JOURNEY BACK IN TIME: Wanting to arrive Kenyir early Friday morning, I started my drive from Subang at 11:30pm the previous Thursday night. To be honest, I did not like driving in the middle of the night up the Jerangau-Jabor Highway because it was very dark and isolated with only 1 or 2 rest-stops having shops opened at that time. It is an even more testy journey if you suffer from night blindness like me. Six hours later, I exited the toll highway at the last stop, Ajil. From here onwards, I felt very relaxed as the inner trunk road was flanked by a beautiful morning mist draping the surrounding tertiary jungle and mountains. I switched-off the car air-conditioning and wind down the windows for some refreshing cool and fresh air. For the first time, I started feeling that I was really on holidays and my mood instantly picked-up for the better. At one of the junctions, turning off to a palm plantation, I stopped and enjoyed a very traditional Kuala Terengganu breakfast. I discovered two things about the local cuisine here: Firstly, Terengganu folks must have spicy and sweet acar (pickled carrots & cucumbers) on their breakfast table. Secondly, since they do not have any supermarkets, all their chicken are the tastier kampung chicken.
SEKAYU WATERFALLS: About 40 minutes drive away from Kenyir Lake, I stopped by at the amazing Sekayu Waterfalls. I was very impressed by the natural beauty and cleanliness of this fantastic picnic spot. After frolicking and submerging in the crystal clear waters, I felt thoroughly rejuvenated again. If you are ever in this neighbourhood, I strongly you visit this place which wins my vote for the best waterfall in Malaysia. I can’t help it, it was love at first sight. So far, my Kuala Terengganu trip was off to a great start.
350 ISLANDS OF KENYIR LAKE: Eventually, I turned into the Kenyir Lake Resort where a friendly porter picked me up from the car park, and we meandered up the buggy track leading to the hotel entrance. While at the checking-in counter, I was totally blown-away by the majestic and spectacular view of Kenyir Lake – it was like being in a holiday postcard! What struck me was the unobstructed view of the vast lake and surrounding lush jungle & hills, and the tranquility and calmness which I had been seeking for a long time. The Wow-Factor of this inspiring and unmatched beautiful panoramic view gave me chicken skin as my mind, which was more used to noisy traffic, air pollution, over-crowding and high-rise concrete building, took a few minutes to adjust to my new and serene surroundings. Most of the triathletes will be arriving tomorrow, so there was no other sole at the hotel except for the ever-helpful staff.
After collecting my key for the lake view bungalow chalet, the porter drove me back down the small path to my lodgings for the next two nights. Again, being a first-timer, I had no idea what to expect apart from the fact that room cost one hundred and sixty ringgit after 50% discount for all Triathlon participants. The wooden bungalow was perched on the slope within a few meters from the water’s edge. If submerging in the Sekayu waterfall totally refreshed me, while the reception view rendered me speechless, my chalet just made me want to do cart-wheels, and even burst into tears of joy. The room was luxurious, spacious and it had all the modern comforts to make it a very comfortable base. What made this chalet outstanding was the uninterrupted view of the blue/green lake, the green terrain, and the endless clear skies. As I sent down at the balcony sipping tea looking out to the horizons, what I noticed was the golden sound of silence- so calming, and at that moment all the stress melted away from my shoulders. No man-made city spa sanctuary could ever beat the therapeutic benefits offered by unspoilt mother nature.
That evening, I dined under the stars on a nearby restaurant veranda which overlooked into the darkness of the lake and owned by the Malaysia Tourism Information Centre. The restaurant manager took the time to explain some of the amazing facts of Kenyir Lake. such as the bottom of the lake was in fact previously the foothill, and the resort was now located at the top of the hill which explained why the weather was very cooling at night. He also proudly informed me that Kenyir Lake as over 150 bird species and the lake is the same size as Malacca or twice the size of Singapore. Apparently, most of the tourists would spend many days cruising on a hired boathouses for fishing and relaxation.
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