REDANG ISLAND — You’re a true Beauty

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu*The opinions expressed in this post are strictly the author’s personal opinions and other individual’s experience may vary.

——- MY FIRST TIME EXPERIENCE BEING (AN UNOFFICIAL) VACATION PLANNER TO MY FAMILY.

4 months ago, I went to Redang Island but I never had a chance to write about it. By chance I mean, I don’t have ample time to do so and somehow writing about my own vacation will drive readers goes bleghhhh. However, lately I felt the urge to write about it probably because I really need a vacation and nature is the best stress reliever. Besides, this is my first time being a vacation planner for my family. Originally, one of my eldest brothers and I decided to give a present of vacation package for the 30th anniversary of my parent’s wedding to them. My father somehow had another plan in his mind. He wanted all of us go and join the vacation. My mother didn’t mind at all and I was at that time is the only one who had a free time to be a planner. After doing some research on the price and where the best resort to stay is, I stumbled upon Redang Mutiara Beach Resort. Compared to other resorts, this place is quite affordable if you wanted to stay on the island.

This is where we have to wait for the ferry to come.
This is where we have to wait for the ferry to come.
Family Photo first (my youngest brother is not in the picture).
Family Photo first (my youngest brother is not in the picture).

We drove from Kuala Lumpur at 10.00 PM on 11 April 2014 whereby the total hours taken to arrive at Terengganu is nearly at 8 hours. We almost lost because finding a small jetty (Merang Jetty) in the isolated area in Terengganu is not easy. Luckily, Waze and Google Maps is pretty much comes in handy in times like that. We arrived at Merang Jetty during Dawn and we slept at Mosque right after Subuh Prayer. Around 8.30 am, we took our breakfast and readied ourselves to wait for our ferry to come and get us. The Itinerary give by Redang Mutiara Beach Resort is pretty much clear and detailed. However, they failed to excel at punctuality. We waited for almost an hour before the ferry arrived and take us to their location. Being an unofficial planner is not easy especially people are expecting you to do everything and if every single thing is not going the way that they wanted, they’re all whining like a bitch. That’s what happened to me. I booked a family suite for my family considering we have 9 people including my parents and my brother’s wife and son. The resort website featured the pictures of their resort near the beach. I was expecting that our family suite is near the beach but it was disappointing seeing that the location is almost isolated and a bit far from the beach. One thing that I really enjoy from the location of our family suite is it is very close to café. Whenever breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, we are among the first one to arrive.

Family Suite
Family Suite

I am also surprised to the lack of organization and cooperation from the staffs there. We arrived there and somehow expected a ‘welcome drink’ at a café as stated in the itinerary. I was wrong. We have to do our own drink and only food is served according to time give. The dry pantry is located near the café where you can get an unlimited supply of Nescafe, Tea, Milk and Sugar there. The hot water also available most of the times considering the part of ‘you have to do your own drink’ is 24/7. The disappointing look from my father when he got to know about this is just unbearable. Of course, it is my fault because I didn’t ask but hey, who would expected that a welcome drink is ‘do your own drink’. If this happened to any of you, you will be sure as hell didn’t expect it too. The family suite is pretty nice. It has 2 rooms with 2 queen beds in it. There is only one toilet attached with shower and sink and it is located in between of the 2 rooms. The food served at the resort is okay. The reason I say okay is because of the price we paid, we should get more than that but somehow, since the taste is not so bad and you can eat how much you wanted to eat, I probably should stop complaining.

at Redang Island Resort
at Redang  Mutiara Island Resort
Cafe at the Redang Mutiara Resort.
Cafe at the Redang Mutiara Resort.

The lack of activities to do at night is what baffled me the most. I was expecting to see some board game as they did mentioned indoor activity in the itinerary. My brothers did go out and play a carom but that’s it. The rest of it like throwing darts or playing card is nowhere to be found. The resort should improve their itinerary by informing the details where to get it and who is the person in charge in the activity. When we arrived on the first day, the staff told me that snorkeling activity will begin at 2.30 PM and anyone wanted to join should wait at reception. My brothers and I decided we wanted to join on tomorrow’s snorkeling trip because we are too exhausted that evening. An 8 hours non-stop driving from Kuala Lumpur and a very little amount of sleep could do that to you. On a second day, I woke up with the hope of going to a snorkeling trip that I missed yesterday. When I asked the counter, they said the boat is already gone. I am so angry at that time. In the itinerary they said it would be at 9.45 but dude, I was there at 9.30. Having to be dismissed right away by the unfriendly staff, I went to a beach to cool myself off. Later, my brothers joined me too. The beach cured my anger right away. With very clear water, white sand and you can see some of the tropical fish, it is magnificent view. After 1 hour playing in the water, we have been approached by another staff at the resort asking whether we wanted to go to snorkeling. I told him that some of the staff said that the boat to snorkeling already gone. He claimed that’s not true and asking my brothers and I to go to the jetty right away. The false information like this showed that some of the staff there is incompetent and should not be allowed to work at reception area. Just imagined if there are no staff reached us and told us that snorkeling has not yet started. It would be PR disaster because I would sure as hell did not want to recommend any of my relatives and friends to go there.

