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Personal Trip 101: Long Drive To East Coast Kuantan

East Coast Kuantan Tunnel Genting Sempah

When it comes to the famed Karak Highway that will take us to the East Coast of the Peninsular Malaysia, the tunnel is one the key landmark which has a twin on the North-South Highway after Ipoh. Image source: KLIA2

It must have been like 15 years since I last stepped on the East Coast of Malaysia and in particular the town of Kuantan. So a relative’s function in Kuantan last week was just the excuse I needed for a 520 kilometres drive to and fro East Coast.

For the record, I have never driven on the notorious Karak Highway – in the past, it is either a journey in a bus, driven by a half-asleep driver with a baseball bat safely tucked away under the seat or a journey in a car, driven by experienced but speed demon friends.

And in a way, time was on my side for the new East Coast Highway was ready by the time I wanted to drive on my own to East Coast. The old road was not only tiring and dangerous but also time-consuming (I missed the counts of truck/bus–car accidents on the old road).

We left “KL” city at about 10 am – because my dad who is also going to be my “navigator” only finished work at about 8 am. In the car were myself, my wife, my kid, my dad and my mom. KL was usual with its heavy traffic jam but as we are nearing Genting Highland, the traffic was almost sparse and the heavy trucks were almost non-existent.

My 1.3 engine powered Iswara with full occupants was struggling at 4th gear but at the 3rd gear, it managed well to climb the hills and even overtake slower “automatic geared” cars.

It was not long before we reached the start of the new “East Coast Highway” and what a bumpy highway it was! Overall, it was smooth but just when one is driving at 110 km/h, the part of the highway turns into a bumpy stretch. The highway constructor must have taken the blueprints from Kesas Highway!

We reached Kuantan town just after 1 pm and originally the plan was to go to the relative’s house for lunch and then to the beach and then hunt for a hotel to stay in for the night. We did not make any reservations (my mistake) so after thinking about it, we changed the plan (thank God, we did) – hunt for the hotel first, then go to the beach and then finally to the relative’s house.

We must have gone to 5 hotels but all were fully booked – there was one whereas I was getting down from the car, the security guard told me that the hotel is fully booked. 5 hotels before we found one that was affordable and available and at the right time too – we managed to register in time before a busload of people came and begging for rooms.

The hotel upgraded our rooms without any additional cost because we had to wait for the rooms to be ready (good customer service). Whilst waiting for the rooms, we had our lunch and in-process got a parking ticket (damn, didn’t the authorities know that people work half a day on Saturdays?).

We came back at 3.45 pm and only then the rooms were available. We quickly dropped off our bags and drove to the beach – my son was in his “gears” for a dip in the water but in the end, was overwhelmed by the “huge” waves. One hour at the seaside and we were back in our hotel rooms for a shower and a short nap. The function at the relative’s house went smoothly and we even managed to chit chat with some “long-forgotten” relatives.

We left the next morning after a short trip to the market for fresh, cheap seafood. And we used the same bumpy highway to KL. One thing I noticed about the Karak Highway near Genting, the cornering is very testing – the speed at 60 km/h tests driving skills to the maximum but there are still idiots in small Kancils speeding at these corners.

I had a small problem with the camera, so I missed taking plenty of photos in Kuantan. Need to rectify this the next time. Tiring…

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2 thoughts on “Personal Trip 101: Long Drive To East Coast Kuantan”

  1. hhmm..managed to test out the highway before it was officially opened ie: toll enacted. agree with you that at high speeds the road undulations can be quite dangerous thus the many accidents on this new highway 😛

    Cheers!!! 😀

  2. I managed to keep the speed under 110 km/h, something that I don’t usually do if using the PLUS highway, otherwise my car will be “flying” due to the uneven road surface.

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