Earlier this month I went to yet another island in the East Coast of Malaysia for a little bit of R&R as well as put a bit of time breathing compressed air underwater. For this trip, everything was arranged by my colleague, Rich, I sort of just tag along. A vacation where you don’t have to plan for anything? Sign me up!
Our destination – Pulau Kapas.
Kapas Turtle Valley resort, Pulau Kapas, Terengganu
Pulau Kapas is one of the lesser known islands of Terengganu. Located just 6 km or so from Marang Jetty, it is only some 10 minutes on the ferry (every 2 hours), which makes it really accessible even for those who may be prone to sea sickness. Furthermore, with East Coast Expressway in operation, getting there is easier than ever, around 400km on dual lane expressway with another 20 or so KM trunk road.
snorkeling, sand castle, and playing with hermit crab
Kapas Turtle Valley is run by a Dutch couple who called Malaysia home. It is a fairly small resort with capacity of less than 20-30 guests at any one time. It is also located at semi-private sort of beach with other resorts accessible via a short walk across the small hill in 10 minutes, perfect for those who loves a bit of privacy and quiet time.
You’ll be expected to spend close to RM 100 per night per person to stay at KTV, with breakfast inclusive. The bungalows are comfortable, bathrooms are big and quite luxurious for island standard, and you do have electricity around the clock.
food at Kapas Turtle Valley was excellent
What I love most though, is the food prepared by Sylvia. Breakfast usually consists of very good pastry, dutch cheese, egg, and juice, while lunch & dinner is as per order (usually from 3 choices) and priced reasonably. Her dishes are at least on par with some of the better restaurants in town, and that is certainly quite a luxury on an island, with a budget.
kayaking looks a lot easier in photos
Holiday on island is about rest and relax, reading a book, listening to the waves and such, but if you’re restless, or you’re between 3-6, there are still quite a bit to do.
Making sand castle, catching hermit crab, snorkeling at the house reef, kayaking, throwing freebies, or even sailing on a catamaran is an option.
Aqua Sport Divers, the only dive center at Pulau Kapas
We spent 5 days and 4 nights at Turtle Kapas Valley, and only decided to put in some diving on 3rd and 4th day.
Aqua Sport Divers is the only dive center on the island, and some 25 minutes walk from where we stay. Fortunately, they are more than happy to ferry us on a small speed boat to & fro from KTV to dive center.
nemo with anemone, always one of my favorite shooting subjects
As for the dives, underwater visibility at Kapas isn’t exactly stellar, mostly due to the fact that the island is a mere 6 kilometers away from peninsular Malaysia, but they were more than decent.
Over the 3 dives, we spotted moray eel, barracuda, humphead wrasse, clown fish, jelly fish, big puffer, blue spotted stingray, and more. There were even a story about a group getting a glimpse of a whale shark a couple weeks prior.
UW pics taken with Olympus TG-5
I loaned a couple cameras from Olympus that are fit for underwater purposes. The Olympus TG-Tracker for video, and Olympus TG-5 mainly for stills. They were very convenient, pop the SD cards in and you’re good to go, no meticulous checking of seals or carrying my huge set up of my (now dated) Olympus E-PL3 with underwater housing. The picture quality isn’t as good as a micro 4/3 format for sure, but there were more than acceptable, and of course, carrying a small pouch with 2 cameras is much easier than a whole luggage full of gear for just one.
Overall it was an awesome trip, thanks to Rich & San San for organizing, will look forward to more R&R trips such as this one.
Hai Peng kopitiam is no stranger to the beach goers and divers alike who frequent the beautiful islands at the East Coast of Malaysia – Redang, Tenggol, Lang Tengah, and Perhentian alike.
The kopitiam is strategically located at Cukai, at the Southern tip of Terengganu; which means it is about the end of trunk roads before heading to Karak Highway. The perfect place for a rest stop after a nice weekend dive trip before continuing the journey back to Klang Valley.
Hai Peng Kopitiam at Kemaman
On my recent dive trip to Lang Tengah island, that was precisely what we did.
The kopitiam was established 3 generations ago (1940), and the old owner can still be seen hanging around while the younger generations run things.
Hai Peng serves quite a good variety of different foods, and they are the truly 1Malaysia restaurant before 1Malaysia was hip. You can find nasi lemak, nasi dagang, toast, meehun goreng, tapai, half boiled eggs, and a host of other things suitable for any race or religion to consume.
curry puff, tapai, prawn crackers, toast with banana and peanut butter
To start, we had some of their curry puff, prawn crackers (very light and flavorful), and tapai. The tapai comes wrapped in some leaves and were really good, I wished there were some cendol to with.
Their packet nasi lemak came soon after and we grabbed a few packets too, it was oily, spicy, and an absolute must try to those who love things wholesome and not in a diet.
half boiled egg, nasi lemak, special curry toast, garlic bread
The half boiled egg at Hai Peng is a little tricky, they serve the eggs in a jar of boiling water, and it’s up to you to know when the eggs are ready. As a rule of thumb, 5 mins is about half boiled, and 7-8 mins 3/4 boiled, and so forth. The one in the photo was about 7 minutes.
Horng ordered this curious toast that had banana and peanut butter in them. While the description might be a bit gross, it actually tasted very good and the dude ended up ordering a second portion.