A clear blue seawater
A clear blue seawater
Jetty at Redang Mutiara Beach Resort
Jetty at Redang Mutiara Beach Resort
Breath taking view
Breath taking view

We went to Marine Park which took about 15 minutes to arrive from Redang Mutiara Jetty. Upon arrival, I was so amazed. The water is super clear and the tropical fish in it is so colorful. We wasted no time there. Although I don’t know how to swim but floating is one of my skills that I am so proud of. Using the goggles and life jacket provided by the resort, we started our adventure in Marine Park. My youngest brother tried to teach me to swim but it already failed in the first 5 minutes considering I am panicking whenever he let go of my hands. Some of the visitors there brought white bread with them to feed the fish. I just hope they feed the fish responsibly and know where to put the plastic package of the white bread where it belonged. 1 hours and half passed us by without any of us realize it. I really enjoyed this activity. If I knew how to swim, imagine what would I say if I try scuba diving? That would be so much fun. We went back to the resort with the smile of my face. Of course, my face burned and my body ached so much but it’s all worth it. In the evening, there is another snorkeling activity arranged by the resort. I persuaded my parents to join the activity. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the Marine Park but we go to another island with wide beach that doesn’t limit people to do swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Marine Park is gorgeous but this one is more tourists friendly. My dad who is enthusiastic in fishing felt that he could catch some of the big fish there if he brought the fishing rod. Most of the area in Redang Island is protected area so there is no fishing activity allowed there. If you wanted to go fishing, you have to rent a boat and went to the area that fishing is allowed which is a bit far from the island.

Spending quality time with my brothers
Spending quality time with my brothers
My nephew and his own version of sand castle
My nephew and his own version of sand castle

By the way, if you happened to go here and expected some fresh seafood to be served during BBQ, please lower your expectation. I really hope that their BBQ in itinerary will serve fresh seafood like squid or seashells and it’s not. It turned out my father was right. There’s a hot dog and some frozen food that has been cooked earlier. Another disappointment served us that night. We went back to KL on 14 April 2014. We checked out right after the breakfast and arrived at Merang Jetty around 11. We did some sightseeing at Kuala Terengganu before heading back to Kuala Lumpur at 4 PM. We arrived at KL around 11 PM. Yes, we are disappointed with this vacation but I redeemed this feeling with the experience of having to try snorkeling for the first time and enjoyed the serene feeling underwater with fish swimming under me. It may look ordinary to some of you but heck; I would love to do it again and again. You will find no picture on Marine Park because we left our phones at the suite. Even if i bring my own camera, it does not have waterproof feature where it would be useful to take picture of tropical fish at the Marine Park.

Overall rating for this Redang Island trip:

My Rating: 3/5

1) Marine Park (Snorkeling Activities): 4/5

2) Facilities: 3/5

3) Accommodation: 3 /5

4) Food: 3 /5

5) Staffs: 2.5/5

Hong Kong : I’ll Never Forget You :)

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

Ruby, Fatma and I have our own version of interest and hobby. It’s usually different and not overlapping at all with each other. For instance, Ruby wanted to be a writer for a long time. Only god knows where she hides all her writing works. Fatma is aspiring to be a write. She already had an idea and just waiting for a right time to let the pen move. I myself, however, did not see myself in writing field at all. I love reading, that is no doubt about that but me as writer, there is no way in hell it could happen. First of all, my writing sucks. That’s a fact. I have no creative mind whatsoever. Second, if somebody does a proofreading on my work, he/she may advise me to retake a grammar class. I knew my grammar sometimes could raise your eye brows to the sky, but hey English is not my native language. Duh-Doy (I usually use this excuse because I don’t have any other excuse).

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Travelling is among other things that all of us love and would like to do it together one day. We did plan to go to Bangkok this year but since the Riot happened, we postponed the plan. Choosing a country where we all wanted to go also could be a problem. Ruby already declared her unbeatable love to India meaning to say that one of the countries chinguz have to visit is India. Fatma, on the other hands, wanted to explore Europe and Eastern Asia countries like South Korea and Japan. I myself wanted to go to middle-eastern countries like Afghanistan, Morocco, Turkey and Palestine. Maybe I would do a solo journey going to Palestine and Afghanistan but Turkey and Morocco, Chinguz can’t say No to me. Anyway, on 4-7 March 2014, I went to Hong Kong with a close friend of mine from USM. We both did our master degree in September 2012 at USM. We’ve been a roommate for a year and eventually graduated together on September 2013. I still remember how I wish I didn’t get a LAME roommate during my first day at USM. By my own definition on ‘LAME’ person means over-religious, busybody kind of people, a very silent person, a person who always talk about his significant other and a fucking cheapskate. It turns out my roommate Najibah did not possess any of LAME quality that I highlighted in the above sentence. We’ve been a close friend ever since we met. Going to Hong Kong is like one of the random decisions I’ve ever made. I love traveling but Hong Kong is not on my list of places I wanted to go.

Arrive at the HK Airport with style.
Arrive at the HK Airport with style.

