Monday, July 9, 2007

I used to live in paradise

Having lived in Kelantan for a good five years while growing up and later in life in Terengganu (for another four years), I normally would not bat an eye-lid whenever I passed by many of their pristine beaches - I have seen them all (you know the been-there-done-that-seen-em-all attitude). I was so used to PCB in Kota Bharu (did I also visit Pantai Irama or was it Bisikan Bayu?) in the 70s. Fine beaches that they are (with poetic (or is it exotic?) names I must say), I always think that this is a norm rather than an exception in Malaysia. I thought then that all beaches in Malaysia are of Kelantan and Terengganu's standard. After all, we all live in paradise, don't we?

So I can't comprehend the fascination people have with the east coast beaches until I moved to Melaka. Pantai Klebang is not fit to be called a pantai. It is dirty and muddy and while one can enjoy the sea breeze, one surely cannot enjoy a dip in the sea.

In hindsight, I love my sojourn in the east coast in the late 70s and late 80s. In Terengganu, I love Pantai Teluk Bidara and Pantai Kemasik - in that order. To me they are sceneries postcards are made of!

Pantai Kemasik is no. 2 on my list. It is only 5 mins from Rantau, so we would go here often in the late 80s. Arif and Akmal love this beach too. The above panoramic pic was taken by Arif in May 07 while having our kepok leko from the same spot. What a place to have your leko! Note the moon in the pic (below, right). The big pic above was taken by someone in flickr - thank you. it is a nice pic.

To me then, with nothing much to do either in Kerteh or Dungun, I love to take a stroll and do nothing at these beaches. Yeah, it is ironic, isn't it? Good for the soul. Kopratasa even raved about this beauty in an equally-beautiful keroncong song that immortalize Teluk Bidara, which is sited near Tanjung Jara.

My No 1 beach in Malaysia - Teluk Bidara, pasirmu nan should listen to Kopratasa's beautiful keroncong, waxing lyrically about this beach. There is cave in the rock hill that will take you to the other side. There is also a light house on top of a hill near the beach. Look at the crystal clear water and azure blue sea. Forget about the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean or Hawaii. This is no.1 beach on my list. Come to think of it, Terengganu has a monopoly of songs about her beaches - Cendering (Jimmy Boyle), Kenangan di Rantau Abang (Rafeah Buang), Teluk Bidara (Kopratasa). After all, it probably has hundreds of miles of pristine beaches.

Arif and Akmal at the cave entrance at Teluk Bidara and enjoying the crystal-clear water. Note the white sandy beaches in the background. This was taken in 2004 during the general election as this writer is a registered voter there by virtue having lived in Kerteh/Dungun in the late 80s. Someone offered me a 4.5-acre land here fit for chalets - I didn't have the money so I didn't take up the offer. I wish I have the money that will enable me to retire in Paradise.

Recently during the school hols, I stopped with my car full of 6 childrens at a Kerteh beach, during a full moon. My God, it was so beautiful with only the moon lighting up the beach there. The (full) moon as at about a third of the sky's height, illuminating the sea. It was so calm, so serene. I was really mesmerized by the scene. So I really do appreciate the east coast a lot.

Personally I think beaches on the west coast pale in comparison.

Why the brou-ha-ha about Penang beaches for example? Other than the charm of old Georgetown, I can't for the life of me think of any reason why I would want to go to Penang to sample her beaches. Don't get me wrong, I love the colonial set-up of Georgetown (the very reason I love Taiping). But having spent 2 nights there last weekend for a math indoctrination with Arif and Akmal, I would not go to Penang for her beaches.

Tanjung Bungah and Batu Feringhi are over-rated. For one the water is muddy and not crystal clear - these two things can easily put one off. Secondly, do check in the vicinity how many drains there are that are draining waste water directly to the sea. I found one big one in Tanjung Bungah only 50m from my hotel. One can see the effect of the drain on the seawater as it disperse into the sea. Even if the water is 'clean', no one would want to swim in 'air longkang', would you? Pity those mat sallehs for bathing there. I should have told them to go to Terengganu and Kelantan.

The view from the hotel room of Tanjung Bungah beach. Note the boundary layer of the longkang water with the sea water. One can see the ripples of the longkang water as it drains to the sea.

Arif, Akmal and I went investigating after breakfast looking for the culprit. This is the source of the waste water draining directly into the sea. It is not only unsightly, but downright dirty. This is in the heart of Penang. No wonder Penang is called the garbage dump of the orient.

Shame on you Penang City Council - stop treating the beach as your waste-and-waste-water dump site! You have no excuse to allow any drain to go directly to the sea.

Love our beaches. They are our treasures that we can't buy with any amount of wealth. Our childrens and grandchilds may never enjoy them again, if we are not careful.


I am beginning to wonder about the naming convention of beaches in Kelantan. Such poetic name I must say - Pantai Irama, Pantai Bisikan Bayu and the old Pantai Cinta Berahi which has been changed to Pantai Cahaya Bulan (but with the initials intact). My fav is of course the Beach of the Whispering Wind. Macam citer Famous Five by Enid Blyton je! Unlike in Terengganu, beach naming is a bit more simpler - Kemasik is the name of sungai near the beach (and the town).
Listen to Nyanyian Ombak by Harmoni.

First Posted on Time in a Bottle
Sunday July 8, 2007 - 10:18am (MYT)