For those who love things spicy, the special curry toast is a must order. The set comes with a sunny side top, a big piece of toast, and curry chicken with potato that is very, very spicy. Not for the faint hearted.
special coffee breeze, pina colada, kopi ice
Then of course, there’s the coffees. I love their iced coffee (tho not enjoying the plastic cup), and probably should have ordered the hot coffee instead.
The special coffee breeze was sort of a local version of those Starbucks ice blended on steroid, a bit too much flavor going on I thought. The pina colada, on the other hand, was a disappointment, overly sweet and of course, no alcohol.
Food at Hai Peng had more hits than misses, and definitely a decent stopover place on return trips. They are opening up branches here in KL soon, but it remains to be seen if the quality suffers.
Address: Hai Peng Kopitiam K-3753, Jalan Sulaimani,Chukai,Kemaman Terengganu, 24000, Malaysia GPS: 4.2351, 103.4225 Tel: 09-859 7810
Pulau Lang Tengah is an island sandwiched between the more popular Redang and Perhentian islands, approximately 20+ km from Merang Jetty, which itself is roughly half an hour’s drive from Kuala Terengganu.
Our trip was organized and led by DM/Instructor/UW Photographer extraordinaire Edvin Eng, who was also the first DM Terence and I dived with back in 2004, a whopping 7 years ago.
and Derek is now a certified diver, by Edvin the man
Edvin is always one of my favorite dive leaders, the dude is a joker on ground, but serious and attentive underwater. He also has an eye in spotting weird and wonderful creatures underwater, which is good. However, the very same guy also always poison us in underwater photography equipments, which might or might not be a good thing.
the resort at Lang Tengah, with Derek and Terence camwhoring
The main purpose of the trip was actually to get Derek certified as a PADI Open Water diver, for those of you who are interested to get into this hobby, Edvin is as good as any instructor you can get, you can find him at oceanxplorer.com.my
disco colored anemone, true story
We left at around 1 am from KL on Thursday night and arrived at Kuala Terengganu in the morning just in time for a breakfast of roast duck noodle before hopping on the transfer boat at Merang jetty.
We did a shore dive right after lunch, at the same time Derek was getting his exams. The shore dive at Lang Tengah wasn’t anything to shout about, visibility was close to 10 meter, there were corals, giant clams, and the various fishes, including clown fish, of course.
some sort of anemone?
giant clam, good for 100 plates of char kueh teow
We went on a boat dive after tea time, and there were much more to see here. Plenty of coral banded shrimps, red shrimps, moray eel, scorpion fish, and more.
banded coral shrimp
red shrimp among the corals
a pretty small and shy moral eel hiding in its hole
can you spot the fish?
We were dead tired from previous night’s driving and the 2 dives, and everyone headed to bed and pretty much passed out before 10 pm.
For the last three dives on second day, I had the luxury of using the combination of INON UWL 100 and the DOME unit with my S90 (in Ikelite housing and lit by Sea & Sea YS-01).
Since there are already quite a few photos in this post, I’ll delay the second batch on the next post. By the way, Selamat Hari Raya to all my Muslim friends, and to everyone else, Happy Merdeka!
Stuffed crab is one of those dishes that is so good you wonder why they only have it in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. My best guess is that we don’t have enough very kind and toothless aunties here in KL to separate crab meat from the seafood, that or there was an agreement for that during the formation of Malaya to protect the eastern states’ interests..
After all, aren’t our government known for setting up special agreements and policies to protect interests of certain groups all the time?
restaurant Tong Juan at Chukai, Kemaman
The first time I had stuffed crab was only earlier this year at a pretty busy Pak Su seafood restaurant near Kuantan. The experience was rather good and I have been thinking of a repeat for this dish since.
So when the opportunity to have it again arises while on the way back from our previous trip to Redang last weekend, we naturally took it. This time we went to Tong Juan at Kemaman, located at the ideal spot that is just about half way point between KL and Kuala Terengganu.
stuffed crab, this is what we’re here for
14 of us went in and Terence did the ordering, and for the first (and probably the last) time, the dude did not over order.
We had stuffed crab for everyone, grilled tiger prawns, spicy squid, vegetable, fish ball soup, and fried rice. This was for lunch on a Sunday (a working day in Kemaman, feed your parking machine)
grilled prawns, spicy squid
While those super health conscious might complain that the stuffed crab at Tong Juan is a little too oily, I had no problem with it. The crabs were good! With plenty of crab meat plus finely chopped onion and who knows what else in it. This is definitely a must-order.
The huge grilled tiger prawns were another awesome dish. They were easily the size of my palm and grilled with a bit of stuffed garlic at the back, a nice variation, delicious.
stuffed crab, fish ball soup, vegetable, fried rice
Fried rice was pretty good as well, but I didn’t think the fish ball worth a repeat, they were pretty life less and uninspiring, if not a tad too salty too. Vegetable’s just to satisfy vitamin C quota and for color matching, nothing to report.
The bill came to about RM 27 or 28 per person including drinks, while not cheap, I think it is still reasonable and definitely worth going there again on my next east-coast trip.
Tong Juan restaurant
K-117 Jalan Sulaiman,
24000 Kemaman, Terengganu
GPS: 4.231314, 103.428383
Tel: 09-859 1346