We bought a flight ticket in January 2014 and planned everything ahead of schedule like where we wanted to go and where can we get a Halal food. Actually, it is not really ‘we’ because I did nothing. Thanks to Najibah and her friend, Izzah who prepared everything before we arrived to Hong Kong. When we landed at Hong Kong, first thing I regretted is how foolish I am for not bringing any sweater, shoes and socks there. My mother did nag me about it and ask me to pack a sweater but let just say I am a stubborn daughter.  I regretted my decision for not listening to my mother right after we landed there. It’s fucking 15 Celsius degree there. I know some of you say that’s normal but where I came from that’s not normal. That freaking cold (especially if you didn’t bring any sweater with you).

Jib and I freestyling in front of the Disneyland Entrance.
Jib and I freestyling in front of the Disneyland Entrance.
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We Met Buzz Lightyear!!
With Minnie Mouse ;)
With Minnie Mouse 😉

I make do with what I had. I wore like freaking 4 layers of clothes just to keep me warm. There are 5 places we visited at Hong Kong which are the Avenue of Stars, Disneyland Hong Kong, Ocean Park Hong Kong, The Peak Tram and Ngong Ping 360 (where you can see the Big Buddha yourself). I wish we could go to many places but let’s just be honest, 4 days is too short. We missed on visiting the Art Museum Hong Kong, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Ladies Market. If Any Malaysian is planning on going to Hong Kong this year, hey RM 2000 is enough for the budget. I used RM 1000 for Plane ticket and Hotel accommodation. Another RM 1000 is for your spending there (you will pay for the Disneyland, ocean park and all of that ticket to the place you wanted to go) but trust me, it is more than enough. Since Hong Kong is not really famous destination among Muslim tourists, it is a bit difficult to find a Halal food restaurant.There are some of the restaurants that offers Halal Food (google it if you wanted the list of Halal restaurant in HK) but we have to take a long journey to arrive there. Due to that, we ate at Halal Food Restaurant only for lunch and we ate Ramen Cup/Maggi Cup or white bread we brought from Malaysia for dinner.

Admiralty MTR station

Underground MTR station

We stayed at YesInn Hotel near the Fortress Hill area. It is pretty strategic area actually considering it is close to MTR station. It is very convenient to us to go to many places in Hong Kong. We bought or ‘rent’ the Octopus Card at the airport on the day we arrived there. Octopus Card is similar to Touch N Go Card that we had here in Malaysia. You have to reload it and you can use it pretty much everywhere. I know some of us would like to use cheap transportation in Hong Kong and may conceive the idea that MTR is much affordable than taxi. In Malaysia, KTM is way much cheaper than Taxi because our taxi did not use their freaking meter. In Hong Kong, MTR cost and Taxi Cost is pretty much similar. However, you better use taxi when there are 3 or 4 of you. It’s just convenient for me (maybe because I hate walking). The perks of using MTR there is they are faster, comfortable and you don’t have to wait like half an hour for the next available train to come. For me, MTR and Taxi did not differ much; the cost is pretty much the same.

Yesinn Hotel

YesInn Hotel is not a fancy 5 star Hotel. We slept there because the building is in the middle of town, accessible with bus route and MTR route. The room is not that big. We have 1 bunk bed and 1 extra sliding bed. It is comfortable enough for us because we are only using it during night. Since this is cheap hotel, there is no thermostat in the room. You can’t control the temperature in the room. The temperature outside the hotel will be similar in the hotel’s room (maybe slightly less cold but still cold). We bear the cold with a very thick blanket and socks. We have access to Hot water for morning shower but we have to wait every half an hour so that water can take time to reheat again. It may not perfect for some of you but I think it’s good enough for us (especially the price we paid for the hotel is not that much). Hong Kong Airport is just awesome. Their WIFI is so fast that you can watch youtube video there without any buffering. They had cinema in their airport. Can you imagine having a cinema at LCCT and KLIA? It would be awesome if we had it too.

Muslim Tourist might encounter the problem like finding the prayer room in certain places in HK. HK airport provides prayer room for Muslim Tourists but they didn’t do partition for men and women in that prayer room. We can’t blame them though because they don’t know. For famous places like Disneyland and Ocean Park, asking the customer service counter might be a wise decision. They will show the rest room where it can be use for prayer. All you have to do is ask. I don’t know whether we’re not lucky enough or we’re asked the wrong person there. Every single time we asked any people in HK about the direction, they seem snobbish and unfriendly. I don’t want to assume that all people in HK are like that but we face the experience of being yelled at and being dismissed right away. I would like to assume we are just bunch of bad luck tourists who asked the wrong persons. Those that worked at Disneyland and Ocean park, they are friendly and warm people (maybe it is part of their job and they get paid for doing so). Overall, going to Hong Kong is such an amazing experience. I would never forget it because I use my own money to pay for everything for the first time. It is also my first time going to the oversea without any parents’ protection, rule and restriction.  I also went there with my best friend. What more could I ask, right?

Overall, for this Hong Kong trip:

My Rating: 4/5

1) Famous Places: 4/5

2) Public Transportation: 5/5

3) Accommodation: 3.5/5

4) Food: 2/5

5) People: 2.5/5