid. Each cone is grilled on a metal stake over a bed of hot coal. (source: Wikipedia) Did I made you drool?
This snack brings a lot of fond memories of when I was a kid. Maybe that’s the reason I love it so much. It also seemed that I was the only one who do too because most of the Satar we bought was eaten by me. One advice from a satar-lover to another: buy from a hawker that are attending to the Satars at that moment. Do not buy Satars that have been abandoned and left to be slowly heated by the not-so-hot coal. Trust me.
We stopped briefly at a roadside stall to buy some Keropok Lekor, Sauce, and Satar to snack on the road. By now, we were still undecided of where to go next. Since I have satisfied my cravings of Satar, it was Ummu’s turn next. Her cravings is Ikan Celup Tepung. So, we continue our journey to venture into Kuantan where we can easily find them and just be down the road from where we will be staying for the night.
Taking the beach side route to Kuantan, it was very easy to get distracted by the numerous road sign pointing towards nearby beach attractions. We made it a routine to slow down and gaze at the beach that are accessible to tourists. We stopped at one of the beach called, Rantau Abang. There was nobody at the beach so we were free to do whatever we want without people staring. We brought out the snacks we bought before and finished it all up. We took several minutes to enjoy the breeze and isolation. I took the liberty of running in my Baju Kurung along the beach. I got to less than 100 m and I was out of breath.
We got back into the car and decided to find a hotel to restore our energy and also to perform prayers. It was not even nightfall yet, perhaps it was an exhaustion induced decision. So we ventured into the nearest town, Dungun. And again, we got distracted by another roadside sign pointing towards Teluk Lipat. And the usual Instamoments ensues. But it did not went for long because the weather decided to spill quite heavily and abruptly. And so we proceeded to find a hotel in Dungun. We decided to book at Saujana hotel since it was one of the ones that we first saw and the other ones refused to take our call to book. Their loss.
We booked a Deluxe Queen room for a night and went to perform prayers at a nearby Surau before checking in. The room was okay. They fulfilled most of their facilities. They have hot water, air-conditioning, Astro, and free parking. The internet is free but apparently was only accessible at the lobby. I was thirsty and I decided to boil some water with the provided kettle. The cord was too short to reach the outlet so I leveled the kettle on the two mugs. It got the job done so I don’t want to complain much. Overall the room is moderate.
And on to our next food venture. Ikan Celup Tepung. I made some online research myself before and wished that we had planned this way ahead. There are some awesome place in Kuantan that have been approved by JJCM (Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan) that I wished we could have gone to but the places are usually sold out by the time we reached there. Plus, we didn’t feel like making anymore long trip that night. So I settled on a place I found that is very near to our hotel and I am proud to say that I did not regret the decision AT ALL.
Since we are on a very tight budget, we decided to order ala-carte meal for each of us with some side order of Ikan Kembung and Sotong Celup Tepung to share.
<Insert any type of seafood here> Celup Tepung is basically seafoods that had been dipped in a specially prepared batter and fried until golden brown. But nobody in Malaysia (possibly the world) does it better than the East Coasters or Kuala Perlisians. The sotongs (squids) we had were not rubbery at all. Both the sotongs and ikan kembung (mackerel) tasted so fresh but we had to give it to the batter. The batter taste like the sea even on their own. Dip this bad boys in chili and you will get glimpses of heaven.
The only thing I regret about those Celup Tepungs is that I did not put more budget into this trip so that I could eat more of them.
We left for the hotel for bedtime satisfied, knowing that we will forever be tempted by the image of freshly bitten soft squids embedded in our mind. We were all so tired that the queen bed did not feel crowded at all.
For breakfast next day we went to a place just a few metres away from our hotel.
There, each of us had Nasi Dagang. I haven’t taste that much Nasi Dagang but I do like this one. They are quite sweeter than the ones I usually had at a place near my house but that is what East Coast cuisine is all about. This is where they originated from anyway so I am not in any position to say how they should taste like.
Afterwards, we made our way to Kuala Lumpur and made several stops to buy even more Satars, pre-cooked Keropok Lekor, and souvenirs. And of course, we stopped at some beaches to capture some moments that are worth to be remembered by. We took some cool shots at Pantai Kemasik.
Once we reached Kuantan, our stomachs began to growl again. After some research, we made our way to Warung Pok Su Mok Su. This place is so famous, their route is registered in the GPS of our car! They have also been featured in JJCM I think. The place was packed but we managed to share a table with a couple who had just arrived themselves. We had to wait quite a while for our food to arrive since they had to make fresh batches continuously to meet the demands. We had some Ikan Kembung and Udang Harimau (Tiger Prawns) Celup Tepung. They are cooked to perfection, however I found myself preferring the batter that we had last night. Pok Su’s batter is quite mildly spiced. We finished our Celup Tepungs nonetheless.
That marked the end of our adventure. We actually fell in love with the Dungun town. The energy there is so relaxed and yet you can still feed cravings for fast food, they have it all. We also planned our next trip along the way. We are thinking of Perlis in January. Are we going to make it? Well, you’ll have to wait and see.